Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple or a big family, you all have something in common: A need for accommodations while on vacation. Depending on where and when you travel, hotels can be expensive and often book quickly. Fortunately, there are a wide range of convenient and affordable alternatives all around the world. All you have to do is look. Being aware of other choices could help you save money on your next trip and just might add some unexpected fun to the experience.
Did you know you can even stay in some RV parks if you don’t have your own RV? For example, there’s more than one RV Park in Florida that offers onsite RV, mobile home or cabin rentals for people who need accommodations but don’t have an RV. However, it’s a good idea to call ahead to find out about the accommodations and make reservations. There are plenty of parks with a host of deluxe amenities and organized activities and events for kids and adults alike. Plus, people in the RV community are known for being friendly and helpful, so you may even make some new friends.
This is one of the most popular alternatives to hotel stays. As a cross between a vacation rental and a homestay, platforms like Airbnb, Homestay, and 9flats offer travelers a way to rent a room in someone’s house — or in some cases the entire home — for a relatively low nightly rate depending on location. Vacation rentals give hosts a way to make excess money on unused space and travelers an accommodation that provides a more homey, local travel experience. Often, hosts will be available for recommendations and offer ideas to enhance your stay.
If you’re headed to a destination near either canals, rivers — or set right on a lake or ocean — houseboats are a fun possibility. These opportunities are most popular in waterside countries such as Italy, Australia, the Netherlands and France. Boat stays could be anything from a large yacht to a smaller cruiser with a cozy cabin. When you choose opt for a houseboat, you can trade hotel screen time for starry skies and beautiful sunrises. Although not for everybody, staying on a houseboat offers a change of scenery, a unique experience and the peace and tranquility of sleeping on the water.
If you want to vacation in a local’s home for free and have your house occupied at the same time, consider a house swap. You just synchronize your vacation dates with the other party and exchange homes during that time. To find someone interested in trading places, there are several housing-swap websites available to make finding a connection easier.
Tent camping is a great alternative if you’re looking for a way to take a break from technology and the fast-moving pace of urban life. If you’re not up for pitching a tent and would rather try your hand at “glamping,” opt for a campground that has yurts or cabins. Enjoying s’mores over a campfire, beautiful sunsets, starry nights and a relaxing, immersive, outdoor experience can be some of the best ways to get to know a new destination.
Something most people don’t even know about is that often, during breaks when students go home, many university and college dormitories are open to visitors. This is a very affordable opportunity for anyone in need of the basics — especially if you would rather spend the money you saved enjoying all the city you’re visiting has to offer. To find campuses with openings, you might want to call campuses directly. There also may be a tourist board online with more information about the location you’ll be visiting as well. A bonus: Oftentimes, areas surrounding campuses are prime locations for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
Probably the most surprising and unconventional accommodations options are religious institutions, which can be an ideal choice for those looking for a quiet, clean environment to call home. Convents, monasteries and Christian and Jewish guesthouses are all viable options for cheap — and sometimes even free — lodging, especially if you’re planning a trip to Jerusalem or Italy. Many will welcome children and may have larger rooms specifically for families. Keep in mind that not all religious housing accommodations will accept unmarried couples or people not affiliated with the specific religion. Be sure to ask locals or check tourist boards online to find places with availability.