For students and those with tight budgets, the race to find the cheapest lodgings when travelling is one of the biggest challenges faced, right after transportation. However, there are all kinds of possibilities available, from a free bed to one that only celebrities can afford. Whether you opt for a homestay, camping or some other form of paid accommodation, there is no lack of options to satisfy all tastes and cultures.
To do a homestay, you must register on a free accommodation network on the Internet. This opens up your home to travellers passing through, who are also members of the network. Of course, this means that you will also be welcome in fellow members' homes around the world. It is a system that is 100% free, based 100% on trust, which works!
A rapidly rising trend! Camping is gaining more and more supporters who, not too confident with a 3mm-thick roof, have the choice of staying in a chalet, bungalow or caravan. More and more camping sites are offering these options, for a very reasonable price. As is the case with hotels, camping sites are ranked using the star system and the quality of camping sites have significantly improved over the past several years.
For Hostelling International hostels you must have a card, but you can obtain one on the spot (£10-£16 depending on your age). In exchange, you receive a guide of all of the HI hostels around the world. Keep in mind that in several countries your card entitles you to coupons giving you discounts on various entrance fees and museums, shows, etc.
B&Bs are still a very worthwhile option. Moreover, staying at one pushes you to make more effort to converse in the language of the country you are in, seeing as most of them are run by the owners who hire out a room or two to make ends meet.
If you are travelling as a group, renting is the best option. Rental agencies have extended their services across all of Europe and even around the world. Have a look at holiday-rentals.co.uk, homelidays.co.uk... You will save a lot on your restaurant budget.
You can't imagine the joy that your several square metres in London, Liverpool or Edinburgh will bring to others! In the eyes of an Australian, for example, they are like a mini Buckingham Palace! In exchange, you will often be rewarded with an even more spacious home possibly overlooking the Sydney Harbour or San Francisco Bay. It has become a common, and trustworthy, practice. For more information, visit homeexchange.com, houseexchange.org.uk, and homelink.org.uk, among others.
The most dynamic network of its kind, "Couchsurfing" connects nearly 3 million subscribers in 230 different countries (the website is translated into 19 languages by its members). After Americans, it is the French who are most willing to give up their couches. With 256,000 members, the city with the largest number of resident couchsurfers is currently Paris.
In terms of safety, all members are required to undergo an evaluation. With each stay, "couchsurfers" receive an assessment, which they cannot delete, visible to all members, in order to let others know what kind of a guest they were. It's not just about saving money; it's also about creating new connections and truly special moments which can only happen when on holiday... You might be interested to know that 80% of the members of this new form of hospitality are less than 35 years old.
Finally, if luxury tickles your fancy, the Internet is a mine of last minute deals, which can open up doors to some of the biggest hotels and palaces in the world, for half the regular price.