13 Ways to Get Free Travel Accommodations

Accommodations make up the biggest part of most travel budgets. Even if you opt to stay in the cheapest of places, it can still be a real drain on your finances. But with a little effort and an open mind, it's easy to get free accommodations all over the world when you travel. (See also: 7 Ways That Anyone Can Travel for Free)

1. Work in a hostel

Most hostels employ a mixture of permanent, long-term staff and temporary, short-term volunteers on a work-to-stay arrangement. These volunteers usually do a variety of work, ranging from reception duties and cleaning, to bartending and decorating. Often, you'll be required to work for just three or four hours a day so you still get plenty of time to explore. Just make sure you agree to the terms before you start. In exchange for your labor, you'll get a bed and often some food and drinks.

2. Housesit

Opportunities to housesit are available all over the world, usually for people who want someone to look after their pets while they are on vacation. The arrangement means that you get to stay in a whole house or apartment and enjoy the home comforts that come with it. Many websites, including Mind My House and Trusted Housesitters, act as agents between the homeowners and potential sitters. Sometimes you have to pay a small fee to join. (See also: 10 Tips for Landing the Perfect House-Sitting Gig)

3. Work exchanges

In return for free accommodations, travelers can offer their time and expertise to work within a small organization or even a family home. This may include farming duties, building or repairing properties, teaching English, or baby-sitting. The opportunities are wide ranging and vary in duration as well. One thing to keep in mind is that you will usually be working four to six hours a day, sometimes six days a week. If you're doing manual labor you may be too tired to sightsee in your downtime, so you may want to plan for doing that before or after your work exchange. You can find work exchange opportunities on websites such as Workaway and HelpX. (See also: The Work Exchange Way to See the World)

4. Couchsurf

Couchsurfing is an online network that enables generous hosts to offer their spare beds or couches to travelers looking for somewhere to bed down for the night. It's absolutely free, and hosts are usually extremely sociable people looking to meet new friends and introduce them to their local area, with many being travelers themselves. This is better for short stays of a few days or less.

5. House swap

This is a really simple premise that involves swapping houses with someone who lives in a location that you want to visit. Sites such as Home Exchange allow you to search for situations worldwide. It's the perfect way to get free accommodations while ensuring that your home is looked after while you're away. Obviously it requires you to have a property in the first place, and as such, it is particularly good for families who own their houses and want a home to vacation in. (See also: Home Exchanges: Free Accommodations With Perks)

6. Volunteer

Lots of charitable organizations offer free room and board in exchange for your services in helping with their activities. Opportunities range from teaching English to helping build schools in places that need them. These will often be longer-term, full-time placements where you'll be lodging with other volunteers or with local families. To get started, check out Free Volunteering. (See also: Volunteer to Travel: 11 Opportunities for Free or Very Cheap Travel)

7. Camp

There are lots of countries where it's absolutely legal to wild camp on public land, meaning you can stay virtually anywhere you want for no cost. Clearly you need to have camping equipment such as a tent and sleeping bag, but once you've got them, the world is your oyster. Always ensure that camping is allowed in the location you select to pitch up, and leave the site as you found it when you arrived.

8. Write a travel blog

One of the perks of starting a travel blog is that with a reasonable following, companies will want to work with you in exchange for access to your audience. Many accommodation providers, hotels, and hostels are willing to provide free stays in their properties in exchange for reviews or "shout outs" on your blog or social media channels. It takes time to grow a following, but the rewards are worth the effort. (See also: Can You Really Make Money by Starting a Blog?)

9. Work on a boat

Captains from across the world are constantly on the lookout for people to provide them with a helping hand as they sail the seas. The boats will vary, from small sailboats to huge super yachts. Tasks can range from cooking and cleaning to deckhand duties. Most captains aren't necessarily looking for experienced sailors, just someone willing to pitch in when needed. (See also: How to Get Free Accommodations (and Paid Jobs) on Boats)

10. Stay in a monastery or temple

Religious houses across the globe offer free stays to people wanting to learn and take part in their way of communal living. You don't have to have a great faith yourself, but you will be expected to abide by their rules, which in some cases can be quite strict. It's a great way to get a different perspective on an area, though, and opens you up to new experiences.

11. Language exchanges

Learning a new language can be costly, and finding someone to practice with can be difficult, depending on where you live. Language exchange trips such as those offered by lingoo allow people wanting to learn a new language the opportunity to live with a native speaker who wants to learn English. In exchange, you may be asked to host that person in your home, too. As a traveler, you'll get regular language speaking opportunities and the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the culture by living with a local.

12. Use your points

Credit cards that offer travel rewards are extremely common now, with many providing generous sign-up bonuses that you can put toward accommodations. This could make it possible to get free nights in swanky hotels just for taking out the card. Many large hotel chains also have their own hotel-branded credit cards that enable you to rack up points really quickly on your everyday purchases to use on stays at their properties. (See also: How to Get a Free Vacation in 9 Months With Credit Cards)

13. Use your connections

If you have friends or family living in a place you'd like to visit, ask if you can stay with them! Most people don't make the most of the connections they already have. Why not put out a message on social media asking if any of your friends know someone in your desired location who could put you up? You may be surprised at just how effective this is, and you'll meet some new people in the process. (See also: How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!))

Like this article? Pin it!

13 Ways to Get Free Travel Accommodations

Average: 3.3 (26 votes)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.