Accommodation represents a considerable budget in our lives as long-distance travelers and it can easily cause our expenses to explode if we are not careful.
In this article, we present our tips for saving money using the methods and tools that we use regularly. They don’t work miracles, but they allow us to stay without unpleasant surprises, neither in price nor in quality!
Before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s talk about the budget. We think we are in the middle of the accommodation budget for long-distance travelers. Neither too high, to avoid making a hole in our wallets, nor too low, because we are not ready to give up on a minimum of comfort and privacy. For example, we exclude hostel dormitories and Couch Surfing Enjoy your journey by lots of things to do in spain .
Over our first four years of nomadism around the world, we spent an average of €900 per month for two, or about €30 per night.
Short-term accommodations (a hotel for a few nights) tend to drive the average up, while apartment rentals of a month or more drive it down. Clearly, we could lower our budget even further if we didn’t move as much. But that is a choice!
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Here is our list of recommendations and tips for saving on accommodation, in the short, medium or long term.
Stay outside the city center
When you do not know a city, it is tempting to choose your accommodation in the heart of the tourist area or in a famous district: Montmartre in Paris, Trastevere in Rome… You can find cheaper, while moving away from tourists and by getting closer to the local population. The objective is to locate the rare pearl: a neighborhood a little out of the way, popular, lively and well served by public transport.
One effective tool is the Hood maps collaborative site . Explore the map of a city and find out how the neighborhoods are qualified: lively, bourgeois, hipster, student… We quite agree with the adjectives used for the cities where we have lived.
Out of the center
In a smaller town, it is often enough to move barely a kilometer from the center to obtain attractive rates. Just check that the neighborhood is not too isolated or too dangerous.
When we can’t easily find neighborhood information, our technique is to run Booking or Airbnb searches, click on random accommodations, and read reviews. As these two platforms ask visitors to assign a score to the geographical location of the accommodation, you can consult the average of this specific criterion. Browse the comments for more details. You will notice that, the further the accommodation is from the center, the more travelers open up about their feelings about the neighborhood , for good or bad.
Bring competition between hotel booking platforms
The two biggest players in the hotel reservation market are Booking (Priceline group, which also owns Agoda.com and Kayak.com) and Expedia (which also owns Hotels.com and Venere.com). Since these two companies are at war to get the best rates from hoteliers, it pays to always compare them .
A few things to know:
Booking often offers on-site payment, which is more convenient and flexible than prepayment. We like its intuitive interface and its many filters.
Expedia can offer real discounts on Flight + Hotel combos.
Many other sites disguise the fact that they are actually based on the Booking or Expedia platforms. Sometimes they add a little extra margin.
The Agoda site, which now belongs to the same group as Booking, is quite good at offering the best rates in Asia .
We prefer not to choose our hotel by trusting the reviews left on local platforms (such as Agoda in Asia), because they are often written by local customers who do not have the same requirements as us. For example, we prefer a calm and cute bedroom to a giant television.
In conclusion: we select two or three hotels on our favorite platform ( Booking ), then we check whether they are offered at a lower price on another platform (eg Agoda in Asia).
Take advantage of loyalty programs
The biggest booking sites have loyalty programs that allow you to obtain advantages or reductions. In return and as its name suggests, the loyalty program will tend to keep you on a platform.