The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Accommodation

The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Accommodation

Become Wealth Editor

The backpackers art of thrifty travel

It’s a fact of life that travel comes with a cost but, it’s your memories which should be worth a million dollars, not your accommodation. For the budget-conscious explorer, mastering the art of affordable accommodation can extend your holiday from a week to a month.

In this guide, we take off on a journey with budget-friendly accommodation options, looking at hostels, guesthouses, and homestays. Taking the time to find the right accommodation to suit your needs can save you thousands on your next overseas adventure — without compromising your travels. Be sure you watch out for travel mistakes that could blow your budget.

But first, you must ask yourself: What do I want from my trip overseas?

The First Step: What is Your Traveller Profile?

Embarking on a journey requires self-reflection to match your travel plans with your personal preferences. Ask yourself these questions to discover your travel preferences and find out which accommodation suits you best:

What Do I Want to Get from My Overseas Experience?

If you're seeking exploration and adventure, hostels may offer a vibrant community for sharing travel tales. For relaxation and rejuvenation, consider the intimate and cosy atmosphere of guesthouses. If making a cultural connection is a priority, homestays provide an authentic local experience.

What Are My Travel Goals?

If your goals involve exploring historical sites or natural wonders, guesthouses can offer comfort after a day of exploration. For foodies, a homestay can provide a local’s perspective on the cuisine.

What Type of Traveller Am I?

Adrenaline junkies might find the social atmosphere of hostels ideal for meeting like-minded adventurers. Those looking for a quieter stay might look for a guesthouse in the country.

How Do I Prefer to Spend My Time During Travel?

Hostels can be a lively hub for those who enjoy exploring cities and meeting new people. Guesthouses offer a comfortable retreat after hiking or city exploration, and homestays provide an immersive experience for those seeking local lifestyles.

What Is My Budget for This Trip?

Hostels often provide the most budget-friendly options, with dormitory-style accommodations. Guesthouses may offer a balance between cost and comfort, while homestays can provide value for extended stays.

Am I Comfortable Stepping Out of My Cultural Comfort Zone?

Homestays offer the most immersive cultural experience, pushing boundaries and providing a deeper understanding of local customs. Guesthouses offer a bridge between local culture and the familiar. In a hostel, you’ll be surrounded by internationals but you’ll all be on the same travelling buzz.

By considering these questions, you'll better define your travel goals and identify the accommodation type that best suits your preferences and budget while you’re overseas.

Hostels: The Traveller's Haven

Hostels were once considered the domain of backpackers but have evolved into the heartbeat of the travellers’ lifestyle. At the nicer hostels, digital nomads often make them their home base. They are great for meeting new people and getting social. Because they are so popular, a wide range of hostels are on the market to choose from. Many modern hostels are more like retreats, but you can also find ones more like nightclubs. Hostels offer a place to rest and a vibrant community you can join in with.

Advantages of Choosing Hostels:

Hostels are a backpacker's dream, providing cost-effective lodging that frees up funds for new experiences and activities. They often have deals if you stay longer than a week, and sometimes you can help with cleaning for free rent. The social atmosphere within hostels creates a strong pull for many travellers, helping them make connections with like-minded individuals.

The communal spaces and organised group activities in hostels mean there are multiple opportunities to socialise. Whether you're exchanging travel tales in the common room or joining a group activity, the camaraderie is an integral part of the hostel experience. You’ll often find yourself joining up with other travellers on the next leg of your adventure.

Tips for Finding the Best Hostel Deals:

To make the most of your hostel experience, consider utilising hostel booking platforms such as Hostelworld and These platforms provide a comprehensive list of hostels worldwide and offer exclusive deals and discounts. This can be a great way to find accommodation, but it’s worth checking the hostel’s website for prices – sometimes it’s cheaper to book directly.

Timing is also crucial. Book ahead to save money, or even better, travel during off-peak seasons can be even more wallet friendly. Fewer people are travelling so you’ll likely never miss out on a bed.

It also makes sense to check out different kinds of hostels. If you prefer relaxing, choose the accommodation next to the beach rather than the one in the middle of town. And don’t forget to read the reviews!

Best Websites for Finding Hostels:

  1. Hostelworld

Guesthouses: A Cosy and Affordable Retreat

Guesthouses offer a cosy retreat for those seeking a more relaxed setting without breaking the bank. Think Airbnb rentals and homely apartments. These accommodations provide the feeling of home while you’re on the other side of the world. Living in a neighbourhood while you’re travelling is an affordable way to experience a country and culture.

Connecting with local hosts is one of the main advantages of guesthouses. Hosts often share invaluable tips, recommend off-the-beaten-path attractions, and provide a deeper understanding of the destination.

This all comes down to how good the host is, so depending on your budget, look for the best-rated accommodation and read the reviews. You can always message the hosts before you book and ask if they can give you recommendations when you arrive.

Strategies for Booking The Best Budget-Friendly Guesthouses:

Platforms like Airbnb and Agoda are great for discovering charming guesthouses. Filter your search based on budget constraints, read the reviews, and message hosts directly, and you can negotiate better rates.

Best Websites for Guesthouses:

  1. Airbnb
  2. Agoda

Homestays: Immerse Yourself in Local Culture

For a truly authentic experience try a homestay. They offer more than just a place to sleep but the opportunity to become a temporary member of the local community. It's a chance to live, learn, and share in the daily life of your hosts.

Living with locals provides an opportunity to learn firsthand about the customs and traditions of the destination. It might be as simple as going to the local markets in Thailand for groceries and discovering new herbs and vegetables. From participating in local celebrations to sharing daily meals, homestays let you have a deep cultural connection.

Booking Budget-Friendly Homestays

Platforms such as and Airbnb's “room” section connect you directly with hosts. Negotiating extended stays can often result in more favourable rates, giving you and the host a win-win situation. If you want to stay with a family for an extended period, it’s best to contact the hosts first to make sure you get along with them.

Best Websites for Homestays:

  2. Airbnb (By booking a room with a host)

The Bottomline: Travel Doesn’t Have to Cost the World!

Travelling is one of the highlights in life, but it often comes with a hefty price tag — it doesn’t have to.

By establishing your travelling profile and exploring different kinds of accommodation, you can find the right place to stay on your overseas adventures without breaking the bank. Which means you can travel more often and for longer. Be sure to get travel insurance and read the fine print. You don’t want to get caught out.

Travel is not only in the destinations but in the people you meet, cultures you immerse in, and the experiences you gather along the way. Choosing hostels, guesthouses, and homestays can save you money and opens doors to new and exciting adventures.

You may also like: