Traveling the world for free - How to Sleep for FREE all around the world
Updated: Jun 2
At some point on their journey, nearly every traveler looks for ways to cut down on their costs, and start saving more money. This allows them to continuing to explore the world on as cheaply as possible. A great way for travelers to cut costs is to take advantage of all the places to stay for free.
Depending on where you go on your travels, the majority of your budget will be spent on 3 things: Flights, Accommodation and Food. I’m sure you’ve all seen tips and tricks to getting cheap flights, like booking your flights 3 months in advance on a Tuesday at 2am. Who knows if that actually works, maybe it does. What we want to do is provide you with practical, real life ways that you can get free accommodation and find free places to sleep.
As it turns out there are so many ways for travelers to reduce their accommodation costs. But we aren’t just looking for ways to cut costs, we want to eliminate accommodation costs entirely. For that we need a big list of free places to stay.
Like with anything, when you start cutting costs you will lose some luxuries you may be used to. In this case, you may be used to a really comfortable bed or your own bedroom. So you will need to make some sacrifices if you want to commit to finding free places to sleep while you travel the globe.
Some of these tips will require you to get a little more creative than what you’re normally used to. If you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone, which is what travel is all about, then you will be able to find lots of free places to sleep the night, and start saving a lot of money on your travel budget!
If you want to see more of the world, while spending less money then check out our 8 tips on finding places to sleep for free.
8 ways you can find places to stay for free:
2. House/pet sit
4. Work at hostels for free accom
5. Language exchange
6. House swap
7. Overnight travel: bus, airports
1. Become a WWOOFER
WWOOFing stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a service that matches people looking for work on farms with farmers who are looking for labor. The main key to this is you have to be willing to actually work. Don’t worry it’s not slave labour, WWOOFing allows you to find families who are looking for someone to help them for four to five hours a day. In return, they provide accommodation, food, and share some of the local culture with you.
Some of the jobs you might be doing:
Painting and decorating
Helping someone learn English
Building and construction work
As you can imagine, WWOOF opens endless opportunities on an extended-travel trip. If you make your way around the world visiting a selection of the 100+ countries that participate in WWOOF, you can save tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a year. You can also learn skills, absorb languages, and make friends. Many travelers quickly tire of all the day to day tourist activities and want to do something more fulfilling. Wwoofing allows people to find a sense of purpose through helping and connecting with others. Trading four hours of work a day, for a free place to stay and a sense of satisfaction seems like a good deal to me, especially in countries with really high accommodation prices.
In order to become a WWOOFer, you need to sign up for the national organization in the country you want. Annual membership usually costs around $30 USD per country. You don’t need any previous experience in farming to do this, just a desire to work. Their extremely affordable membership allows you to be a Woofer all over the world. Much of the work is physical and outdoors, but lots of hosts are looking for less-physical indoor work as well. Tips to be successful: Work hard. It’s only four hours a day and you and the host is giving you free accommodation and food,the best way to repay them and build great connections is to work hard. This will help you to get better reviews on your profile and you will have more and more opportunities to find free places to stay. Our two favorite websites to use are: https://wwoof.net/ https://www.workaway.info/
2. House + Pet Sit
Housesitting is a great way for travelers to combine the stability of a home and routine with the adventure of travel. You give your time taking care of an owner’s home and pets in exchange for an opportunity to settle down for a bit and really explore an area. House sitting and pet sitting usually requires A LOT less manual labour than WWOOFing. Imagine you got to travel all over the world and you didn’t have to pay a cent for accommodation. All the while you get to live in beautiful homes for free and truly experience the area like a local, getting off the beaten track. You will have lots of money left over to spend exploring and the only thing intruding on your incredible experience is a cute fluffy friend like a cat or dog. There are tens of thousands of homeowners around the world looking for someone to stay in their house and keep an eye on things while they’re away. The best thing about House Sitting for me was the money saved. Depending on which house sitting agency you use there will be a small up front fee to get house sitting jobs. After that you can live entirely rent free. The best housesitting websites that we have used are:
Read this for an in depth review on trustedhousesitters.com, this is the house sitting website we use most on our travels.
Tips to be successful: Making a great profile and applying for as many house sits as you can while starting out. This will give you a higher chance of landing a sit and getting reviewed, which makes finding future sits a lot easier. So sign up as soon as possible and start contacting homeowners.
Couch-surfing is a global online community for backpackers, expats, students, families and just about everybody! The basic idea is to get free accommodation all over the world but it goes deeper than that, ultimately couch-surfing is an exchange of ideas and cultures. When somebody hosts you they often show you parts of their country you would never otherwise find. Couchsurfing is free to join and surfers do not pay hosts however most surfers will make their host dinner or buy them a drink where possible. There are good couch-surfing reviews and bad couch-surfing reviews plastered all over the internet, I recommend joining up to discover this amazing community for yourself. Some tips to help you stay safe while couch-surfing: Sign Up early. People won’t let you stay unless you have been on the website a while or you won’t seem safe to them.Read all the reviews. Look for subtle hints from a reviewer who doesn’t want to just call the person out on being weird, but instead hints that they had problems.Message back and forth with the person about what they have planned while you’re there and make sure you like the same activities or you’ll feel trapped.
Tips to couch surfing successfully:
Much like housesitting, set up your profile as soon as possible, and if you can, start hosting people at your own home. This will mean your much more likely to be accepted by hosts when you go out on your own trip and are looking for free places to stay.
4. Working in a hostel in exchange for a free place to stay
This work is quite similar to Wwoofing, however it is less manual labour and more inside work and administrative tasks like checking people into their rooms, working reception and coordinating guest activities.
You do a 4 - 5 hour shift 4 or 5 times a week and that allows you to sleep for free at the hostel. It’s a great way to save money, meet lots of like minded travelers and even learn new cultures and languages, as there is often a diverse group of people going through hostels.
Worldpackers is a great website that links hosts and travelers from all over the world. The membership is $49 a year and allows you to apply for an unlimited amount of hostel jobs.
Two other popular sites are Nomads and hosteljobs.net, which list all kinds of positions; not just desk workers or cleaners, but more specialised positions like tour guide or events manager. So if you’re a little more experienced in hospitality or tourism you could start looking here and score yourself some free places to stay.
5. Language Exchange: Free places to sleep in exchange for your first language
There are people all around the world who want to learn to speak english, and to learn they are willing to give you a free place to stay, in exchange for you talking to them in your native language.
Whether you connect with an individual through a platform like TalkTalkBnB or sign up to a program like Diverbo in Spain or Germany, you’re swapping your English skills for a place to lay your head, sounds pretty easy right?
Vaughan Town in Spain
6. House Swap
This suggestion is targeted more towards travelers that own their own home but still want to explore the world. Just because you have a mortgage doesn’t mean you can’t travel! Home exchanges are a great way to see a new destination at a significantly reduced cost. Finding direct swaps isn’t as hard as you might think, given many homeowners will want to travel at the same time you do – holidays and summer! Finding a House Swap: We recommend a couple of websites to find people to swap homes with. To ensure success, spend some time creating your profile and making it look good, then reach out to as many other members as you can and try and find a time that suits both of you.
Here is a site to try if you own a home and are interested in swapping: HomeExchange.com 7. Overnight Travel
Overnight travel can often be a very wise way to reach a new destination. A sleeper bus or train serves two functions; it provides you with a bed for the night and simultaneously transports you to your next destination. However, you’re really only paying for the transport so you end up saving money by not having to pay for a room that night. Not only that, but you also don’t lose a whole day to travelling by taking an overnight bus or train. If you have a really rough overnight bus or train journey, it’s possible that you won’t get much sleep at all and will lose the first day at your new destination to sleeping instead of exploring or sightseeing. You can also use this when flying. If you have a flight somewhere that doesn’t arrive until late at night, or you have a long stopover. Consider sleeping in the airport, theres often lots of people doing it and you can usually find a decent spot. There’s a whole website to help you get the best sleep possible: Sleeping in Airports. Travelers leave reviews on where to sleep at airports all around the world. Make sure you contribute if you have any secret airport sleeping spots.
Freedom camping is a great way to sleep for free all around the world. There are so many places to freedom camp, sometimes you just have to be a little creative. But as long as you can find somewhere dry and relatively warm, you will be able to pop up a tent or a hammock and sleep overnight for free. To minimize costs, avoid designated campsites as they will charge you to stay overnight. This may mean you get access to facilities like a warm shower, toilets and wifi. But if you’re looking to cut costs and stay for free. Then freedom camping is the way to go. The equipment we recommend to bring with you to ensure the best camping experience, is a tent, a a hammock and a foam roll mat.
For wild camping in tropical or sub-tropical countries, the essential piece of equipment is a good nylon hammock with an in-built mosquito net. A hammock is ideal because it keeps you off the ground away from biting ants, spiders, centipedes and other insects and hammocks are perfectly suited to the warm nights in this part of the world as they allow air to freely circulate around your body. The hammock that we personally use and wholeheartedly recommend is the Snugpak jungle hammock. It's lightweight, comes with an integrated mosquito net and has lasted us for years. We like to take a tent when we are traveling in places that we know its going to be cooler and wetter. The light weight tent which we use is the Portable Geertop 4 season backpacking tent. It's so light and compact, making it perfect for carrying around when you travel. It's also waterproof and can withstand all 4 seasons. So, you’re covered year round. We also recommend a sleeping mat as you can put this underneath you in the hammock or tent and it increases the comfort of your sleep a lot. We use the Lightspeed outdoors curved air mat. It pumps up to a super comfortable mattress and packs down really tight so it takes up hardly any room in your backpack or suitcase. I highly recommend investing in this if you’re looking for free places to stay. They are also just great to carry around in case you need a place to stay for the night and you haven’t got anything planned. A sleeping mat will increase the quality of your sleep no matter where you are, from couch surfing on a hard couch to trying to sleep in an airport. Plus it keeps you off the ground, which insulates you and protects you from hypothermia in cooler places. If you want more tips on how to sleep for free around the world then check out our other posts here: Get paid for Housesitting Cheap Flights Trusted House Sitters Review Read this for an in-depth guide on the Top 20 Cheapest Countries to Travel to in 2020
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