Everyone travels for different reasons. And everyone is on a different budget. Sometimes, finding ways to cut back on expenses in order to travel more often is part of the planning process.
For me, I will cut back on expenses for accommodations before things like food, activities, or location. After all, it is jut a place to keep your things and lay your head.
Others prefer the luxury or creature comforts and find it completely weird to stay in a stranger’s home. Or dread the idea of slumming it in a place that doesn’t offer room service and free cable.
However, you may not be able to afford to stay in a five-star or even a two-star hotel when you travel. But don’t let that be a deterrence. If you can be open-minded, flexible, and enjoy a little adventure, here are some great ways to see the world without paying for a place to sleep.
Crashing on a couch or in a spare bedroom of a stranger may not be your idea of vacation. I know – it is not for everyone. However, depending on the reason for travel, Couchsurfing is a viable options for a night or two. I recently did this in upstate New York. It worked out wonderfully and happened to meet some great people. I was able to spend more on activities like wine-tasting, and going out to eat. In this case, I had my own bedroom and even my own bathroom.
Some people prefer to have someone stay in their house while they go on vacation for a variety of reasons. Maybe they have pets, a high maintenance swimming pool, or precious plants they want taken care of. Mind My House connects home owners and house sitters at the cost of $20/ year for house sitters and free for home owners.
I have used this service a couple times to stay in an area without paying for a hotel. One home owner needed me to watch and feed the cat, the other home owners just wanted someone to be physically present in their home while they traveled to Costa Rica.
The Caretaker Gazette offers opportunities if you want to make extra cash or are looking for a long-term place to live. While this publication does advertise short-term gigs, many of the ads are aimed at those looking for room and board in exchange for work. For example, you may see a job to help greet guests, hand out keys, and clean rooms at a hotel in exchange for room and board and a salary.
The Caretaker Gazette has been around since 1983 and advertises opportunities for property caretaking all over the world. In order to receive information, you have to subscribe. Currently, the rate is $29.95 / year or $49.95 for 2 years.
If you have a house in a popular tourist area, consider swapping your house with someone else for a week or so. There are many programs out there that do this including HomeExchange.com. I have never participated in this since I don’t have a house suitable for guests at the moment. Some sites also offer a “Hospitality Exchange,” meaning you are there when the guests are and they are home when you visit them. Great way to discover a region or city from a local perspective.
Many people worry about safety or awkward arrangements. Do your homework and use common sense. Make sure you communicate with the individuals who will be hosting you. My advice to those considering this form of travel is be flexible, have low expectations, and bring ear plugs and a mask! Otherwise, enjoy it – you will probably meet some great people along the way.