Humans are explorers by nature — nomads, moving from one place to another. We love to visit, to explore, to experience. We’re never satisfied with the visible horizon and yearn to know what lies beyond.
While the initial homo sapiens may have moved out of necessity, today, we prefer traveling to leave behind the monotonous drudgery of everyday routine. We are eager to grow by indulging in experiences; to forge stronger bonds by meeting new people from different cultures because, let’s face it, it’s fascinating how many different norms, rituals, outlooks about life exist outside of the ones we grow up in.
Thanks to globalization, the world has become far more interconnected than it was at any point in history. For travelers whose essence is exploration, this has meant opening unimaginable avenues of traveling and experiencing.
Initially, traveling was prohibitively expensive. One had to pay through their nose for flights and hotels. Gradually, as traveling gained popularity and came to be immortalized as something one does to “find themselves,” the costs plummeted.
Experiential travel has gained enormous popularity, and this is only fuelled by a desire to understand and acquaint oneself with different cultures. Cheap flights and alternatives to hotel stays have sprung up, expanding and completely upturning conventional travel and vacation definitions.
All this means that today, one can travel cheap — and more importantly, stay cheap.
There are numerous cheaper, off-beaten alternatives to hotels that enrich one’s travel experiences even more. Here are some alternatives that one could look at while trying to cut down on travel costs:
In the most rudimentary terms, Couchsurfing is literally crashing on a host’s couch for a night at your destination city. The price? It’s free.
The Couchsurfing community is vast and is active in 200,000 cities across the world. All you need to do is create a profile on Couchsurfing and scroll through the options of those who’re kind enough to open up their homes to you.
This experience not only ensures that you have a free place to stay, but also that you interact with a local and get to know more about them.
Caveat: A certain degree of precaution, of course, needs to be exercised. Before making or confirming a request, make sure that you go through reviews and references of the host with a fine-tooth comb. Chat up the host before going to get a feel of their personality.
Imagine having an entire apartment to yourself in a city as magical as Paris or Vienna. Sounds incredible, right? But this is possible — and affordable when you book via Airbnb. The hosts on this platform may either rent out the entire apartment or a room in their home.
You can live as a local would, making your own food and living in a bigger space than a hotel and cheaper. Of course, this depends on the place you’re visiting.
According to an analysis done by busbud.com, in the US, Airbnb stays are less expensive in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest area, while in the South, hotels are cheaper. In Toronto, Canada, hotels are 50 percent more expensive than Airbnbs. In places like Berlin, Paris and Vienna, hotels cost almost twice as much as Airbnb stays, while in Barcelona, Airbnbs are 81 percent more expensive than hotels.
While Airbnb stays being more expensive is true in some parts, in others, it makes full sense to rent out an entire flat or a room for the duration of your stay. It will be lighter in your pocket, cutting down on otherwise high costs.
Caveat: The same caveat goes here as well: make sure you read reviews carefully before booking a place.
3. Backpacker Hostels
If you’re on a shoestring budget, love meeting other travelers, love exchanging stories, and love socializing with like-minded people, then backpacker hostels are a great option.
Most hostels have four to six beds (bunk beds) to a room, can be gender-specific or co-ed. But if you’re someone who likes their own space, you also can choose a private room. In a nutshell, this is a lively social space with scope for interaction with fellow travelers.