Camping can be completely free depending on the country and its laws. Just choose a small lightweight tent to not burden yourself when caring it around. Spending extra on a tent weighing less than 1 kg/2.2 lb might be worth it.
Camp In My Garden
A variation of the Couchsurfing concept is to take care of someone’s house while they are away. Free accommodation, although a bit of housekeeping might be required.
Mind My House
Trusted House Sitters
Luxury House Sitting
If you don’t want to sell your home then home exchange is a way to go to another country with only the flight ticket as an added cost. You simply find another host in a place you’d like to go and you swap homes for as long as you’d like.
Rent an Apartment
If you are staying in a place for a while (a month or more) renting your own apartment is likely cheaper than a hotel/hostel/guesthouse/etc.
This is usually one of the cheapest options for paid accommodation and sometimes also cheaper than hostels even though you get your own room.
I find the cost of a lot of the places on Airbnb pretty high, but there are still cheap places here and there. While writing this post I found out that there’s a reason Airbnb is getting expensive. Real estate moguls are taking over the place.
A popular and cheap backpacker option where you also get to meet other travelers.
NOTE: Tingo, Agoda and Booking all claim they have a price guarantee, but that does not mean they give you the best price. I’ve found cheaper prices on Agoda when compared to Tingo and I’ve found cheaper prices on Booking compared to Agoda. None of the sites are consistently cheaper so search on as many sites as you like until you find the cheapest/best option.
NOTE: Booking.com charges 14% (some say it’s 10% so it might be different for every country) from bookings made through their site. The other major booking sites do the same, but the percentage might be slightly different.
Kayak, Booking, Agoda and Priceline are the same company.
Hostelworld, Hostel and Hostelbookers are also the same company.
Expedia, Trivago and Hotels are also the same company.
Money Saving Tips
Tip 1: It is sometimes possible to save the fee the hotel/guesthouse/hostel is being charged. (Which they then charge you.) You can check out the hotel/guesthouse/hostel’s website and see if the price is different there. (Sometimes it shows the proper room cost, but not necessarily.) Another option is to talk to the host before you book a room. After the room is booked it’s unlikely they will make a deal because they have to pay the commission to the website you booked through. So do it before you book by either showing up in person (if possible) or emailing them in advance. If you extend your stay directly with the host then check if they subtract the fee themselves otherwise ask for it.
Tip 2: If you plan to stay somewhere for a while you might be able to get a better price. Although it’s different from place to place, they might have a weekly rate and a monthly rate. If not, maybe you can make a deal anyway. If they decline, a trick is to simply walk away (even if you intent to stay there) and if they react and want to make a deal, then go for it. Otherwise you can just walk out and then come back shortly after and say you changed your mind.
Tip 3: Travel in low season and you can probably make an even better deal since they are likely to have some empty rooms most of the season.
*Cutting away the 10-14% booking fee, traveling in low season and getting a weekly/monthly rate can be a significant saving. If you are more than 1 person you can probably make an even better bargain. If they aren’t willing to make a deal go check out some other places and see if they will.
Tip 4: Some of the booking sites have special deals and although not all of them are good or appropriate you can still get away with a really cheap room every now and then. I’ve gotten a room for as little as 25-30% of the normal cost.
Tip 5: Walk around town and look for accommodation that isn’t registered on booking sites. They tend to be a lot cheaper than those online.
Keep in mind that the links provided here are not exhaustive. It is just a place for you to start, and if one site doesn’t provide the information you need keep looking for similar sites or use your creativity to find alternatives. You can also simply ask either here or at a travel forum. I merely showing you a small glimpse of what’s possible.