Want to find free places to sleep while you travel? We list six options for free accommodation to help you save money and travel on a budget.
Free Places To Sleep
When you’re traveling, accommodation can often times be your biggest expense. Wouldn’t you rather save your money for experiences and food, especially if you’re only planning on being at your hotel in the evenings? If you can find places to sleep for free, you’ll definitely save a lot of money.
As digital nomads, we are also constantly looking for places to stay for free. In our case, it’s year round though; not just a weekend away. Although we do use sites like Booking.com and Airbnb on occasion, the costs do add up so we try to avoid them.
Because we’ve been pretty successful at finding free places to sleep for over two years now, we thought we’d share with you the things we use and do to make it possible…
Free Place To Stay – House Sitting
If you’ve been following our adventures for awhile now, you know that house sitting is our primary way of finding free accommodation. In our case, we look for house sits that are usually at least three weeks long but travelers looking for a weekend getaway would benefit from house sitting as well.
We wrote a complete guide to using Trusted Housesitters, the website we use to find house sits. It includes a video where we answer your top five questions about house sitting and a code that will give you 25% off of your first year’s subscription.
Yes, you do have to pay. It costs $89 to join as a sitter, but even if you only use it once for a weekend you’ll be spending less than you would for the same amount of days at a hotel.
Most house sits will include taking care of a pet. If you do want to be out most of the day exploring, we recommend filtering for houses with cats when you search for house sits, as cats don’t need as much care or attention as dogs.
Imagine if you wanted to spend a week exploring a new city. Now imagine how much money you could save if you had a free place to stay for that week. You’d also save money on food, because you could cook some of your own meals in the home’s kitchen.
It’d be like staying at an Airbnb, but for free. Plus, free cuddles!
Places To Sleep For Free – Couchsurfing
Another website we’ve used to find free places to sleep is Couchsurfing. We’ve primarily used this for short one/two night stays while driving from one house sit to another. Crashing on someone’s couch is comfier than sleeping in your car at a rest stop along the side of a highway.
We always get asked the same two questions: Is couchsurfing safe and is couchsurfing free?
Just like with anything, you do have to be cautious and do your research. When you sign up on Couchsurfing.com (it is free) you create a profile and can search for hosts in different cities. If you’re a solo female traveler and are concerned about safety, you can filter for female hosts.
At this point we’ve stayed with both female and male hosts, as well as with couples. The biggest thing we recommend is looking at the host’s reviews. You can get a feel for them and their home and you can message them through the website if you have any questions.
And although it’s called “couchsurfing” we’ve actually slept in more guest bedrooms than on couches.
Why do people sign up to be hosts and let strangers stay in their home for free? To connect with like-minded people.
All the hosts we’ve stayed with love to travel and to learn about different cultures. All have used Couchsurfing themselves and wanted to pay it forward. And all loved chatting about the places they’d been and were excited to hear about our adventures.
Even though they were short stays, we’ve become friends with a few of the hosts we’ve stayed with. We’ve even made plans to see them again!
Free Accommodation – Credit Card Points
If you need a place to stay for free, but would still rather a hotel, another option we recommend is using credit card points.
We want to be very clear – we do not consider ourselves “travel hackers.”
However, we do have two credit cards (Capital One and Chase) that earn us points towards travel every time we use it to purchase items. We like these more than having an airline or hotel specific credit card because our cards allow us to use the points on any hotel or airline and even car rental.
With our credit card points, we’ve managed to book quite a few flights and many places to stay – for free!
Places To Stay For Free – Family And Friends
Don’t forget to use this valuable resource! You might think you’re inconveniencing someone, but you’d be surprised how many people genuinely want to help you and even take you around their city.
As we’ve road tripped across the country, we’ve stayed at so many friends’ houses. We’ve even stayed overnight in friends’ parent’s houses that we’d never met before.
And everyone was so eager to show us around town or take us to their favorite restaurants. Some of the best meals we’ve had we’ve eaten because of staying with friends.
So we definitely recommend asking family and friends if you can stay with them while you’re traveling. You’ll get a free place to stay and get great local recommendations for shops, museums, and restaurants.
Free Accommodation In Exchange For Work
We personally have not gotten free accommodation in exchange for work, but we know a few bloggers that have so we wanted to mention it as an option. The most popular websites to find these kinds of exchanges are Workaway and Worldpackers.
With websites like these, you could be working for small businesses like hostels, on a farm working on sustainability projects, or in a village working at a local school. There are hosts all over the world and in exchange for your work, you’ll receive free places to sleep and sometimes meals as well.
We think this could be a really great way to immerse yourself in a new culture and even learn a new language.
Free Hotel Stays – Press Trips
When we work with city tourism boards, we often get to stay in a hotel for free in exchange for a review on our website. Thanks to this type of collaboration, we’ve gotten to stay in some really cool and fun hotels.
One hotel that we will always remember is the Hotel Grinnell in Iowa. It was once a school, but was converted into this amazing boutique hotel. It’s super modern but they kept the school theme throughout. And each room is decorated differently too, so we’d definitely love to go back and stay there again.
We do want to point out that this is a type of work exchange. Taking photos, learning about the property, writing the review, and then sharing it across our social media does take time and effort. But we enjoy this type of work and it’s worth the free accommodation.
Final Thoughts On Free Places To Sleep
We totally understand what it’s like to travel on a budget. We try to save money in every way we can, and that definitely includes finding free places to sleep. Hopefully our years of experience helps you to think outside the box and consider one of these ways to travel with free accommodation.