5 Quirky Alternatives to Hotels

When you’re on the road a lot, staying at standard-issue hotels tends to get boring, not to mention expensive. If you’re looking for a more eclectic environment or a way to save a few bucks, check out these alternatives.

Igloos in the mountainsCouchsurfing. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a friend to stay with in any town you visited? That’s basically how this visitor-matching site works. Simply create a profile with as much detail about yourself as possible, then send messages to people who offer lodging in the city you plan to visit. If someone agrees to host you, you’re all set. There’s no fee for your visit, although it’s customary to buy or make dinner for your hosts. Note: If you want pampering and privacy, skip Couchsurfing: The typical host is a recent college grad with a spare futon on the living-room floor.

Air B&B. If you’re looking for your own space, Air B&B can be an attractive option. Hosts use the site to lease out rooms, apartments, or cabins for a nightly rate, which is generally cheaper than what a typical hotel or B&B charges. Many of the Air B&B listings are in major metropolitan areas, where hotels tend to be pricey, making the service a great way to cut corners in big cities.

Youth hostels. Want cheap digs and an opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world? A youth hostel could be what you’re looking for. Never mind the “youth” in the name: Although most visitors are in their 20s, people of all ages are welcome. In most cases, you’ll be given a bunk bed in a room with three or more other travelers and access to large communal areas where you can mix and mingle. If you’re on the road for weeks or months at a time, youth hostels are easy on your wallet: You’ll often pay only $30 or so per night. Whether the cost-savings makes up for the often-grim communal bathrooms is your call. Check out hostels.com to read ratings and reviews of hostels worldwide before booking a bunk.

Campgrounds. While the weather’s still warm, why not take advantage of a beautiful location and spend the night at a lakefront campground? Don’t worry if you don’t have an RV or tent: Many campgrounds rent basic cabins. Depending on the site, you’ll find lots of amenities, including bathrooms, showers, and wireless internet access. Boats, bicycles, and other recreational equipment are usually available, too. Go Camping America offers information on campsites throughout the United States.

Monasteries and convents. When traveling through Europe, consider spending a night at a monastery or convent. Rooms are small and sparse, as you might expect, but rates are low, the buildings are historic, and your visit will make a great talking point at a future cocktail party. For starters, MonasteryStays.com provides information and reservations for monasteries and convents throughout Italy.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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