We eat and breathe traveling and since we tend to spend our free time exploring the world we have decided to wrap up our favorite accommodation options. Do you feel like hotels are overcharging you? Are you more into tasting the life of the town you are visiting? Do you think the locals can host you better than a posh hotel? If you have answered “Yes” three times, then keep on reading.
Usually, hotels look great on photos but often we tend to get disappointed when we actually check-in. It happens all the time but fortunately, there are alternatives. In fact, staying with a local is much more enlightening than staring at the walls in your hotel room. Why? Because locals generally enjoy the company of travelers as travelers tend to tell interesting and often inspiring stories. Do you know what’s even better? In most cases, hosts are travelers themselves, meaning you will get the opportunity to exchange valuable experience with them. Plus, you can always ask for advice and get a relevant response. What’s the best restaurant in town? Where’s the history museum? The art gallery? You get the idea, you will not just have a place for the night, you will enjoy all of the benefits that come with staying with a local.
Yeah, I know there are plenty of options out there. Generally speaking, we can separate them into two large groups – free alternatives and paid accommodation options.
Couchsurfing, Warmshowers, and Bewelcome offer free accommodation for a night or two. If you haven’t tried them, here’s what to expect – hosts usually provide a spare bed (though not every time) to travelers, allowing them to take a shower and sometimes use the kitchen to prepare their own meals. Have in mind that the amenities vary from place to place and sometimes you might end up sleeping on the floor in someone’s 1-room apartment. However, if you are into non-traditional ways of traveling I assume this wouldn’t be a problem for you. Of course, hosting profiles usually give brief information about what is offered and what is not. If you want to master the art of couch surfing, click right here.
And the paid options are…
Let’s make one thing crystal clear, the following platforms allow hosts and property owners to lend a room, an apartment, and even a whole house to travelers. Sometimes you will have to share the apartment with the host, while in other cases you will be on your own. As you might have already guessed, prices can vary wildly depending on location, the time of the year, and tens of other factors. The lowest offers might be some $15 per night but can quickly skyrocket to over $200. The good news is that if you travel with someone else you can share the costs as most hosts name their prices for the whole property and not per person. Though this may vary as well. Anyway, here are our top hotel alternatives:
Perhaps the most popular accommodation sharing platform out there is Airbnb. The hospitality service has been around since 2008 and has really become the industry behemoth. It allows hosts to lease everything from a bed to an entire mansion and name the price for it. On the other hand, travelers get the chance to choose from hundreds if not millions of properties located all around the world.
The competitive prices are key but it’s not only about the money. When you rent a private room for a couple of days or weeks you partially step in the shoes of the locals. You get a free guide, you get to share meals, you get to cook your own dinner, you get to commute, and my personal favorite – you get to really know the local culture. Isn’t it that what traveling was for?
Well, Homestay is somewhat similar to Airbnb though there is a slight difference. You actually stay in real people’s homes. Hosts on Homestay usually lease a bed or a private room, meaning you share their daily routine. While some might say this is a disadvantage, I tend to disagree. There is a reason why Homestay pops up when you type “stay with a local” in Google. I will tell you why sharing a home is better than renting a whole suite for yourself. Because you might end up doing a hike with your host, brush up your language skills, learn a new skill/craft, or even end up in a place that would usually cost you thousands of dollars.
This rental platform is basically the same as Airbnb but it has its own key features. Since TripAdvisor took over Flipkey, the website is no longer a place where hosts and guests just interact with each other. FlipKey has added value because you practically get useful recommendations based on TripAdvisor. For example, when you browse the properties an interactive map shows you what’s nearby – restaurants, bars, museums, galleries, cinemas, etc. You can find everything from a spare bed to a villa. Needless to say, the prices can vary wildly.
There are more than 350,000 properties from all around the world listed on Wimdu. The service was started by two fellow tourists who got fed up with expensive hotels and decided to go for an alternative way. This means that you get top-quality service as the founders of Wimdu know exactly what tourists look for – quick and easy booking and great user experience. You can easily check rates and reviews before you rent any property, and you can even talk with the owner about what’s to see in town. See, asking for advice is easy and it doesn’t even require a booking.
Whatever your choice, always check reviews and comments before booking. Read carefully each host’s cancelation policies and always make your payments through the platform as this allows you to settle disputes (if necessary). So what are your favorite alternative accommodation services?