Love to travel but have limited funds? What if you had a friend in every city whom you could stay with for much less than the cost of renting a hotel room? The answers to both questions are cropping up in the form of sites like iStopOver.com, which caters to frugal travelers looking for hotel alternatives. The concept is sort of like a Craigslist for accommodations. Hosts list their house/apartment and guests can search for available rooms in their destination city. Often, the accommodations rival that of hotels but are offered at a much lower rate, and some do not charge the costly cancellation fees associated with hotel reservations.
The inevitable concern, of course, is whether the host will be some pervy neat-freak who has a conniption fit if you put your suitcase on the bed or a von Trapp-sized family whose 17 kids go through your stuff while you’re asleep. To allay some of these fears, the site gives you the ability to communicate with the host so that you can find out more about him or her before you make a reservation. Previous guests can also rate and leave comments about hosts. If you’re uncomfortable with the host or the accommodation upon arrival, iStopOver will let you back out of your reservation and receive a full refund. Payments are handled through iStopOver (for a 9% service fee for hosts), so hassling over money is eliminated.
iStopOver is not the only site offering private accommodations for cost-savvy travelers. Related sites include:
If the recession is hampering your travel plans, consider using these sites instead.