If you’re visiting a place away from, a place such as our gorgeous City of San Francisco, one of the most difficult challenges you’ll face is finding a place to stay.
That is, it’s challenging if you’re trying not to go broke while you’re doing it! Sure, you could just cozy up in a nice room at the W Hotel (in fact, we encourage it! But you must pay the cost to stay with the boss) or just give a call to the Holiday Inn and be done with it, but there must be some cheaper ways.
Well, yes, there are cheaper ways, but you may know already how to search for budget accomodations. If, however, you’re unfamiliar with some of the ins and outs of budget accommodations, let’s review, shall we?
- Explore the offerings on a private home room rental service such as Airbnb.com. AirBnB.com is a relative newcomer to world of discount travel, but what an opportunity for Cheap Bastards!
People with extra accommodations (often just a room, but sometimes entire houses, apartments, or even boats) offer up what they have on the website and set a price for it. Then travelers can book accomodations through the web site. The result is often significant savings over what you’d pay in a hotel. Now, there is no room service, continental breakfast, free ice, or SpectraVision in the room, but it’s a great way to get to experience San Francisco a little more like a local, and you might meet some interesting people.
If you’re truly cheap, you’ll rent our your own room to someone else while your visiting us here in SF!
- Of course, if you’re willing to go the “stay in someone else’s home” route, why not just do a Home Exchange! Check out HomeExchange.com for an example of a site that offers this service.
On HomeExchange.com, people sign up to swap houses all over the world. It’s a little like a dating service web site, except instead of boyfriends and girlfriends, people are mostly interested in places to stay in interesting locations. Again, very worthwhile.
Unlike AirBnB.com, the HomeExchange route does not involve any money (except for a small fee to list your place). The folks who list on the site seem very friendly and are like-minded cheapskate travelers.
Another option, of variable rates of cheapness is looking for a Bed & Breakfast. Now, we realize that the very phrase “bed and breakfast,” at least in the U.S., conjures up mental images of kountry kitchen decor, overstuffed beds, and awkward conversations with hosts and other guest. But, that’s not always the case. In fact, some are just under-the-radar guesthouses with reasonable rates. It’s definitely worth a try, and it can place you right in the heart of the City. Look for a Bed and Breakfast on bbsf.com.
- Some of you are asking for the realness, though. Hella cheap. That’s what couchsurfing is for. For that, be sure to check out CouchSurfing.org – an online community of fellow Cheap Bastards who love to travel, but refuse to pay to stay somewhere. On this site, you can hookup with likeminded cheapskates, and find someone’s couch to crash on. It’s free and it beats getting a tent and finding an out of the way park by a long shot!
- If you simple must stay in a hotel, then check hotel clearance web sites such as Hotwire.com. You’ve probably heard of Hotwire, have you actually visited their web site?
They provide an interesting service for those of us unwilling (or unable) to pay full price for a hotel room. Hotwire lists hotel rooms that hotels are trying to fill quickly. This almost always results in a lower price than what you would get if you were to book the hotel by calling it up directly, or by booking it through a more conventional travel booking service such as Travelocity. The result is a deep discount. The catch of course, and there’s always a catch when dealing on the cheap side, is that Hotwire won’t tell you the name or exact location of the hotel you book until you submit your credit card information. Hotwire’s service can be problematic for some, but you can use the cash money you save for more interesting things, so it’s worth it!