Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean that you’re relegated to a fleabag motel that hasn’t seen a vacuum cleaner in years.
On the contrary, with a bit of planning, you can be rewarded with some really unique experiences in stunning surroundings, especially if you think outside the typical chain hotel.
Agritourism has long been popular in Europe, and a growing number of farms across the United States are opening their barn doors to visitors, as well. Each individual farm offers a unique experience, which could involve anything from interacting with animals, learning to cook or tasting wine. Rates can be very reasonable (starting around $50 per night; larger farms charge rates in line with hotels) and sometimes include full farm-fresh breakfasts.
Room or home rentals
Renting a room or an entire house is an option that is becoming more popular among travelers. Several sites, including VRBO and Airbnb — and even Craigslist — connect travelers with people looking to rent out their spaces. This is a great option that allows you to enjoy home-style amenities like a kitchen and laundry facilities.
For a recent month-long trip to Boynton Beach, Florida, I used Craigslist to find a condo in a gated community with a private beach, along with upgraded pool and fitness facilities. I got a fantastic deal of $75 per night during peak season — and the owner avoided the hefty referral fees that go along with listing a home on a traditional vacation-rental site.
Bed and breakfasts
A bed and breakfast gives you a built-in connection to people who live and work in the community you’re visiting. That kind of local knowledge can be invaluable as you explore the sights. Plus, you’ll probably enjoy amenities that remind you of home and start out each day with a home-cooked hot breakfast.
Whether you’re an informal couch surfer reconnecting with old friends or family members who own property in your vacation destination or you use a formal site, such as Couch Surfing, this method of travel offers a lot of flexibility — if not privacy. Couch surfing usually costs nothing.
A beloved tradition of college students, staying in a hostel isn’t limited to young travelers. Families and senior citizens are welcome to stay in hostels in corners all across the world.
Hostels offer no-frills accommodations for a low price. The most expensive hostels, in New York and London, cost upward of $45 per night, while smaller hostels can cost as little as $15.
Volunteer vacations combine your love of adventure and your heart for helping others, and they can be a very inexpensive way to see the world. Choose your voluntourism trip by cause or by destination. For example, if you love animals, you can find a trip that will allow you to help restore natural habitats, nurse sick animals back to health or help with a variety of other projects. There are volunteer trips designed for families, as well as for singles and couples.