Nowadays, travelers have many options when it comes to choosing a place to sleep. Many new types of accommodations have popped up in past years offering much more choice and flexibility.


Alternatives to hotels not only offer a more affordable choice, they also offer a more unique and authentic experience. With a bit of research and an adventurous spirit you can find a rich variety of places to lay your head down on your next trip.

1. Hostels

Many people think of hostels as something only for young travelers. This is simply not true. Many hostels offer private rooms designed for solo travelers or couples and accommodate travelers of all ages. This form of accommodation can be ideal for budget travelers of any age and can be a great way to meet fellow travelers.

  • Hostel World
  • Hostel Bookers

2. Short Term Rentals

Another option is to rent someone’s home on a short term basis. These accommodations tend to be more spacious than hotel rooms. They’re a good bargain for families and groups who can split the cost. Additionally having a kitchen can save you money because you won’t need to eat out as often.

  • AirBnb
  • VRBO
  • 9flats
  • Join Overnight
  • Wimdu
  • Roomorama

3. Home Exchange

In a home exchange you swap homes with a family from another country. It’s a great way to live cheaply abroad. You live in your exchange family’s home while they live in your home. You get all the comforts of home (hot water, laundry, etc.) while in another city for free.

  • Home Exchange
  • International Home Exchange Network (IHEN)
  • Home for Exchange
  • Seniors Home Exchange

4. House Sitting

House-sitting allows you to live in someone’s home for free. In exchange you will often be required to look after pets and care for the property during your stay. If you want to spend a lot of time out and about, you’ll also need to consider whether this works for the home owner and the animals in your care. If you love animals are are looking for a comfortable and free accommodation this could be the perfect option for you!

  • House Sitting World
  • House Siting Magazine
  • TrustedHousesitters
  • MindMyHouse

5. Homestays

Sleeping in someone’s spare bedroom or on their couch is one way to save on accommodations. Often, it’s free and is a great way to meet locals. Locals provide you with a place to stay, travel tips for their city, and are often willing to show you around.

  • Couch surfing
  • Stay4Free
  • Global Freeloaders
  • Hospitality Club

6. Language Exchange

Getting free accommodation in exchange for helping your host improve a foreign language is a great option. It’s a budget friendly option and gives you the opportunity to stay with like minded locals who love to travel and practice foreign languages. In exchange for speaking with the locals and helping them improve their foreign language skills, you will have a free place to stay.

  • Talk Talk Bnb

7. Overnight Onboard a Boat

If you love the water and don’t get sea sick, spending the night on a boat is a unique affordable accommodation alternative to hotels. Port cities around the world have boat owner who will rent out their boats while they are docked for travelers to spend the night in.

  • HarbourSpot

8. Religious Housing

Depending on where you’re traveling, there may be accommodations offered by religious organizations. Most ask for donations or are free, making them a unique experience and great budget option.

Affordable Accommodation Alternatives to Hotels

There are a variety of affordable accommodation alternatives to hotels, many offer the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience and save money. Are there any that I missed? Let me know in the comments!



Alannah has a serious case of itchy feet and incurable wanderlust! Originally from Canada, Alannah went on her first international trip at the age of fifteen to Paris France. Since then, her passion for travel and adventure has continued to grow. She has currently been to over 30 countries and lived in 3. She writes a travel blog where she shares her adventures and tips for travelling solo and travelling on a budget.