My travel mantra holds that travel should be free — or as close to free as you can get! Budget travel tips usually focus on ways to find cheaper airfare or hotels, and these are a great start. But thinking outside the box can yield some extraordinary vacations that are surprisingly affordable. Here are the different ways I travel to save (and sometimes earn!) money:
Rent a House or Apartment
If you want to stay somewhere nicer than a hostel, but aren't eager to pay hotel prices, consider renting a house or apartment. You'll be able to cook for yourself and avoid the $5 bottles of water. You're also more likely to get an authentic local experience, as vacation rentals are often located in neighborhoods, rather than in tourist areas.
Vacation rentals are a great proposition if you've got kids, since they can run around and eat Mac 'n Cheese — the epicenter of childhood, by my memory — without disturbing hotel or restaurant staff.<
I almost never pay the entirety of my rent. I don't have roommates and I've never been evicted. In the four years I rented a one-bedroom New York City apartment, I paid the full rent only one month. I now own a condo in Portland, Oregon, and I almost never pay my mortgage.
I'm able to keep my condo and apartment because I let strangers pay my bills for me. I've created a situation where my home generates income.
Letting Strangers Pay My Rent
Here's how I did it in New York City for four years: I traveled nearly every week for my job as a management consultant. I was out of town Monday-Thursday most weeks. I reasoned that other people like me may have the opposite commute pattern, where work brings them to New York weekdays. I posted an ad on Craigslist for a “part-time roommate”, and sure enough, lots of people were interested in paying me for the privilege of staying in my cute, East Village apartment three nights a week while I was away.