Free – Couchsurfing:
Couchsurfing is a community that encourages members to stay with other members for free. Typically, members will have an air mattress or couch that other members can sleep on. The community has a great reputation for being very hospitable and friendly towards its active members. If you are new to the community it may take awhile to establish a reputation and gain trust of other members. Consider hosting someone first who can then vouch for your credibility when staying elsewhere. If you are willing to have a potentially uncomfortable nights sleep and love meeting new people you can save a ton of money.
You can check out couchsurfing.org if you are interested.
$5-$30 – Hostels
Hostels vary in quality and comfort. You can expect to share a room with at least one other person, and up to 25-30 in some cases. Usually there will be shared bathrooms and showers so travellers who are germ phobic may be uncomfortable staying here. Most hostels are crawling with young travelers between the ages of 18-30. Some hostels have a reputation for being a nonstop party, so make sure to read the reviews on what kind of atmosphere to expect.
The Main sites for finding independent hostels are:
Additionally, Hostelling International is a network of hostels all over the world. Some of these have special rules and/or gender specific dorms. However, staying here frequently can help earn discounts for future stays as they have a great membership program.
$30-$70 – Peer to Peer Accommodation
This is a new form of accommodation that has started up in the last five years. Members who have a spare room or open apartment can sublet their property for a single night or many nights. The upside is that you can experience a destination from a ?locals? viewpoint and have a lot more of the comforts you are expecting around a home. This is a great way to stay in some of the best locations in expensive cities for much cheaper than you would pay at a hotel.
The top sites for this new breed of accommodation are:
Airbnb.com (Worldwide, but based in the U.S.)
Roomorama (Worldwide, but based in Asia)
9flats (Worldwide, but based in Europe)
Wimdu (Worldwide, but based in Europe)
$70 & Up – Opaque Inventory Accommodation
If you?re not quite ready to travel somewhere without staying in a hotel, make sure you check out the subset of hotel booking engines which specialize in filling up unused inventory.
Most hotels know that they won?t sell out every room at the price they want, so they allocate a portion of their rooms to a handful of hotel search sites and allow them to sell for a discount on their published rate. The catch from the user perspective is that you won?t know exactly which hotel you stay in until after you commit to purchasing the room. You will know which area or district the hotel is and what star rating the hotel is that you will be staying in, but won?t know exactly which hotel it will be until after paying. Some people may be uncomfortable going this route, but there are specialized sites (Better Bidding, Bidding Traveler, and Bidding for Travel), which assist in determining which hotel you are reviewing before purchasing. The sites essentially reverse engineer which hotel you are looking at based on the amenities listed, what other bidders have successfully booked in the past, and a variety of other factors.
The top sites for these ?Blind Booking? travel sites are:
Priceline.com: Auction style
Hotwire.com: A Subsidiary of Expedia, provides fixed price discounted rooms.
Top Secret Hotels?: A subsidiary of Travelocity, provides fixed price discounted rooms.