Let’s face it, staying in hotels when you’re out and about is, in many ways, just plain inconvenient. The neighbors are always too close. Check out time always comes too early. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some alternative lodgings? If you’re ready to break from the norm, there are some other accommodations that may be less expensive and will almost always be more fun.
House Swapping: How about paying nothing for your vacation home? It’s a possibility, if you’re willing to let someone else stay in yours. Home exchanges are becoming more prevalent as part of the national and international scene. Swapping can be a great way to plan a romantic getaway or family vacation for a lot less. Some caution is warranted, of course, as scams exist in this industry. You also want to take good care of your host’s home and know than yours will be cared for as well. Coordinating the swap through a site like HomeExchange will make the process easier and safer.
Working for Accommodations: If you’re healthy, ambitious and would like to really get to know a foreign country, consider a working vacation. One of the more pleasant trends in the travel industry is the growing number of opportunities in work exchange programs. Put simply, farms, ranches, bed and breakfasts and other establishments around the world will trade a few hours of work for lodging and sometimes meals. Hours and schedules vary, as do the tasks involved and skills required. If this sounds like your cup of tea, visit HelpExchange for more information.
Rent a Beach Yurt. If you’re planning some beach time, you probably already know that beachfront properties aren’t cheap rentals. Fortunately, if you’re willing to add a new word to your vocabulary, there may be a less expensive alternative. In simple terms, a modern yurt is a portable, cylindrical structure with a conical roof and lattice walls covered with high-tech materials. Because of their portability, stability and surprising comfort, these space-age versions of nomadic housing make great beach shelters and can be rented relatively cheaply in many areas. To find out more, Google “beach yurt rentals”.
Rent a Home on Wheels. The RV industry is as strong as ever and over the past decade, motorhome and travel trailer rentals have become more practical. While a recreational vehicle may or may not prove to be less expensive than a hotel, it does offer some distinct advantages. Your room is always ready, as long as you have a place to park it. Fix your own meals or try a restaurant on the road. Pick your own route and schedule. A few online searches will tell you whether this option is available in the country you plan to visit.
Timeshare Rentals: While purchasing a timeshare is a terrible idea, renting one can be a wonderful hotel alternative. As TimeshareTrap notes, many people can’t use their timeshares which allows you to rent them at a huge discount over what it would cost to buy them without any of the risk. Timeshares tend to be larger than hotel rooms with kitchen facilities so you can save on eating out and usually rent for a comparable price as hotel accommodations in the same area.
Campgrounds: If you’re the outdoor type, why bother with walls? Sleep out under the stars and enjoy fresh air, wildlife and a little slower pace. If you’re a typical, “woodsy” U.S. camper, you may be surprised to learn that in Europe, camping is often within walking distance of most towns. This doesn’t mean you need to be a backpacker, only that if you carry a tent, chances are you’ll find a place to pitch it. You’ll want to watch out for torrential rains or werewolves, but don’t overlook camping as an option in many places.
Learn to Couch Surf: Last, but not least, it’s not only possible, but easy, to crash on a couch or spare bed along the way. Homeowners all over the world are opening up sleeping space and often a meal to weary travelers over the web. It’s fun and friendly and may just be one of the highlights of the trip. Take a look at CouchSurfing.org to see if it will work for you.
Have you tried any of these hotel alternatives? Please let us know your thoughts and/or experiences below.