Traveling is FUN! But it can also be quite expensive. One of the things we find to one of our biggest expenses when we travel is accommodation. As travelers or digital nomads, you want to save where you can. Right? Because that means you can travel more and have more money for activities and savings! So, how can you cut down the cost on this big travel expensense?
From staying at a party hostel like Base in Queenstown, New Zealand to overpriced hotels in Kuta, Bali, we’ve learned to find a great balance so that we can save money while keeping our sanity. Two very important things when you travel long term and as a digital nomad.
Here are 7 ways to save money on accommodation while traveling
1. Book directly from the hostel’s website
If you’re staying in a hostel, you should consider booking the place directly through the hostel itself and not through a third party.
Another reason why this is good that oftentimes there are much better cancelling policies not to mention better customer service going directly through the company instead of via a third party. (Tip: this is also the case for a lot of airlines when booking flights. We’re talking from experience here, unfortunately).
You may also be thinking are hostels safe? In most cases the answer will be yes but it doesn’t hurt to check reviews before deciding if a hostel is safe or not. We usually do some back checking and look on google before booking a hostel. We also always travel together so it’s a little different for us compared to a solo traveler.
Consider the 3 points below to help you save on your next hostel stay:
- Check if there’s a discount for staying multiple nights. Many hostels give you a discount if you stay for at least a week. We love staying in a place “long-term” because it’s a great option to make some new friends and to really get to know the area!
- Ask or check if there’s a promotion going on. Sometimes you can save money by using Google for just 5 minutes or simply by reaching out to people. Email the hostel you want to stay at and ask them. Worst case they say no or suggest a different solution for you.
- Have some extra time on your hands? Consider volunteering your time in exchange for free accommodation. Lots of the time you can do housekeeping (or bartending, wuhuu) for a few hours a day and in return you can stay for free. Sometimes you get free food and beer on top which is great. This is also the perfect opportunity for making new travel friends.
Airbnb! I’m sure most people have heard of it but may not know the best ways to save with it. Did you know that Airbnb offers 47$ for first time users?
Another big thing that Airbnb does is favour people who stay for longer periods of time with weekly and monthly discounts. Long term Airbnb guests such as weekly and monthly guests are definitely prioritized and rewarded nicely by the platform and the hosts. We just rented a place in Kelowna, BC (Canada) and received the Airbnb monthly discount of 50% off for booking minimum a month.
Renting long term also allows you to really get to know the area and it makes the trip less stressful if you’re working as you’ll have plenty of time to both work and to explore. Also there are a few things to look for in an Airbnb to help save money.
Here are a few key points that are great to look at when booking your next Airbnb:
- Make sure you message the host and ask about the wifi before you book your place. Especially for digital nomads who may need to work a few hours a day this is important. It makes you not have to spend that 4$ to 5$ extra on coffee a day to use a cafe. An extra 30$ a week for someone whose on a budget can go a long way.
The reason why you should ask before you go is, of course, to ensure that it’s fast enough for you to work, but actually it’s also for your own “security”.
We recently stayed at a place in Croatia where we were promised good wifi. We got to the house and the wifi didn’t even show up on two of our devices!? On top of that, the place wasn’t as described as it was in the details…
Long story short, we contacted Airbnb and within two hours we were at a new place with GREAT wifi! The point here is just to be prepared so you don’t have to deal with unforeseen stuff like this when you go. You already spend enough time working – you don’t want to risk having less time to travel and explore the area you’re in. Right?
- Simply ask if they can do a speed test. and send you a photo of the speed. A host with a good internet connection will have no problem doing that.
- Ensure that there is a proper kitchen. Or a kitchen you have access to that gives you access to cook your own food. You can easily save $100 a month cooking your own healthy food.
- Make sure it’s walking distance or close to public transport. Your accommodation place might be cheap but if it costs you 5 Euro one way to get down town like it did for us in Amsterdam it quickly adds up.
- If you’re driving, make sure there is free parking. All this can simply be figured out by quickly exchanging messages with the host!
- Check what else is included. Does the accommodation place come with breakfast? Tea and coffee? What about shampoo or even sunscreen? Some hosts are just amazing and have all of this for you for barely any extra cost. 9/10 times it’s worth booking those places!
- Consider renting long term. Ask for the Airbnb weekly or monthly discount. We just rented a place in Kelowna, BC (Canada) and got 50% off for booking for minimum a month. Renting long term accommodation also allows you to really get to know the area and it can definitely make the trip less stressful.
If you’re working as a digital nomad we’re sure you know the struggle of battling with the work-travel balance. Staying somewhere long term gives you plenty of time to both work and to explore the area without losing sleep (or clients, haha). You also save a lot of time since you don’t have to spend hours every week traveling between your accommodation places.
Couchsurfing definitely isn’t for everyone but if you’re keen to meeting new (and local) people then couchsurfing might be the perfect option for your accommodation! The best way to approach couchsurfing is to be open minded and to make your profile as friendly as possible.
Let us put it this way… People are opening their doors to complete strangers. They are definitely more likely to accept people they feel like they can befriend and talk with. Someone who they get along with who can bring some value into their lives as well. Who knows, you might meet your new best friend?!
Couchsurfing is also a great way to learn about the city or area from a local perspective. If you’re on a tight budget or just want to experience something fun then couchsurfing is a great option.
Of course, we recommend you to watch out for red flags and there are some horror stories from it. But for the most part people are extremely friendly and just wanting to give back and help travel and make new friends. Just be smart, and if someone seems sketchy then stay away. We don’t want you to believe the worst in people, but when you travel you should always prioritize your safety first. Sometimes those few dollars saved aren’t worth it.
4. House Sitting
House sitting has become very popular in recent years. Especially with awesome sites like Trusted Housesitters and MindMyHouse that allow hosts to connect with future house sitters.
Animal lovers and travelers hear us out! This is the perfect opportunity for you to stay somewhere for free while helping someone else out. Most people who look for house sitters have animals that need taken care of while they are away on a trip. This is your chance to get a new fur-friend while having (almost) free accommodation!
5. Make friends around the world
We currently have friends in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Czech Republic, and the States. They always offer to let us stay at their place for no cost. Friends we’ve made through work or travel who have become very close friends to us. We appreciate you all dearly <3
Having places to go in foreign countries can be an absolute blessing. And not just for the financial aspect of it. Of course it’s easier said than done but value the friendships you make abroad and stay close with them.
We hope we can host some of our friends in Kelowna this winter since we’ll have an extra room and try and give back for all the night’s we’ve spent abroad with them. Also, if we’re just going to be the two of us for five months we might drive each other nuts, haha!
You may feel uncomfortable asking an old friend to stay at their house. We’ve definitely been in the same boat. But at the end of the day if you don’t ask you’ll never know. We’re sure they would probably love to see you too. And remember, if they don’t offer you to stay they most likely have a good reason such as not enough space!
You can always try with these approaches:
- Hey, I will be visiting insert place in August and would love to catch up. Will you be free a few of those days? I’d love to hear how you’re doing and what’s going on in your life!
- Hey, I’ll be in insert place and was just wondering if you can recommend any hostels or Airbnbs that I could stay at while I’m there?
- Hey, I will be in insert place during the month of June. Will you be home and do you have an extra mattress that I could crash on for a few nights? I promise to make some great food in return!
If it’s a true friend and they have the room to have you then they will definitely make the effort. So don’t be shy and find a way to ask. Who knows, maybe they want to ask you the same thing if they ever visit the place you live?
6. Overnight Transport
If you’re trying to get from point A to B, why not look at the option of overnight trains or busses? Firstly, you’ll save money by not having to pay for a hostel. Secondly, you will save a full day instead of wasting it in a smelly, non-air conditioned bus from 1988. (Jokes aside, Flixbus in Europe is actually pretty good).
We recently traveled from Rijeka to Prague and it’s a 12 hour journey from 8am-8pm. So, we’ve basically lost this whole day. Luckily, we are working from our laptops and have the blog too so we can easily find ways to get stuff done. Once we got to Prague we had our lovely friend Alex’s couch to crash on. Yay for friends across the globe!
12 hours is a long drive so for most people it makes much more sense to take the overnight ride and save on accommodation and also having the full next day to travel and explore. Especially if you only have a few weeks to do your Euro- or Asia trip!