Let’s face it. One of the most expensive line items in any vacation budget – after air fare – is nightly accommodation. Finding easy and trusted ways to reduce costs in this area is literally the ticket to being able to afford long term travel. Here are seven of my personal favorites.
Got a home? Consider swapping it out with another home owner in a foreign country so you can both have a low-cost getaway. There are several sites out there in internet land which allow you to do this, but one of the most respected is HomeExchange.com. The basic gist is that you register your home and begin looking for one in a country you want to visit. If your location suits the owners of the other house as well, and you both feel comfortable with each other, voila! Free housing on your international getaway. Who knows? You might even score free housing for the London Olympics.
If you only require a place to stay for a short time and don’t want to run the risk of ending up in a hovel of a hostel, then check out HostelBookers.com. You’ll be able to research the accommodations ahead of time and occasionally even find hostels that function more like boutique hotels with Wi Fi, private bedrooms and chic décor. Believe me, they do exist. One exceptional option that we enjoyed in Lima, Peru was the Inka Wasi hostel which was elegantly decorated and came with a marble bathtub, comfortable fireplace seating and a daily sit-down breakfast.
Have you ever been a home owner? Then you have the skills that someone else wants, my friend. House sitting assignments are available all over the world with people and families who simply want a presence in their home to ward off burglars, care for their pets and bring in the mail. One place we secured a nearly month-long house sit was in Amman, Jordan. We cared for the homeowners’ pets, picked up after ourselves and enjoyed a twice-per-week maid who had been hired to care for the home. In our downtime, we enjoyed the city’s restaurants, museums and general nightlife as we recuperated from several months on the road. A popular site for researching opportunities is HouseCarers.com, but there are certainly others available for you to begin your research.
A new trend in hospitality is the renting out of extra rooms and guest cottages by home owners to travelers in search of a screaming deal. The primary place you can find one of these bargain spaces is Airbnb.com. The site features guest spaces for rent by home owners in a wide variety of locations. Prices vary according to size and lavishness of the accommodations, and you are allowed to filter by desired amenities and parameters such as Wi Fi, fireplace, pet friendly spaces and more. I’ve seen affordable listings in cities like Miami, Chicago, Atlanta and even Boston.
Get a Gig
If you don’t mind singing for your supper so to speak, there are many overseas employment opportunities where your accommodations and utilities are included with your job package. Other common perks include free private school tuition for your children, shipping allotments, settling in allowances, annual round-trip plane tickets and more. One career path with prevalent options is overseas teaching, but there are certainly others. Nursing, private security and on-site corporate liaison positions come to mind. A quick internet search will reveal a number of opportunities in places like Bangkok, Kuwait City and Venice, Italy.
Granted, there are some circumstances where this certainly more comfortable than others. And pitching a tent for a family camping experience in the dead of winter might not be many people’s idea of a good time. That being said, there are plenty of times when camping might be your most appropriate and affordable choice. For example, Scotland is a country that’s not only walkable through its national network of trails and walking routes, but also a country where camping for free along those trails is actually encouraged. Score! In the United States, families enjoy camping in Shenandoah National Park every summer, with complimentary access to the trails and children’s educational programs as part of the deal. (See also: Glamping on the Cheap)
If coordinating schedules with other home owners doesn’t particularly suit you, then consider trying out a vacation rental as part of your travel savings plan. The costs will be markedly less than even a mid-range hotel room, and you’ll typically have access to your own kitchen. Other common perks include garage parking, private swimming pool, a yard for your dog and beach access.
Having a roof over your head during your travels doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Try any or all of these seven savings strategies and you’ll be stretching your vacation dollars to the maximum.