Travel planning is undergoing a revolución, and it’s one you definitely want to be a part of. Long gone are the days where you need to call up a hotel, go to Marriott’s website, or even use a hotel search engine like Kayak or Priceline to make trip reservations. With so many alternative stay options on the market, hotels have had to make changes like dropping their prices or changing their amenity options to keep up with the sharing economy.
Usually I choose my accommodation type based on the length of my stay. Here are some tips on how to choose affordable lodging options so that you can splurge on other areas of your trip.
Opt for Airbnb or another similar homestay. Airbnb’s tend to be cheaper and offer more amenities. The cost of renting an entire apartment on Airbnb can be more than 20 percent cheaper than a hotel room and a private room can be more than 50 percent cheaper. Larger cities are usually teeming with Airbnb’s, so it’s likely that you can be pickier about the neighborhood you stay in than with a hotel. Perfect location at a perfect price, what could be better?
Check out reviews — it’s not uncommon that your host will have a semi-stocked kitchen ready for you. And if there’s not, even having a fridge comes in handy to store the essentials like milk, water, fruit, or yogurt. And let’s not forget the bottle of bubbles or vodka while getting ready for a night on the town! You would be surprised how much you could save just by stocking up so that you’re at least set with the essentials for breakfast. Plus, a trip to the grocery store for that much needed yogurt or fresh fruit can be an attraction in itself. You never know what local products you might come across or who you might meet.
I won’t tell you to totally forget about hotels. Sometimes that’s where you will feel most like a reina. If I have a quick stay somewhere for a night or two, sometimes the hotel option is the easiest. Luggage storage and very early or late check in can be a hassle with an Airbnb. And other than a place to store the luggage, you would be surprised at what bells and whistles even the most basic hotels might offer. There are quite a few items I’ve managed to get for free—like bottled water, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and razors. Oh, and did I mention ironing in a pinch? I talked to a housekeeping manager and she brought me behind the scenes to get a shirt ironed on the spot just in time for a meeting. Looking for an iPhone charger with a foreign adapter? Someone at the front desk is bound to have one — don’t be afraid to ask.
And don’t rule out budget-friendly hotels or hostel-like accommodations. This doesn’t have to mean staying in a bunk bed with 15 other travelers. Sometimes all you need to share is the bathroom. And with a more communal setting, these budget friendly options can offer a built-in concierge in the form of friendly travelers who arrived before you and already conquered all of the hidden gems in town.
Here’s where you can get really adventurous! Sometimes the idea of traveling for too long can be daunting—and I don’t mean because of prep and planning. I’m talking to those of you in cities where a two week vacation means two weeks less at that studio where you’re paying $3000 a month in rent. But chances are your apartment’s high monthly price tag means that there’s someone who will want to stay while you’re away. If you’re lucky, you can end up making a profit or at least paying for your vacation stay if you rent your place for a few nights on Airbnb. Worried about the hassle of someone staying in your place while you’re away? Don’t be! There are plenty of options to deal with the logistics — from handing off keys, to cleaning, to listing, and concierge-like services.
For the especially adventurous, try a house swap or house sitting site. You can stay away for absolutely free!