Imagine this. You arrive in your dream country and are greeted at the airport by a local, who takes you to their house, shows you around the area and then shares stories about their culture over dinner. Or perhaps you take care of someone’s dogs for a month at your favorite beach destination and spend your evenings walking them along the shoreline admiring the sunset. What about spending a summer volunteering on a vineyard in Spain or a winter on a ski slope in Japan?
Now imagine that you can have all of these experiences and not pay a dime for accommodation. WHAT?!
Gone are the days of having to spend a large portion of your travel budget on lodging. We’ve traveled around the world and have saved tons of money using some of these methods to get free accommodation.
I’m listing this first because it’s our favorite way to get free accommodation and the one we use most often. However, it’s more than just getting free accommodation. The Couch Surfing community is all about making connections with people all around the world. Locals open up their home to you in exchange for a genuine interaction and continued friendship. Their “couch” may be as simple as a sleeping bag on the floor, or you may get lucky and have an entire room to yourself. The “repayment” is showing respect and interest to the person hosting you, as well as treating them to dinner or perhaps bringing them something from your country.
WOOFing (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
This is a great option if you’re into any type of farming or working with livestock. It’s a basic exchange program in which you spend a certain number of hours a day working in exchange for free lodging and, most of the time, food. Time commitments vary, as does the type of work. Each country has its own separate WOOFing organization, so you need to sign up based on the country you want to work in. There is a small sign up fee, but it will pay for itself after just a few days of work.
For more information, visit the international website to find out how to get started.
We recently completed our first house sit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and had a great experience. This works exactly as it sounds. You watch someone’s house/pets while they are on vacation and in exchange, you get to stay at their house for free. There are multiple house sitting websites and they all vary in their number of sits available and sign up fees. Some of the most popular sites are:
A great website and resource for house sitting is Compare House Sitting. Check out their article to compare websites, search opportunities and decide if house sitting is for you.
If WOOFing isn’t for you, there’s still plenty of other work exchange opportunities to explore. The sky is the limit here! Jobs can vary from teaching English to kids in Africa, to helping build a dog shelter on the beach in Guatemala, and even doing a little cleaning for a few hours a day at a hostel. To search all of your options, check out:
This is similar to house sitting, except that you have to agree to let the other person/party stay in your home while you are in theirs. Some people may not be comfortable with this, but if it’s something you’re open to, check out:
Be an Au Pair
An Au Pair is essentially a nanny, so this is a great option if you enjoy working with kids. You can choose the country you want to go to and then typically meet your host family and children over a Skype session. Not only will you get free lodging and meals, but most Au Pairs get paid a small wage as well. Below are some helpful sites to help you find a host family and become an Au Pair!
Now that you’ve gotten free accommodation, how about saving even more money on free flights? Check out our blog post on how to fly to your next vacation for free!
Have you ever used any of these methods or any different ones for free accommodation? Leave us a comment below!