What is Alternative Accommodation?
When we refer to alternative accommodation we’re talking about any type of accommodation that is not the status quo; not a hotel or a resort, usually a budget-travel option, and often associated with alternative travel.
These services are heavily reliant on online communities. Some of these communities are thousands of members strong. They are generally based on a traveler/host relationship, where a host posts their offering, and a traveler applies for a stay, and if accepted by the host, pays and stays.
If you’re still wondering the heck is going on, think Airbnb. Although Airbnb is now a household name, it has deep roots in the alternative hospitality world. They started as a cheaper alternative to hotels in the SanFrancisco area. They had the idea to rent their extra space as a ‘vacation rental’, like people do on CraigsList, but they did it via their own platform, to avoid CraigsListers’ habitual flaky communication issues. And thus, an alternative accommodation kingdom was born. These days, it’s hard to view Airbnb as alternative, but the concept is absolutely attributed to this form of accommodation.
Finding cheap accomodation is not a difficult task these days. If you have an internet connection, you should have no problem finding what you need.
Types of Alternative Accommodation
It could be tenting in a stranger’s backyard, or on their ranch, or on their farm. It could be parking your RV in a friendly vineyard in the South of France, or the South of the Okanagan Valley. It could even be crashing on somebody’s couch.
Budget Accommodation for All
There are even free options, like Couchsurfing (crash on a “neighbors” couch), or HarvestHost, where you can park your RV overnight for free. There are small-scale exchange options, like Staydu, where you can cook a meal in exchange for a spare bed, or larger scale skills-exchange programs, where you can trade work or knowledge for long-term hospitality.
Why should people with money have all the fun?
If you’re an adventure traveler and enjoy using your own gear, there are some cool yard-sharing services like CampInMyGarden, or HipCamp, where landowners rent out private campsites by the night, for a lot less than commercial campground fees. The payments are all handled through apps or online, so all you have to do is show up, meet and greet, then pitch your tent.
Not Just Cheap Places to Stay
And if you require a little more comfort (which is nice for everyone, even you adventure-travelers sometimes), like your own room/house/apartment, and a clean bed, there’s always vacation rentals like Airbnb, Homestay.com, Tripping, or Trampolinn.
Long-term Budget Travel
For the long-term traveler, who’s in it for travel and experience alone, look no further than housesitting. Housesitting is where somebody offers you their entire home in exchange for your pet-sitting, garden-watering, light farm-duty-completing expertise. These services all require a small membership fee (usually of $50-$100) to gain access to the homeowners, but the savings are immense. A housesitting opportunity costs nothing, and can range anywhere from three days to six months. If you want to find out more, HouseCarers, Nomador, and TrustedHousesitters are three of the top brands in the industry.
Why Alternative Accommodation?
Alternative accommodation provides a means for adventurers with any budget to travel in style. Why should “people with money” have all the fun? Just because you can’t afford to fly in and stay at a fancy resort, or a 40-storey tower of a hotel doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, or explore that place you’ve always wanted to explore; it doesn’t mean you have to stay home and skip the adventure.
It gives everyone a chance to get out there on their own adventure. Even with a low budget, you can easily find comfortable places to stay while you explore your destination.
The world of alternative accommodation is a very hospitable one, but it’s not without its caveats. Anyone who’s an avid user of Airbnb (in North America, at least) will tell you how inflated it’s pricing model has become. It’s no longer a viable option for many travelers in many places. Gentrification aside, the better we treat these services, the stronger these communities get, and the more accessible the world becomes to everyone.
Do you have a favorite alternative accommodation? Do you have any good or bad experiences you think the rest of the community should know about? Let us know in the comments below.
Need more alternative accommodation and hospitality in your life? Our Adventure Directory is a carefully curated list of the best alternative travel resources we’ve come across. We vet every service to ensure a high level of quality, and try hard to provide you with the best services available to you.