Traveling can be expensive but it can also be cheap. After purchasing the air ticket to your destination, the next biggest expense would be accommodation. Depending on your style of living, your cost may be higher or lower. But what if I told you that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for an affordable accommodation? What if you don’t even have to pay a single penny to live in a comfortable home?
Today, there are social platforms online that can make that dream into a reality. These new economical methods is making traveling more interesting, comfortable and affordable. Let’s cut the living cost altogether!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I would receive a small commission for the links clicked. However, I would only recommend things I would do myself.
Couchsurfing: Free Living and Hosting
Couchsurfing is a website that allows travelers to live in someone’s house for free. Yes, it is like the free version of AirB&B (get $25 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 travelers. It believes that traveling is more than just sightseeing and exploring the city’s landmarks. Traveling should also be learning about the local culture from the locals who actually live there. It’s the idea that having travelers from another part of the world in your home makes it more interesting because you’ve all been there before – travelers 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: Absolutely free!
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 comes 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 / year
Mind My Farm: Farm Sitting
Similar to Trusted Housesitters where you supervise pets while the owner is away, Mind My Farm is specifically catered towards people who are interested in watching over farm animals. This website is fairly new and connects Australian farmers to those who wants to gain farming skills such as watering the plants or herding the sheep. The site also encourages farm owners to pay a small compensation if they are far away for a long period of time, so you can even make a bit of cash from the job in addition to having a free stay!
Cost: An affordable annual membership of only $30 USD/ year
Home Exchange: Swapping Homes
Home Exchange is the idea that you swap home 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 a 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 traveling 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/ year
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 Workaway, HelpStay and HelpX. Find out the differences with my full review here.
Cost: Annual membership (price varies based on site and membership type)
Have you tried any of these websites? What was your experience like? I’d love to know below! 🙂