10 ways to save on accommodation

When you’re travelling, accommodation is often the biggest expense you face. But there are plenty of ways to save money while you’re sleeping!

Travel overnight

If you’re planning to travel long distances, combine sleep with travel by upgrading to a couchette or sleeper on a train. It’s a lot cheaper than a hotel, if not always very comfortable.

Use last minute accommodation sites

If you’re not a planner, take advantage of last minute specials on sites like www.us.lastminute.com or www.wotif.com. Plenty of hotels discount their last few rooms for the coming weekend, so keep an eye out.

Get closer to God

Monasteries or convents offer clean, quiet and often very cheap beds. Apart from peace, tranquility and spotless rooms, convent or monastery stays are often beautiful old buildings. Because they are religious institutions, monasteries and convents can be very safe places for women who are travelling alone, but make sure you check the rules about dress and conduct within the monastery. Check out these sites for monastery stays in Italy www.monasterystays.com and Japan www.templelodging.com

Home stays

There are plenty of organisations that will arrange accommodation with local families. Not only will you get a cheap bed, but you’ll get to met some locals and pick up some insider knowledge about places to go and things to see. Make sure you check out the house you’ll be staying in on Google maps to make sure it’s not way out in the suburbs, unless commuter travel to the sights is your thing.

Couch surfing

If you don’t mind dossing on someone’s floor and making new friends at 2:00 AM over a take-away pizza, then www.couchsurfing.com can hook you up with people willing to let you bludge off them host an international visitor. Good couch surfers give a little back to their hosts: like washing the dishes and watering the plants. Other than that it’s all beer and pizza.

Book ahead

If you know your dates well ahead of time, you can get great deals by booking ahead. And while you’re in a planning mood, try travelling to well-trodden tourist towns during the week (when rates are cheaper) and more business-oriented destinations on weekends. Business hotels can do great rates for tourists, as long as you’re happy to be surrounded by empty office buildings during your stay!

Shop around for hostels

Hostels are not just for backpackers. Many also have private or family rooms. For families with young children, a hostel can offer a great place to sleep, with a lounge room for parents to retreat to after the littlies are asleep.

House swapping

If you own your own place you can really save on accommodation when travelling by swapping it with a traveller visiting your city. There are plenty of house swap sites, and house swapping requires a fair bit of planning, correspondence and vetting, but free accommodation is worth the effort, especially if you’re planning on staying for more than a few nights.

Sublet an apartment

Staying in one place for a while? Try subletting an apartment. It works best in large US cities like New York where sites like Craigslist are popular. You can get an apartment, or a bedroom in an apartment, for months at a time during the summer vacation period for as little as $US30 per night.


Many European cities have camp sites close to town. You can pick up equipment fairly cheaply at camping stores and stay in an expensive city for just a few dollars in the busy summer months!