Here are some other accommodation sites to help if you’re thinking of taking the plunge on the other kind of accommodation: bed and breakfasts, house sitting and home exchanges. These can be a great way to save money when you travel. And you get to stay in a home instead of a hotel room, with all the conveniences (and inconveniences) that affords you.
These sites offer an amazing variety of accommodation in people’s homes, from one room to the entire place.
Airbnb This is the most famous “homestay” accommodation site, with extensive listings of homes in 190 countries and more than 34,000 cities around the world. Some hosts offer a room, others a whole apartment. Prices are generally below hotel rates, although an added cleaning fee and a booking fee can increase the bill. As well, you must be accepted by the hosts. Still, it’s often a good deal. (If you’re interested in signing up, use this link and we’ll both get a discount.)
WIMDU Similar to Airbnb, Berlin-based WIMDU claims to offer more than 300,000 apartments and holiday homes in more than 100 countries. Reviews say the booking process is a bit easier than with Airbnb, but you may not find a property in remote locations.
VRBO This is part of the HomeAway organization, which claims to list a million rental-by-owner properties. VRBO has a user-friendly map interface: click on the country you want and the properties pop up.
Flipkey Owned by Tripadvisor, Flipkey claims more than 300,000 rentals in 179 countries. However, it seems to have fewer properties in some places than Airbnb and WIMDU.
Way to Stay This site specializes in apartment rentals rather than rooms. It has a good selection of properties in most major European cities, with an easy-to-use interface and frank user reviews. The site says it will beat any price you find online, and prices include things like cleaning fees, which are extra on Airbnb. However, payment seems to be required in cash.
Tripping Another apartment site, but this one’s an aggregator that compiles properties of several different kinds from a number of different sites. Tripping says it can find vacation homes and short-term rentals in 100,000 destinations: there’s even a category for cabins. Apartments are shown on a handy map.
SellMyTimeshareNOWRentals.com is a site which offers secure online booking within timeshare condos offered by-owner at resorts around the world. Prices found in their inventory are generally lower than most hotel room rates.
Home exchange sites
If you want to go a step beyond renting in someone’s home, you can try swapping homes with them: you both get a vacation, with no accommodations to pay for. And you get to live each other’s lives for a few days.
HomeExchange.com This site allows you to save money on accommodations by swapping homes with people in other countries. It claims to have 55,000 homes in 150 countries. You have to join up, and there’s a $120 U.S. yearly membership fee.
HomeLink Calls itself the world’s original holiday home exchange community, in business for 60 years. HomeLink has 13,000 home swappers in 78 countries, and is recommended by my colleague the Altecocker, an experienced home exchanger. The $89 U.S. annual fee includes a photo album.
Home Exchange 50 Plus This unique British-based site specializes in home exchanges between baby boomers. As it says, boomers tend to be more flexible on dates, have more free time and are often empty nesters. There are a good number of listings in Europe, North America, Asia, and even Africa, plus a few in Mexico and the Caribbean. There’s even a golf exchange section. A one-year membership costs 49 pounds.
Intervac This site also calls itself “the original home exchangers,” so someone’s telling fibs. Intervac says it does 5,000 exchanges per year, and also comes recommended by the Altecocker. The annual fee is $99 U.S.
Home sitter sites
Another way of saving on hotel bills is to look after someone’s home while they’re away. You get free accommodation in a distant place, in return for some home care — and usually, some pet sitting. You can also use these sites to find a home sitter if you’re going away for a while. Choosing or being chosen generally involves some careful vetting.
Trusted housesitters This site comes recommended from Big Travel Nut , who has enjoyed trips far and wide as a home sitter. Once you sign up, you receive e-mail alerts of homeowners looking for sitters, most with pets that need care while they’re away. There’s an annual fee of $89.88 US or $7.49 a month.
Housecarers Says it’s been in business for 12 years and has more than 10,000 sitters. There’s a $50 (Cdn) yearly fee. Once you sign up, you can apply for unlimited house sits and display a direct phone number if you wish.