You would love to travel but don’t have budget right now? We have good news! There are several alternatives for you to travel around the world without paying for your stays. We present you a group of platforms with people, companies and organizations that can host you for free. We briefly tell you how they work so you can start planning your next trip, even with a very limited budget.
FREE STAYS WITHOUT WORKING
CouchSurfing (couchsurfing.com) is a platform for hosts around the world offering free accommodation for travelers. You simply have to complete your profile (with your personal data, tastes, lifestyle and occupation), choose your destination and contact your future hosts. When you get in touch, we suggest you introduce yourself, make a request for accommodation and coordinate with the host if he is available to receive you on the date you would like to travel.
In addition to the savings, the interesting thing about this experience is the cultural exchange. You will be able to practice another language, get to know the local culture and how is life in another country living with one of its residents. The free use of the program has a limited number of hosting requests. If you want to send unlimited hosting requests to multiple destinations, as well as give your future hosts greater peace of mind, we recommend making a one-time membership payment of USD60 for life . Especially if you don’t have any references from previous stays yet, the identity verification involved in the payment will make the hosts feel less exposed when they provide you accommodation.
According to the host you choose, there are different options: sleeping on a sofa bed, in a room shared with other travelers, in a private room with a shared bathroom, in a room just for you with a private bathroom or even in a separate unit with kitchen. The hosts offer their houses because they also enjoy making new friends, meeting people from other corners of the planet, organizing activities and going to places of interest together. CouchSurfing’s motto is “You have friends all over the world, you just haven’t met them yet”, the organization also plans events in different cities so the travelers community can share experiences.
It’s important to clarify that when you stay to sleep in the home of a host, you must have good gestures towards him: plan to share meals together, organize activities, include him in your tourist visits, tell him about your experiences, cook with him. It ‘s not part of the CouchSurfing philosophy that you use the place as a hotel, leave your things and go away.
STAYS IN EXCHANGE OF A FEW HOURS OF WORK
Other platforms have a different proposal: that you work a few hours a day to help your host, and in return he will provide you with food and accommodation. Many of the hosts are flexible with the schedule, so you will be able to enjoy your activities during the day and collaborate working in your free time.
In which kind of jobs they would ask me to help? They can ask you to help cutting the grass, gardening, babysitting, feeding farm animals, cleaning, painting, receiving clients in a hostel, cooking or assisting a chef in the kitchen, extracting honey from honeycombs, making wine, harvest fruits, drive or do maintenance tasks according to your skills. If you have knowledge of electricity, plumbing or carpentry, be sure to include it in your profile, the hosts will send you several requests to visit them. Most platforms have a membership fee, which you quickly get back in just a day or two of stay.
Workaway (Workaway.info) offers volunteering for non-profit organizations or companies and working hollidays programs to visit countries with this type of Visa. The platform allows you to search for a companion to start a trip adventure as a team. You can register directly as a couple or with a friend to search for organizations that are able to host more than one person. You can filter oportunities according to your occupation or skills and make searches by country or region. As this type of exchange involves a job, in general it’s oriented to longer stays, three weeks for example, however each host can determine a minimum period of stay.
How many hours should I work? This information is also clarified by each person or establishment in their profile, but normally they ask you to collaborate 4 to 5 hours a day, with two free days per week. Most hosts provide you with all or at least two meals per day. The Workayay fee is USD44 to open an individual profile and USD56 to open a profile of two persons (couple or friends).
The membership cost of HelpX (Helpx.net) is 20 Euros per two years. The good thing of Workaway and HelpX is that you can investigate all the profiles of your hosts before paying the membership. In other words, you are only going to make the payment when you are already sure that you are interested in the project and the region. You will not be able to make requests for accommodation until you have your membership paid but once you complete your profile, the hosts, according to your skills, will be able to invite you to visit them.
Wwoof (wwoof.ca) is more geared towards volunteering on farms, green projects and organic plantations. The bad news about this network is that they have different websites per country, so if you wanted to do woofing in different countries you should pay independent memberships on each platform -We include as an example the link to the Woof Canada page-
Other options for you to investigate further are: Helpstay. com, Worldpackers.com, Volunteersbase.com (100% free) and Warmshowers.org (oriented to cyclists, with accommodation and camping alternatives).
Most of the platforms are international: you can use them to travel to remote exotic places or simply to rediscover regions that you did not visit within your own country. Can you imagine helping children in a Kenyan school, helping on a European farm, taking care of horses in an equine establishment, sailing on a boat in the Pacific, looking at the mountains in a cabin in the Swiss Alps? All this is possible, you just have to look for the modality that best suits your style and encourage yourself to experience this alternative way of traveling.
READ RELATED INTERVIEW Discovering the world with CouchSurfing