Traveling is all about adventure, and if you’re really looking to explore a new city, try opting for something a little outside the norm — starting with not staying in a hotel! There are all kinds of unique options for booking a place to stay when you travel abroad (or even locally). Some sites are obvious places to start your search, while others you might not even realize exist. But the benefit of straying away from commercial hotels is that you can find a spot that allows you to more fully experience the character of the city and local culture.

Plus, in most cases, these options are much cheaper (and more fun!) than hotels. Scroll on for five websites you should check out the next time you’re looking to book your travel accommodations. You’ll find some beautiful gems in these listings, and your friends will be asking you how you discovered such an awesome place.

1. Airbnb: This is the obvious one. But it’s one of my favorite mainstream sites to check out once I start planning a trip, and I’ve yet to have a bad experience with a booking from Airbnb. All the hosts have been incredibly nice and generous, and as locals, they have a plethora of ideas for places to eat and things to do. (Photo via Airbnb)

Interested in the place from the photo? You can find it in Paris, France.

2. TrustedHousesitters: Love pets? Then this might be a great option for you. This site is all about helping homeowners (and pet owners) find trustworthy individuals to keep an eye on their homes and pets while they’re away. Similar to Rover, once you complete your application, you can match up with homeowners who are traveling on the same dates that you are. And the perks? You pay for your flight, but you’re essentially getting a free home to stay in while you’re exploring your city of choice. Plus, there might be an adorable little fluff-ball running around to keep you company. It’s pretty much a win-win. (Photo via TrustedHousesitters)

Interested in the place from the photo? You can find it in Hertford, UK.

3. Glamping Hub: This is another site that I’ve personally used and loved. Its bookings are more than just the typical glamping tents; you can find treehouses, yurts, camper vans, barns, tiny houses, cabins, and more. In fact, I found the cutest country cottage that was the perfect spot for a girls’ trip. And similar to Airbnb, the site features lots of unique places around the world. (Photo via Sarah Vogt / Let’s Go Places)

Book the country cottage above, or find out more about my weekend experience with Glamping Hub.

4. Bed and Breakfast: If you love the charm of B&Bs, then this is the site for you. With just a quick search, you can explore a wide variety of over 30,000 properties worldwide. You could find your dream inn in an urban area, or perhaps in a rustic setting if that’s more your speed. Whatever your preference, you’ll be able to choose unique, home-y accommodations. And with local innkeepers overseeing the place, you can easily get plenty of recommendations for local outings, dining, sights, and more. (Photo via Bed and Breakfast)

Interested in the place from the photo? You can find it in Cooperstown, NY!

5. Home for Exchange: Fans of the movie The Holiday will definitely love this. Doing a home exchange is a great option for couples or families that live in cities that are popular tourist destinations, as you’ll have a higher chance of matching with someone abroad. Similar to TrustedHousesitters, you still pay for travel, but then you’ll have a place to stay for free. Plus, this allows you to experience what it’s like to live like a local, which is priceless! (Photo via Home for Exchange)

Interested in the place from the photo? You can find it in London, England.

What’s your favorite way to find unique places to stay when you travel? Share your tips with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Featured photo via Getty)

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