How to Travel for Free: The Broke Traveler’s Guide to Free Housing

 

Wondering how to travel the world for free?

Back in 2015, when I was young and full of wanderlust, I packed my bags and boarded a one-way flight Madrid with plans to travel the world forever.

There was a teensy, tiny issue, though – I only had $1000 to my name.

Everyone thought I’d be calling my parents two months into my travels, begging them to book me a plane ticket back home.

Welp, I didn’t! In fact, I traveled the world for three entire years before returning to Mexico City! Nope. I’m not rich and nope, I didn’t get involved in drug smuggling or any other illegal activity (despite some rumors I heard from my middle school classmates!)

 

What kept me going for so long was finding ways to earn money through online freelancing, but more importantly: I managed to score free accommodation everywhere I went! And because I don’t want to keep my secrets all to myself, I decided to share my seven hacks to find free housing around the world.

 

How To Travel For Free: My Seven Hacks To Free Housing

We live in an era where the Internet is a thing. And while some people misuse by spending entire days watching videos of raccoons stealing cat food (guys, it’s hilarious!), it’s also like some sort of realm that connects people from all over the world.

Nowadays, there are so many resources available to help you travel for free by helping you find free housing wherever you go!

But enough of my rambles and onto the good stuff! Here are my seven favorite ways to find free accommodation:

 

House Sitting

I think this is my favorite ways to find free housing because it doesn’t include talking to anyone. I’m a proud introvert, and alone time for me while traveling is a must.

Basically, it works like this: someone is traveling soon and leaving their house for a while, but they need help with random errands while they’re away! Here’s where you come in to save the day (and get free housing, lol). Those errands could be as simple as watering their plants or taking care of their dogs (sweet!).

There are many websites to house sit, but the one I use and trust is Trusted House Sitters. They are recognized worldwide and have listings in most corners of the world. There is a fee to register as a sitter, but I’ve calculated that I’ve saved over $4000 in accommodation costs over the years using this website!

 

Accommodation in Exchange for Work

I love this one because not only does it save you tons of money, but it’s also an incredible way to make your travels more meaningful by immersing yourself into the local life of a place.

What you’ll do is exchange a few hours of work (it can be at a hotel, at a farm, or teaching at a school) for accommodation and food.

This is perfect for those traveling long-term because it’s a great way to take some time off from moving around. Plus, it gives you the chance to get a more local insight into a place than if you were just traveling through.

There are tons of websites available to find work exchange opportunities, but my favorites are Workaway, HelpX, and WWOOF.

 

Home Swapping

Got an apartment or house? You can let someone stay there and in exchange, you’ll be able to stay at their place! Let’s say someone from Paris is visiting New York, and someone who lives in New York wants to go to Paris. Instead of them having to pay for a hotel, they’ll just message each other and swap their apartments. How cool is that?!

To find house swaps, I recommend Home Exchange and Love My Home Swap.

 

Facebook Groups

There are a few travel Facebook groups out there where the community feeling is amazing and you might be able to score a free stay at someone’s place.

I recently saw a girl giving out her one-week hotel stay in Paris because she had to cancel her trip and the hotel refused to refund her, so she went ahead and offered someone to use her booking. Pretty awesome, huh?

This is one group that is solely based on accommodation exchange for females, but I also recommend joining other groups such as Women Who Travel, Solo Female Traveler Network, NOMADS – A Life Of Alternative Travel. I’m an active member of all of those groups, so definitely say hi if you see a post from me! 🙂

 

Language Exchange

Know how to speak a language? Then Talk Talk Bnb is a great way to score free accommodation anywhere. Basically, you’ll browse through the website and find people in the place you’re interested in visiting who want to learn a language that you happen to speak.

They’ll let you stay in their house in exchange for language classes or simply the chance to talk to a native speaker to practice their skills.

 

Make Friends

Seriously. This is another reason why I love staying in hostels – they are super sociable and meeting like-minded people is a breeze. I’ve met a lot of people at hostels and a few of them have become friends who I have later visited in their home countries and crashed on their sofas. And while traveling? You can get to split costs with your newly-found friends.

 

Ever so often, you might get a free hotel stay, too!

My secret: Long layovers.

I had no idea this was a thing until I booked a flight from Tanzania to Amsterdam with a 22-hour layover in Cairo. I began researching visa requirements because, with twenty-two hours to spare, that was more than enough time to discover the city rather than spoiling at the airport.

Visa requirements for Egypt recently changed, and all the information that I was able to find online was confusing or outdated. Some said it was possible to get it on arrival, while others said you needed to apply for it before landing. I decided to contact EgyptAir on the matter, and they replied to me with the following:

“People with layovers of more than six hours are entitled to:

  • Free visa
  • Free hotel
  • All meals during your hotel stay”

I mean, what??? And it wasn’t just a simple mid-range hotel, it was the freaking Meridien. My meals were buffet-style and all the food was nicely-designed (is that a real term to describe nice-looking food?). For a flight that cost me $250, I was able to get to my destination and to enjoy a luxury hotel experience that would have probably cost me more than the flight alone did. I call that winning in life.

Here are a few airlines that hook you up with a free hotel stay:

Emirates

Turkish Airlines

Qatar Airways

Air Canada

EgyptAir

Ethiopian Airlines

China Southern Airlines

 

And that’s how I travel for free (or at least very cheaply)! I am so grateful for these websites because they have enabled mortals like me to see the world. Growing up, my dream was to travel the world, but I always thought I’d only be able to do it if I somehow managed to become filthy rich.

Nowadays, travel is something that has become available to almost everyone. All we need is a bit of creativity and a sense of adventure! And since we’re at it, check out this trick I use to find cheap flights!

 

Want to save my hacks on how travel for free? Save this for later on Pinterest!

Wondering how to travel for cheap? A huge cost when traveling is accommodation, so I've pulled together my seven favorite hacks to score free housing when traveling! #TravelHacks
Wondering how to travel for free or at least very cheaply? Here are twenty unique ways to find free accommodation everywhere you go (that are totally legit!)
Finding free accommodation is the best way to travel incredibly cheaply! If you're totally broke but still dream of traveling the world, here are my top hacks for finding free accommodation and traveling almost for free!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, this means if you purchase something through the links provided, I might earn a commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and it helps me to keep creating free content to share with the world.

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Daniela Ramos
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4 Comments

  1. Alyssa Heberlig
    July 4, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    This is a good post. As a travel agent who gets free accommodations, I did not even think about any of your above tips like house swapping. It’s amazing that there is even a website like that.

  2. Hrishi
    August 6, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    Work for accommodation seems to be a very enthralling concept, I would definitely love to try this. I first got introduced to the term through a platform named Hippohelp. I would like to have more details about working for locals and how things usually work in such contracts.

  3. RIley - RileysRoves.com
    April 6, 2019 / 1:04 am

    These are some really great tips!

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