Being able to find free accommodation will definitely help you cut down your travelling expenses.
After purchasing the air ticket to your destination, the next biggest expense would be a place to stay. Depending on your style of travel, you may be spending quite a bit of money on accommodation. But what if I told you that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for affordable accommodation? What if you can live in a comfortable home for free?
Today, there are social platforms online that can make that dream into a reality. These new economical methods are making travelling more interesting, comfortable and affordable.
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Couchsurfing: For the Backpacker
Couchsurfing is a website that allows travellers to live in someone’s house for free (New in 2020: There is a fee to join the website and to contact the hosts). Yes, it is like the free version of AirB&B (get $50 USD credit when you sign up with me) except it existed before AirB&B even started. 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: $17.99/ year for the website’s membership. There is no cost to contact each host. (New in June 2020)
Trusted Housesitters: Pet Sitting
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!
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!
Work Exchange: Volunteering
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 the differences with my full review here.
Cost: Annual membership (price varies depending on the site and membership type)
Have you tried any of these websites? What was your experience like? I’d love to know below! 🙂