Free of charge accommodation is possible, not necessarily giving up the comfort. I have to admit that I have tried a bunch of ways to sleep for free when traveling when I was a student and every trip was really on budget. Some of them I fell in love with and keep using until now as they just make travel much more interesting. From sleeping with locals to going wild, I prepared the full list of ways how you can sleep for free when you travel and make your trip unforgettable experience.
How to sleep for free when you travel?
Personally, as I am a big fun of slow travel and immersing with locals, I have to admit my favorite way to lodge is to stay with locals. This is how I can learn about their culture, food, traditions and appreciate it. Traveling gives us this opportunity to bow down and appreciate nature and immerse with people along the way. As I am always trying to travel consciously, I prefer to buy food from local markets and support farmers as well hand crafted souvenirs rather than leave my money for corporations while staying in a big hotel.
In the previous post I told you how to find cheap lodging when traveling, giving few tips about how to search accommodation designed to our needs and additionally save up some money. This post will be tackle free options of lodging and give you a bunch of useful links and ideas you maybe haven’t considered.
Couch Surfing (link) has been my favorite way to travel. It’s a great way to meet locals, deeply explore the culture and share. Admittedly, it’s an amazing community which makes my trips unforgettable. For me it’s much more important to meet local people, see how they live, what they eat and how their regular day looks like, then visiting monuments and touristic attractions. Culture and people – these I remember the most from the trip, especially, if I have the possibility to make some friends forever. Moreover, plenty of times my hosts change totally schedule of my trip by recommending places not mentioned in the guide books.
I belong to the community since over ten years and had hundreds of amazing experiences, but of course also the bad ones… Like always we need to be careful, if we choose to stay with a stranger. If you still haven’t tried, here is the beginners guide on how to start Couch Surfing, where I share my experiences and advice.
It’s another free platform used as a protest, since Couch Surfing became commercial. What is more, some people use Couch Surfing as a dating site, therefore starting to loose its values and gives alternatives a field to grow. Be welcome (link) is known for keeping the idea of hospitality and sharing which couch surfing unfortunately loosing.
Hospitality Club (link) is a similar to the previous community, unfortunately less active members. The idea is to bring people together, share the culture, experiences and have networks all around the world.
Not a very popular website but with the awesome idea of sharing the accommodation with locals. You choose the city, dates and get the list of hosts which you can approach. Global Freeloaders (link) is another great community with holistic cultural exchange, where you can make tons of new friends and at the same time sleep for free.
Are you cycling?
Warm showers (link) is a community for bicycle tourists. If you travel by bicycle, you can find a place to stay with locals for free. Check where you can have rest on your route.
Sleep on the airport
Sleeping on the airports ain’t my favorite. It’s an option for those who booked a flight with overnight connection. I highly recommend checking, if it’s even possible to sleep in the airport you are heading to. Here Sleeping on the airports (link) comes handy. Small airports are closed by night, and you will have to wait outside until the morning. This happened to me in Bordeaux, France. I arrived at the airport with the last shuttle bus after midnight to take a plane early in the morning. Local couch surfers told me, it’s possible to stay there all night, but they didn’t know that airport closes at 11 pm and opens at 5am. Thanks God some worker secretly let me in, because I would freeze to death outside.
Have your own roof and save tons of money on transport as well as accommodation. Pack your tent and sleeping bag and make camping wherever you reach. If you want to pay nothing or less for fuel register on car share websites, so that you can take other travelers on the way and get some extra money.
If you own a house or flat (lucky you) you can swap it with someone for the time of your travel. Register on Home Exchange (link) or Stay 4 free (link) and travel around the world staying in someones houses. Using house facilities will let you save a lot on food and laundry and give you opportunity to explore the area.
Volunteering is an option to help someone for getting free accommodation and meals. It can be a great way to make your trip rich in beautiful experiences. There are plenty of options and websites which can help you find one. Try for example HelpX or Workaway to see a bunch of opportunities. Or else, visit places, where help is always on high demand, like poor African countries or Palestine.
In fact with a sleeping bag, a hammock or tent, you can always sleep for free on the ground. I did it a hundred times from the city’s parks, through beaches, until bushes next to the highway during my hitch hiking trips. Just set the tent wherever you reach before the night and try not to be visible to residents (just in case). Sleeping in a wild is the best when you are near natural places. You can truly feel connected to nature, hear all the sounds of the forest and detox your mind.
Monasteries are a great place to stop for a while. They are designed for meditation, reflection and for those who look for a peace of mind. They mostly work on the donations basis, so you are welcome to contribute but it’s not mandatory. I stayed in one Christian Ortodox monastery in Syria. It was hidden in the mountains, and everyone was welcomed to stay there for as long as he/she needed. Another time I participated Vipassana meditation course in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. They offered free courses for short or long stays. Truly amazing experiences which can be life-changing.
Visit Trusted House Sitters to see who is leaving house for the vacations and needs someone to look after the house or pets while living for vacations. You can have free accommodation and visit places around having comfort of the house with all its facilities. There are many fantastic opportunities in a busy Asian city while taking care of the cat or in a French medieval castle while looking after the dogs. There is a participation fee to join the platform which is quite pricy over $100, but the stay itself is free of charge.
Maybe you have heard about an action of occupying an abandoned land or a building? Squatters do not own the place but have a lawful permission to use it. There are over billion squatters in the world, living for free in different parts of the world. You can join them and see how it looks like.
The Bee is a nature lover and tea addict. Loves the idea of slow life and responsible traveling, constantly trying to improve to bee more eco-friendly. Appreciates old cultures and traditions, loves to immerse with locals, listen to ethnic music as well as taste regional food and drinks. Her favorite spots while traveling are family houses and street markets.