How to Stay Around the World For Free: A Guide to Budget Accommodation
It’s safe to say that traveling comes with a lot of expenses, from food and transport costs to shelling out for awesome activities. Perhaps the biggest expense for most travelers, though, is accommodation.
Many people choose to stay in hotels as they are easy to book and come without all the hassle, but did you know that there are ways you can get rid of this expense altogether? Yes, there are ways you can sleep for free all over the world – and they don’t involve a sleeping bag at the side of the road.
If you’re really looking to shave off the pennies, look for other options which will have your bank account thanking you in the long run.
Not only will these options provide you with more money to spend on the finer things in life, but they’ll also open up authentic ways to get to know a place. A win-win situation!
Free Accommodation Around the World
Couchsurfing has soared in popularity in recent years, offering travelers the chance to stay with locals. You’ll get to stay, cost-free, in a lovely, obliging local’s house. If you’re lucky, they might cook you dinner and, what’s more, you’ll make some great friends along the way.
You’ll need to set up an extensive profile on Couchsurfing.com and prove to hosts that you’re reliable and safe. But, once you get going, the world (and its sofas) is your oyster!
Housesitting and Petsitting
If you’re a traveler who loves their home comforts, then this accommodation option was made for you! Like with Couchsurfing, you’ll need to set up an in-depth profile to show you’re worthy of being invited to look after someone’s home (especially if they have pets), but you can build up a collection of potential stays in no time at all.
Once you’ve been approved, you’ll have access to thousands of ‘sits’ around the world, where homeowners are looking for travelers to look after their homes and pets while they’re away. Sits can range from a couple of days to a few months, and are a great way to really immerse yourself in a place.
WWOOFING and Farm Stays
Love the outdoors? Then why not exchange farm work for a roof over your head? This option is hugely popular amongst gap-year travelers and those who are searching for meaningful experiences while they’re abroad.
Essentially, you’ll be working a variety of jobs, including fruit-picking, animal-herding, and other sustainable tasks during the day in return for hearty food and somewhere to stay. It’s the perfect way to live like a local while you travel and to pick up a few new skills along the way.
If you are a homeowner yourself, then you have a whole world of free accommodation options waiting to be tapped into. With your own home as a tool for trading, you can set out on the road safe in the knowledge that you might not have to pay for accommodation at all.
You see, home exchanges are exactly that. You offer out your home to a traveler and, in return, you get to stay in their home absolutely free. It’s important to go into this with an open-mind and no firm travel plans, as you’ll have to secure a home exchange that suits both you and the person coming to your house.
Work for Accommodation
Sure, there’s WWOOFING and working on a farm, but what if the great outdoors really isn’t your scene? No worries! There are plenty of other work-for-accommodation programs out there, ranging from hostel work to restaurant and receptionist work.
In return for providing your skills and services to companies, you’ll get a roof over your head for as long as you need, plus you’ll usually get food thrown in for good measure.
Stay in a Monastery
This is definitely one of the stranger options on this list, but it’s also one of the most intriguing. There are hundreds of working monasteries around the world that are happy to take in travelers for a night or two for no money.
If you plan on partying until the small hours of the morning this may not be the option for you, but if you’re looking to really get under the skin of a place then this can be a great choice. You’ll have a place to rest your head amongst beautiful, picturesque architecture, and you’ll have the opportunity to delve right into the culture of the place from a first-hand perspective.
Lots of local families rent out spare rooms to travelers for a little extra cash. Often, though, they’ll be willing to rent them out for free in exchange for language lessons for their kids or something similar.
If you don’t mind sharing with a local family, sitting down to large family dinners every night, and being given all the insider gossip – who wouldn’t?! – then start searching for your perfect homestay today.
These free accommodation options really open up a whole new world for travelers. A world that is at once local and fascinating. Unlike hotels, you can really get to know a place through your hosts, who will equip you with a local perspective and provide you with authentic experience after authentic experience.
Cheap Accommodation Around the World
Now that we’ve covered free accommodation, let’s touch on some low-cost options that will cost you a little, but definitely not the world.
Outdoor enthusiasts can get up close and personal with nature by camping while traveling. Most places will have designated campsites where you can hire tents and sleeping bags so you don’t have to lug them around, and you’ll get to sleep under the stars for a fraction of the price of a hotel room. What’s not to like?
Hostels aren’t for everyone, especially if you’re no longer a young traveler looking to party every night. However, most hostels boast private rooms that are hotel-standard, but almost half the price. Plus, you’ll have access to common rooms and a kitchen where you can get to know other travelers.
B&Bs and Guesthouses
Bed and Breakfasts often get overlooked in favor of easy-to-book hotels, but in actual fact B&Bs and guesthouses are always cheaper. Not only will they save you a few cents, but you’ll also get an intimate experience and, usually, a hearty dose of itinerary advice thrown in from the local owners.
Rent an Apartment
If you’re traveling in a group, then it’s well worth looking into renting out an apartment for your stay. Nine times out of ten, apartments charge per unit for the period of time you’re staying, instead of per person per night, so it often works out much, much cheaper than shacking up in a hotel. You’ll also have your own kitchen for cooking local dishes in and a lounge area to chill out and relax in.
So there you have it – a selection of free and budget-friendly accommodation options while you’re on the road.
By Lizzie Davey
Lizzie is a freelancer travel writer who currently spends her time between sunny Barcelona and beach-side Brighton in the UK. When she's not weaving words, she likes to travel to new places and wander through great galleries. She's the founder of creative travel blog wanderful-world.com, and her personal website can be found at LizzieDavey.com.