Hostels are great when you’re backpacking.
They’re cheap, generally in the thick of the action and full of like-minded lads and lasses geared up to have a good time. But no matter how much fun you’re having, after a while the prospect of checking in to another twelve bed dorm for a guaranteed sleepless night can be too much to bear.
If you’re looking to mix things up for your next trip, but still need to stick to a budget, here are three alternatives to the hostel scene that won’t break the bank.
Airbnb is a website that allows people to rent out their homes.
The company started out six years ago in a San Francisco loft and now boasts accommodation in 34,000 cities and 192 countries around the world. Hosts rent out everything from their spare room to their entire house, with prices ranging from rock bottom to five star. You can even choose to stay in one of over 600 castles listed on the site.
The community is based around trust, but is backed up by verified IDs for hosts, a review system that quickly warns you of dodgy operators and a pretty comprehensive insurance policy. Plus, no money ever changes hands – it’s all handled online to avoid any messy disputes.
Airbnb offers a unique take on travel accommodation, far away from the tourist traps and tour operators that plague the more established options. It’s well worth a look.
We’ve all seen those grainy shots of our parents sitting around a VW Kombi, sipping beers as they enjoy a perfect sunset over a Mexican beach.
Or was that the latest Corona ad?
Either way, a road trip in a brightly coloured camper van is a time honoured travel tradition. Pioneered by the hippie movement in the 60s and 70s, camper vans are a symbol of adventure, youth and freedom, and are great if you’re an explorer by nature.
If you’re interested, the best option is to try and pick up an authentic old VW from an aging rocker, but otherwise plenty of companies rent out more modern vehicles. Check out Wicked Campers to start with.
There’s also a bustling second hand market for pre-loved vans, which can often be found fully kitted out for the road at bargain prices as the previous owners rush to sell them before heading home.
Couch surfing offers a different take on the Airbnb concept for the more adventurous souls out there.
It’s a simple concept: hosts list their couches on www.couchsurfing.org and people who need a place to crash get in touch with them.
Couch surfing is free and can be an amazing way to meet people in new countries and get immersed in the local culture on a shoestring budget. But there are certainly safety issues to think about, and the thought of sleeping on a well-used couch might be a little off putting for some, so be prepared and stick to well-reviewed sofas.
Image courtesy Carine Felgueiras, via Flickr