Beautiful view of Prague from couchsurfing host apartment Beautiful view of Prague from couchsurfing host apartment You just don't get this view at a hotel – Flickr photographer Christopher Clay lucked out with this phenomenal view of Prague from his Couchsurfing host's apartment. (Photo: Christopher Clay / Flickr)

Wallet-friendly world travel

Globetrotting on a dime is easier than you think with these user-friendly services.

Ask any kid fresh out of college, "What's next?" and chances are, they'll tell you they want to travel the world. One major caveat: travel is expensive, and nobody has that kind of cash right after graduation.

We're initiating our series on wallet-friendly world travel with a roundup of affordable places to stay around the world. No matter what your travel budget is, finding a cool spot to rest your feet for a night is easier than you think. With options like Couchsurfing, Airbnb and now Hovelstay, you can book a cot, a room or a rooftop with the click of a button.


Couchsurfing

Dizengoff fountain lit up at night One of many Couchsurfing benefits: Your host can show you the cool local spots to hang out – like the colorful Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Anna Spysz/Flickr)

Couchsurfing has become its own phenomenon thanks to the ever-expanding worldwide community over at Couchsurfing.com. A great option for big cities like Paris, Prague or Tel Aviv, Couchsurfing connects people seeking an overnight stay with folks who are open to hosting someone free of charge. The best part? You get to make friends!

Traveler Anna Spysz traveled to Israel on a whim, so for her, Couchsurfing was the best option for such a last-minute trip. "Couchsurfing in Tel Aviv was a blast," she told From the Grapevine. "We ended up going out to some clubs with both of them and meeting their friends, so it was a great overall experience."

It's clear from Spysz's photos that such a complete immersion in the city brings out its most artistic details.

Couchsurfing also enabled Spysz to spontaneously travel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. "It was a bit out in the suburbs, so we got a taste of how people actually live outside of the tourist parts of the city. We also got to hang out, eat, drink and play Xbox with him and his neighbors, who were college-aged kids."

Spysz, an experienced Couchsurfer, said she has had different experiences in every city she's traveled to – from the bonding experience in the crowded apartment in Fez, Morocco, to her largely independent experience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Couchsurfing is absolutely the best way to see a new place, especially if you're traveling on your own," Spysz said.


Hovelstay

Moose Hut cabin in SwedenThe charismatic "Moose Hut" in Lomsjo, Sweden, is a 100-year-old rustic cabin with scenic views in summer and winter alike. (Photo: Hovelstay)

Hovelstay was created in response to companies that didn't accurately reflect their accommodations. In short, its founders created Hovelstay as a way to offer affordable vacation rentals without any gimmicks or fluff. Hovelstay rests comfortably in the middle of Couchsurfing and Airbnb with a wider, more inclusive range of offerings at an affordable price – no more than $99 per night.

"Since you're still paying for a short-term rental, there's a small price to pay for trust, safety and comfort," Louise Miclat, Hovelstay's director of public relations, told From the Grapevine. Students get a special discount at Hovelstay – a booking fee of just 1 percent.

Tree house in Chiang Mai, ThailandWith a private bathroom, toilet and even a warm shower, this isn't your childhood tree house. Located within the gorgeous natural scenery in Chiang Mai, Thailand, you can stay here for $27 a night. (Photo: Hovelstay)

"Travel in the fall and winter, pack light to avoid extra baggage fees, use and understand the public transportation system because it's cheaper and more efficient, withdraw a good amount of cash to avoid ATM fees, stay away from tour guides," Miclat advised, "and if your hovel hosts want to make you a meal, say yes!"


Airbnb

Cozy couch set up in FranceAirbnb enables a longer-term stay, too. Flickr photographer Connie Ma spent two months in France, staying at this cozy location in Lyon. (Photo: Connie Ma/Flickr)

Airbnb is another service where you can get quality digs for a much friendlier price than a European hotel would offer. You can get a room in Paris for as little as $34 per night!

Airbnb is best for the traveler who prefers to plan well in advance. You'll know what to expect (conditions of the room, what you'll sleep on, how many bathrooms – even whether they offer shampoo!). You can book months ahead of time, and then you're all set to start planning your sightseeing.

Airbnb has a selection of moderately priced rentals for the traveler who wants to save some money without compromising quality; for the price of a room at a four-star hotel, you can rent a cozy space that feels much more like home – and stay awhile without worrying about intruding on anyone.

With all these options before you, what's stopping you from hopping on the next plane?

"Travel is the single best thing you can do to educate yourself about the world and grow as a person, so the more you can do it, the better," Spyzs advised. "And doing it affordably means you can keep traveling longer!"

We're sold.

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