If you think traveling around our great state means either staying at a hotel or motel, think again. There are three other indoor, non-camping options for accommodations in Minnesota.
Bed and Breakfasts: You may think B&B's are automatically out of your price range, but think again. Thanks to a handy little shopping App, called InnTouch, you can comparison-shop for local B&Bs from the convenience of your smart phone. Best of all, the InnTouch app is free.
For folks without App-able phones, never fear. Check out Explore Minnesota.com for a comprehensive list of B&Bs all over the state, plus any discounts they may be offering. The B&B I recommend for its close-to-the-Cities location, and bang for the buck is the Quill and Quilt in Cannon Falls. All the rooms have whirlpool tubs and fireplaces, and none of them cost more than $190 a night for weekend rates. The best way to save on a B&B, though, is to book your romantic getaway Sunday through Thursday, which is when prices drop.
Hostels: If you are a younger traveler, or if you just want to relive your youth, check out a hostel instead of into a hotel. Hostels are essentially like dormitories, and their rates are incredibly reasonable. For example, the Minneapolis International Hostel is just $28 a night for space in the dorm rooms, or $39 a night for a private single room. Plus, they have a full kitchen, so you can cook your own meals. www.minneapolishostel.com
If you want to get out of the Cities, there's also a MN hostel in Park Rapids at the Itasca State Park – the Mississippi Headwaters Hostel. The dorms here cost about $25 per night, with a full modern kitchen. It books up fast, so if you'd like to head to the great outdoors, but sleep inside, check this hostel out at the Hosteling International USA.org page today.
Couch Surfing: This takes crashing at a friend's house to a whole new level. Couch surfing is where you stay at a complete stranger's house, possibly on their couch, overnight, for free. According to Couch Surfing.org, it is a way for you to find a place to stay or share your home and hometown with travelers.
It's a fairly easy process, too. You register for a free membership on CouchSurfing.org, providing as much detail about yourself as possible without actually giving your address and phone number. Then, you plan your trip by logging in where you want to go, what you want to do, and how long you need to stay. You sort through a variety of "couches" until you find the one that best suits your needs. The whole process is completely free of charge. There's even a free app for it. The organizers only request you return the favor and consider opening up your home to future travelers.
There are few caveats, obviously. You have to be 18 years or older to use couch surf, and there are a slew of safety tips listed on the site, especially for single female travelers. If any of you have tried couch surfing before, I'd love to hear about your experiences. I consider it the height of frugality. Or insanity.