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6 Ways to Get Free Accommodation While Traveling

6 Ways to Get Free Accommodation While Traveling

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

5. Volunteering

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:

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  • 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.

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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.”

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It’s simply not true, as these real life examples show:

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

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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