Hotels can cost hundreds of dollars per night and still lack the personality and opportunities of alternative options. Read on for five better places to spend the night and your money.
Option #1: Stay with family or friends
You’d be surprised how many family members, friends or even friends of friends would let you stay over for a night or two. It never hurts to ask. Be considerate—buy toilet paper, bring a bottle of wine—and if you’re lucky, they may even offer to take you around and show you the town. And what’s better than experiencing a place like a local?
Option #2: Campgrounds and State/National Parks
Cities may have entertainment, but often the real attractions lie in the surrounding geography. The best part? Camping is extremely cheap and most places do have hot water. Everyone knows about the more famous national parks like the Grand Canyon, but did you know that Great Basin National Park in Utah boasts one of the darkest skies (and therefore best visibility for stargazing) in the US? Or that Acadia National Park in Maine is the first place in US to see the sun rise? Some national parks do fill up quickly, so I recommend making reservations ahead of time. Website: www.nps.gov
Option #3: Hostels—not nearly as scary as you may think
Ignore any horror movie you have ever seen. I have stayed in hostels both in the United States and throughout Europe, and all have been clean, personable and informative. Think of hostels like a dorm for travelers: the beds aren’t the most comfortable, but the atmosphere makes it worth it. Hostels generally offer an array of organized activities for free or at a reduced price, which are a great way to get to know other travelers. Some hostels do have private rooms available, as well as rooms with private bathrooms. Website: www.hostelworld.com
Option #4: Bed & Breakfast–-a cool splurge that’s still often cheaper than a hotel
I absolutely love Bed & Breakfasts. They tend to be quirky and quaint, and located in more scenic areas than hotels. While they can be expensive, finding a reasonable Bed & Breakfast isn’t difficult. Plus, the breakfast is usually tastier than the continental hotel option. Website: www.bedandbreakfast.com
Option #5: Couch surfing
While I haven’t tried it yet, I know it’s only a matter of time before I do. Couch surfing is yet another cool way to meet locals, share cultures and generate adventures. The website has over five million members registered and covers every country in the world. Website: www.couchsurfing.org