The infamous hostel can be a study abroad student’s best friend, as they’re budget friendly and staying in one can be a fun way to meet other travelers. But hostels are not the only accommodation option when you’re studying abroad. In fact, some options are completely free and will allow you to travel and live more like a local than staying at a hostel would. Check out these four alternatives to hostels, listed in order of cost.
If you’re planning on traveling with only one or two other people, or better yet, SOLO, Couchsurfing could be a good option for you, and will save you a ton of money.
Hosts in the couchsurfing community offer up any extra beds and couches in that they have in their homes for free to travelers. Why do they do this? Because they love to meet new people from all around the world.
Couchsurfing is not just a free bed, it’s a chance to see the local side of the city with your host, and they’ll usually offer to take you on a tour, show you the best local spots, introduce you to their friends, and may even offer you a ride to the airport.
Once you’re signed up on the site, you’ll need to fill out your profile and find a host that’s willing to have you, but it’s worth the extra time it may take you to find a spot. You can also try The Hospitality Club, a site that is similar to Couchsurfing.
Families around the world go on extended vacations, and you can make sure their house (and sometimes pets) are taken care of for free or almost free– it’s a pretty cool deal. This option is usually for periods longer than two weeks so this may be better for when your study abroad semester is over, but sometimes short term gigs pop up. You’ll have to communicate with the house owners so they can make sure you’ll be a good fit, and some of the sites you’ll have to pay for a membership fee for, but in the long run, you’ll save a ton on accommodation and food too, since you’ll have access to a kitchen.
If your study abroad group likes to travel in large packs on the weekends, renting out a large apartment or house could end up being more economical than staying in a hostel. You’ll also have your very own space, with a kitchen and private bathrooms. Hosts who rent their places on sites like Airbnb, Wimdu, and Roomorama are also often willing to give you great local tips on the city you’re staying in. There are some really unique properties on these apartment rental sites, so do your research– you may find yourself with 20 of your study abroad friends staying in a treehouse!
I know what you’re thinking– the whole reason you stay in a hostel is because hotels are expensive. But sometimes they aren’t! If you’re going to a city that is either not a popular tourist destination or has a very low cost of living, you’ll be able to find decent hotels for decent prices.
Budapest is great example, I once stayed in a clean and simple hotel room for around 20 USD per person per night, which included a lovely breakfast. Not terrible– you’d for sure pay more for a hostel bed in Paris. Sometimes it’s just nice to splurge a bit so you can come back to a room with fluffy clean towels and soft white sheets after a long day of sightseeing!
Have you tried any of these accommodation options while traveling? What were your experiences like? Let us know in the comments!
Photo sources: Airbnb