3 Ways to Get Cheap Accommodation When Travelling

Travelling more is something that I’ve been committed to doing in the past few years; I’ve been making every effort to explore my backyard as well as other North American cities, and to get out and look for opportunities to travel abroad.

We are going on our honeymoon to a couple of countries in Asia. I’ve been discussing a longer trip to perhaps South America in 2015 as well.

cheap accommodations when travelling

Being that we have a mortgage (and it is unlikely that my fiancé will be able to get a leave from his job for long enough to come with me, thereby leaving our house up for rent), we have to travel on the cheap. Our honeymoon has already cost us an arm and a leg in flights, and we did save some money on accommodation with AirBNB, so for any future travels, I’ve been looking into other ways to cut back on the cost particularly of accommodation. it’s not hard to get free or cheap flights, but free or cheap accommodation is not something that I have explored in any sort of detail before.

Here are a few things that I’m exploring:

Couchsurfing

I first heard about Couchsurfing on NZ Muse. Before reading about it there, my idea of couch surfing was established in high school when one of my brother’s friends was kicked out of his family’s house and he ended up couch surfing at his friend’s houses until he was allowed back home.

As somebody who isn’t the most outgoing and social person with strangers, the thought of staying with strangers on my travels doesn’t exactly excite me, but even in a place as cheap as South America, accommodation can be one of the most expensive aspects of travel. To me, the purpose of travel – real, actual travel – is not to be comfortable. In fact, it’s to be uncomfortable; push myself out of my comfort zone and give myself a chance to examine what is important in my life and experience new things. I think that while I wouldn’t want to couchsurf my way through an extended trip, a couple of nights here and there wouldn’t hurt.

It may even teach me a thing or two.

Housesitting

I read a post on Nomad Wallet that mentioned housesitting, and I was intrigued. After a little bit of research, I’m kind of sold on the idea of it.

This is especially valuable for long term travel to one destination; most of the websites I was exploring that connected house sitters with hosts had a lot of opportunity for travel for periods of time greater than 1 month. Often, there seemed to be responsibility for pets, but if you really want to see a place like a local would then I would imagine this would be a really good way to do it.

Hostels & AirBNB

We booked our accommodations for our honeymoon through AirBNB and we saved quite a bit of money by doing that instead of booking hotels.

Hostels are also an option but in my experience, you can generally find AirBNB accommodations for a comparable price as a hostel and it’s far more private and personalized.

We booked 10 days for our honeymoon for under $200, and we are staying in seemingly very nice and authentic accommodation. Hotels that were comparable in location and rooms were much more expensive (we would have spent at least $700 for the 10 nights) and I think that staying in an AirBNB accommodation will give us a nice preview of a smaller, more personal accommodation.

Tenting

When I was exploring Couchsurfing, I came across a couple of Hosts that mentioned that they have space for a tent. This led me down the rabbit hole of exploring tenting as a possibility. Travel camping in different countries and continents is an interesting concept.

I found a post on the internet somewhere about a couple that tented their way through Africa. While I am sure there are certain countries in which this would be difficult, overall it seems like a pretty good way to save money (if you like camping).

 

Any other ideas? Have you done any of the ones I have mentioned?

2014 Plan Progress: Q1 and March

We are well into April, which means that there is less than four months (at this point, it is closer to three) until my wedding. I find this particularly disturbing, because my focus lately has not been my wedding at all. I’ve been distracted with work things, and blogging things, and all other things.

I don’t have that much left to do. Our engagement shoot is on Easter long weekend, so we will be getting a photo taken to formally ask my cousins to be our flower girls. We need to get tuxes and bridesmaid dresses, and do a fitting of my gown. My fiancé’s ring still hasn’t been purchased, I need to figure out table cloths ( I was going to buy them online, but the store I was going to buy them at has been sold out for what seems like forever), napkins, an alter,  and we need to figure out the processional.

I’ve been too distracted by my goals for 2014 to really do any of these things. Here’s how I’ve been doing on my goals:

good goals for 2014

 

1. Lose 15 Lbs

I lost a couple of pounds in February, but I don’t think I was so successful inJanuary. For March, my Fit Bit has showed a huge increase in activity. As the weather has been nicer, I have been able to get out for walks and have also been going to the gym a bit more often.

I’ve been bad at tracking this to find out whether I’ve actually lost weight, so since I don’t know what my weight was at the end of February to compare it with the end of March, I’ll just say that I passed this.

2. $20,000 Online Income

In January, I made just over $1,600 online

In February, I made $1,627 online

In March, I made $1,375.35

This is a grand total of over $4,602.35. 

March wasn’t my best month earnings wise, but I’ve been a lot more picky about where I make my income. I purposely did not renew some contracts.

I need my online income to be sustainable and so I’ve been moving more toward affiliate income. I made a good chunk of change in affiliate income in March, but because the payout won’t happen until mid-April, it will be captured in April. Plus, I came just under the threshold for a Google Adsense payout, so we’ll see one of those crop up next time too.

If I earn like this every quarter, I would fall short of my goal of making $20,000 of online income. I know it’s only going to get better, though!

If anybody needs a staff writer, commenting services, social media manager, or even blog startup (WordPress loading, basic formatting, customization of Weaver) let me know!

3. 1 Hour/day Unplugged

I definitely did well with this goal in March, but now my brother/tenant is back from a long work assignment so that means my fiancé will disappear to hang out with him a lot more often. That doesn’t mean that I can just let my unplugged goal drop off the map; I need to take time for myself too! So I will keep working toward this in April.

4. Get a Promotion

I have been doing a lot of work in this area in working toward getting a promotion at the day job.

I had a performance review in March, during which I got some amazing feedback. I met with my boss to get her opinion and expertise on some professional development ideas that I had, and to let her know that I was interested in moving forward.

I also put my hand up for an exciting new opportunity which I think will put me out there in the organization and help develop my skills. I keep challenging myself and putting myself forward for projects and experiences.

I have an interview for a promotion this week (wish me luck!) and I was shortlisted from a pool of qualified candidates and likely my colleagues. If I get this promotion it would be a great opportunity for me.

 

So there you have it. My progress. Here’s to an awesome April!

To Tip or Not to Tip: Massueses

Does anybody else love getting a massage?

It’s not just the actual getting of the massage — from the very beginning, it’s an enjoyable experience. Choosing the right time of day (taking time off of work for a mid-afternoon massage, maybe, or right after work so you can go to sleep. Or maybe you prefer a weekend?

tip a masseuse

Via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/45011141@N05/

Regardless of when you like to have your massages, perhaps you’ve also wondered about how the price works out.

For starters, massages have a wide range of expense. You can get a deal for as little as $30 per hour, with a mid-range price being $60-80 per hour. And nicer spas? Upwards of $150 per hour.

What makes it worth it? What are the differences? And most importantly, how much of that money does the masseuse really see?

The Base Rate: How Much Does the Masseuse Really Make?

How much a masseuse makes depends on how they have structured their relationship with the brick and mortar spa (and also very much by their location).

Some masseuses are essentially small businesses or freelancers. If they start their own salon or spa, they run their massage business like a business, hiring masseuses and giving them a percentage of the hourly rate, or freelancing and taking in the entire fee, plus or minus their overhead costs

Masseuses can also be similar to hair care stylists. They “rent a room” in the spa and get bookings based on referrals, reputation, and the reputation of the brick and mortar spa. This can be a monthly fee, or a per-appointment fee. They are also encouraged to recommend other products like a salon’s skin care line or aromatherapy.

The final, and most common arrangement, is for establishments to hire masseuses on an hourly basis, paying from minimum wage to $30 an hour. That means most masseuses only see about 50% or less of the treatment’s hourly rate.

The Tip Rate: To Tip or Not to Tip

Here’s the most interesting part, to me. I’ve often wondered how much to tip masseuses, because when you’re paying so much money for an hour of massage, it gets easy to think that a tip is over the tip. Yet many spas encourage a 15-20% tip!

When it comes down to it, the tip is the only way to make sure the masseuse is making the most money for their services.

This may or may not be fair: some could argue that the masseuse should negotiate the rate better, and that it is not the customer’s problem if they only see $15 per hour, about 18% of an $80 treatment cost to the client.

Others, of course, see tipping as a normal and friendly way to thank a masseuse for their time and attention.

Do you tip on a massage? What about other service industries?