Find Budget (or FREE!) Accommodation Anywhere

One of the trickiest places to start when wanting to travel on a budget is to figure out where to stay.  If you’re not careful, accommodation can become the most expensive part of your trip – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Tried and tested by generations of travelers, the following resources cater to every travel personality and have proven to be excellent options for both short and long-term travel.

Find Budget (or FREE!) Accommodation Anywhere

 

Hostels 

Easily the most common way to go for many first-time travelers, hostels are plentiful in most parts of the world. From as low as a couple of dollars a night in places like South America and Asia to a still reasonable thirty dollars a night in more expensive areas such as Europe, hostels provide many options for the budget traveler. From the family-friendly hostel to the hostels known for being a constant party, dorm rooms to private rooms, you will likely stumble upon one that suits your needs.

Many hostels are geared towards students and budget travelers, offering budget friendly packages for those that are pinching their pennies. For long-term travelers, many hostels are willing to work out a work-for-rent deal with you – where you spend a few days a week volunteering in the hostel, whether at the desk or cleaning rooms – for free accommodation and even a free meal each day.

Check out www.hostelbookers.com and www.hostelworld.com for a wide range of hostels anywhere in the world.

Hostel in Chiang Mai. From Find Budget (or FREE!) Accommodation Anywhere

 

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing can be an intimidating accommodation option to try out and, if you are nervous about it, it doesn’t hurt to go on your first couch surfing experiences with a travel buddy. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, couch surfing involves staying in a local’s home wherever your destination may be – usually on the couch, a cot, or a spare bedroom.

Hosts are typically individuals who have traveled and couch surfed themselves, enjoy the camaraderie of the travel community, and like to meet new people and show off their city. Couchsurfing is great for when you are only at your destination for a couple of nights, although some hosts have been known to allow their guests an extended stay of a week or more.

Signing up at www.couchsurfing.com is free and allows you to pick your destination and browse hosts who are currently accepting guests. A great aspect about couchsurfing.com is the ability for hosts to be verified and for travelers to review their stay, so you are not going in blind.

Air BnB 

No matter your destination or your budget, Air BnB has a number of options for the budget savvy traveler. Air BnB allows you to search based on location, price range and room type, resulting in enormous variety – from unique treehouse experiences, privately owned Bed and Breakfasts, or a local family offering a spare room in their home.

Some hosts have been known to offer travelers their place even if they won’t be in the country – giving you an entirely private home for the duration of your stay.

Signing up at www.airbnb.com is free and allows you to search, read reviews, view photos, and chat with your host before making any final decisions.

Air BnB Stay. From Find Budget (or FREE!) Accommodation Anywhere

 

WWOOF

WWOOFING – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – is an ideal opportunity for those interested in a long-term stay in their destination of choice if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty. WWOOFING typically involves staying with a local host and helping out with routine chores each day that revolve around maintaining your host’s farm. In exchange, hosts provide you with free accommodation and meals for the duration of your stay.

Details are discussed between you and your host regarding your length of stay – whether it’s a week or a few months – and how many hours of work they expect of you each day. Some WWOOFING hosts are also happy to accommodate your children.

You can find out more about this budget travel option at www.wwoof.net or www.wwoofinternational.org

House Sit

The dream: to live in another country for free. House sitting allows you to stay in someone else’s home while they’re away for anywhere from a couple of days to long term stays of six months (or more!) Typically you are only asked to maintain the home and property during your stay although may be asked to pay for a portion of the utilities.

For animal lovers, a combination of house and pet sitting opportunities are widely available. Not so fond of furry creatures? No need to fret, there are plenty of homes that do not have pets.

Signing up for a good house sitting website is not free – there is a yearly fee that differs for each website – but the money you’ll save is more than worth the fee. Check out www.mindmyhouse.com, www.housecarers.com and www.trusteshousesitters.com to find your next house sit experience.

 

Chiang Mai hostel. From Find Budget (or FREE!) Accommodation Anywhere

 

If accommodation prices have been stopping you from following your travel dreams, these resources are a great place to start to cut back, or completely eliminate, hefty accommodation fees. Whether you plan to go away for a weekend or for an undetermined amount of time, these options can give you a unique and memorable experience.

 

Original post can be found here.

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Staying with a Local Host Family in St. Lucia

Traveling through the Caribbean is not cheap, especially if you’re looking for accommodation. It might be cheap by some standards, but by backpacker standards everything can be a bit pricey. There’s no $2 rooms like in Southeast Asia and virtually no hostels to be seen. We found our best bet was to look on websites like Couchsurfing.com, which we didn’t get a chance to use, and Air BnB, which we used in Tobago and St. Lucia.

Lucky for us we found an amazing host in St. Lucia, who welcomed us into her home like we were family. I had never before stayed with a local host family and wasn’t sure what to expect. My biggest fear was that it would be extremely awkward and intrusive, that we wouldn’t get along with our host, and that we would be out on the street with no place to stay. All those fears were shot down as soon as we walked through the front door to our host, Noa, in the kitchen. We were welcomed with hugs and huge smiles and we talked through the evening.

Staying with a local host was amazing and is something that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in seeing how locals live in your chosen destination. One of the main reasons we chose our host was for the great reviews left by those who had stayed with her before. Everyone had only nice words to say and her place was located in the area we were hoping for.

The house was a basic local home with all the good and bad that comes with that. In this case, it was the resident mouse and the cockroaches that thankfully kept hidden in the crack in the bathroom wall. Just extra roommates right? Noa’s home was filled with so much love and laughter that it was infectious, you could feel it in the air. There was never a dull moment with her daughter running around and their puppy to play with. We shared meals together, watched movies and sat on the porch late into the night.  Noa drove us to visit the volcano and waterfall in Soufriere, stopping at every point where we felt the need to snap a photo. She brewed us fresh herbal teas, taught us how to make cocoa tea and we kicked off one of our final nights dancing in the streets of St. Lucia’s famous Jump-Up in Gros Islet.

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As with anything, there are a few things you can do to make your stay with a local host more enjoyable. For me, the top two things you should be doing as a host are:

1. Keep the space clean and tidy. You are a guest in their home, no matter if you become friends or not. Keeping the place as clean as you left it (or cleaner!) is the nice thing to do.

2. Show your appreciation. This can be anything from cooking your host a meal, walking their dog, or even leaving them a small gift. Flowers? Maybe something from your home country?

As for everything else, follow your hosts lead. Every host will have a different personality and a different way of running their home. Some hosts may be young and loud into the night. Others may have small children that need to sleep at an early hour. Music playing in the home might be great, other might not appreciate it as much. So play it by ear and meet your host on common ground that works for you both.

Have you ever stayed with a host family? Were you the host? Share your experience in the comments below!

The Richmond Vale Academy

Melissa and I arrived in St. Vincent five days ago, hopping  in a cab in the late afternoon that would take us on a journey through narrow, winding mountain roads to the leeward side of the island. The first thing we saw as we drove up was a fat, happy looking pig walking beside the road, free from any confines with as much room to roam as he liked.

Isolated in a corner of the island just next to La Soufriere volcano, the Richmond Vale Hiking and Nature Center.. or more commonly known as The Academy… is an environmentally conscious gem away from everything. As our driver pulled the car into the property, we were greeted by a young man in breezy tie-dye clothing. The fresh mountain air is an instant mood-changer and the calm atmosphere of the academy instantly makes you breath a sigh of relief.

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An academy, Richmond Vale runs two programs, one regarding environmental sustainability, awareness and education, etc. and another regarding poverty. These programs are open for anyone local or international to apply but if you’re not wanting to commit to furthering your education, guests are also welcome to stay. As guests, the academy was the perfect retreat to unwind after nearly five months of non-stop exploration and travel. The entire place reminded me of a hippie commune filled with like-minded activists passionate about the environment and poverty.

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Our time at the academy introduced us to a special little place with a unique lifestyle. Everyone living at the compound (apart from guests) work together to keep the place running smoothly, with students having a set schedule of daily chores and classes. As guests, our stay there was easy, calm and peaceful. We spent our mornings waking up slowly on hammocks, waiting for the blessed sound of the bell ringing to indicate that breakfast was served, which we then ate overlooking the Caribbean Sea below. With plenty of vegetarian options to be had, meals at the academy were healthy and locally grown, with an emphasis on providing GMO-free, organic produce straight from their organic garden.

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Though we only stayed for three nights our time at the academy had a rejuvenating effect that only being surrounded by nature can achieve. I would highly recommend staying there if you find yourself in St. Vincent. There is easy access to attractions such as the Falls of Baleine, La Soufriere volcano, the palm tree trail, Richmond Beach, Dark View Falls, Vermont Nature Trail, and more. Surrounded by raw, unspoilt nature, there are endless opportunities for the nature lover.

My Favorite Hostel: A Little Bird Guesthouse

At the beginning of my Southeast Asia trip this summer, I returned to one of my favorite cities: Chiang Mai. Located in Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok. Not only is Chiang Mai a beautiful, well-balanced city, it is home to one of my favorite hostels. A Little Bird Guesthouse. I haven’t met anyone who has negative things to say about this hostel. But remember, we are talking about budget backpacker standards here, not a five star resort. While Little Bird is nothing fancy, it is a place to rest your head without worry, a place that is cheap, and a place that will bring you many great memories.

The price, a big factor for many backpackers, is the cheapest I’ve found yet. You pay about 100-120 BAHT per night, or about one to two dollars a night. The staff are easily approachable, speak very understandable english and are able to help you with anything that you might need. Rooms are clean and comfortable. The only downfall in my opinion is that all of the rooms are fan only, no air conditioning, and they can get quite hot. I’ve woken many a morning with my hair stuck to the sweat on my face. Despite that, I have been to that hostel three seperate times and will return whenever I have the chance to be in Chiang Mai again.

In the heart of the old city, everything is easily accessible from A Little Bird Guesthouse. The bars, restaurants and tourist information shops are all within walking distance and just across the street is Somphet Market, where you can go for some fresh fruit, vegetables, street food, or make a visit to Tip for one her delicious smoothies. You can read my previous blog post on Tip here.

What I love the most about this hostel is the atmosphere. For solo travellers especially, I would highly recommend staying here. There are two “common room”-esque areas. One is outside, right near the covered area that the staff, computers, and tourist information are. This area always has people sitting about, even in the middle of the day, basking in the sun. The other area is upstairs, which is covered and quite a bit cooler than downstairs and a good place to run if it suddenly begins to rain. With only these places to go if you want to stay at the hostel, it is impossible not to make friends within your first few hours of being there.

Things really start getting good when the sun goes down. I have never had a boring night there, although if you are looking for peace and quiet to sleep, I’ve also never had much of a problem with noise from outside waking me up. In fact, I recently spent my twenty-first birthday at this hostel and it made it into my top two birthdays, after my eighteenth, thanks to the amazing group of people I met there this time around.

If you are looking for a hostel that is cheap, clean, sociable and friendly, then I would recommend A Little Bird Guesthouse. As long as you don’t mind not having air conditioning, I can’t see anyone regretting their stay.