IMAGINE spending a month staying on a yacht moored on the Thames. Waking up every morning in a peaceful sanctuary oblivious to the hustle and bustle of life in London. Or, living like a local for three months amongst the green rolling hills of the English countryside, with walking trails on your doorstep and a quaint 15th century pub just two minutes down the road.
Now imagine if you could have all of this without forking over a huge wad of cash for the privilege.
If you’d like to keep on dreaming a little longer, imagine staying in a stylish Roman apartment with three of your mates for just £16 each per night, or an enchanting castle in the north of England for under £85 per night. Want more for less? Imagine living in Italy, Spain or France for weeks or months without having to spend a cent on accommodation.
For a traveller on a tight budget, the amount you spend on accommodation is a very important factor in how long you can afford to travel. Decent hotels are just too expensive and whilst there are some good hostels out there, staying in a ten bed dorm room is just not my idea of a good night’s sleep. So here are two good ways that I have found to experience new places and get a good night’s sleep without it costing a packet:
1. Pay to stay at someone’s place
Whether it’s in their tree house, apartment, or for those who are lucky enough to own one – their castle, there are lots of people that are willing to let you stay at their place and the easiest way to find them is online.
There are many couch surfing and room renting websites out there (like CouchSurfing.org) but the best that I have found so far is Airbnb.com. This is where I found the yacht on the Thames. A month in a spectacular location right in the thick of things was a great start to my stay in London and it only cost me £14 per night.
It’s safe and easy to book through these sorts of websites and as the popularity of this form of accommodation grows, unique places to stay (we’re talking castles, caves, campers and even aeroplanes and lighthouses) are becoming available all over the world, so head to the net next time you’re looking for a place to sleep.
2. Stay at someone’s place for free
House sitting is another great way to discover new places, get free accommodation and often make new friends, and now thanks to websites deigned to bring homeowners and house sitters together, it’s easier than ever to arrange a house sit just about anywhere in the world, making travel so much more affordable.
There are quite a few websites popping up to support this travel trend and when I checked them out, I chose two to join, MindMyHouse.com and TrustedHousesitters.com. Both require members to pay a fee, but don’t let this put you off. When you look at the savings you can make on accommodation it’s well worth paying to join. Both offer a great service and make it easy to join and set up a profile however, the one I had most success with was TrustedHousesitters.com.
I arranged my recent house sit in the UK countryside (I lived in the lovely dales of Somerset) through them and in return for caring for the homeowner’s dog Patch, they gave me use of their home, their car and Wi-Fi for the three months they were away. I had a great experience house sitting, made new friends and explored places I never even knew existed.
House sitting jobs can range in length from weekends to months and sometimes even years. CEO of TrustedHousesitters.com, Andy Peck, says, “for the average Australian who is using London as the launch pad for the odd weekend city break in Europe, it’s perfect.”
Previous listings on their website have included “an incredible chateau in France, a beach house in Hawaii, a houseboat in Amsterdam, a place in Samui for two — three months, a place on the waterfront in Sydney for three months, multi-million pound townhouses in London, a place in Malaysia’s Langkawi and an olive grove in Turkey.”
With people looking for house sitters all over the world the list of new places to explore is endless.
When I averaged out my accommodation costs for the four months I’ve been in the UK I was astounded to find that it came to a mere £3.67 per day. Now that’s what I call budget accommodation.
If you’d like to get great accommodation in some spectacular places without breaking the bank, don’t book a hotel or hostel, think outside the box and stay at someone else’s place.