A Guide to Budget Accommodations: How to Save Money, Book Last Minute, and Stay in a Castle [INFOGRAPHIC]

Hotels are expensive and impersonal. Why pay so much for a room you’re rarely in? Other accommodations offer better prices, ways to meet locals and other travelers, and more unique properties.

You can save money and meet people from around the world at a hostel. Couchsurfing is free and connects you with an outgoing local host. Vacation rentals offer anything from a cheap room in someone’s flat to an affordable mansion stay by splitting the cost with your friends.

The infographic below explores our favorite budget alternatives to hotels so you can find the perfect place to stay on your next trip. Thanks to our friends at Couchsurfing and Tripping for helping us put this together.

(Click to enlarge.)

Budget accommodations: hostels vs couchsurfing vs vacation rentals

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A Guide to Budget Accommodations is an infographic by WeHostels.


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A Guide to Budget Accommodations: How to Save Money, Book Last Minute, and Stay in a Castle


Hostels are inexpensive and a great way to meet other travelers.


Couchsurfing is free and helps you meet the locals.

Vacation Rentals

Live like a local in a vacation rental.

How much does it cost?

Hostels: $19.00, €14.59, £12.27. Friends are free.
Couchsurfing: zip, zilch, $0.00, €0.00, £0.00
Rentals: Varies depending on location, size and a “baller factor” (it’s an industry term). Vacation rental prices vary from €8/night for a room in a flat in Barcelona to $12,000/night for a private island in the Bahamas.

How long do people stay for?

Hostels: 2 days
Couchsurfing: 2-3 days
Rentals: 7 days

How far in advance do people book?

Hostels: 4 days. 35% of hostel bookings are made within 24 hours of check in.
Couchsurfing: Varies. Some Couchsurfing hosts don’t take requests more than 2 weeks in advance. Others need several weeks’ notice.
Rentals: 2 weeks to 3 months.

Where are the most popular destinations?

Hostels: USA, Italy, Australia, Spain, Germany
Couchsurfing: USA, Germany, Canada, France, UK
Rentals: USA, France, Germany, Netherlands, Australia

Guest Gender

Hostels: 52% Male, 48% Female
Couchsurfing: 53% Male, 47% Female
Rentals: 40% Male, 60% Female

Whom can you meet?

Hostels: Travelers from around the world
Couchsurfing: Locals
Rentals: Locals

Pros and Cons


Biggest Pro: Hostels are a great way to meet other travelers, make new friends, and save money on accommodations.
Biggest Con: Hostels are shared spaces. If you want a private room, you’ll have to pay slightly more. You are also responsible for cleaning up after yourself.


Biggest Pro: More than just a bed to sleep in, Couchsurfing brings people together, home and away, for all kinds of activities and travel experiences.
Biggest Con: If you are very particular and need complete control of your environment, then Couchsurfing might not be for you.


Biggest Pro: Staying in a vacation rental is a way to really experience a destination and live side by side with locals — and it’s often less expensive than hotels.
Biggest Con: Home rentals in popular destinations can be tough to find if you book last-minute. Travelers should plan in advance to secure their dream vacation homes.

Popular Sites

Hostels: WeHostels, Hostelworld, Hostelbookers, Hostelling International
Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing, BeWelcome, Hospitality Club
Rentals: Tripping, HomeAway, Airbnb, House Trip

Each accommodation option has pluses and minuses.

Hostels are great for meeting other travelers, couchsurfing is free and connects you with a local, and rentals offer the widest range of options.

Where will you stay on your next trip?

Information provided by WeHostels, Couchsurfing, and Tripping.

About Fred Perrotta

Fred Perrotta is an entrepreneur and traveler. Unable to find a great piece of luggage for a backpacking trip to Eastern Europe in 2009, he co-founded Tortuga Backpacks to create the ultimate travel backpack. He's lived in, worked in, and traveled to over a dozen countries. His favorite meal abroad was spicy beef ramen in Tokyo.

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