Let’s talk about money here for a minute, your hard earned cash that you’ve scrimped and saved for this vacation for what seems like EVER. You finally get to go on your vacation and what’s one of the biggest expenses? Oh right, a hotel. And you know what’s unique about hotels? NOTHING. I bet that all of the hotels you’ve stayed in (unless it is some kind of 5-star monstrosity, which is definitely not what I’m talking about here-those are awesome) are VERY very similar. The furniture looks the same, the pictures that hang above the beds are the same. The thing is, though, it isn’t very COMFORTABLE. Or memorable. And maybe that’s what you like, you like to stay in the same place every time, keep to yourself, and watch the same TV shows that you do at home. If you do, by all means, spend $150+ a night on your boring room. But for those of you who want to adventure out and explore other venues for hanging your hat up, here are some suggestions:
Bed and Breakfasts
Some of the most charming places on earth to stay are in B&B’s. Many times they are independently owned by locals, who take a lot of pride in what they do. Are you worried that it might be a little weird to go into someone’s house and just stay the night? Well, you shouldn’t be. Many Bed and Breakfasts come with the same amenities that hotels do (many even have nicer soaps!) and the breakfast you get in the morning is actually prepared for you by a person who cares about what your tastes are. The hospitality level in most Bed and Breakfasts is incredible.
Hostels run the whole gamut of luxury. Contrary to what you may think, they are NOT all full of dirty hobo-like backpackers (no offense to dirty hobo-like backpackers, I’ve been one before, and we can be pretty nice). They are a lot more communal than hotels, which allows you to be as social as you would like. The amenities can be amazing, the “bang for your buck” is often times much higher, and you are more likely to be where you actually want to be in a city without spending an arm and a leg for it.
If you’re really looking to get into a new location, meet the locals, and sometimes get into a sweet location that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to (or want to) afford, consider a homestay. Sites like Couchsurfing are amazing because, if you’re nervous, you can require that you only deal with “validated” or background checked members. Furthermore, there is a large system of references, in which people account for your good character. If you love meeting people, why not stay with someone who loves meeting and entertaining people?
Cabins and Rental Properties
If you have a chance to take advantage of an opportunity like this, don’t let it go to waste! Often times you won’t have to eat McDonalds every day for breakfast because you’ll have a kitchen where you can store and prepare food! (unless you love McDonalds, in which case you can buy as much as you want and store it too!) You can fit more people in comfortably, and have as much privacy to be as weird as you want to be on your vacation. Heck, it’s your vacation! Go nuts! The economy of a rental property for an extended vacation is simply unbeatable.
This is a little more adventurous, but the idea is that you find a household in a location that you would like to go to, and switch out with the tenants for an agreed amount of time. People actually do this, and it’s pretty sweet. Sites to check this out if you are interested are www.homeexchange.com and www.lovehomeswap.com. The best part of this is that it is absolutely free!
Monasteries and Convents
This is an experience that not many people can claim to have, and can save you a bit of cash. Don’t expect a luxury suite where attractive attendants fan you and feed you grapes, but you can be assured that you will be staying in clean, neat, and safe accommodations. Some even have larger rooms for families. There is actually a lot of opportunity to stay in larger cities, and they are not reserved for those of any specific religion.