How to Find Free Accommodation While Traveling

So, you’re going on vacation.

You have a little debt left or you’ve just finished paying it off, and you score a super cheap flight to that place you’ve always wanted to go. Great! But the flight price isn’t the only thing you have to consider, of course. Nightly accommodation prices add up quickly and I find that (along with transportation) they can be one of the most expensive parts of traveling. I’ve compiled a list of the best ways to find free accommodation while traveling. Drop a comment if you have any other ideas!

 

 

Where to Look for Free Accommodation:

  1. Couchsurfing: Couchsurfing is a website and an app that allows you to find free accommodation with locals. You can send out messages to individuals or make an announcement that you’ll be in a certain city at a certain time. Some people may be concerned with the safety of this; however, if you know what to look for you’ll have some of your best travel memories with fellow Couchsurfers. Some of my favorite times in Europe were spent with Coushsurfing friends! I recommend going through the list of hosts to find someone with good references and a well thought-out profile. Send a message and get a feel for the person. If someone’s profile is blank and they have no reviews, then pass on them! As a solo female traveler, I typically only reach out to other females. Common sense and following your intuition are your best friends.
  2. Couchsurfing, the old school way: What better way to find free accommodation then by staying with someone you already know or have a connection to? The world is getting smaller every day, so it is likely that a friend of a friend or your sister’s coworker’s cousin lives in the city you’d like to visit. In this type of situation, you definitely don’t want to overstay your welcome. As with Couchsurfing (the website) I think two to three days is a decently non-awkward amount of time. If the host offers for you to stay longer and you feel good about it, treat them to a nice dinner or a gift to thank them for their generosity.
  3.  Housesitting: Several websites exist to connect homeowners going on vacation with housesitters. Oftentimes, these homeowners have pets that need care or maintenance work that needs tending to, so they will offer free accommodation in exchange for a set of agreed-upon duties. You will likely need references and/or a background check, as people don’t want just any random human in their home. The housesitting platforms charge a fee to become a member of (to weed out creeps, presumably). Check out Trusted House Sitters, Mind My House, or House Sitters America. Other websites exist, but these ones seem to be among the most popular.
  4. Free campsites: If you are traveling around the US by car and have a tent and sleeping bag, you may want to check out these free campsites! Note…Always check your surroundings and make sure you feel safe and make sure there are no signs prohibiting camping. These listings may be old and you don’t want to be woken up by the police in a random place!
  5. Volunteer exchange: There are a number of websites that help connect volunteers with organizations or individuals who need them. You can find work on organic farms, volunteer at a hostel, teach English to a family’s children or provide a number of other services. In exchange, you will get free accommodation and in some cases even free meals. Also, you’ll typically get at least 2 days off a week to explore the area! These opportunities are available around the world.
    Check out WWOOF, HelpX, Workaway or Hippohelp, among others.
  6. Make use of referral bonuses: Some booking websites offer a referral bonus when you invite a friend to the platform and they make a booking. This can work out really well if you are staying with a friend or a group of friends. For example, on booking.com you can invite your friend, your friend can make the booking, and then after your stay you’ll both get $25! In some countries that’s a couple nights of free accommodation! Airbnb offers a referral bonus as well. (Note: if you are using airbnb, check local laws to assure airbnb is legal where you’re going.)
    If you haven’t used booking or airbnb before, please feel free to use my referral codes. You and I both get a discount if you do. Booking.com Airbnb.com

Let me know if you have other ideas or if you’ve tried any of these options in the comments below!

With a little searching, you can cut the costs of your travels with these free accommodation options. Happy travels everyone!

10 Side Gigs to Help You Save Money for Travel

Finding room in your budget for adventures at home or abroad can be difficult, especially if you’re already working hard to repay your debt. Here are 10 side gigs you can do to help you save money for travel.

1. Teach English Online

An excellent way for English speakers to save money for travel or to make money while you travel is teaching online!  This is my presently my main source of income as I take time off from having a “real” job. Presently, I’m only working 10-15 hours per week, though I do plan to increase this in the next couple of months to save for my fall/winter travels. While it doesn’t give me the chance to stockpile extra savings, it covers all of my expenses in a month (which has mostly been plane and train tickets since I came back to the US from Korea, oops!) However, there are many people who do this “full time” (20-40+ hours/week) income while they travel or live abroad long term!

You can read more about my experience with teaching English online here. I currently teach for two Chinese companies, 17zuoye and VIPKID, though many similar companies exist. I also teach for Cambly on the side. The flexibility and fun of this job make it the best side gig on this list.


2. Freelance Your Skills

If you have an art, design, tech or other skill to share, you can do freelance work to save money for travel! Maybe you are good with photography and editing software like the Adobe suite. Excellent with social media? Look into social media management for businesses that don’t have the time. Proficient in more than one language? Design a website and course or create a YouTube channel to teach others and eventually earn passive income. That’s easier said than done, of course. But if you put the work into it in the beginning, you’ll likely thank yourself a year from now. If you have any kind of tech skill, you should have no problem finding freelance work. You can promote yourself on websites like fiverr or search for gigs on Upwork.


3. Babysit Some Kiddos

Love hanging out with kids? Post your services in your local newspaper or Facebook group, or create a professional profile on childcare service websites like Care.com or Sittercity. It will be good to gather a few references and become first aid certified to distinguish yourself among caregivers.


4. Sell Your Creations

Are you a creator of physical or digital goods? Sell your work on etsy, or create and promote your own website for it! This is best for someone with a more permanent space, as you’ll need to house your materials and inventory, and have a good shipping system.


5. Transcription

This won’t make you a ton of money, but it can likely cover a few cafe visits in Bangkok or a Sunday brunch in NYC! You might even learn something interesting in the clips you transcribe. Check out Rev, TranscribeMe or Scribie and choose your favorite platform. I like doing this between teaching classes online to make the most of my working hours.


6. Sharing Economy Apps

If you live in a larger city and own a car, this may be the choice for you. Check with Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Food Dudes and others for their vehicle and personal requirements. In some cities, car rental may be available if you don’t have your own.


7. A Good old Food Service Job

Don’t forget about this trusty old trick! You can often get a pretty flexible schedule to work around whatever it is that you’re already doing and make some cash. Bartending, serving, making coffee and delivery driving are all good options. Put your tips in a jar or put your paycheck in a separate savings account meant just for travel. I worked a very part time bartending job for about four months and it paid for my trip to Sri Lanka entirely!


8. Tutor Kids or Adults

If you have a degree in STEM or another subject that’s in high demand in your area and you are good with kids, tutoring during after-school or weekend hours could be a great way to help in your community and earn some extra cash for travel. Many parents are willing to pay good money if you can help their kid become proficient in and even enjoy a difficult subject. Think about advertising on community Facebook groups and set up a basic website outlining your offerings.


9. Sell Your Things (…and don’t buy more)

You probably have a lot of stuff. You probably don’t use all of it. If you have good quality items that are just collecting dust, list them on Facebook marketplace, Craigslist or Ebay. Your space will feel more clear and organized, someone will get some use out of something you aren’t using anymore and as a result, you’ll get some cash for your adventure jar. Feeling a little more old school? Host a garage or yard sale.


10. Start a Blog

Do what I’ve done here and start a blog! It will take a lot of time, passion and dedication…not to mention patience. There won’t be heavy cashflow in the beginning. You may fail the first time around. But, if you are passionate about your subject, the work will flow out of you, and you could be doing as well as this couple in a few years! (Special thanks to Anna and Tom at Adventure In You. I took their basic blogging course and it encouraged me to get started!)

Honorable Mention: Paid Surveys

Surveys are not exactly my cup of tea; however, if you enjoy participating in market research studies, you can make a little change here and there. A lot of survey sites and apps will pay you via PayPal or Amazon gift card. It might take a few months to reach your cash-out point, but if you have a few extra minutes in your day you can use this avenue to save money for travel, too! Check out Google Surveys or iPoll.

 

Happy traveling, loves.