When you are travelling on your own, we all know finding and booking places to stay can become quite expensive. Here are 5 top tips to save money on accommodation while travelling solo! (which I have used on my travels!).
1. Go on tours
I went on a total of four tours in both the USA and Europe with Topdeck Travel, staying in a mix of hostels and hotels.
How can going on tours save you money on accommodation?
- You are part of a group and because you part of a group, you have to share. Everyone in the travelling world knows that sharing with others = costs less.
- Tours groups get discounts on accommodation, and when the figures are worked out, it is actually cheaper than booking the accommodation on your own. Topdeck travel explain and detail in their brochures a comparison of the costs of booking one of their tours as opposed to booking entirely on your own.
Here is an example from Topdeck Travel’s Europe Summer brochure with the breakdown of costs:
3. During high peak seasons such as USA and European Summer accommodation does not come cheap, and often it may be unavailable or totally booked out well in advance. Booking tours can cut costs and guarantees that you get to visit and stay in the places you want to go to. This proves to be very helpful if your travel time is limited and you want to cover a lot of destinations.
4. Most tour companies have their accommodation booked in advance, so when you book your tour, accommodation is one less thing you need to worry about!
5. When you book tours in advance (for example: 6 months or more in advance) you can score yourself a hefty discount. I booked my European Tour early and got the tour at last year’s prices, which saved me a few hundred dollars. So you could save even more money!
6. I encourage anyone to book tours when you are travelling alone because you can make many international connections, and especially on tours from Topdeck Travel and Contiki Tours, most of the travellers are Australians, so you can make some connections back home too!
2. Stay in hostels
When you’re a solo traveller, one night in a hotel can be too expensive, so staying in hostels is a great option!
Why should I stay in a hostel?
– Hostels around the world are usually very cheap, especially if you are prepared to share, and hostels have more than just dorm rooms; they are fitted with girls-only, boys-only, singles, doubles and also family rooms! Often included in the room price is your breakfast each morning which can save you even more money! Check out my post 4 Ways To SAVE MONEY on Food When Travelling Solo for more information on how to save money on food when travelling solo!
– Hostels are also ideal if you want to meet other travellers. I met two young American girls in my hostel in Salzburg, and one night we went out for dinner together at the markets in the city swapping travel stories and adventures!
– I know many travellers who do not want to experience staying in a hostel, because they are under the impression that hostels are dirty, gross and unsafe which is totally untrue; hostels are definitely safe, secure and cheap and the best way for budget travellers to save money!
– On my Topdeck 28-day tour through Europe we stayed in hostels the majority of the time, and I can recall only one hostel that was not that great (and luckily we only stayed there one night!). The benefit of booking a tour that stays in hostels is tour groups take up a whole dormitory room anyway, and you can share among friends!
If you may not be a staying-in-hostels type of person, I encourage you to at least try it once and embrace the experience! In hostels I prefer to stay in all-female dorms, and have a mix of both hostels and/or hotels in my trip plans!
Best Advice for Staying in Hostels
READ THE REVIEWS!!! One of the best hostel websites I have used to book trips is Hostelworld. Hostelworld allows you to make comparisons between various hostels in a wide range of locations from around the world all on one website, so it makes bookings a lot easier!
3. Use Airbnb
This was one of my biggest money savers on both accommodation and food. I highly recommend that you try Airbnb, especially if you are a solo traveller!
Airbnb is a website that offers homestays in a wide range of locations from all over the world. Airbnb hosts advertise their apartments/spare rooms/caravans/beach homes and you can book to stay with someone! It is free to signup and make an account! Here is a screenshot of the Airbnb website homepage:
Why should I book my travel accommodation with Airbnb?
– You get a true local and cultural experience
– You get lots of travel tips from your hosts (they know exactly where to go and what to do!)
– Cost effective: Through my experiences with Airbnb, I have found them to be more cost effective than any hostel or hotel. Airbnb can be a little more costly than a hostel, but a bit less than a hotel; in the end it all comes down to your personal preferences i.e. whether you are looking for luxury or you’re happy sleeping on a sofabed in a spare room. I have saved a lot of money on accommodation, public transportation, food and wifi in many of my Airbnb experiences!
– Reviews: You as a guest can write a review of your host on the Airbnb website, and the host can also write a review about you!
– The experience of feeling at home: On my world travel adventure last year (2014) I stayed in countless hotels and hostels, and staying with Airbnb in a nice house or apartment made me feel like I was at home and was a welcomed change.
– Search filters: You can filter your searches for your next holiday! Some examples of filters include, price, location, how many beds, type of space from a whole apartment to one room, how many bathrooms, host language and many more!
My first Airbnb experience
My very first Airbnb experience was in Hollywood and it was my very first stop on my 4.5 month world travel adventure! I stayed with a lovely Swedish born girl by the name of Janni. She is an aspiring actress and lives with her dog named Joy and her two cats! I stayed in her small, yet cosy studio apartment for four nights.
She was an excellent, amazing and wonderful host! I had free access to the bathroom, kitchen (including ingredients in the kitchen!), plus I had free access to her wifi. In comparison to hostels and hotels, the wifi either has a weak signal strength or you have to pay for it.
The location of Janni’s studio apartment was absolutely perfect for me! Janni lived a ten minute walk from the grocery store, which was highly convenient for me! I decided to save money and get some exercise so I walked to and from the grocery store if I needed anything! I am sure solo travellers everywhere know that it is more cost effective to cook your own meals rather than regularly eating out.
What was more convenient was the train station was the same walking distance (ten minutes) from her apartment as well. Each day I walked to the train station, and after only 2-3 stops I was in the centre of Hollywood, and she was also one train stop from Universal Studios!
Janni also lived a thirty minute walk to the Griffith Observatory. The Griffith Observatory is a never-to-be-missed attraction in Hollywood, because you get to experience just gorgeous views of Hollywood, plus you can get close to the Hollywood sign! One day Janni, her dog Joy and myself hiked up to the top; seeing the spectacular views and the Hollywood sign was an experience I will never forget!
I had a wonderful stay with Janni and left her a raving review on the Airbnb website. I would highly recommend staying with her if you ever find yourself visiting Hollywood. The name of her apartment listing on Airbnb is on my review photo below:
After my very first Airbnb experience in Hollywood at the start of my trip, I ended up booking six more Airbnb experiences! Airbnb is how I prefer to travel; staying with locals who live and know the area well can give you an inside perspective, and also a cultural experience. For me, that rates higher than any hotel or hostel stay I have ever had.
I saved money on both food, public transport and accommodation. To stay at Janni’s studio apartment for four nights I paid $177 USD, which averages to be about $44 USD per night, what a bargain!
4. Stay outside of the city
Staying in the centre of a main city in either a hostel or hotel is too expensive for a solo traveller! It is a lot cheaper and you will save yourself a lot of money if you stay a little outside of the major cities.
Staying in North Hollywood, California, USA
When I was staying with Janni, I stayed outside of the centre of Hollywood and was 2-3 train stations away paying $44 per night, and to stay in the city as a solo traveller would have cost me double that amount! Staying outside of the city was definitely a lot cheaper, and from my experience it was also a lot safer.
Staying in New Jersey, USA
On my five day trip exploring New York City, I actually stayed in New Jersey (a stone’s throw away from New York City: Literally across the river!). Why? Staying in the centre of the city in New York was just too expensive! Other accommodation I researched in New York City was all booked out weeks in advance during the Summer time (high peak season). I paid about $52 USD per night to stay in New Jersey and for a private room in New York City with Airbnb it would have cost me over $100 USD per night!
In New Jersey I stayed with a beautiful Columbian family and it was one of my favourite Airbnb experiences to date! Each day I made the commute like many others who live in New Jersey, to the big NYC which took about 30-40 minutes via public transport. This Airbnb experience saved me money on accommodation, food, public transport, wifi and it was a much quieter neighbourhood as opposed to the hustle and bustle of New York City (noise factor for some travellers is very important!)
Staying outside of Munich city, Germany
In Munich I stayed with a young married couple who lived 20 minutes out of Munich city in a quiet little town. It worked out to be much cheaper to commute to Munich city each day than staying in the centre of the city; my experience in Munich just like my other Airbnb experience saved me money on accommodation, food and wifi.
5. Stay with friends
This is the best way to save money on accommodation because most of the time it is FREE! In the USA, I travelled with one of my closest friends and staying in hotels together brought down the cost of accommodation for the both of us. In London, England I stayed with a friend in her apartment for free which helped me save a lot of money whilst I was travelling in and out of Europe.
I hope you will find accommodation tips both helpful and useful for your travels!
Have you tried some of these money-saving tips before on your travels? Have you used Airbnb before? What was your experience? Leave a comment in the section below, I would love to hear from you!