Should you be venturing across the world with a backpack in the near future, chances are that you have at least one reservation at a hostel already booked. Hostels have, after all, been a significant staple of the life of a backpacker now for many years. Somewhere along the line however, everyone has gotten it into their heads that the only way to travel on a budget is to utilize such shared accommodation. This is not at all the case!
Although hostels are certainly cheap and many people consider their social atmosphere to be a major plus, they are certainly not the only option out there to those traveling on a tight budget. Not only are there similarly priced options that offer a bit more privacy, there are also many ways to sleep for free while traveling. I will now outline five of the best alternatives to hostels for the modern backpacker.
Although almost all backpackers have in the very least heard of couch surfing, a surprising amount have never actually tried it. The best thing about couch surfing is of course, the fact that it is completely free. It is a global community of like minded travelers that open up their homes to those on the road. The simple idea being that when you are at home, you let others stay on your couch, floor or bed for free and when you are traveling, others do the same for you in return.
Although it may at first sound a little bit dodgy, venturing into strangers homes, the safety of the platform is greatly increased thanks to a novel rating system. Every time a member stays with somebody or has somebody stay with them, both parties leave feedback on each other. Therefore before staying with anyone, you can look through unbiased reviews from people that have done so before. Provided you only stay with reputable members, you are virtually guaranteed to enjoy your stay.
A significantly more luxurious option than staying in a hostel is of course staying in a private room in somebody’s home. In the past, there were two problems with doing so however. The first was that short term rooms were difficult to find and second problem was that those that could be found were a bit on the expensive side.
Airbnb.com solves both of these problems by offering travelers the chances to book private rooms in peoples apartments in much the same way that they would a hotel. The site shows up to date availability for tens of thousands of private rooms across the world and you can book and pay online. And although the experience is similar to a hotel in terms of both privacy and standards, the average price of a private room on Airbnb.com is significantly cheaper and well within the budget of the average backpacker.
Although the other options on this list have only been available for a few years, camping was around long before there were even hostels. For some reason however, many backpackers are put off the idea for fear of poor facilities and eight legged friends. Both fears are very much unwarranted however with the quality of both campsites and camping equipment now at sufficient levels to offer a nights sleep well on par with what you can expect at a hostel. You can also expect significantly less snoring and a much lower price.
Work for your Bed
Although this option is certainly not for the lazy backpackers out there, it could be the perfect solution for those on incredibly tight budgets. Helpx.net facilitates contact between backpackers and those who are willing to provide food and lodging for a few hours work.
Typical jobs include house work, farming and the occasional bit of DIY and opportunities exist in many interesting places throughout the world. It is also worth noting, that as well as the free bed, you are likely to have some very interesting experiences in places that you otherwise would not have ventured to. A word of warning however, some members do seem to overestimate just how much work a backpacker is willing to do in return for a place to sleep!
This novel website makes grabbing a few winks for free at an airport a very welcoming idea. It lists both what airports should be avoided and which ones offer twenty four dining and silent corners perfect for you and your sleeping bag. Although primarily designed for those looking to sleep in an airport before or after a flight, I have used this site to successfully sleep for free when I have no intention of heading anywhere. For adventurous backpackers on an extremely tight budget, you would be surprised at just how easy it is to sleep for free at many of the worlds airports.
Chris Darwin is a travel blogger and loves traveling as a backpacker. From time to time he also explore luxurious options like and other Australian cities.