Not every traveler is interested in visiting the same destination but saving money is universal. Everyone loves to cut costs and find the best deals out there. After all, this is how you free up your budget for more experiences and activities. Accommodations are a fixed expense of traveling but this is also an area where you can find some major savings. Depending on your flexibility, you can find inexpensive accommodations that will more than satisfy your needs. Plus, if you’re traveling the right way, you shouldn’t be spending too much time in the room. This beginner’s guide will help point you in the right direction so you can find affordable accommodations that are right for you.

As a first step, take a careful look at your itinerary and try to organize your priorities. What do you care most about when choosing your lodging? Price? Value? Comfort? Style? If you want to get the most out of your trip, it’s important to weigh several factors, not just price. If you only pay attention to the cost of your accommodations, you might end up spending more money in the long-run (and wasting some time). For example, you might choose to stay outside the city to cut expenses but the added cost of transportation could add up. If you’re discouraged by the price of an entire home rental, just remember that you likely have access to a kitchen and you can cook your meals vs. going out. Same goes for laundry! If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, it might make sense to break your budget in order to get access to a washer/dryer. The bottom line is that you need to consider both price and convenience when picking your accommodations.

As far as some best practices, here are some tips to live by to find affordable lodging:

  • Travel during the off-season. Not only will your accommodations be cheaper, but your entire experience should be more affordable. If you have flexibility on dates, try to go when your destination is less popular.
  • Stay mid-week, if possible. Weekends are typically more expensive (sometimes vastly) and so it could be a game-changer to stay during the week. Keep in mind most Leisure travelers stay Friday and Saturday while business travelers don’t arrive until Monday so Sunday is a golden opportunity.This gap could prove to be quite advantageous for the budget-conscious traveler.
  • Check out the hotel’s offer page! Most seasoned travelers start on the Kayaks and Expedias of the world but there are some definite perks to booking directly on a hotel’s website. Many hotels offer complimentary breakfast, valet, WiFi, transportation and more. All of these freebies could end up saving you some serious cash.
  • Don’t forget to check your credit card reward points. Depending on your provider, you might be able to use your points towards accommodations. You’d be surprised how many travel perks are available.
  • Split costs as often as you can. When possible, try to share a room or book an entire apartment so you can divide costs. Amenities and super spacious rooms are secondary to everyone having a place to rest their head.
  • If you’re traveling outside the US, explore hostels – low budget accommodations shared among travelers. These common corridors might bring you back to your dorm days but the bill at checkout will make it worthwhile. Plus, you’ll likely make a lot of new friends. Check out hostelbookers for a wide range of options to match your budget and needs.

When it comes to inexpensive accommodations, Airbnb is a game-changer. This home rental website provides access to people’s properties in destinations all over the world. Some travelers don’t like the idea of staying in someone else’s home but once you see the price tag, you might have a change of heart. Sure your bed might not get made every day but with accommodations this cheap, you’ll be able to spend more on life-changing experiences. Not to mention, Airbnb just introduced Airbnb Plus – a new selection of high quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail. An in-person inspector even visits to give the seal of approval. You can choose to rent an entire home or just a private room to stretch your budget even further. With plenty of reviews, photos, and filters, you’ll be able to find the perfect fit to match your expectations.

Finding inexpensive accommodation requires a fair amount of research and planning. That doesn’t mean you still can’t have a good time doing your homework. Comparing prices and perks to get the best deal can even be somewhat of a thrill. Just remember that travel is only expensive if you chose it to be, especially when it comes to accommodations. There are so many affordable (and even free) options out there if you keep an open-mind and take a risk or two. It will definitely pay off!