Saturday, 4 October 2008

Local travel means cheaper travel

Here are a few tips I've written for the Guardian's money-saving special this weekend.

Learn to share

Want to take a trip, save some cash, decrease your carbon footprint and a possibly make a new friend en route? Liftsharing can tick all these boxes. Carpooling website has seen sign-up rates double in the last month, meaning they are now racking up 5,000 new members a week. "Our members are looking at ways to weather this economic storm," says co-founder Eric Dewhirst. He describes the site as "like eBay for transportation": you say where you want to go and drivers suggest a fee for taking you there. Since launching in January, the site has accrued 100,000 members worldwide. It's free to join and they have now scrapped the original 7% commission charge.

Find a city B&B

Now that all small hotels are labelling themselves "boutique" and using this as green light to raise prices, it's time to revert to the good old-fashioned B&B. When in Rome, stay with the Romans via Sleeping Rome (0039 068 620 9286,, from £20pp). In Paris, try Alcôve & Agapes, which offers full profiles on each host to ensure a truly personal experience (, double rooms from £60: note that the office is shut until Oct 14.)

House swapping

Nicole Feist, the blogger behind the hugely informative Home Exchange Travels (, says she's been inundated with enquiries about this money-saving mode of travel. She points out that home exchanges are not just for long-haul, long-term trips to places such as Australia. "We love doing exchanges over long weekends, and, in Europe, budget airlines make it even easier," she says. For good European coverage, Nicole recommends Dutch site, or try the Guardian's own home-exchange service, Both cost around £35 for one year's online listing.

More money-saving tips for European travel here.