In the two decades I’ve spent traveling the world to dig up new and unusual experiences for my readers, I’ve spent the night in everything from ridiculously expensive hotels where my personal butler left plush slippers next to the bed each evening to low-budget motels with filthy orange shag carpet so gross I was afraid to take my shoes off. And here’s what I learned: That it usually doesn’t make much sense to shell out a ton of dough for a room where all I’m going to do is sleep and shower.
Fortunately for frugal types like me, there are more affordable lodging options out there than ever before. Which brings me to a trio of intriguing hotel alternatives I’m looking forward to trying out on my next trip:
With more than 1.6 million members in 230 countries, chances are pretty good that this website can help you find cool people who’ll be willing to put you up for a few nights and maybe even show you around town, all for free.
While many hostels still attract large numbers of young people, these shared accommodations aren’t just for kids anymore. And the prices are hard to beat: A recent search of the organization’s San Diego hostels turned up dorm-style rooms for about $20/weekend night and a private room and bath for less than $50.
If the idea of spending time in yet another generic hotel is unappealing, check out this online marketplace that allows individuals to rent out their spare room—and sometimes their entire house or apartment— to out of town guests at very affordable rates.