Accommodation can be expensive for solo travelers.
Without someone to share the cost of the room, you actually pay double what half of a couple pays.
Fortunately, there are a few alternatives that will keep your cost of accommodation down. And some of them build in a social element too.
I've written about accommodation many times. Here is a short list of the many options with links to articles that give you more detail on each.
Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide
Before I get into the various types of accommodation and direct you to posts with more detail, let me point you to the Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide. The recommendations in the Guide which cover over 65 countries have all been made by solo travelers. In addition to the Guide we've published articles on accommodation in London and Kauai because we have particular knowledge on these destinations: Where to Stay in London: Great Accommodation for Solo Travelers, Budget Accommodation in Kauai: Four Ways to Stay.
Hotels: Unique and Boutique
It is sometimes possible to find a great hotel that offers single rates as with the Z Hotels in the first photo in this article. Here are some in London and New York. But most hotels charge for the room not per person. I don't generally look for the chain hotels but, instead, boutique properties that are interesting but may not have a pool, gym and other amenities. A good boutique hotel makes up for the lack of those with charm. Read Unique, Unusual and Bizarre: Places I’ve Laid My Head and How to Avoid Hidden Hotel Fees.
Hostels: Central or Remote
I like hostels. They're inexpensive, social, simple, usually centrally located or in spectacular locations and very clean. They almost always have kitchens and lockers to save money on food and keep your things safe. Hostels come in every style and size. There are those exclusively for women and those that have only mixed dorms. Some appeal to families and quiet people while others are party places. It's important to select the right hostel for you which is why our Accommodation Guide gives detail on the kind of hostel each is. To get a sense of the hostel experience in central London read Sleeping with Strangers: the hostel experience.
Housesitting is a free exchange of services. The house sitter gets a place to stay and the house owner has someone to take care of his or her home, the mail, the garden and even pets while they’re away. You can find house sitting opportunities through word or mouth or by signing up for one of a number of housesitting websites. To be a successful house sitter requires more than just showing up with your suitcase. For details on how to be a successful house sitter read Free Accommodation: House Sitting Tips for Sitters and Home Owner and 16 Tips for Successful Solo House-Sitting.
A homestay is your opportunity to live with a local for a period of time. If you travel because you love meeting people from different cultures then Homestay may be right for you. When you're not traveling you can open your home as a homestay, meet people from around your country or around the world and make money that you can save for your own travels. For details read Save Money / Make Money: The Homestay Option.
Home exchanging (also known as home swapping) is trading your home with another traveler. You stay in their home while they stay in yours. Why would you want to? Because you stay free! A decent, centrally located hotel in San Francisco would be hard to find for less than $200/night. Trade your home for such a spot and you could be saving $1,400 in a week. Sure it's a bit of work but so worth it. Read Free Accommodation: Try a Home Exchange
Once you’re settled on board a river cruise you stay put while the ship takes you to new destinations daily. There’s no need to pack and unpack which makes for a very relaxing travel experience. Sometimes they sail at night but when passing a beautiful part of the river, the sailing is done during the day. Before I went, I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it but, in fact, I did. Read Life on a River Cruise? Here’s what it’s like.
Bed & Breakfasts: Enjoy Home-Style Luxury
I have stayed in Bed & Breakfasts in the UK, Canada and the US. They are not what they were when I first started traveling. At that time people opened their home to you, gave you breakfast and some fun but luxury was not in the picture. Bed & Breakfasts have, for the most part, gone upscale making them more like a small boutique hotel. Each has a unique experience. You'll find many B&Bs in the Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide.
Overcome Your Fear: How to Practice Safe Couchsurfing
On the surface, it does sound a little bizarre having complete strangers in your house or staying at a stranger's house after meeting them over the Internet. But once you’re in involved in Couchsurfing and see the community it offers it may not seem bizarre at all. Couchsurfing is free accommodation and, like Airbnb and other aspects of the sharing economy, safe when done properly. Read Overcome Your Fear: how to practice safe couchsurfing.