How to Find Cheap Accommodation in 7 Easy Steps

a traveler lounging in a small tent while traveling abroad in Europe
Accommodation is one of the biggest fixed costs travelers have and reducing that cost can lead to big savings on the road! I’m sure many backpackers would sleep in a barn if it was the cheapest accommodation they could find! Heck, I’ve slept in hammocks in national parks to save a buck!

But that’s not something you have to do.

No matter what your accommodation tastes may be, one thing everyone has in common is that no one wants to pay a fortune for it. Since you have to stay somewhere every night, reducing this expense can save you a lot of money off the total cost of your trip. Next to finding a cheap flight, finding free or inexpensive lodging will have the biggest impact on your budget.

Luckily, there are many ways to find cheap accommodation when you travel. Here are the best ways to do so:


Cheap Accommodation Tip #1: Stay in Hostels

A group of travelers hanging out by the pool at a fun and social hostel
Hostels are another option for budget travelers. In hostels, rooms are dormitory-style with all the facilities shared. Many people think of hostels as a “young person thing” and are not interested in sleeping in a dormitory. Yet people do not often realize that many hostels offer small rooms, singles, and doubles designed for solo travelers or couples.

I have met people in hostels in their 50s, 60s, and even in their 70s! The myth that they are dirty, gross places to stay designed for young people is outdated. Many hostels offer more amenities than hotels and are really clean as young people expect more comfort. These aren’t the hostels you see in movies or have the horror stories your parents talk about. They come with Wi-Fi, tour desks, bars, curtains, lockers for your stuff, big bathrooms, and lots more! I am constantly amazed at how hostels get better and better each yer.

This page has all my favorite hostels around the world if you want to learn more.

I think hostel dorms are the best value for budget travelers. Yes, you have to share a room with a lot of people, but if you are on a budget, it’s your best way to save money.

While many hostels are geared toward young travelers and set age limits, some of the bigger international chains such as YHA and Hostelling International focus more on older or group travelers. I’ve seen families, tour groups, and older travelers in hostels all over the world. A hostel is really for anyone who wants to meet other travelers, regardless of age.

Hostels are safe, secure, and cheap. Don’t overlook them — even if you’re not part of the young backpacker set.

My favorite hostel booking website is Hostelworld. They have the best inventory, deals, and interface. If you’re going to book, book with them!

And if you’re heading to Europe, consider getting a HostelPass. It’s a discount membership that offers 10-20% off hostels in Europe (as well as discounts on activities and tours).

Cheap Accommodation Tip #2: House/Pet Sit

A solo female traveler posing with pets during a pet sitting job overseas
Every year, people with pets head abroad on their holidays and have to leave their pets behind. This usually means paying for expensive animal boarding or having to rope in friends/family to watch your pets. There is, however, another option: Trusted Housesitters.

This website connects travelers looking for accommodation with locals who need a pet sitter while they are away. It’s an excellent opportunity for travelers who like to slow down and really spend a few weeks (or months) in a destination. Yes, you’ll have to watch someone’s pets, but you’ll get access to a home with a kitchen, laundry facilities, and possibly even perks like a car or pool. It can save you a fortune if you’re a long-term traveler.

House sitting is gaining in popularity, but it’s still a little-known landscape for so many travelers. You’ll need to pay to join Trusted Housesitters ($129 USD per year) but it will open up opportunities all around the globe. I know several travelers who pet sit full time, hopping from destination to destination while enjoying free accommodation along the way.

It can take time to get started as you need to build up your reviews, but once you’ve done that you’ll be able to find sitting gigs in amazing destinations!

Cheap Accommodation Tip #3: Collect Points!

The door to a cozy hotel room opening, with a rolling suitcase nearby
The best way to save on accommodation is to get it for free. If you don’t want to Couchsurf but like free accommodation, start earning and using points and miles.

Collect hotel points through various programs and redeem them for free nights at hotels. Most cards come with welcome offers that are equal to multiple nights of free hotel stays. Best of all, you can earn points just with your regular day-to-day spending. It doesn’t cost anything extra!

Here are a few posts to help you get started:

I save thousands of dollars every year thanks to points and miles. It’s the #1 thing you can do to lower your accommodation costs!

Cheap Accommodation Tip #4: Volunteer

A small hostel dorm with bunk beds in a city in Europe
Hostel workers rarely stick around for long, which means there is always a demand for new help. It’s a great way to meet other travelers while exploring a new destination. In exchange for a few hours of work each day, you’ll get a free place to stay, allowing you to save money and extend your travels

Many hostels will have job boards up if they are looking for help. But it never hurts to just ask either!

If you want to find opportunities before you head abroad, check out Worldpackers. They offer travelers a chance to find volunteer experiences overseas. In addition to hostels, it can help you find experiences with NGOs, home stays, and eco-projects all over the world.

Simply the Worldpackers website, sign up (it’s $49 USD/year, and start browsing for opportunities. It’s super fast and easy to use. You’ll get $10 off signing up if you use my link too!

Cheap Accommodation Tip #5: Stay in Hospitality Exchanges

Nomadic Matt posing with his Couchsurfing host in France while using the sharing economy
One of the best ways to get free accommodation is by staying with someone who lives where you’re going. Stay with a local who will give you a free place to rest your head, local information, and someone to hang out with. This is one of my favorite ways to save money and one that nets a really awesome cultural experience too.

There are a few websites that make this happen. Two of the most popular are:

  1. Couchsurfing
  2. BeWelcome

Couchsurfing is my favorite of them all. It’s not as popular as it used to be, but it is still the best place to start. The goal of the site is to help travelers not only save money on accommodation but also learn about the local culture by being able to stay and interact with a local.

What I especially love about Couchsurfing is that you don’t even have to stay with people either. If you’re not ready to stay with a stranger, you can just use the app to meet people. I get taken to parties, restaurants, and sites that aren’t in any guidebook all the time — all thanks to using the app!

To ensure I find a great host, I use the following criteria:

  • There has to be a picture with the profile. This just shows me that it’s a real person.
  • The profile has to be filled out. It shows they are interested and involved. Most people aren’t going to spend the time to fill this out if they aren’t going to be comfortable with strangers in their home. If someone hasn’t bothered to fill out the profile, they probably don’t use the site and I simply move on.
  • They should have reviews. If other people have stayed with or have at least traveled with the host and had a good experience, you and your stuff will probably be fine. The more positive reviews, the better.
  • Verification helps. Knowing that a person has been verified (by showing their ID to Couchsurfing) reduces the likelihood that they are going to be a crazy psycho killer. However, if someone isn’t verified but has a lot of reviews, that’s fine with me!
  • They should be active. If the person hasn’t logged on in months, I won’t waste time applying to them.

No matter what, you need to use your own judgment when picking a host. Usually, you end up messaging hosts to get a feel for them and what they expect. If it doesn’t feel right, there’s no obligation to stay with them.

Once you Couchsurf for the first time, you’ll see that there really isn’t anything to fear. And, if you do it frequently, you’ll end up saving hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on accommodation while making friends around the world.

For more information on how to crush it on these services, read this article. It will give you tips and tricks on how to find a host and how to stay safe!

Cheap Accommodation Tip #6: Stay on a Farm

a farmer working in a large rice field in Asia
WWOOF stands for “Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms” and WWOOFing around the world is an incredibly popular way to travel long-term on a budget. In exchange for working on an organic farm, travelers get free room and board — allowing them to extend their travels without breaking the bank. While you will have to work (and often work hard), it’s an amazing and immersive cultural experience that will help you extend your travels and save you lots of money.

There are thousands of farms spread out over 100 countries. Some stays are for a couple of weeks, while others can be for months. Simply sign up, pay the small fee, and you can start searching for opportunities!

For more information, check out this post, which breaks down everything you need to know to get started WWOOFing!

Cheap Accommodation Tip #7: Stay in a Monastery

A long Buddhist monk sitting on the stoop of his temple in Japan
Want something totally off the beaten track? Stay in a monastery. Accommodation in these monasteries is often very spartan, containing no more than a bed and desk, with simple meals prepared by the monks and nuns. Monasteries are very family-friendly and quiet (most also have curfews). While many monasteries cost at least $50 USD a night per person (many have dorms for half that price), most simply ask for donations or are free, making them an amazing budget option too.

Resources for finding a monastery stay:

  1. Monastery Stays
  2. How to Stay in a Monastery
  3. 15 Great Monastery Stays

Cheap Accommodation Tip #8: Stay in Airbnb

a comfortable Airbnb apartment rental for travelers
Similar to home exchanges, rentals allow people to stay in furnished apartments while traveling. These apartments are cheaper than hotels and provide many more amenities. They are great if you plan to spend a week or more in one place. You’ll get all the comforts of home without spending a fortune.

These apartments are a nice bridge between a hostel and hotel, though they can get a bit expensive if you are a solo traveler. They are roughly double the cost (if not more) than a hostel dorm room. However, if you are part of a group or a couple and are looking for a respite from the dorms and hordes of travelers but don’t want a hotel room, this is your ideal accommodation option. Another reason to use this method? You get a kitchen, allowing you to cook and reduce your food costs.

But let’s face it. Everyone uses websites now. Airbnb is a major platform and one of the primary ways people travel now. If you don’t want a hotel but also don’t want a hostel dorm, this is the perfect middle ground.

Here’s my guide to finding the perfect Airbnb or short term stay.

My Favorite Accommodation Resources

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo during a photoshoot in Europe
Here are some of my favorite websites for finding the best accommodation deals. If I’m looking for a cheap place to stay, these are the sites I always check first:

  • – My go-to site for finding hostels.
  • – The best website for finding budget guest houses, hotels, and more.
  • – Another great website for homestays and guest houses, especially in Asia.
  • – The biggest (and best) pet-sitting platform.
  • – A great app for finding free acommodation with locals.
  • – My go-to app for renting apartments/homes while traveling.


It has never been easier to find cheap accommodation — if you know where to look. So, the next time you head out on the road, consider one of the options above. They will help you reduce your expenses, freeing up more money so you can do activities, eat out, drink more, and overall, experience the destination you saved so long to visit.