A Nomad’s Guide to Cheap Accommodation

A Nomads Guide to Cheap Accommodation

Most long-term travellers can’t afford the luxury of staying in hotels every night so they need to get creative when it comes to finding accommodation that will fit with their travel plans.

We’ve collected 15 budget-friendly accommodation ideas from fellow nomads, and from our travels, to create an accommodation guide that will help you travel longer, for less.  Some of the ideas might seem more practical/comfortable/affordable than others…your point of view will probably depend on how desperately you want to travel.

1) House sitting*
This is probably the best way to secure comfortable and affordable long-term accommodation and you might even have some pets to keep you company in your temporary home.  Watch our video to learn how to become a house sitter.

2) Staying with family and friends
Parents, siblings, and friends are usually willing to share their homes with travellers.  Try buying groceries, doing the dishes, keeping your space clean, covering some of the bills, etc. to show your appreciation for their generosity.

3) Staying at an artist residency
There are residencies out there for all kinds of creative people, from first-time novelists to seasoned sculptors.  Read Mat’s blog post to find out how to find an artist-in-residence program.

4) Renting an apartment short-term
Short-term apartment rentals are a great way to stay in the city with all the comforts of home.  Try searching Kijiji and Craigslist for apartment sublets because they tend to be cheaper than vacation apartment rentals.

5) Living in a campervan or RV
Living in a campervan or RV allows you to combine transportation and accommodation into one super fun adventure-mobile.  Check out our video about why we live in a campervan to find out why it’s one of our favourite ways to travel.  Bonus: you can sell  your campervan or RV at the end of your trip and get some of your money back!

6) Staying in hostels
Not all hostels are created equal.  Some are grungy and loud while others are clean quiet.  Regardless of the vibe, they’re almost always cheaper than staying in a hotel and many have affordable private rooms if you need a break from the action.

7) Staying at an Airbnb
Airbnb is an excellent option if you want to save a few bucks and have a more unique and personal experience than a hotel can provide.  Hosts will sometimes have deals for long-term rentals, too.

8) Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is perfect if you want to meet new people and/or if you’re on a tight budget.  Be prepared for anything, read the host reviews, and make sure you have a backup plan in case your plans fall through.

9) WWOOFing*
WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a work exchange program where you work ~4-6 hours per day in exchange for your room and board.  It’s the perfect way to meet alternative people, learn to grow fresh food, and spend time in the peaceful countryside.

10) Sleeping in a rental car
Renting a car is expensive so why not make the most of your money by using the car as a place to sleep, too?  Keep in mind that it’s illegal to sleep in your vehicle in most cities so you’d have to be sneaky and sober to do this.

11) Camping
Travelling with a tent and sleeping bag makes it possible to sleep almost anywhere, whether you’re out in the middle of nowhere or in an urban campground.  Yes, you’re more vulnerable to the elements, but you’re also opening yourself up to adventure and staying connected to nature.

12) Hosting at a campground*
Provincial Parks and National Forest Campgrounds offer free campsites to people who are willing to act as hosts during their stay.  Check your preferred park/campground website to see if they have any hosting opportunities available.

13) Living on a boat
Watch the Twenty Eight Feet mini-doc, read the Windtraveler and Sailing Simplicity blogs and then join us in dreaming about living the boat life.  Did I mention that renting a slip at a marina can be cheaper than an apartment?!

14) Living on a bike
Check out the Tom’s Bike Trip blog, his movie, Janapar, and the @ultraromance Instagram account to get all the information and inspiration you need to get started on your bike life adventure.

15) Working abroad with Workaway*
The Workaway site offers hundreds (maybe thousands?) of international opportunities to work in hostels, cafes, art centres, etc., in exchange for room and board, and it’s a great way to become part of the community you’re visiting.

Have you used any of these ideas to extend your trip?  Do you have other accommodation ideas that we should know about?  Share them in the comments!

Happy Exploring!


*When travelling internationally, it is important ensure that you are not violating the terms of your tourist visa.  Check the entry rules of your destination country before you travel!

18 thoughts on “A Nomad’s Guide to Cheap Accommodation

  1. Tammy

    I love being exposed to new thoughts and ideas. The links to “living on a boat” and “living on a bike” are awesome! The kiddos and I watched so much more than just the links provided. Thanks for opening our minds.

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Tammy,

      Thanks for checking out the sites we recommended! Windtraveler and Tom’s Bike Trip are a couple of my all time favourite blogs!


      1. Katherine templer

        I really enjoy watching videos of your explorations also. hope to get fund me tiny house .
        my friend stayed in a youth hostal in San Fransisco. though poor she is not a youth .they had food bath lockers and great advice they picked her up at airport very nice hosts great alternative to hotel.good security.blocks from waterfront. Very clean.
        I look forward to more of your next visit thanks

        1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

          Hi Katherine, I’m glad your friend had such a great experience in a SF youth hostel! Thanks for stopping by the blog and happy exploring :)

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Thank you for checking out this blog post, Rashaad! House sitting is cheap and gives us a nice relaxing break after periods of intense travel and I also have a soft spot for WWOOFing as it’s how I made my first trip happen and I met so many wonderful people along the way :) That said, living in our van is my ultimate favourite way to travel and I am always anxious to get back on the road! Happy exploring :)

  2. Prabha

    Hello there, I just found your blog and already hooked. I am getting married next year after finishing college and this is a place for which I am going to visit for inspiration. Read your post about the simple wedding and going to do the same . Thank you :)

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Prabha, thank you for checking out the blog and for sharing such positive feedback! Congratulations on finishing college & getting married next year :)

  3. Sr. Michele

    Hi, I am interested in who makes such a tent and cabin. It looks almost like it would be a kit. I would like to know who makes such a tent/cabin.

  4. Blade Cleaver

    I built my own yurt with an axe and rope. I did buy two tarps but I now have 140 square feet to myself and don’t pay rent or hydro. I did invest money into my solar system but if any one has questions feel free to email me at bladecleaver@gmail.com

    1. career

      Hi, I am interested in who makes such a tent and cabin. It looks almost like it would be a kit. I would like to know who makes such a tent/cabin.

  5. Randy

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging,
    and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The
    issue is something that too few people are
    speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this during my hunt for something relating
    to this.

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