After traveling for work for ten years and a nine month trip around the world, I’ve collected some strategies for traveling cheaper. I’ll cover them in a ten part series in this order:
A. The flight
– How to Book the Cheapest Flight
– How to Use Free Flight Stopovers
– How to Find Alternatives to Expensive Flights
– Finding the Cheapest Airport Transportation
B. The Hotel / Accommodation
– How to Book Cheapest Hotel Rooms
– How to Find Hotel Alternatives
– How to Use Hotel Points
– How to Get Local Currency for Your Trip
– Avoid International ATM Fees!
– Know How Much Things Cost
How to Find Hotel Alternatives
Hotels usually constitute the largest expense in a typical vacation so if you want to save money on your trip than that’s a good place to start. For a long time, hotels have been the only way to go for your trip and the prices have seemed to inflate on hotel rooms to match that.
However, now there are many ways to find hotel alternatives to hotels that are great quality and perfectly safe when used correctly. If the destination you’re visiting doesn’t offer quality hotel properties within your budget, check out some of the alternatives that could save you big bucks.
Tripadvisor lets you search alternatives to hotels with their separate tabs for BnBs and Inns, Specialty Lodging, and Vacation Offers and they show reviews for the listed places. We’ve used Tripadvisor for Bed and Breakfasts and Apartments quite a few times and have been happy with the outcome and unlike AirBnB, the BnBs listed on Tripadvisor actually serve you breakfast!
B. Air BnB
I assume the original intentions of AirBnB.com was to act as a booking site for Bed and Breakfasts. However, it’s now turned more into a site to rent out everything from an extra room in someone’s house to an entire house. We used it quite a few times – especially in expensive cities like Sydney and Hong Kong – and experiences ranged from excellent down to pretty weird. It sometimes takes an adventurous spirit to try AirBnB, but if you’re looking for an affordable place in the city you’re visiting, it’s worth looking into.
If it’s your first time to use Air BnB you should know that if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true. We never stayed at any places that seemed too cheap or that didn’t have any user reviews. We were never willing to be the first ones to try a new place.
C. VRBO, FlipKey, Couch Surfing
There are quite a few sites like AirBnB where you can rent out there people’s properties; some of them include VRBO and FlipKey. We used VRBO to find a great apartment in Dubrovnik, but we mostly used AirBnB and TripAdvisor for our other non-hotel stays. We never used Couch Surfing because there were two of us, but we have heard of some people finding success with it. Also, we always preferred to have our own room instead of sleeping on a couch in some random person’s living room… but that’s just us!
Overall, we were very happy with our non-hotel stays and in many cases we saved a ton money. I think some of our most memorable stays on the trip came when we stayed at someone’s bed and breakfast… it was just a much more personable experience and we really enjoyed some of our hosts. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the “hotel box”!