Love or hate this quote, travel is indeed one of the greatest ways to get to know the world (and yourself). If you haven’t experienced wanderlust yet, remember that travel can be one of the most life-changing experiences in your life. And if you have, then you’re probably familiar with the ways social media and the internet make traveling easier.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Platforms like Couchsurfing and Airbnb have been around for years, offering a cheaper and in many ways a more enriching travel experience. Whereas Airbnb requires you to pay for the accommodation, the Couchsurfing service is absolutely free but can be a little trickier at times. Check out our small tutorial on how to experience the best travel with Couchsurfing to avoid any confusion.
Now, what if we told you that there are other similar websites that can help you save money and connect with locals while traveling? MakeUseOf did the research and here’s what we found.
1. Warm Showers
Do you love cycling as much as we do? If you see yourself doing a long distance touring on a bike, then Warm Showers is a place for you.
Like Couchsurfing, the platform offers free accommodation in exchange for a good company and travel stories that you share with the host over a cup of tea. However, you should always arrive at the host’s place by bicycle. The website also offers free apps for Android, iPhone/iPad, and Windows with a map feature to help you plan the cycling route in accordance with the accommodation options.
Not just an accommodation platform but also a networking website for writers and journalists, Hostwriter offers an opportunity to connect with people of the same interest and maybe even create a collaborative piece together. It was created by a team of journalists from all over the world and now has over 2000 members from 115 different countries. Hostwriter encourages cross-border cooperation by offering a range of awards to writing teams that meet through the website.
Trustroots is another Couchsurfing alternative, especially popular within the hitchhiker community. Their manifesto pretty much sums up the idea behind the website:
We want a world that encourages trust, adventure, and intercultural connections. Our willingness to help each other should not be monetized. Trustroots is completely free to use and will remain so forever. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We emphasize community.
This Airbnb-inspired platform serves the same purpose that Airbnb does, only the hosts are a little pickier in whom they’d like to see as their guests. The website’s mission is to provide an opportunity for gay men to travel safely worldwide and to feel welcome everywhere they go. Similar to Couchsurfing, they organize meetups and events and encourage the members to network and connect with the global gay community.
This hospitality network focuses on the older audience. Evergreen Club offers bed-and-breakfast homestays to people over 50. The cost of accommodation is always under $25 per night and you get “down-to-earth, non-commercial lodgings in private homes with folks who care about you”.
There’s a membership fee of $75 a year, and over 2000 lodgings to choose from in the U.S. and Canada. If you’re looking for a community spirit and a place with a home feeling, Evergreen Club might be the perfect platform for you.
With Homestay you don’t just get a host that hands you the apartment’s keys, but instead, the host is present throughout your entire stay – that way you get to know the local way of living, your personal guide, and a company all in one.
You can find Homestay hosts in over 150 countries. You might even find a friend or two through this platform. However, you pay for the people’s service, so in the end it’s like hiring a local guide to show you around.
We conclude our list with one platform that predates the internet itself. The network’s roots go back to 1949, and their mission is to build “world peace, goodwill and understanding by providing opportunities for personal contacts among people of different cultures, backgrounds, and nationalities.” One big difference from other accommodation platforms is that the Servas hosts expect you to stay with them long term — enough for them to get to know you.
If you’re traveling solo, remember these 10 ways to meet interesting people while on the road and make sure you keep your family and friends at home informed by sharing your travel stories with them online.
A Few More Travel Networks
Other useful travel accommodation platforms you should check out include:
Don’t forget to check our list of Airbnb alternatives for any budget for more high-quality accommodation websites.
For those of you who enjoy the spirit of community living and don’t mind doing some voluntary work, there are more ways to travel the world cheaply.
Now it’s your time to share: what accommodation websites do you use while traveling? Have you tried any of the ones mentioned in this list? Would you try them? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment section.
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