Financial Travel Tip #92: Cheap Accommodation/Income with Short-Term Rentals

by Nora on August 10, 2013


I may be a free accommodation guru of sorts (I’m soon to publish a book on the topic), but sometimes…just sometimes….you need to pay for accommodation. In these cases it’s a matter of finding cheap accommodation…enter: short-term rentals.

(Bonus: If you have a place – or spare room – you can turn this into an income-earning opportunity).


Short-Term Rentals

For the most part, short-term rentals (or holiday/vacation rentals) are privately owned homes that are rented to travelers, either in its entirety or on a shared basis (you have your own bedroom and share common areas with the owner or other travelers). In some cases, you can find creative accommodation options including boats, teepees, tent space, motorhomes, and more.


In most cases, here are the advantages of utilizing short-term rentals:

  • You have cooking facilities and can save money (and hassle) on eating every meal out
  • This also means you get to do your shopping at a local supermarket – a cultural experience unto itself
  • You get to experience a slice of local life by living in a local home
  • In the cases when the owner is on-site, you might experience a lovely cultural exchange and local hospitality
  • Amenities often include washing machines (which can be a luxury for a weary traveler), wireless internet, and linens/towels
  • The prices range according to area and amenities, but generally speaking, it’s cheap accommodation. It’s often comparable to low/mid-range hotels, and with the added benefits of the kitchen and local amenities, you’ll come out on top with short-term rentals.


Short-Term Rental Sites

Short-term rentals are increasing in popularity, as are the sites that coordinate such exchanges. Here are the main players, who are fully described in the article below:





Go With Oh


Below is an article which describes these services, their offerings, as well as how to make money with them if you have some space to rent yourself:

Got Extra Space? Make Money and Meet Travelers With Short-Term Rentals


Another Short-Term Rental Site

I’m singling out one service aside from the list above, because I recently discovered them and had a great search experience:

FlipKeyΒ is associated with Trip Advisor, so if you want to list space for rent, you’ll have access to a massive audience.

And from the traveler’s perspective, I was recently doing a search for places in Europe. Being high season, and wanting to stay in a specific area, I knew it was going to be pricey; and a search on all the other sites proved that I might have set my sights too high.

Until I searched on FlipKey, where I found half a dozen completely appropriate places that were in my price range and looked…perfect.


Finding Your Perfect Accommodation

This isn’t indicative that FlipKey universally has the best prices – or properties. It’s a luck-of-the-draw thing; previous searches have revealed other sites as clear winners.

Although some hosts may cross-post their properties on multiple sites, for the most part you’ll get an entirely different selection of accommodation on each site. So although it may be a pain to perform the same search on half a dozen sites, there are search functions allowing you to narrow your neighbourhood/size/cost/amenities so you can find the perfect (cheap) accommodation.




{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hogga August 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

great sites, thanks!


2 Wade August 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Awesome post! My girlfriend and I are gearing up for a year-long RTW trip starting next spring and I’m in charge of keeping us financially sustainable throughout the trip (which is probably why I dig this site so much). Cheap/Free accommodations are my primary focus at this point…to me, it seems like the simplest way to cut back on the overall expenses. Keep up the good work!


3 theprofessionalhobo August 14, 2013 at 7:24 am

Hi Wade,
Well, not only do I have a lot of content on this site about free accommodation, but I’m also soon to release a book on the very topic! Stay tuned… πŸ™‚


4 Deia August 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for this! I’ve been living in AirBnB rentals for the past 2 months and it’s been great. I love having a kitchen already stocked with spices and other necessities. I haven’t heard of some of the other alternatives you mention, though.


5 theprofessionalhobo August 21, 2013 at 9:47 am

Hi Deia – Yes: a stocked kitchen! What a difference that makes. Where have you been staying with AirBnB?


6 Marie (a.k.a BigTravelNut) August 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I had never heard of FlipKey. Thanks Nora! These short-term rental web sites are multiplying. We need someone to come up with an aggregator site to search them all at once (like for flights)!

So far I’ve only tried AirBnB. I wrote an article about it on my brand new travel website (which launched today by the way):


7 theprofessionalhobo August 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hi Marie,
Congrats on your new launch (it looks great!), and I’m glad you’ve had good experiences with AirBnB. Please leave a comment again here if you book something through Flipkey – let us know what it’s like in comparison!


8 Marie (a.k.a BigTravelNut) August 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Thanks Nora. You were my inspiration to finally get the travel web site going after years of thinking about it. You’re my proof-of-concept that it is possible to earn enough income from a travel blog and related writing to live and travel. πŸ™‚


9 theprofessionalhobo August 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

Sweet! Best of luck in building and developing your site and niche…and most of all – have fun! πŸ™‚


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