Budget travelers quickly shed the tendency to look for lodging only through big-name chains or landmark hotels. It's also important to seek out small hotels or rooms for rent within homes.
Visitors to Europe have known for years that a stay in someone's bed and breakfast can cost a fraction of what the big hotels are charging. But the benefits extend beyond your pocketbook.
In a B&B, you'll bond with a local family, who will serve you meals around their own table. You'll not only get a taste of the local cuisine, but also some helpful hints about local attractions, traffic patterns and looming rip-offs.
Once you're comfortable with this concept, it can be expanded to a variety of savings opportunities you might not imagine in your wildest dreams.
Read on with an open mind as we look for cheap stays in places that might seem strange at first glance.
Smart budget travelers are not intimidated by Rome's hefty hotel rates--they look for a convent.
It's no joke. Many convents throughout Italy depend on modest lodging operations as a major source of income. The benefit for you is good location and rates that are a fraction of what nearby hotels are charging.
Cooperativa "IL SOGNO" is an agency that can take your modest deposit on-line via credit card and secure server, with the balance due when you check out.
The link includes contact information for 35 operations and even a few hyperlinks to pages maintained by the convents. One example: Domus Aurelia, near St. Peter's Basilica, offers single rooms starting at €43-€48/night ($63-$70 USD). Remember that none of these operations is large, and their beds will fill quickly not only in peak season, but often in the quiet times as well.
Such rooms are available not only in Rome, but a number of other major Italian cities. Convent rooms often are spacious enough to accommodate a small to moderately-sized family in one room.
In some cases, the room actually could be a suite, with separate sitting room. In most cases, it will be spotlessly clean and spacious. No one will ask if you are Roman Catholic, and you are not required to participate in any religious services.
But please note that the convent option is not for everyone. At many locations, the nuns speak no English, and accept only cash payments. There is a curfew at 10 p.m. each night, and most beds are only large enough for one person.
Would you consider staying in someone's home, or swapping a stay at your home for a room in your destination? Before you say "no," click "next" and read more.