5 Ways to Stay for Free on Your Next Vacation

5 Ways to Stay for Free on Your Next Vacation

June 1, 2020 | By Nafeesah Allen

Lodging can be one of the most expensive parts of travel, but it certainly does not have to be. Travelers are often pleasantly surprised to learn that it is possible to home swap in Honduras or volunteer in Vienna. In fact, there are many ways to stay for free almost anywhere in the world. A keen sense of adventure can keep your dollars in your pockets, while you globetrot to far-flung and exotic places. Here are just a few of the tried and true options to choose from:

House sitting

When people leave their homes for business or pleasure they want to know that their house and the contents in it are safe. In exchange for watching someone’s home, you can stay there for free. Sites like Mind My House exist to make the process as easy as possible.

Minding the contents in a home can also include pets. Finding a place for your pet to stay while you travel can be costly, so pet parents got wise and built sites like Trusted House Sitters and to eliminate costs and avoid boarding nightmares. These are a traveler’s best friend! Pet owners offer up free stays at their homes in exchange for love and caregiving for their fur babies. You can have a free homestay in some of the world’s most interesting locations and you don’t have to worry about roommates who steal leftovers from the fridge. What’s not to love?

House swapping

If fur babysitting isn’t your thing, you could snag a free stay in exchange for allowing a fellow traveler to stay at your place. Sites like IVHE, Home Exchange, and Love Home Swap add an extra layer of security and arrange home swaps among verified members. There’s usually a yearly fee to use these services, but the price is nominal compared to what you’ll save on vacation lodging.

Crashing on a couch

If you have friends or relatives who already live somewhere that you want to go, you’d be surprised how few will turn down a house guest. Sure, you might have to share a bathroom or deflate your bed in the morning, but that is a small price to pay for a free roof over your head. If you’re lacking in international friends and family department, then consider making new friends with Couchsurfing. This site allows you to meet locals who are ready to make their house your home. So far, over 14 million people found free accommodation with hosts in over 200,000 cities. Like crowdfunding and ride shares, couch surfing relies on human generosity to bridge the gap between money and hospitality. Many host/guest pairs have turned into life-long friends or travel buddies.

Volunteering

Short on cash, but willing to work for your stay? Consider short-term volunteer programs that let you work in exchange for free accommodation. There’s something for every passion – whether it is teaching English classes in Sudan or tending to an organic farm in over 120 countries around the world. Volunteer Service Overseas offers free accommodation on par with local conditions and homestays with local families. Also, the United Nations Volunteer program has offerings everywhere from Mexico to Micronesia for youth and adult volunteers 18+.

Bartering

You don’t have to rely on formal programs to volunteer for free stays; you’ll just need to get creative. Are you a professional photographer with a great eye for how to display interior settings. If you have a decent portfolio and social media presence try bartering with hotels or resorts. You could give them a collection of beautiful imagery of their property in exchange for free accommodations. The same goes for a variety of professions: marketing, blogger, social media influencer. Know your professional talents and have solid stats to show how you’ll be of value.

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