How to Travel on a Budget Amid Inflation

Strong demand for short-term rentals has driven prices up. Rentals rose 27% at Hawaii Life, a brokerage service with 320 rentals across the Hawaiian Islands, averaging $490 per night., a rental company, said the average price of a unit in the United States was up about 10% from 2019. Some of its most affordable rentals are in Carlsbad, California. (median price is $158 a night), Jacksonville, Florida ($159), Tucson, Arizona ($210), and Nashville ($212).

Keep an eye out for costs, especially cleaning costs, which are best amortized over a longer stay. A $100 a night cabin on Airbnb with a $150 cleaning fee is $250 for one night. Spread over a week, it adds nearly $20 a night to the rate. Or seek out a rental with no cleaning fees, like one of Majestic Farm’s tiny homes in rural Sullivan County in the Catskill Mountains (from $155 a night).

Consider a large house – which may seem expensive – and fill it with friends and family to share the cost. Sasha Hoffman, who runs group travel planning service The Sasha Edition, recently rented a 14-person villa in St. Lucia for $1,900; a nearby luxury hotel charged $3,000 a night for a double room. She and her group paid the equivalent of $135 per person per night.

Like other travel services, housesitting took a hit during the pandemic but has come back, like house rentals, offering more privacy than hotels. House-sitting offers free accommodations on platforms such as House Sitters America ($49 one-year subscription) and MindMyHouse ($20 per year), which match homeowners with travelers.

At Trusted Housesitters ($129 annual membership), where membership is now higher than it was before the pandemic, most arrangements include pet sitting. Recent listings included a two-bedroom apartment and two cats in Washington, DC, and a ranch house with a golden doodle near Raleigh, North Carolina.

Pets “are going to sleep in the bed with you, so you have to be a pet lover,” said Stephanie Perry, of Dover, Del., who frequently babysits while running a digital business.

Similarly, home swaps on services like HomeExchange ($175 annual membership) and Love Home Swap ($11 per month) allow you to swap your home with another traveler. HomeExchange said it had 51% more exchanges in April 2022 compared to April 2019.

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