Accommodation in the south is as diverse as anywhere in the world. You can find five star hotels and resorts, charming bed and breakfasts as well as campgrounds and hostels. There are not as many hostels as in other parts of the world, but it is still possible to find budget accommodation in the south. Budget hotels can often be cheaper than hostel dorms if you are traveling with a group, not to mention the many campgrounds found throughout the region.
Luxury Hotels and Inns
Luxury hotels are more common than one might think in the region. The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation in Eatonton, Georgia, the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina and the Peabody in Memphis, Tennessee are a few that immediately come to mind.
Budget hotel chains are abound in the south, namely Crowne Plaza, Courtyard Marriott, Days Inn and Holiday Inn. Many times budget hotels can be cheaper than other forms of accommodation, especially when traveling in groups.
Bed and Breakfasts and Guesthouses
Bed and breakfasts are common throughout the south, often in converted historic homes. Bed and breakfasts, guesthouses and inns are a charming way to experience history in cities like Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans.
Depending on the time of year, camping can be a great alternative to hostels. There are campgrounds and natinal parks all over the region and some hostels even let you camp on their grounds for $10. The KOA campgrounds offer tent sites, RV sites and even cabins, with amentities like cable television, wireless internet, barbecue grills, bike rentals, firewood, mini golf, pools, canoeing, fishing, camping kitchens and of course, showers and bathrooms.
Chains like Hostelling International have not yet made their way to the Southern states, so the hostels you encounter will be family-run. You can’t expect the flashpacker style hostels popular in Europe and Australia, but will be more closely related to the bed and breakfast. Hostels are more common in bigger cities like New Orleans, Nashville and Miami, as well as in stops along the Appalachian Trail, designed for hikers. See also the Hostel Handbook’s Southern hostels.
In some places, there isn’t the luxury of staying in hostels. Rental sites like HomeAway, AirBnB and Roomorama offer a variety of accommodation, from apartments to condos to houses. HomeAway specializes in beach houses, while AirBnB and Roomorama have more apartments. AirBnB also offers rooms in apartments while the owners are at home.
For a more local experience for free, try CouchSurfing, which sets you up with someone in whatever city you are traveling to and gives you somewhere to stay, whether it be an air mattress, couch or spare room. Read all the details of the person’s profile to make sure you’re a good fit and read their references. If they don’t have references, find someone else. Use common sense and if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you can always leave and stay somewhere else. If you want to be a good couchsurfer, send a thoughtful request to your host, saying more than that you’re looking for somewhere free to stay. It’s also nice to bring a gift for your host, like a bottle of wine, scented candle or something from your home country.
If you want to work and travel, throwing in farming with CouchSurfing, WWOOF, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, has farms in every state in the USA. You pay an annual fee of $40 for online access and a print farm directory, or $30 for online only, and receive meals and accommodation in exchange for work on the farms. Not all are organic farms, but some including building houses and taking care of animals.