One of the questions I get most about travel is “How do you afford it?” A lot of us have the idea that traveling needs to be expensive and a lot of times this is the case. Between flights, accommodation, tours, transportation and just day to day expenses it is easy to rack up some debt while traveling. However, this does not need to be the case. There are a lot of ways to travel on a budget and even a lot of ways to get some of the things that cost the most, such as accommodation, for FREE.
Yes.. You read that right, I said FREE.
As I begin to travel more and talk to more people about my experiences while traveling, I have realized that this idea of free accommodation is just as foreign to some people as the new country they want to travel to. So I decided to put together a little guide on different ways to get free accommodation while traveling..so without further ado here it is!
Five Ways To Get Free Accommodation
If you have not heard of couchsurfing and you are serious about saving money while traveling, then I have a little homework assignment for you. After you read this post, look into it. Make that the first thing you do. Couchsurfing is not only a way to get FREE accommodation, but it is also a great way to meet new people and learn about the culture from locals. Couchsurfing was made for this reason. It allows travelers to not only find accommodation for free, but also to find other travelers and locals near them and events/meet ups going on around you as well. With the app or the website, you can create a profile and view other’s profiles. It allows people to open up their home to those looking for free accommodation. You simply create your profile and send a request to stay with couchsurfers in the area you will be visiting. And if you want, you can open up your home to travelers as well!
2. Work For Accommodation
I was surprised to learn that not everyone I talked to about my travels have heard about hostels. Hostels are a cheaper way to travel. They offer dorm style rooms (and sometimes private or twin rooms) for cheaper prices than hotels. Hostels are an amazing way to meet people since you are generally put into a room with multiple people who are their for the same reason as you: to explore the world! Prices for a bed per night change depending on where you are traveling but on average hostels are priced between $12 – $30 USD per night. BUT many hostels offer the option to work for FREE accommodation. This means that you will generally work about 3 hours, five or six days a week in exchange for a free bed (and sometimes other benefits). Most hostel jobs consist of house keeping or reception but there are sometimes other jobs such as events manager. Some hostels will even give workers free accommodation plus pay.
The easiest way to know if a hostel offers work for accommodation is to check out their website. If there is nothing listed there you can call or email them or even just go to a hostel and ask.
WWOOFing stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOFing allows travelers to connect with organic farms around the world that are looking for help. In return for volunteering on these farms, travelers receive free accommodation, food and the opportunities to learn about organic farming. Although it is free to stay with hosts, there is a one-time fee to receive the directory listing hosts. You can learn more about WWOOFing by checking out wwoofinternational.org.
4. Au Pair
There are many companies around the world that offer the opportunity to Au Pair. Au Pair is defined as “a domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living, as part of a host family.” Not only do you receive free accommodation and food, but you also receive pay. This is usually set by the host family and varies from place to place, same as the hours of work do. Au Pairing is another great opportunity to live like a local in the place you are visiting. Many countries have their own websites for au pairing but aupairworld.com offers opportunities worldwide.
As you begin to travel more and more, you meet more and more people. These people can provide great opportunities for you to have free accommodation and learn about their culture from a local point of view. On my first big trip, I met travelers from all over the world. They know what it is like to want to travel and save money and most people are willing to their home to you for a short while to help you out. Social Media has made it easy to stay in touch with people you meet on your travels and it usually doesn’t hurt to ask what their plans are if you are going to be in their neck of the woods!