Getting free accommodation can be one one of the more challenging parts of traveling. Well, it can be quite easy depending on where you are. In places like North-America and Europe it will be easy enough but when you’re traveling in Africa, South-America or some parts of Asia, it can get more difficult. But definitely not impossible. The best and easiest way to get free accommodation anywhere in the world is obviously Couchsurfing. If you don’t know what Couchsurfing is, I encourage you to find out. You can visit the Couchsurfing website here or find more information about it here. Basically what it is, is an online platform where you can find free accommodation anywhere in the world with the locals. You usually get a couch to crash on for the night, sometimes your own room or a matress on the floor. And sometimes, if you are really lucky, you’ll even get a hammock somewhere outside :D. This also includes a good meal or two most of the time.
If you feel more like working in exchange for your room and board, I would reccommend using Workaway. I’ve found it the best way to get free volunteering jobs in exchange for accommodation and sometimes even food. You have to pay a small anual membership fee but it is totally worth it in my opinion. WWOOFing is also a good option but the downside about it for me is that alot of countries or areas have their own platforms. It’s not one universal worldwide platform like Workaway or Couchsurfing. And for each different site, you have to pay a different membership fee, so if you plan to travel all over the world, it can end up costing you a substantial amount of money. Another problem for you might be that most of the hosts require you to stay at least a couple of months which can be hard if you are not a dedicated full time traveler. While Workaway costs you one fee for the entire world and many hosts can help you out for a few days or a week. That being said. If you plan to travel only in one area or for long times in an area, WWOOF can be an excellent option without a doubt.
Other sites that I’ve used before, but aren’t really that effecient for me, are HelpX and Hovos. Personally I haven’t found these very helpful but they might be perfect for you. They definitely deserve a mention here.
Alot of people also work on cruise ships, I haven’t done it myself but they can get you free accommodation, free food and free passage accross the ocean. I have heard that the hours are terrible though, you have to work really hard most of the time and you don’t really get to see or do much. But free stuff is free stuff right?
There are so many opportunities like this out there. I won’t have time to talk about all of them but I will mention a few that I’ve had personal experience with or talked to people who had personal experience with them. They include:
- Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL).
- Volunteering at old age/children’s homes, animal shelters, hospitals, clinics, charities, etc. (These are the types of things you can find on Workaway).
- Finding a job as an au pair.
- Going home with a stranger you just met.
- Get a people at a bar to take you home or pay for your accommodation after you’ve told them your tall travel tales.
- Sleeping on busses/taxi’s or trains on a long overland trip.
- Wild camp/ use free camping sites.
- Sneak into a safe place to sleep.
- Ask around for a safe place.
- Go to a police station/hospital or church and ask them if there’s a place for you to stay the night.
There are hundreds of opportunities, be creative and put yourself out there to find them. I’ve also worked at hostels in exchange for a place to sleep. Just ask, most of the time they will have a job for you somewhere.
It helps if you have a bunch of skills or if you are good with your hands. Don’t be afraid to work hard and never pass up an opportunity. Even if you have no idea how to do something they ask you, figure it out and learn because it will add another skill into your arsenal of skills to get yourself free accommodation. If you know your way around a 2 or 4 stroke engine you can offer to service generators, lawnmowers or other plant they might have. They are usually happy to make a deal like this. It beats hiring a mechanic. So you both win. They get free labour (because it doesn’t cost them a cent to let you sleep in a dorm bed) and you get free accommodation. Great!
Another good idea is to teach yourself how to build websites. Everyone needs a website these days and if they can get someone to build one for free. They won’t hesitate to “employ” you. Like I said. There are an infinite amount of opportunities out there a world. Find them and use them! You’ll be traveling for free in no time.