The thought of traveling abroad for lengthy periods of time fills our minds with thoughts of adventure, exploration, and intrigue. However, our budgets have a way of undermining our daydreams of international travel. Unfortunately, the consensus today is that traveling is viewed as a costly luxury. Interestingly enough, there are a number of ways you can travel anywhere in the world and spend little if any money on lodging.
Before you start thinking that I have lost my mind, bear with me for a moment. I have traveled the globe extensively over the past several years and have saved a great deal of money by getting free accommodation at many of my target destinations. There are 6 ways that I have found to be very effective for gaining access to free accommodation and I have shared them with you in the following article.
1. Couch Surfing
The term “couch surfing” typically refers to sitting on your couch and surfing the internet on your laptop. However, it is also a method employed by travel hackers to find free lodging and accommodation when visiting different global destinations. Couch surfing involves being a guest at a variety of other people’s houses and utilizing more improvised sleeping options (e.g. sleeping on a homeowner’s couch).
Though CouchSurfing is the most popular option, there are several competitor sites worth a look, too.
2. House Sitting
If there was ever an ideal way for a person to travel the world and get free accommodation in the process, “house sitting” is the way to go.
The basic premise behind this is reciprocity. In other words, you stay in a person’s home for maintenance and security purpose while they are traveling on vacation. It’s a win-win situation when you consider that the vacationers have peace of mind knowing that their home (and occasionally pet) is safe and secure while at the same time, you stay there free of charge. Additionally, you’ll save on food expenses as well.
3. Home Exchanges or House Swapping
This is another great way to obtain free accommodation when traveling abroad. Basically, the two parties involved in the home exchange or house swapping format agree to live in each other’s homes with no exchange of money taking place.
The concept of house swapping dates back to the early 1950’s when people were looking for a more cost-effective format for travel accommodation. The idea eventually pioneered what has been entitled the “Collaborative Consumption Movement ” or “Shared Economy.”
4. Using Loyalty Programs and Travel Points
The use of frequent flyer miles and rewards programs has become the norm for many travelers and vacationers today thanks to the increased use of the internet. Ironically, the same does not hold true when it comes to using these types of loyalty programs to take advantage of free accommodation and many of the other perks involved with hotel stays.
This includes certain factors such as free breakfasts, free room upgrades, and so on. This is another great option for the travel hacker with the “never pay for your stay” mentality. Additionally, I have often found that the smaller hotel chains offer more of these freebies and perks than the larger ones.
Granted, you could pay a lot of money by volunteering to work in a variety of international destinations. But why would you do that when you could get free accommodation (and even food) just as easily by volunteering your time? One of the first things that often come to mind is the concept of worldwide work on organic farms or WWOOFING as it is more commonly referred to.
However, there are a number of other volunteering-for-free-accommodation activities to participate in including:
- cooking at recreation centers or retreats
- designing marketing plans
- gardening and landscaping
- milking farm animals
- teaching conversational English
Trading some volunteer time for free accommodation will not only save you a great deal of money, it is culturally rewarding because it gives you a better feel for the local community that you are working in and provides you with an immersive lifestyle as well.
6. Work Exchanges
Don’t confuse work exchanges with finding employment overseas, but there are literally dozens of ways to earn your lodging accommodation and save money in the process. With the right work exchange, you can trade your services and skills for free room and board in hundreds of international destinations.
Whether you’re interested in babysitting, construction work, ditch digging, or just about anything else, you could earn free accommodation by assisting families, farmers, or even social initiatives.
It’s All Possible!
One of the things I noticed as I’ve traveled the world is that most people feel like travel has to be expensive. That if you’re not paying an arm or a leg, then you must be staying in some low quality dive on the “wrong side of the tracks.”
It’s simply not true, as these real life examples show:
- 6 Months in a Luxury Villa In Grenada – Free (House Sitting)
- 19 Ways I’ve Found Affordable Accommodation All Over The World (And You Can Too)
- How We’ve Saved Over $30,000 In Accommodation Costs
Once you cut down your accommodation expenses you’ll have more fun for all the adventures and activities that make travel worthwhile in the first place. Now all you need to do it pick your favorite option and get started. Happy Travels!
Featured photo credit: Sarah Ackerman via flickr.com