Hotels are so expensive, but, don’t worry – there are plenty of other places to stay that won’t break the bank. Here are 6 senior travel tips for getting a good deal on the road.

Universities Often Offer Cheap Travel Accommodation

Universities throughout the U. S., Canada, Australia and Europe rent out dormitory rooms at reasonable rates during summer vacation periods.  Typically, dormitories offer single or twin rooms; bathrooms are normally shared.  Some universities provide bed linens and breakfast, but others do not.

Trinity College Dublin in Ireland rents single rooms for $76 – $94 per night; twin or double rooms are $103 – $158 per night. In Sydney, Australia, you can stay in a dorm room for as little as $69 per night; remember that Australia’s summer is in November, December and January.

To find dorm rooms to rent, visit University-Rooms.com, check individual university websites or call the housing office of the university that interests you.

Convents / Monasteries

Roman Catholic monasteries and convents and Protestant Christian denominations around the world offer hospitality to travelers, as they have done for centuries. Accommodations range from single to family-sized rooms, some in unique, historic buildings. Bathrooms may be shared or ensuite.

Some religious orders have turned their convent and monastery properties into luxurious hotels, while others provide very simple bedrooms at affordable rates.  You will need to respect the curfew, if one exists, and follow the house rules, which may include staying in single-sex rooms or keeping noise levels low.

To find convent and monastery lodgings, check the listings at Good Night and God Bless (or buy Trisha Clark’s excellent guidebooks of the same name) or, for Italian lodgings, visit Monastery Stays.

Youth Hostels Are the Ultimate Cheap Travel Accommodation Option!

Move over, backpackers. Your secret is out. Youth hostels around the world offer not only the traditional large sleeping dorm but also rooms with one, two, three and four beds at very affordable rates. Some hostels require membership in a hostelling organization or offer lower rates to members. You won’t find the perfection of a luxury hotel, but you’ll meet some fascinating people. Bring shower shoes, ignore cobwebs and enjoy the opportunity to meet travelers from many places.

You can find hostels all over the world. Facilities and services vary, so you will want to research hostels and read reviews before booking. Begin your hostel search at Hostels.com.

Online Lodging Services

In days gone by, the only super-cheap vacation lodging available was at the home of a friend or family member. No longer. Online lodging services, such as Airbnb.com offer travelers low-cost or free places to stay. The booking process includes creating a profile, requesting lodging, discussing the stay via online messaging, paying for your stay (if required) and arriving in person as arranged.

Reputable services offer payment escrow, detailed trust and safety procedures, online help and equitable cancellation policies. Be sure to research your prospective host carefully by reading reviews, ensuring the accommodations offered will work for you – unless you love sleeping on the floor – and taking common-sense safety precautions.

Home Exchanges Can Offer Free Travel Accommodation

Home exchanges were created to facilitate inexpensive travel and cultural understanding. Websites such as HomeExchange, Digsville and Home Exchange 50plus connect travelers who want to swap home stay time with other travelers.  Simply put, they stay in your home while you stay in theirs. Some of these organizations charge membership fees.

You can also arrange to stay in a home while the owners are there or to trade homestays at different times rather than simultaneously. Because you do not have to pay for accommodations in a home exchange, you can save quite a bit of money, and you have the opportunity to truly live like a local.

Good communication and careful preparation are the keys to home exchange success; when you and your exchange partner clearly convey expectations, you avoid potential problems.

State and Local Park Cabins

If you’re looking for a taste of the great outdoors, consider renting a primitive or modern cabin at a state or local park. Primitive cabins typically lack electricity and indoor plumbing, but offer better shelter than a tent or yurt. Modern cabins usually have running water, electricity and other conveniences. Prices vary by location and amenities; in summer, rentals may have two-night or one-week minimums.

To find a rental cabin, you can check the listings at Reserve America or go directly to the website of the state, local or regional park system that interests you. If you enjoy hiking, the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club rents modern and primitive cabins along the central Appalachian Trail; you must be a member to rent a modern cabin.

Have you stayed in unusual, inexpensive lodgings on your travels? What was your experience like? Please join the conversation.

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Looking for more senior travel tips? Check out these travel programs for women who love to learn:

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