Alternative sleeping places when traveling – NO backpackers’ hostels.

This is a personal list with 13 alternative places to crash out when on the road. followed with some resources to find more long-term eco-oriented possibilities to keep the eco-nomadic lifestyle flowering forever.

photo: Chris Booth.

photo: Chris Booth.

  1. renting a spare room in a local house:In many Latin countries there are families willing to rent a spare room for a small fee. Especially in more off-the-beaten-track locations it is possible to find a relatively cheap place to stay. Also in eastern Europe.
  2. hostels that are not mentioned in lonely planet: Personally, I like these a lot better than the ‘normal’ backpackers’ hostels, even though it would not be for everyone. The places are usually less convenient and less renovated hence older. It can be a bit chaotic, maybe even dirty. These places have more of an anarchist squad vibe to them then of an actual hostel. It all depends on the people there, it can feel more like a community, or the other way. Some examples I have seen on the road: 
      • Kasa Libertad in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
      • “Charly’s” camping space in San Cristobal de las Casas.
      • Old fancy hotel in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, used by artesanos for camping. Swimming pool included!
      • Kaza Azul in Boquete, Panama.
  3. hospitality websites: personal experience with the first 2 only.
    • CouchSurfing : big community with millions of members worldwide. Due to its popularity, it attracts all kinds of people, but with a thorough search some high quality people can be found. Nice virtual space to meet like-minded people and make new (traveler) friends. Works well everywhere in Europe. In developing countries it is a lot more effective in cities then in rural places, even though there is the group for promoting rural couch surfing. There are some privacy issues with the selling of the ‘company’. Who knows what the future will bring for the members. It might even become a paying service.
    • Be Welcome : open source version of couchsurfing. A lot less people. At least this is never going to be a paying service and it promises a more democratic approach. More active members would be a nice improvement to this great website.
    • Hospitality Club : to be complete, was already a thriving community long before Couchsurfing existed.
    • Warm Showers : for cyclists and sympathizers. Has as goal to provide a ‘warm shower’ to those traveling by cycle.
    • Global Freeloaders : not a very attractive name!  With this site it is important to host exactly as much as you stay with other’s. The connection goes on to a less personal level, there is a mass e-mailing function.
  4. in the house of a friendly local person: In my own experience this has happened mostly in India, but also in eastern Europe there is a lot of hospitality! Magic happens when we leave our fully arranged, pre-booked comfort zone.
  5. in a truck when hitchhiking: The luxurious option, a moving and comfy bed. Just make sure that your trucker is a generally nice person. They usually are, after all, they are not only working, but having a stranger over in their small and personal living space. Another note: if spending the night with a trucker, it is good to take into account that there’s best 2 beds in the truck, they tend to be quite small..
  6. camping on the road/in a forest/on a parking lot when hitchhiking
  7. renting a car and sleeping in it
  8. in an abandoned house in Bosnia and Herzegovina:When someone told me that this is not considered illegal, I was very keen on trying it. When hitching my way back to Belgium, I stranded in a small village just before sunset, so I set out and found a perfect house. It was mostly destroyed and full of pieces. but on the first floor I could make a clean sleeping space with my camping gear. There was no trash or junkie’s paranefalia. At night it rained a bit so that made me double happy.
  9. on top of a sports stadium in Croatia: On Pag, a very touristy island where the urge to leave was huge. Arrived late at night in the main city, to find only very expensive campings. Just a quick 5-hour nap before hitting the road again! It was very windy and on the roof I found that I was not only less visible, but also that there was a wall that protected me. The whole roof was clean and easy to climb on.
  10. the entrance of a temple in India: In smaller towns and villages, this is the way to go. The general idea is that the gods will protect us, and if not, the bad guys are too scared of the gods that they will not touch you. Be prepared to be the main attraction in town as the children can be very curious!
  11. fireman’s station: No experience yet, but I’ve heard from many people that this is a great possibility in Latin countries. The fire men will help any traveler that knocks at the door. Maybe you will even get a bed. To be continued..
  12. beaches: The breeze! The sound of the waves!
  13. airports: No need to explain, this informative site will do that for me as they have this topic thoroughly covered.

For longer term staying and working for food and board, here’s a list of websites to find a possibility. I do use them sometimes but I have better results with just letting my life flow and rolling into the most magical situations. From medicinal plant projects in the Peruvian jungle to opening a coffee shop and running a small hostel. Even just helping out a family running a small cafe in Croatia secured me with a lot of love and hospitality from their part.

To finish some handy websites that try to make directories from eco communities and villages all over the world or in specific areas.


About lunajana

wandering and wondering.. creating love fullfilling food, psychedelic poetry, permaculture gardens and meeting magic on the way. on the way to destiny - destiny becomes the way
This entry was posted in ecology, hitchhiking, hospitality, travel general and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Alternative sleeping places when traveling – NO backpackers’ hostels.

  1. ulises says:

    I tried several of these options, Jana, dear, you are so right. I can add only my experience with fire fighters while I was cycling the Peruvian Amazon, and even though they did not know that it was traditional in Brazil that firefighters supported bikers (as my Brazilian girlfriend was explaining them) they were extremely hospitable, we certainly had beds and access to kitchen, bathroom and laundry, really generous people, no wonder they expose their lives for free in Perú.
    You are brilliant! Thank you!

    • lunajana says:

      See! I keep on hearing this amazing fire station stories 🙂 Maybe they would secretly like to travel and that is why they like some travelers and their stories to hang out.

  2. Number 9 and 10 sound pretty awesome! I was broke one time, without access to my bank card and had to sleep literally in between the fences of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I passed out outside leaning back against the passport office. Crazy time and definitely memorable!

    • lunajana says:

      When we leave our comfort zone, magic happens 🙂 though (central-american) borders are not my favorite sleeping place. Sketchy as they are, I prefer going as fast as possible from there. I did spend the night several times at a border, safely in a truck. Thanks for your reply! Travel well and lots of magical light on your path.

  3. stephsoul says:

    thank you! amazing! 🙂

  4. robino says:

    Reading your list I was thinking of some of the places I slept in, and thinking what could be added to your list. I remember sleeping in a cave once, which was really nice. But also I once slept in a boat that was lying on the beach but in the morning when the flood was up I had to swim back to the coast with my bag up my head, haha.

    Anyway, nice list. Very helpful for quite some people. There is also this initiative that has inspired quite some nomads:

    • lunajana says:

      hey, thanks for reading 🙂 I have seen many writings of you passing by over the years so I am honoured that you are reading this blog. You are an inspiration for eco nomads.
      This nomadbase should be added to the list! Thanks.

  5. Very useful tips! Would you recommend wild camping in the ex-Yugoslavia countries? I’ve heard it’s not that safe because of the old unexploded mines.

    • lunajana says:

      It is best to ask around where are the uncleared regions. In general it is best to avoid places where there are no trails, where nature took over, where no people walk. Guidebooks and internet can also be helpfull. a map:
      Croatia has strict laws on wildcamping, luckily in most Balkan countries, rooms are cheap and people are friendly so maybe you could camp in someone’s backyard? 🙂 The abandoned buildings are awesome, just use comon sense, it is easy to see if they have been entered in the previous years. If not: stay out.

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