How to Get Cheap & Free Accommodation Around the World (Tips & Hacks to Save Money for Travel)

by Budget Travel, Travel & Adventure91 comments

I cannot believe how generous and helpful you are with your readers. I have read all your articles and I’ve seen tips on how we can get free accommodation but I was wondering… do you have a complete list somewhere so that I can do a complete research of all the options that I have? Even the cheaper options are fine! I’m going on a ‘round the world‘ (RTW) trip so it will be very helpful so that I can save more money!

Jen from the USA

Like what Jen has mentioned in her message above, there are a LOT of cheap and free accommodation options out there that can help you save money as you travel the world!

“FREE accommodation” definitely sounds too good to be true when I first heard of it — but much like what Jen has mentioned in her message above, it is possible and there are numerous options out there for you so that can help you save money as you travel the world.

A lot of people see travel as an expensive activity that can only enjoyed by the rich, but that is not true! Travel can be really affordable — in fact, it will only become expensive if you choose it so (e.g. booking yourself into 5-star hotels, etc.).

That’s why, for as long as you are open and proactively seeking available choices that will give you cheap or free places to sleep in, you can always save a whole lot on your travel fund — and of course, to save you from the trouble of listing all the best resources on cheap or free accommodation, you can use this comprehensive article as a resource.

Please feel free to share it with your friends or bookmark it to your browser for future reference.

For your ease as well, I have categorized the free accommodation options for quick access; simply expand the ‘table of contents’ below to jump to the section you want.

Where to Get Cheap or Free Accommodation

» Couch Surfing

Couch surfing is a ‘coined term’ that refers to the act of permitting a friend or stranger to stay in your house for FREE, and they can use whatever space available that you allow them to occupy: the couch, the floor, or a whole room.

Through this way, a host can enjoy meeting new and foreign people, while the ‘couch surfer’ can of course enjoy the free accommodation and the chance to experience the city with a local (the host).

Simply put, in these websites you can either be a host or a couch surfer and it’s absolutely free to connect with anyone in the world that’s open to doing a couch surfing set-up.

TIP: Make full use of a couch surfing website’s ‘testimonial’ system that will help give you an overview on what kind of host or traveler you will be dealing with as per the reviews or references left on their profile. What’s more is that couch surfing  platforms typically have a verification system that will help ensure more transparency and trust between members; therefore, it’s best to look for hosts that are ‘verified’.

Couch Surfing

CouchSurfing

The biggest and most popular platform today that connects hosts to travelers around the world!

» Membership Fee: None (FREE!)
» Upgrades: $20 (Php 888) a year to get your account verified and foster more trust among those who are interested in you

BeWelcome Free Accommodation

BeWelcome

Run by volunteers, it has a big community mostly from European countries.

» Membership Fee: None (FREE!)
» Upgrades: None

Hospitality Club Free Accommodation

Hospitality Club

It looks like a website that’s stuck in the 90s, but don’t let its looks fool you. It is a very established site and has an engaged community even up to today.

» Membership Fee: None (FREE!)
» Upgrades: None

There are other websites that you can check like www.GlobalFreeLoaders.com and www.Servas.org that have been up and running for years, but going by feedback, it seems that the community isn’t that active anymore. (But I guess, it’s still worth a shot especially if you can’t find anything from the 3 websites above).

– – –

» House Sitting

House sitting is the practice in which a homeowner entrusts his/her home to an individual (referred to as a house sitter).

Under a mutual agreement, the house sitter can stay in the house for free but in return, he/she is expected to watch after the house (as well as the homeowner’s pets if available). Other responsibilities may come along with it too as per the specification of a homeowner, like tending the garden and more.

TIP: Be careful to scrutinize all the details and clear out the expectations between you and the homeowner since, for instance, some of them might want you to cover the cost of utilities during your stay.
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Also, house sitting websites often come with an annual membership fee. Rest assured, they are relatively cheap! And besides, you will only have to pay if you want to get in touch with the homeowners so it’s absolutely FREE to browse the website to search for properties first before you purchase the membership to contact your prospects.

Trusted House Sitters

The biggest house-sitting website of all and my personal favorite! Most of the listings here require you to look after a pet (or pets), so if you’re an animal lover, this is the best set-up for you!

» Membership Fee: $99 per year | Use code ‘AILEEN‘ upon checkout to save 10% off across all membership plans!

Nomador Free Accommodation

Nomador

It’s a relatively new website but it already has a decent amount of listings. Plus, the interface is very appealing and user-friendly.

» Membership Fee: $99 per year

House Carers Free Accommodation

House Carers

Listings on this website are primarily for the USA and Australia, with a few other listings for other parts of the world.

» Membership Fee: $50 per year

Housesit World

Housesit World

It’s another one of those websites that look ancient, but there’s a reason why this is still up and running today: it has a lot of listings and the community is still active.

» Membership Fee: $40 per year

HouseSit Match

Housesit Match

Most of the listings are located in the UK and Europe.

» Membership Fee: Starts at $69

Luxury House

Luxury House Sitting

It aims to list houses that are more ‘luxurious’; still and the same, most of the listings are typical houses that you would normally find on other housesitting websites. (With occasional hidden gems here and there).

» Membership Fee: $25 per year

Mind my House

Mind my House

It doesn’t have as many listings as let’s say, TrustedHouseSitters.com, but it has a very cheap annual fee so it’s quite a steal!

» Membership Fee: $20 per year

Other websites that you can check are www.SabbaticalHomes.com (geared for academic tenants), www.HomeSit.co.nz (homesits in New Zealand), www.EasyHouseSitting.com (homesits in Australia), and more.

If you are specifically looking for home sits in a certain place, simply type your search on Google and you’re bound to land on a relevant site. Nevertheless, I highly suggest that you try first the top house-sitting websites above since they are already regarded as trusted platforms.

– – –

» Home Exchanges

Home exchanges or home swapping is exactly what you think it is. For a specific period of time, you will swap houses with someone from another country — you will live in their home and he/she will live in yours and technically, it’s a great set-up if you’re someone who owns a home and looking to get free accommodation (i.e. a whole house) in someplace else, anywhere in the world.

  • This concept was best portrayed in the 2006 movie, The Holiday

Rest assured, there are some home exchange websites that do not have mutual exchanges, meaning that you don’t have to swap houses with someone at the same time frame (e.g. HomeExchange, etc.).

NOTE: Some homeowners find this as a bit of a nerve-wracking arrangement (much like house sitting) but you (as a homeowner) shouldn’t be afraid at all since all home exchange websites put great value in building trust among its members. Besides, you should also remember that the other homeowner is also entrusting their home to you!
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Also, much like house sitting websites, most home exchange websites have a membership fee but you are free to browse the listings first before deciding on a membership plan that will allow you to connect with other home swappers.

Home Exchange Free Accommodation

HomeExchange

One of the largest home exchange websites in the world. Personally, I like how there’s a map overview of all the listings available on the website.

» Membership Fee: $150 per year

Love Home Swap Free Accommodation

Love Home Swap

Said to be the world’s largest home exchange club. They have a point system wherein you’ll gain points by hosting and you can then use these to “buy” a stay at another place (without doing a home swap).

» Membership Fee: $13 per month but billed annually

Home Link

Home Link

This is the first home swap network in the world. Given their long-running experience, they have already established a lot of multilingual representatives around the world.

» Membership Fee: $105 per year

Home Base Holidays

Home Base Holidays

Established in 1985, most of its listings available for home swaps are located in the UK, but they have a decent amount in other countries too.

» Membership Fee: $59 per year or $35 for 6 months

Check out www.GuestToGuest.com and www.MyTwinPlace.com too!

For academics, a website worth looking into is www.SabbaticalHomes.com which only has a $50 fee whenever they match you to a host. Another website is www.WarmShowers.org which is a community of touring (bicycle) cyclists and willing hosts that are open to a hospitality exchange.

– – –

» Volunteering

Volunteering (also called a work exchange) is an act of doing menial work for an establishment in exchange for free accommodation and/or food.

There are volunteering opportunities in a lot of big charity groups like WWF but those have expensive registration fees; so what I will be enumerating below are simply job listing websites where bars, fruit farms, hotels, hostels, restaurants, schools, etc. that are looking for travelers like you to work for them part-time.

Some of these websites are free while others have membership fees — however, you are always free to browse through the job listings first before purchasing a membership fee to contact the employers.

NOTE: Working in exchange for free food and bed is generally a gray area for most countries (it’s neither legal nor illegal; it’s generally tolerated since governments don’t really care if you managed to stay for free by doing a bit of non-paid work for a hostel or hotel for example).
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However, when you start to work for an establishment that pays you in cash, be reminded that this is the kind of exchange wherein you need a proper work permit — NEVER do work and take in cash if you don’t have a work permit or visa. (You can get these work permits yourself, though sometimes, your ’employer’ could be generous enough to support you in getting one). Still, most establishments continue to freely offer paid jobs ‘under the table’ even if you don’t have a work permit. They know that it’s illegal that’s why some of these sites even put up a tip saying that you shouldn’t mention that you’re going to do volunteer work when going through immigration.

Anywork Anywhere

Anywork Anywhere

Updated daily. There’s no need for registration here as you are free to search their huge database of job opportunities that are paid and non-paid.

» Membership Fee: None (FREE)

Volunteers Base Volunteering

Volunteers Base

Includes a lot of opportunities worldwide encompassing projects, language teaching, community work, and a whole lot more!

» Membership Fee: None (FREE)

Grassroots Volunteering

Grassroots Volunteering

Simply a resource website that shows opportunities worldwide. (It’s a mix of free and paid volunteer opportunities).

» Membership Fee: None (FREE)

WWOOF Volunteering

WWOOF

A website that links you to farms and smallholdings looking for volunteer help. On average, you are expected to help for 4-6 hours a day in exchange for food and free accommodation. (There are WWOOF headquarters worldwide and you have to register to the country of your destination).

» Membership Fee: $40 per year

HelpX Volunteering

HelpX

A good website for volunteer helpers. On average, you would work an average of 4 hours per day and receive free accommodation and meals in return.

» Membership Fee: $23 every 2 years for single and twin memberships

Workaway.info Volunteering

Workaway

This is the most popular platform today for volunteer helpers; in fact, it is the website that a lot of my traveler friends use when looking for volunteering opportunities!

» Membership Fee: $44 per year if single (or $56 per year if you sign up as a couple)

Volunteer Latin America Volunteering

Volunteer Latin America

Lists all free and low-cost volunteer programs throughout Central and South America.

» Membership Fee: $9.95 every 2 years

Picking Jobs Volunteering

Picking Jobs

If you’re looking for a list of volunteer opportunities in a farm or winery, PickingJobs is the platform that you should go to!

» Membership Fee: None (FREE)

Hostel Jobs Volunteering

Hostel Jobs

A very engaging forum that is regularly updated with hostel/resort/hotel jobs. Apart from that, there’s also information about teaching English abroad and more.

» Membership Fee: None (FREE)

Other websites to check: www.WorkingCouples.com which shows job opportunities fit for traveling couples.

If in case you want to see volunteering opportunities for charities (that are often more expensive), you can always check the following websites: www.GoAbroad.com/volunteer-abroad or www.GlobalHelpSwap.com/volunteering.

– – –

» Cheap Hostels & Hotels

If you don’t want to work (or do volunteering) AND if you have more spare money from your travel fund to spend on accommodation, you can always book yourself into the cheapest hostels and hotels around the world!

The best platforms to search for these options would be:

Hostel World Cheap Accommodation

HostelWorld

The leading booking platform in the world for hostels! One of the good things about them is that they have taken away booking fees across all of their listed hostels.

Agoda Cheap Accommodation

Agoda, Booking.com or HotelsCombined

The leading booking platform in the world for hostels! One of the good things about them is that they have taken away booking fees across all of their listed hostels.

Roomer Cheap Accommodation

Roomer Travel

Whenever someone can’t fulfill their prepaid hotel room, you can grab their reservation at a lower price (up to 70% off) if you use Roomer for your booking!

Other websites to try are www.DayUse.com (where you can use a hotel for a few hours during the day and save up to 75%) and www.HotelTonight.com (which offers empty rooms at the last minute at a more affordable price than usual).

– – –

» Short-Term Rentals

This is exactly what it means, it saves you from the hassle and cost of typical rentals that commonly want you to commit long-term (e.g. years).

So when you’re looking into staying at one place for a longer period of time (which couchsurfing or home exchanges won’t usually offer), the websites below will not only give you more flexibility but also a cheaper alternative.

AirBnB Cheap Accommodation

AirBnB

A popular website that lists affordable and unique rental spaces across the globe (from rooms, apartments, to whole houses, etc).

TripAdvisor Rentals Cheap Accommodation

TripAdvisor Rentals

TripAdvisor is NOT only a website for hotel bookings and reviews, but it’s also a platform that has rental listings! I’ve used them previously and they have some options that I didn’t see on AirBnB so it’s wise to check here too.

FlipKey Cheap Accommodation

FlipKey

Another one of the big short-term rental booking platforms online. (Majority of the listings are apartments).

Wimdu Cheap Rentals

Wimdu

Said to be the biggest portal in Europe for apartment rentals!

HomeAway Cheap Accommodation

VRBO

This website focuses on featuring home vacation rentals around the world for short to medium-term renting.

HouseTrip Cheap Accommodation

HouseTrip

This is also one of the largest websites in the world that focuses on house/home vacation rentals, feel free to scan through their listings in case you haven’t found a good one yet on other platforms like HomeAway, etc.

– – –

» Home Stay

Home stay (or homestay) is where local families permit you, as a traveler or tourist, to stay in their home and rent one of their vacant rooms. It’s a great way to immerse yourself to the local lifestyle of a country abroad and it’s hugely supported by the tourism industry.

Traditionally, this is arranged by an educational institution for their students, but nowadays, it has grown into an informal opportunity! Some of the websites that you can use to search for these families abroad (who charge very cheaply per night or month) are:

HouseTrip Cheap Accommodation

HouseTrip

This is also one of the largest websites in the world that focuses on house/home vacation rentals, feel free to scan through their listings in case you haven’t found a good one yet on other platforms like HomeAway, etc.

HomeStay Cheap Accommodation

HomeStay

This is one of the largest homestay platforms and my personal favorite! Present in over 140 countries, it’s the perfect place to connect with homes that are open to travelers like you.

HomestayFinder

HomestayFinder

This is one of the largest homestay platforms and my personal favorite! Present in over 140 countries, it’s the perfect place to connect with homes that are open to travelers like you.

– – –

» Farm Stay

Contrary to WWOOF which I’ve mentioned above under the ‘Volunteering’ section, farm stays (also called agriturismos) will allow you to live on a farm WITHOUT the labor and in exchange for a small fee.

You can still be involved in the ‘farm life’ though, and it’s up to you to arrange that with the farm owners so that you can experience typical activities that are often done in their fields.

To research the available farm stays available, see:

Farm Stay USA

Farm Stay USA

Formed by the U.S. Farm Stay Association, this website aims to connect guests with farm and ranch stays throughout the United States.

Farm Stay UK Cheap Accommodation

Farm Stay UK

As the name goes, it provides you with the list of farm stays on the whole of UK and it is closely run by a local group of Board of Directors.

NOTE: Available farm stays worldwide can also be found on websites that I have listed under the ‘Short-Term Rental’ section. Simply filter your search results and you’re bound to see several listings.

– – –

» Boat Stay

Living in a boat can be categorized under ‘volunteering’ since you are often required to give help as a part of the boat owner’s crew. However, I’ve decided to put this in a separate category as it is somehow ‘different’; besides, by living in a boat, you do not only save accommodation costs but also transportation costs!

The best part? It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur at boating/sailing because a lot of the websites below would take in amateurs!

NOTE: Depending on the boat owner, in return for your work, you can be compensated, given free food and free accommodation, or be granted both benefits. Sometimes, some would ask you to share expenses throughout the trip. All in all, it’s best to iron out the details first so you know what to expect.

Cruisers Forum Boat Stay

Cruisers Forum

Probably the biggest platform out there for sailors! In this forum, there’s a special section where sailors would post ‘classifieds‘ whenever they are looking for amateur or professional crew members.

» Membership Fee: None (FREE)

Find a Crew Boat Stay

Find a Crew

This website has a wide selection of sailing crew opportunities. You can already do a lot with a FREE membership, but if you want more privileges, you can upgrade to premium.

» Membership Fee: FREE to use, with ‘Premium’ option starting at $53~

Crewseekers

Crewseekers

Includes positions with private boats, delivery companies, sailing races, and more. This is the only website in the list that’s paid but has a lot of options.

» Membership Fee: starts at $100 per 6 months, $130 for 1 year, and $180 for 18 months

Crewbay

Crewbay

Connects newbies, amateurs, and professional sailing crew with over 150 captains and boat owners every month.

» Membership Fee: FREE to use, with ‘Premium’ option starting at $10~

– – –

» Others

Be an Au Pair

If you want to stay in a foreign country for at least 6 months, being an au pair is something that you can totally do! A popular practice among young ones in Europe, ‘au pair’ is a nanny job wherein you would also be expected to do some light housework. Apart from receiving free accommodation and food, the family that is interested in hiring you will also give you an allowance.

For websites that handle au pair arrangements, check: www.AuPair-World.co.uk, www.GreatAuPair.com, www.IAPA.org, www.Europa-Pages.com/au_pair/, or www.TransitionsAbroad.com

Camping

For this section, there are two camping options that you can try to score cheap or free accommodation:

  • Camping ‘as is’ – apart from camping in a free space of a country’s natural landscape (make sure that it’s legal to do so), you can also do camping by booking yourself into commercial camping grounds that are very cheap (which can be as low as $10 or Php 400+ per night).
    • Some people also just use a camper van. Depending on the cost of the camper van from a provider, it can be quite cheaper than getting hotels.
  • Work as a Camp Counselor – not only will you get paid (for assisting kids during a summer camp, etc.) but you will also get free food and free accommodation. To start looking for opportunities on this, try: www.SuperCamps.co.uk, www.PGL.co.uk, www.EuroCamp.com, or www.ActionQuest.com

Overnight Transportation OR Your Own Transportation

Not an ideal arrangement, but surely, one of the best ways to save money on accommodation is to travel to your destination at night by riding overnight buses, trains, planes, boats, etc.

Some people would even sleep at the terminal — this is not ideal and it’s a bit risky too, but it’s certainly one of the ways to save on accommodation costs.

As for another form of transportation, surely if you are going on a road trip and planning on bringing your car, sleeping in your vehicle is another option. (There are even certain establishments worldwide that can permit you to park your car in their rest stops in order to stay overnight).

Get in Touch with People You Know

At the very start of your journey, this is one of the things that you should do in order to score free accommodation during your travels. So go ahead and get in touch with old friends and family members to ask if they would be able to take you in for a certain number of days.

Depending on your relationship with them, no matter if they ask you to pay or not, as a courtesy, I suggest that you give them a ‘Thank You’ gift when they permit you to stay in their home!

Do Travel Blogging for FREE Accommodation

It’s no news that we travel bloggers often get complimentary or free stays in hotels, hostels, resorts, inns, etc. in exchange for giving them online exposure. (It is surely one of the perks of travel blogging!)

That being said, this is is one of the certain ways to get cheap/free accommodation around the globe! Be aware however that building an influential blog that brands would be interested in partnering with WILL take time — it won’t be an ‘instant’ thing unlike the other options above… but it’s still an option especially for the long term!

So if you want to be serious about travel blogging, here’s a guide for you on how you can start your own:

READ: How to Start a Travel Blog from Scratch

• • •

How to Get Cheap & Free Accommodation Around the World (Tips & Hacks)

Overall

With these many options for you to choose from, it should be perfectly clear by now that it is absolutely possible for you to get cheap and free accommodation in any part of the globe — you really don’t need to spend tons of money to fulfill your travel dreams!

READ: How to Travel on a Budget

In a way, I guess most of these choices require a certain degree of openness since most of the experiences (like CouchSurfing) might be a new concept for you.

Nevertheless, there’s no need to fear. As a start, you can always ‘test the waters’ by doing it in your home country first. In this way, you can throw away your inhibitions bit by bit.

Overall, I dearly hope that this helps you. Safe travels!

DISCLAIMER: Some links are referral links. This means that I will get a bonus at NO cost to you when you sign up; in fact, signing up through my links will make you get extra points/money on the site. So, enjoy! But of course, like always, I only set up referral links for brands that I personally recommend.

• • •

Have you seen my latest vlog?

How I Afford to Travel the World (Vlog)

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Hey there! I am Aileen Adalid.
At 21, I quit my corporate job in the Philippines to pursue my dreams. Today, I am a successful digital nomad (online entrepreneur, travel writer, & vlogger) living a sustainable travel lifestyle.

My mission? To show you how it is absolutely possible to create a life of travel no matter the odds — and I will help you achieve that through my detailed travel hacks, guides, resources, tips, and MORE!

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91 Comments

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  1. David

    Oh.My.God. You’ve gone out of the way to list this. Seriously. I’ve read other blogs but there’s the usual list there with no website listings. This is amazing. You deserve a big round of applause. *Applause* *Applause* *Applause*

    Reply
  2. Kapil

    I find a way to explore my dreams through your blog.It’s like dream turn into reality. Thankyou .Keep sharing!

    Reply
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