4 Alternatives to Paying for Accommodation

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Cat - Guilherme Ribeiro
Cat – Guilherme Ribeiro

It’s never been so easy to travel! With the advent of internet and smartphones we have all the information we need at our fingertips. The fact that it’s easy unfortunately doesn’t mean it’s always cheap. Gladly there are now creative ways to explore the world without breaking the bank.

For a long time the only option travelers had was to pay for accommodation, which is fair enough. But what if you don’t have a lot of money? Actually, what if you felt you could repay someone with work, instead of money? And to sweeten the pot, what if you could stay for free?

And what if I told you all these options are already available? That’s right! Read on and learn a bit more.

1. Take Care of People’s Pets and Houses

Everybody loves their cats, dogs, ferrets, fish, guinea pigs and any animals people keep! So what happens when they want to go on vacation? Nowadays you do have pet hotels, but they tend to be awfully expensive.

That’s exactly the premise of Trusted House Sitters (20% off membership – affiliate link) — you can be the person taking care of of other people’s pets! Usually the deal is pretty straightforward, you feed them, clean them and keep them happy, and in return you get to stay in the house for free!

It’s also great if you don’t own pets; you get to have your own for a week or a month sometimes!

2. Work on Organic Farms

If you have a love for farm work, permaculture and all round countryside living, this might be the perfect option for you. I mean, some days you could be cleaning a pigsty, other days you’re building a fence or you could be just ploughing fields. In return you learn about the best environmental practices.

Each country has their own WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) website with different local fees. Once you register, just find the host which best fits your “needs” and apply.

The usual agreement involves four to six hours of work per day (with one or two days off) and the wwoofer gets food and accommodation in return. It’s always important to communicate with the host before committing as expectations might differ, but usually everybody gets a sweet deal!

3. Work for Accommodation

The two main websites are Helpx and Workaway, but if you dig deep enough I’m sure you’ll find others. The basic premise is that in exchange for accommodation (and sometimes food) you help your host with a specific job.

The nice thing here is that the possibilities are endless. Hosts need receptionists, yoga instructors, language teachers, babysitters, waiting staff, web designers, etc! If you have an interesting skill, I’m pretty sure there is someone who needs it!

4. Sleep for Free on People's Couches (and Beds!)

There’s a massive community who’ll gladly let you stay at their places for free! In case you haven’t heard, it’s called Couchsurfing and it’s awesome! I’ve stayed with people in Bratislava (Slovakia), Prague (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria) and Bournemouth (England).

To be honest, I’ve never slept on a couch when I traveled this way! Every host I stayed with had a bed waiting for me. I must point out that the main idea here is not the free stay, it’s the possibility of meeting amazing locals and learning about their way of life. If you’re only doing it to save money and hook up with people, I’d advise against it.

It’s always nice to do something for your host. Some people cook a meal from their home country, others bring gifts or bottles of wine and some even teach a new language or skill. At the end of the day, couchsurfing is about an exchange, and if you only take and never give people will resent you.

Some people don’t like the idea of working or staying in other people’s houses when they’re traveling — they want their privacy and some relaxing time. But, if you’re always complaining that you don’t have enough money to travel, this could potentially be a solution.

But the only way to know if you’re going to like it, is by doing it! Give it a go and tell me how it went in the comments!

Guilherme is a Brazilian freelance travel writer. He is the Co-Founder of the Slow Spirit Blog, where he writes about a minimalist, sustainable travel lifestyle.