BY Fiona Kuo

If you are like me, buying clothes only when they’re on sale, or taking the bus on Sundays to utilize $2.50 on Opal, it’s time to enter the world of budget travel. 

Enjoying the beauty of traveling without hurting your wallet (that much) is not a mission impossible. To save money on a place to stay, check out these 5 low budget accommodation tools!

  1. Couchsurfing (https://www.couchsurfing.com/)

Our first option is Couchsurfing. With more than 14 million members since 2004, Couchsurfing provides a great opportunity to meet and stay with locals for FREE.

It’s easier than you think to meet like-minded ‘friends you haven't met yet’, by joining a local event or simply shooting them a text to ask for a place to stay.

2.              Helpx (https://www.helpx.net/index.asp)

Surprisingly, I met a lot of people here in Sydney who had never heard about working exchange before. This involves becoming a short-term volunteer helper in exchange for food and accommodation, again for free. The volunteer work can vary from farm work to hostel receptionist. Some hosts on Helpx even include your meals! You basically pay nothing except for transportation cost.

You’re generally required to work for 3-6 hours for/with your host per day, and the rest of the day is yours. It’s suitable for people who’d like to explore a certain area deeply at a relatively slower pace.

3.              Workaway (https://www.workaway.info/)

A similar concept as Helpx, Workaway further classifies work according to its kind - NGO, schools, animal welfare, etc. If you have a regular travel buddy, you two may sign up at the same time to enjoy a cheaper joining fee.

However, please note that neither Helpx nor Workaway can guarantee you a great volunteer experience. It is crucial for guests to read the job content and reviews from previous volunteers beforehand, as well as actively communicate with the host.

4.              Hostelworld (https://www.hostelworld.com/)

Think contacting a host directly sounds a bit too much for you? Check out Hostelworld for cheap and stylish hostels that allow you to stay safe and comfy.

With 36000+ properties registered across 170 countries, Hostelworld provides full and clear information that you need to know before your journey, and comes with millions of reviews rated by other travellers. It will have places that meet your needs, no matter if you are doing solo travel, couple travel or mega-travel for a group of 80!

5.              HomeExchange (https://www.homeexchange.com)

We all know about Airbnb, but have you heard about HomeExchange?

By paying a bulk payment for a one-year membership, you can stay at unlimited properties for no extra nightly cost. HomeExchange also provides PAYG option for $20 per night (still relatively cheaper than Airbnb!).

6.              Tired of checking the above sites? Just go! I recently heard about the story of a German solo traveller, who was 19 and stepped out from his hometown with just 50 euro in his pocket. Now he has finished a 4-year global adventure and published a book called “Around the World on 50 Bucks” (which is currently sitting in my to-read list).

My point here is - don’t let the amount of money listed on the bank statement drag your desire of seeing the world.

*Bonus* - misterb&b (https://www.misterbandb.com/)

misterb&b is an LGBTQI-friendly accommodation site similar to Airbnb. Its Co-Founder & CEO, Matthieu, had experienced an uncomfortable stay with a host while traveling with his partner in 2014. As a result, they decided to create a platform that not only provides gay travellers a safe and comfortable experience, but also where members of the LGBTQI+ community could connect on a global scale.

To sum up, there really is no “best way of traveling”, as long as it’s a way that you are comfortable with. I hope that you are planning your next trip right now – I’ll see you on the way!

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