How do you save bags of money on your round the world backpacking trip without missing out on all the fun stuff?
Know where to find cheap rooms and budget accommodation!
After your round the world tickets, accommodation will probably take the next biggest bite out of your backpacking budget — especially if you travel solo. And in some countries, that can really make your eyes water.
But it doesn't have to.
There are plenty of ways you can sleep cheap (and even completely free!), all over the world.
Having visions of sleepless nights, tossing and turning in creaky bunk beds full of creepy-crawlies? Concerned about the security of your backpacking gear in cramped, overcrowded dormitories? Wondering just how far down the corridor those shared bathrooms are going to be?
See the photo just above?
That was taken at a youth hostel I recently stayed at myself. Yes, a budget backpackers hostel. With a restaurant, bar, tours desk, free Internet and free pickup from the train station to boot.
Not too shabby for $6 a night, huh?
These cheap rooms pages aren't about staying in dives, crashing on park benches or denying yourself a great travel experience just to save a buck or two (not unless you want to, that is!).
They're about showing you how and where to find places to sleep that are safe, clean, comfortable, fun . . . but also backpacker budget-friendly.
Cheap rooms in hostels (also referred to as youth hostels or sometimes just backpackers) are more or less the standard on round the world backpacking trips. You won't go far without staying in one.
If this is your first time hostelling, start by getting the lowdown on how to choose the best hostels, which ones to avoid and what to expect when you get there.
For backpack packing tips, have a quick look at the hostel kit checklist. Please remember to read the hostel safety tips, too.
Of course, you'll also want to know where to book your backpackers hostels to get the best and cheapest cheap rooms. Or maybe you want to know how to stay for free?
It's all here.
Did you know that schools and universities with student accommodation often offer cheap rooms to travellers (of all ages) when classes are out?
Yes, many educational institutions around the world open their student residences (or even classrooms) to visitors over the summer months and sometimes also at other times of the year.
This doesn't always mean hostel-style dorm rooms, either. I've often scored private rooms with en suite bathrooms as well. Mind you, I've also slept on mattresses tossed onto classroom floors!
Not a student? Doesn't matter.
Want a truly authentic experience? Try a local family homestay!
One of the best ways to really immerse yourself in the country you're visiting is to stay with a host family.
Most families who offer homestays are extremely hospitable. And many of those who speak enough English welcome the opportunity to spend some time getting to know you as well.
They're often very interested in learning about your country and, in return, showing you theirs.
Some will even give you a room for free if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and do a little work around the house!
Even if you're not after this sort of cross-cultural or help exchange and you only just want cheap rooms for a few nights, you'll still get a unique and fascinating glimpse into your host family's culture and way of life.
Homestays are more common in some countries than others and they're not always easy to locate. So, head over to the homestays page for tips on how to go about finding and booking a stay in a private home.
Right. I'll admit I'm not exactly enamoured with sleeping in backpacking tents. And I really don't like the idea of a sleeping pad, sleeping bag (however ultralight) and other bulky camping gear taking up space in and weighing down my backpack.
Still, I do camp out from time to time.
On a few occasions it's been because I was travelling at the height of the tourist season in popular destinations and couldn't find any cheap rooms anywhere (take my advice and book ahead).
But usually it's because camping is actually part of the adventure.
After all, who would turn down a wildlife camping safari in the Serengeti, camping under the stars in the Australian outback or desert camping amongst the sand dunes of the Sahara?
Prefer your budget accommodation with a few more creature comforts than a campsite?
Rest assured you've got lots of other cheap rooms to choose from. They probably won't be your absolute cheapest options, but they might very well be your next best budget options.
Check out some quaint little guesthouses (which, in some countries, are actually pretty much like hostels), cosy bed and breakfast inns and family-run pensiones.
Consider self-catering accommodation if you're travelling in a group and want to stay put for a week or two (or more).
And definitely look into the free rooms you can get at some of these places in exchange for a few hours' help with the daily chores or other small projects!
Staying in nothing but dirt cheap accommodation night after night can wear anyone out after a while. You get tired of saggy mattresses, cold showers and having to share your personal space with strangers at every turn.
So why not treat yourself to a half decent budget hotel every now and again?
Think hotels are out of your price range? You might be surprised to see just how cheap hotels (and even more so, motels) can be in some places. Especially during the low season.
Learn where to look and you can snag some unbelievable hotel deals on cheap rooms almost anywhere.
Up for something a little different?
Maybe a traditional nomadic yurt in Mongolia, a compact capsule hotel in Japan or a 19th century monastery in Italy?
How about a genuine Russian kremlin, a former Latvian KGB prison or a Tunisian troglodyte cave hotel?
You've also got thatched-roof rondavels in South Africa's national parks, wooden beach huts dotted along Thailand's idyllic coastlines and floating hostel boats moored on some of Europe's most beautiful waterways.
You could even spend a few nights in an Amazonian jungle treehouse or in northern Sweden's spectacular Ice Hotel!
Okay, so that last one's not exactly cheap . . . but it's very cool.
Be sure to check out the free accommodation pages, too!