Looking for tips on how to find cheap accommodation in India and travel on a budget? This article is for you!
Often, when people talk about my highlighted budget-travel trips, they mention my Spiti Valley road trip. “You did a road trip in Spiti Valley, for 9 days, for under 5000 rupees? Where the hell did you sleep? In the open? Under the stars?” And I reply… yes, that’s where I slept. Though inside a tent, but under the stars.
I save most of my money on traveling because of two reasons: I eat anything, and I sleep anywhere. Though don’t take it literally, what I am trying to convey is that when I am on a budget trip in India, I save the most by finding cheap accommodation in India.
I avoid hotels and say no to luxury resorts (unless the trip is sponsored, of course). Moreover, when I barely use the hotel room during the day as I am out exploring, there is no point in paying 2000 Rupees for a hotel room.
So I stick to the other side of the spectrum: I stay in hostels, and dormitories, and do a hell lot of research before I book my accommodation.
How To Find Cheap Accommodation In India
Stay In A Hostel
Hostels are popular among budget travellers. You can find a bed in a hostel pretty much anywhere in India between 100 to 500 Rupees. And this applies to all top holiday destinations in India.
In addition to being cheap, hostels provide a highly social atmosphere. If ever you wondered how to solo backpackers travel for months, and not get bored – this is how. We stay in hostels and meet new people on the way.
Other than in India, I cannot imagine travelling abroad for months without making friends in hostel dorms. So yea, if you are looking for cheap accommodation in India, the best way to go forward is by staying in hostels.
I remember during my trip to Jaipur, I found hostels in Jaipur charging as low as 150 Rupees a day. Just imagine. You don’t get a meal for that price in most countries in the world.
Anyway, here are a few tips to remember though.
- Avoid hostels that do not have a locker.
- Use Booking.com and Hostelworld.com to find hostels.
- Book a hostel that comes with a common kitchen so you can cook and save more.
Find A Guesthouse
If you are an introvert or you don’t enjoy sharing a dormitory with other travellers or you want a private room no matter what, book a guesthouse.
A guest house provides a simple, affordable room, without the perks of a hotel. No room service, and no VIP treatment, but they’re cheap and are ideal for those looking for budget accommodation options while still not compromising on personal space and privacy.
Rooms in the majority of the cheap guest houses in India accommodate two people. They offer a poor social atmosphere, unlike a hostel, but if you like privacy and want something for less price, this is your only option.
Imagine guesthouses in India as motels in the US.
- Use your own padlock to lock the door, when going out. Just like in hostel dorms, security is often an issue in guesthouses.
- I use Tripadvisor to find guest houses after reading personal reviews left by other travellers.
Rent A Holiday Apartment
If you’re staying at a place for a week or 10 days, the best way to save the maximum money is by renting a property. Major benefits include getting a bigger, better and home-like space – all at a fairly cheaper price.
Though most people think Apartments (or Airbnbs) are expensive, if you’re a big group or staying for a long time, they can save you a lot of money.
So yea, if it’s either of the two cases and you’re wondering how to find cheap accommodation in India, rent an entire property/an apartment.
Renting property moreover has several benefits.
For example, you get access to a kitchen which saves you money on eating, you get a separate living room and bedrooms making it easier for families to manage things, and lastly, you can do your own laundry. These extra facilities can help you save and make your stay comfortable.
- Make sure you check the location and transport options from the place because, unlike guesthouses or hotels, holiday apartments are located far away from a town (which, sometimes, can be a good thing).
- Use booking.com’s apartment page or Airbnb to find apartments.
Stay With Locals
One of the best and most pocket-friendly ways to save on accommodation is by not paying for it at all, forget the idea of finding cheap accommodation. And how do you do it? By using hospitality networks.
Hospitality networks like Couchsurfing, and others, help travellers across the world find free accommodation.
On top of getting free accommodation, you also find a friend in a foreign land.
To use these platforms, you may (or may not) need to pay a little signup fee, but trust me, if you keep travelling abroad and do not mind sharing someone’s couch, it’s worth it.
I’ve personally used Couchsurfing a few times and totally loved the experience.
- Make sure you read reviews about the host, left by other travellers before you agree upon staying with them.
- There are dozens of websites you can use for this, but some of the most popular ones include Couchsurfing, HospitalityClub, BeWelcome, and Stay4Free.
Here’s a video on my youtube channel while Couchsurfing in Zurich. Skip the middle bit and just see 2 minutes at the start and the end of the video for the ‘Couchsurfing experience’ part:
From working on a horse farm to teaching English in a school to working as a hotel staff – volunteering options are unlimited and readily available across India and the world.
Where the deal often includes free food and a free stay for your time, some places also pay you money.
What’s better is volunteering teaches you a new skill, provides an insightful experience about a foreign culture, and makes your journeys so much different and useful.
I’ve personally tried volunteering in Germany, Italy and in Australia, using Wokraway and Worldpackers and every experience was memorable, forget about all the money I saved on accommodation, as well as on food.
You can use the two networks to find a lot of volunteer work in India too. Here are a few tips though:
- Before signing up for a program, check how many hours you’re required to work every day because ultimately you’re there to travel, not work.
- WWOOF and Workaway are two popular and trustworthy sites to search for volunteer options. I’ve personally only used Workaway.
Camping is another amazing way to find cheap accommodation. It moreover allows you to get close to nature and make your journey more real and adventurous.
Where camping is generally free – provided you own a tent and a sleeping bag – sometimes you may end up paying a little money if you’re camping in a popular tourist location or inside someone’s private property.
Most people think of camping as an outdoor adventure activity, but if you ask a traveller, it can be another accommodation option.
- It’s by camping (and saving 10% on my accommodation) throughout the journey, that I completed a motorbike ride in Spiti Valley in under 5k Rupees.
- I have camped just as much during my travels in the Himalayas in India as stayed in hotels. From unexplored destinations like Darma Valley to some of the popular journeys like Manali to Leh, I have camped almost everywhere in India.
Another way to enjoy free or cheap accommodation in India is by travelling overnight.
Journeys that last 10 hours or more can best be done overnight. This saves you the next day and 100% money on your previous night’s accommodation.
Though it might be tough to sleep in trains and buses for some people, initially, with practice the trick can definitely be mastered.
- Choose a bus with comfortable seats or a sleeper bed. Bring your earphones and an eye mask. Ask the driver (or the helper) to wake you up, if you’re not going to the last stop.
Other Options To Consider
Other include sleeping in the car (if you are doing a road trip), or if you have an early morning flight, spending the night at the airport, which also helps you save money while travelling.
Just focus on the fact that you do not have thousands of Rupees or hundreds of dollars to spend on expensive hotels. You want to see the world.
So try something unusual and stop saying that travelling is expensive!
If you have more tips on how to find cheap accommodation in India, please share them in the comments below.
Also Read: How To Find A Cheap Flight Ticket