Accommodations are usually the next biggest expense for a long-term trip. Many travelers only consider the usual suspects – hostels, guesthouses, and hotels. People generally combine a mix of these when traveling round the world.
What many travelers never consider, though, is the idea of rentals. Budget travelers may immediately dismiss this idea as out of their price range. Other travelers may think this option is only for long-term stays. The fact is that rentals can be a great accommodation option for any trip, both long-term and short-term, and we’re here to outline the benefits of this option.
Some travelers, particularly those traveling on a tight budget, never consider the rental option because they assume that it costs too much. In fact, you may be able to save money by renting a house/condo/apartment on your travels, particularly if you are traveling long-term and want to hunker down in one location for a while.
Depending on the part of the world in which you find yourself, you can find a rental for as low as $25-$30USD per night (for those with a higher budget, there are also some amazing deals to be had on unique housing options), or the cost of a private hostel room in those same areas of the world. If you choose to stay in that spot for a few weeks or months, the savings will continue to add up as you will have your own kitchen, saving a ton of money on meals out.
While cooking your own meals is also a possibility in many hostels, many travelers tend to cook less than they would with their own space because of the difficulty of cooking in many hostel kitchens. We’ve all been in those cramped kitchens with four stove burners, two pots, three pans, one knife, one cutting board, and 30 hungry travelers all trying to make meals at the same time. While this can admittedly be fun, it does get old after a while.
During our RTW, we were in South America for about three months, staying in hostels the entire time and doing a lot of cooking in these situations. During month three we rented an apartment in Buenos Aires, and I have to tell you what a relief it was to have our very own kitchen, with a refrigerator that was all OURS!
Any time you travel slowly, you are going to save money, and renting a house or apartment during your travels will see you living more like a local, doing less touristy things, and thus spending less money by default. Though we were in the more expensive city of Buenos Aires when we had a rental, we spent less during that month than we did in Peru, which is typically cheaper.
Getting to know the locals
One of the best parts of indie travel is really digging into the culture that you are visiting. When you travel long-term, you have an excellent opportunity to really learn about different cultures and get to know the locals. While it’s still possible to do this while staying in hotels or hostels, it’s much easier when you rent an apartment or house.
When you rent, you are typically staying in areas where the locals actually live, not tourist ghettos where you are only surrounded by other travelers. If you stay in an apartment, much of the time your new neighbors are local people that are just living their lives. It’s great to be able to meet, converse with, and make new friends with your temporary neighbors.
If you are staying for a few weeks or even months, then you will probably start to develop a routine. You’ll start shopping at the same markets, having drinks at the same bars, and visiting the same parks. You’ll get to know those in the community, making for an awesome indie travel experience.
Even the most hardcore backpackers who travel for months at a time, staying in hostel dorm rooms, ultimately get sick of the lack of privacy. Even if a rental is bit out of your budget, it’s always nice to splurge from time to time on accommodations, treat yourself right, and get some much-needed privacy and down time.
So instead of spending over $100 per night on a nice hotel room for a few nights, consider renting a small apartment or house for your splurge. Unpacking your backpack, not having to put your valuables in a locker, and being able to buy some beer and not worry about it getting snatched out of the communal fridge is really nice from time to time. When you’re on the road for a while and the dreaded travel burnout starts to take hold, getting some privacy and down time to yourself (or with your traveling partner or family) is a welcome respite from life on the road. No matter how much you love being on the move, having some normalcy from time to time is always a good thing.
Short term rentals
Don’t think that rentals are only for long-term, round the world travelers. It’s certainly possibly, and recommended, to look into renting a house, condo, or apartment on a short-term trip, even if its only for a few days. When only traveling for a long weekend, a week, or two, the budget is usually a bit higher than a RTW, so splurges are more common. But even if you have a low budget for your short trip, remember that in many areas of the world (Latin America and Asia come to mind), you can find a rental for as low as $30 a night.
The same benefits apply to renting during a shorter trip as they do for a longer one. When traveling for a week or two, it’s more difficult to really dig into the culture as you’re not there for a long time. Rentals speed up that process by throwing travelers into the culture of living with the locals.
We took a short, two-week jaunt through Guatemala and Belize last summer, and we rented a house in both countries, for 4 nights each. It was nice to be able to wake up and cook our own breakfast, shop at the local markets, and get to know the people living around us, even if only for a few days. There were three of us traveling together, and it was far cheaper than getting a hotel room and comparable in price to private hostel rooms in those same countries.
The options for travelers keep getting better and better as time goes on. In the last several years there has been an explosion of rentals on the market, so no matter if it’s a weekend at the wineries or a yearlong round the world trip, these local homes give us one more great option to consider. Price, living like the locals, and privacy are all huge benefits when renting your own place, and if you’ve never done it before, it’s definitely something you should try out on your next trip.
For more on slow travel and renting while on the road, check out the following articles and resources:
Photo credits: Pawel Kazmierczak,