Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Charmaine | The Canadian Wanderer
Accommodation costs can be a big chunk of your budget while travelling. If you want to save money and find free accommodation to travel longer, I’ve got you covered!
In this article, I will be recommending websites that allow you to find hosts that you can live with, after you purchase a membership to the database.
Couchsurfing: For the Backpacker
Couchsurfing is a website that used to be completely free that allows travellers to live in someone’s house. Since 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, there is now a small membership fee (more on this below).
The site has been around since 2004 and it promotes cultural exchange between hosts and travellers. It believes that travelling is more than just sightseeing and exploring the city’s landmarks. Travelling should also be learning about the local culture from the locals who actually live there. It’s the idea that having travellers from another part of the world in your home makes it more interesting because you’ve all been there before – travellers on the road – and can relate to the experience.
The best part of the website is that people can leave reviews of the hosts and the guests, so other people will know whether they are trustworthy or not, and how credibility they are. I have personally used the website and I loved it, as I got to live with open-minded individuals and made new friends that way. I have also hosted and enjoyed the experience of having new people in my home. The website is based on the ‘paying it forward’ concept, meaning that you host people and share your living space so that someone else will also do the same in the future.
Cost: $2.39 per month or $14.29 per year
Volunteering: Free Accommodation in Exchange for Work
If you want to explore a city for a longer period of time (i.e. a few weeks to a few months), I would recommend doing a work exchange. There are many volunteer organizations and hosts who need help and would love to have someone to give them a hand in exchange for free accommodation and food. It is a great way to work and travel, as you can live with locals, experience the local culture, meet new friends, and save big bucks on living! It surely is a win-win! Some of the things you can do include teaching English, working on a farm, babysitting and helping around the house. I have recommended a few platforms such as Worldpackers (get $10 USD off your membership).
Find out what the differences are between volunteer-exchange websites here.
HerHouse: For Solo Women Travellers
HerHouse is an app that makes it easy for solo women travellers to connect with background checked hosts so they have safe places to stay and save money while traveling. When you pay into a membership, you have unlimited homestay requests to send to other women in the designated city. Since each hosts are vetted, you can ensure you are safe.
This is relatively a new app that was created by a woman traveler, and I saw the owner promote it on a Facebook traveling group. I am so glad I can help more women to feel safer!
Countries with background-checked hosts: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United States
- The Traveller – 1 month: $45 USD
- The Wanderluster – 6 months: $197 USD
- The Nomad – 1 year: $297 USD
You can get a 10% discount with promo code: CAWANDERER
Trusted Housesitters: Pet Sitting and Live in People’s Homes
Trusted Housesitters is a website that allows you to supervise someone’s pet for a free stay in their home! Pets should be comfortable and safe in their own house, so instead of sending the pet away, pet lovers all over the world come directly to their home to take care of them! This idea is super budget-friendly – the housesitter will not be paying for accommodation while the pet owner would not have to pay for someone to take care of their pet! If you are frequently going away and have pets at home or want to help someone to take care of a pet, I would highly recommend you to sign up to give it a try!
Cost: Annual membership of $119 USD per year
“I have house sat for 18 months whilst living in Australia. I had such an amazing experience and met so many nice homeowners who have then gone on to become great friends! I have house sat in mansions with swimming pools, penthouses overlooking the city, and fell in love with so many pets along the way!”— Catrina’s personal housesitting experience from 24 Hours Layover
Home Exchange: Swapping Homes
Home Exchange is the idea that you swap homes with someone else for an agreed period of time and can live in their homes for free. For example, you can stay in a house in L.A. for one week in March, in exchange for someone else to stay in your house for a week in November. I personally don’t have my own property to be able to do this, so I have not tried it, but I have looked online at what other members do.
Basically, most hosts would want to have similar accommodation in exchange for sharing their home with the guests and you can send invitations to one another to arrange which times work best. The host’s profiles will list which countries they are interested in staying and whether they would want a simultaneous (same time) or non-simultaneous (different times) exchange. This is a great way to live comfortably, especially when travelling as a family, and to really feel what it is like living in the neighbourhood!
Cost: Free 14 days trial + Annual membership of $150 USD per year
Cost: Annual membership (price varies depending on the site and membership type)
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get free accommodation?
There are so many ways to live for free. You can use sites such as Couchsurfing to be hosted for free, or complete a work exchange to trade your skills for accommodation. You can use my Worldpacker discount THECANADIANWANDERER for $10 off.
Have you tried any of these websites? What was your experience like? I’d love to know below!
35 thoughts on “5 Websites for Free Accommodation and Travel Longer”
Thank you for sharing this very informative post! I found many useful tips for my upcoming adventures in Asia. I have wanted to try couch surfing many times but still wondering if it is on the safe side for solo female travellers. How do you feel about that?
I’m glad this will help your Asia trip! I’m in Hong Kong – so if you come back, do say hi! About couchsurfing, I do see your concern. I have traveled also as a solo female traveler. Two things I will recommend for you: 1) stay with a female host and 2) read their reviews! Also, when you contact the host, you should get a ‘feel’ whether you feel it is safe to go ahead or not. I do think couchsurfing is a really great platform to have somewhere to stay as well as being amongst a local. It’s like an instant friend in a new city! 🙂
Such great tips! I’ve thought about house sitting lately. It seems like a great way to experience a new place, and have free accomodation! Definitely something to look into in the future. Thanks for a great, useful post! 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Definitely, try out house sitting and let me know how it goes! You can browse through the houses before signing up for membership so you will know if there is a location that matches what you’re looking for. Good luck!
Great tips! I’ve never tried any of these before, but I’d totally be up for a farm stay! How fun!
Thank you! I hope you can use some of these especially since couchsurfing is free!
I’ve couchsurfed so many times but I still haven’t tried housesitting. That would be an interesting experience!
I’m the same! Must let me know how cool it is! I have friends who do it for their friends in the neighborhood but never through a real site! 🙂 It’s really cool cus they get to stay in other people’s houses and save rent for a few days that way!
I absolutely love couchsurfing! For me it’s the best way to get to know locals and make local friends. I’ve made friends I’m still in contact with! I haven’t tried the other platforms. I like the concept of housesitting but I never had pets at home so I don’t know how to take care of animals, but I believe it’s a great option to save on accommodation while having a whole place for yourself.
I have used couchsurfing also! Such a great way to meet people! 🙂 This is the only platform I have tried, but I am very interested in doing a work exchange in the future so I can work and save at the same time!
These are all amazing tips to save money and a great way to meet new people. I have always wanted to volunteer somewhere on my travels, will look into that.
This is a great list! I’ve tried Couchsurfing and had a wonderful experience. We’re planning on doing a WorkAway soon. I’m sure that is going to be great too. Housesitting seems like a perfect way to travel. Definitely going to try to get a cool housesit soon! Thanks for sharing these tips!
Good luck! Sounds like a fun adventure!
I am a family traveler, so maybe a house swap will work! we joke around with other bloggers that we will do this! Great tips!
For families, it is absolutely perfect! Please let me know how it goes!
Couchsurfing sounds so interesting, but nerve-wracking at the same time lol! I’d love to read more about others’ experiences on it. It sounds like a fantastic way to travel!
No worries. The website has reviews so you can see how the host really is before committing! Of course, in the end, it really depends on who you stay with! 😀
This is so cool! I’ve never heard of any of these. It’s definitely not my family’s style to travel this way (they’re fancy hotel kinda people) but if I ever traveled with friends, this is without a doubt how I would do it. Thanks for the great information!
I would no way travel with my family this style of course, but definitely if you’re traveling with friends or solo, this is a fantastic way to get around to meet people!
This is great! Thanks, Charmaine. I’ve only tried Couchsurfing, but hadn’t tried the rest on your list. House sitting sounds like a great idea, I would love to try it one day. And whoever thought of pet sitting is just genius! I know many people who’d love to travel if more but are held back by having to leave their dear pets behind. This is such an amazing workaround 🙂
Exactly! It’s totally a win-win because everyone can save some money!
I’ve never heard of any of these but I would LOVE to house swap if I had a property of my own. Reminds me a lot of the movie “The Holiday!”
with love, Jordyn | http://www.jordynpamela.com
I know! If I had a property in the future, house swapping sounds like a really fun idea! I would totally do it!
This is a great list! I had no idea of most of these.Also I heard about the concept of couch surfing but had no idea there was free couch surfing. Thanks for sharing!
Couchsurfing is cool because it is like a site for travelers by travelers! 🙂 You can meet like-minded people and then pay it forward to others in the future.
Amazing tips, really useful thanks for sharing 🙂 pet sitting one sounds ideal!!
Glad you liked them! I think pet sitting sounds easy and fun as well! 😀
I have never done any of these but I wish I tried some before I started traveling as a couple. Although farm sitting sounds like it could be a pretty epic adventure! I think I will look into it in the future.
I’m really surprised! Really would have thought you have heard/ done some of these as I know what a big traveler you are! You can still do them as a couple though – especially housesitting because it is comfortable to have a house to yourself! Work exchange as well – you can do projects together around the world. 🙂
These are really cool ideas. I especially love the house swap one. I hate hiring a plant sitter every time I travel, this could solve that. Must look into it.
Glad that you can relate and that it is helpful!
Ooh – there are quite a few ways to find free accommodation. I feel as if I have grown out of Couchsurfing, but I love the idea of pet setting! It is a little hard to part with $119 right away without knowing exactly what jobs you will secure, though. Thanks for sharing!
This is true! However, there are so many options and you just think of it investing a year in exchange for a one-night hotel stay. It’s about equivalent! And then have hope you will find something! 😀
Amazing tips! I’ve done couchsurfing and airbnb so many times but I wanna try some others!
Couchsurfing always sounds a little dicey to me but I think it would be an awesome experience with the right hosts. I do local pet and housesitting and have thought about that as a travel option. Thanks for the membership links.