So you're planning your next holiday and you're looking to be in one location for a little while. Let's say a couple of weeks or like us 5 months. Booking a hotel room for this time just isn't feasible. Hotel rooms are great for a few nights, and although I love the daily room clean that comes with it, anything more than a few nights is going to make a bit of a dent in the holiday budget. Also, most hotel rooms don't include a kitchenette so you'll be eating out for every meal. Unless you're somewhere like Asia, that's going to drain your holiday bank account.
Luckily there are a bunch of alternatives available which will save you money so that your dollar goes further. Technological advancements have seen all sorts of accommodation options pop up to facilitate travelling in ways which weren't available a few years back.
Here are my top tips when looking for cheap short term apartments in a country. Let us know your tips in the comments below!
Check out the local classifieds in the area you are planning to go to. In the US Craigslist is a popular site and Gumtree is popular in other parts of the world. Quite often you will find that rentals are posted directly by accommodation owners. Look for furnished homes for rent, contact them directly and they may be open to a shorter lease period than usual. We did this when we did our first snow season in Banff, Canada and it worked out perfectly. Turned out that the owners had converted their home into several small furnished apartments for short and long term rentals.
Be careful with local classifieds though. There are a lot of scams on there and be particularly careful if you are responding to an ad for flatmates or roommates. Stay safe!
Airbnb totally changed the accommodation industry. It connects accommodation owners with travellers through a safe and secure portal. One of the cool things about Airbnb is the unique experiences you might end up with, such as staying in a castle or on a boat! Accommodation options can range from sharing a room, sharing a house or having the entire house to yourself. It works on a ratings system so if the accommodation isn't top notch, it won't be around for long. Likewise as a traveller, if you trash the place, then you won't be able to book anymore accommodation through the site. I've found that it isn't always the cheapest option but it's definitely cheaper than booking a hotel. Get $35 credit at Airbnb.
Other Vacation Rental Websites
There are plenty of holiday house rentals around and trusty google will help you find sites where you can book vacation rental homes. Here's a few that I have personally used:
HomeAway & VRBO - these are both owned by the same company but they have different holiday house listings. I love these sites and used HomeAway to book our 5 month condo in Frisco. Because it was a longer than the usual stay, instead of just plugging in the dates and going with the generated quote, I contacted the owners of all potential properties and asked for a customised price. I managed to negotiate a very reasonable price in a great property. Covers most countries too.
bookabach - vacation rental homes in New Zealand. We've used this site many times for our group trips to Queenstown.
stayz - an Australian only vacation rental homes site. Also part of the HomeAway group but may have rentals that you won't find on the HomeAway site.
A house swap is exactly that. You swap houses with someone, usually in a different country. No money exchanged. We haven't tried any house swaps yet, but we know people who have and they rave about it. It's certainly a great way to save money and the fact that you are staying in each others houses, should mean that each others houses are looked after. Things to consider here is that you have to be pretty organised with your dates, so no last minute planning, and you have to ensure that you are prepared to look after the requirements of the property such as gardening. And of course you have to hope that your holiday destination lines up with someone who wants to stay in your home! Check out HomeExchange and LoveHomeSwap as a starting point. Some exchanges may even offer their car which is an added bonus and cost saving.
This is another great alternative to look at if you are flexible with dates, locations and able to plan ahead. Essentially, you house sit for someone and in return you receive free accommodation. Quite often there will be pets and/or gardens to look after so make sure you read through the requirements for each posting. It's not as simple as just offering your services though, there are people who do this full time so you do need to make sure your profile on whichever site you choose is well presented with as many references as possible. After all, people are trusting you to look after their beloved homes! We used house sitters through an Australian site called Aussie House Sitters in August this year when we went away on a cruise. The couple we chose had been house sitting for a few years and came with a massive list of glowing references. It was perfect for us as they were able to look after our apartment, water the garden and take care of our cat. It would have cost us about $30 per day to have someone come over and feed/play with our cat for 30 minutes so this worked out perfectly. Plus our apartment is in an area which is a bit of a tourist attraction, so our house sitters had a wonderful time. When we arrived back from our cruise, there was even cookies and pizza waiting for us! Other house sitting websites to take a look at are Trustedhousesitters.com and MindMyHouse.
I hope that gives you some ideas and the freedom to extend your holiday just that little bit longer. Accommodation often takes up a large chunk of the travel budget but it doesn't have to. Do you have any other tips for finding cheap short term accommodation? Let me know in the comments below!
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Jen spends most of her time following Mick around the mountain, often unintentionally off jumps and cliff drops. Currently on a mission to prove that you’re never too old to try freestyle. Aside from snowboarding, a little obsessed about tattoos, CrossFit, saving animals, learning to play the guitar and clean eating. Web designer and digital marketing nerd.