View over tennis courts and palm tress from our free accomodation with Workaway - one of the best ways how to find free accommodation

How to get Free Accommodation while Traveling

Home » Travel affordably » 5 Ways to get Free Accommodation for Travel 🏠

It seems impossible to get a place for free. But if you are willing to travel slowly and step out of your comfort zone there are many options how to get free accommodation.

When I first started out backpacking I realized very quickly that even if you are staying in the cheapest hostels the amount you pay every night quickly adds up.

So if you want to travel long-term for cheap having free accommodation will reduce your costs immense. In this blog post, I will go through my Top 5 Ways to get free accommodation that I have discovered and tried myself via years of traveling.

1. Petsitting (Our Favorite Way to get Free Accommodation!)

We got introduced to pet sitting via Workaway. We started walking dogs in a Mexican beach town for a Workaway host and really enjoyed it. When we looked specifically for pet sitting, we found the website TrustedHouseSitters and immediately fell in love with it!

How TrustedHouseSitters works

If a pet owner is going on holiday they place an ad on TrustedHouseSitters that states how long they will be away, the type and number of pets, and the responsibilities.

In case you want to do the sit you apply for it by sending the host a message. If they choose you to look after their pets you will get free accommodation in exchange.

Of course, you should only use this platform if you love pets! The owners are putting a lot of trust in you so your main motivation should not be a free place to stay.

TrustedHouseSitters Costs

There are 3 membership plans valid for one year that sitters can sign up for:

  • Basic sitter for 129 USD
  • Standard sitter for 169 USD
  • Premium sitter for 259 USD

Sign up to TrustedHouseSitters via this link for free + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount on your membership! πŸΆ

Each plan has its benefits so you will have to choose based on what you want from your membership. Read more details here.

The sign-up fee may seem a bit expensive at first but when you think this way: paying accommodation for 1 week costs you as much as the membership that lasts for 1 year!

Thanks to TrustedHouseSitters we saved months on paying for accommodation and looked after the cutest pets and most amazing homes in Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean!

TrustedHouseSitters Accommodation

Accommodation with TrustedHouseSitters varies but is generally way more luxurious than Workaway as you will have a whole apartment or house to yourself.

We stayed in ocean-view villas, central city apartments and countryside houses. Just make sure to treat the home like yours and always leave it sparkling clean behind.

TrustedHouseSitters hosts are mostly expats or locals having an open-minded traveler spirit which contributes to the experience. We quickly became attached to the pets and friends with the hosts which we sometimes even return to for more housesits.

If you like pets this is the best way how to get free accommodation for travelers or students 🐈 Sign up to TrustedHouseSitters via this link + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS for a 25% discount on your membership!

A man sitting on a swing with three dogs and a rabbit on the grass in front of him pet sitting in London - a great way how to get free accommodation
Petsitting in London: We looked after 3 dogs, 3 rabbits, 2 cats and 1 snake!

2. Workaway

Workaway is an online platform where hosts offer free accommodation in exchange for work. The work can be a wide range of activities including farm work, hospitality, animal care, eco projects, and more.

You will be expected to work 3-5 hours per day. This will vary depending on the host you have. In return for your work, you will be given a free place to stay and on rare occasions, it is possible to earn a little bit of money for some extra work or hours you do.

At the beach with surf boards through free accommodation found on Workaway
Going surfing with one of our Workaway hosts Juan in Mexico

Workaway Costs

Signing up for Workaway costs 43 USD for a single person and 52 USD for a couple. The signup fee is well worth it as most hosts will require a minimum stay of 2 weeks or longer. So you will make back the money you spend on the membership very quickly.

Workaway Accommodation

The accommodation that you will receive in return for your work can vary quite a bit. A lot of jobs will offer shared rooms or camping if you do work on farms. However, we were always able to find jobs that gave us comfortable private rooms as a couple.

We only ever had positive experiences with Workaway and did a wide variety of volunteer work: From marketing, maintenance, and gardening to babysitting. We made new friends and memories we will never forget!

So if you want to travel slowly and save money I highly recommend Workaway. For a more in-depth Workaway review and tips for sending applications continue reading here πŸ‘ˆ

Our free accommodation in Puerto Vallarta from our Workaway host
Our room for babysitting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Super nice!
Workaway bed free accommodation
Our room for doing maintenance work at a property in La Cruz, Mexico

3. Work in Hostels

Working in hostels is one of the most common ways for backpackers to get free accommodation. It could easily go under the Workaway category as there are plenty of hostel jobs on that website.

However, I have found that one of the best ways to get a hostel job is just to show up and ask if they need volunteers. Especially if you already stay at a cool hostel that has volunteers you could extend your stay for free by becoming a volunteer yourself.

Hostel Costs

Becoming a volunteer in a hostel is completely free as you do not have to pay to sign up to a website to do it. I have worked in hostels in Turkey, Peru, Scotland and a few other countries and always had a great time.

Hostel Accommodation

Some hostels may just give you a free bed in a dorm in return while others give you food as well or take you on tours for free. It all depends on the hostel.

What the hostel requires you to do for work and the amount of time you have to work can vary quite a lot too. In some hostels, you may just have to clean for a couple of hours each day but others may need you to work at reception for much longer.

If you are a backpacker I think it is something you must try at least once! πŸŽ’ Search here for highly rated hostels to stay at and volunteer πŸ‘‡

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4. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is one of the oldest ways how to get free accommodation. was actually created by an American backpacker in 1999.

He went on a trip to Iceland and found the hotels too expensive. So he decided to send emails to hundreds of Icelandic University students from a list that he found online.

He received hundreds of invitations to stay and thought it would be great if there was a website where anyone could do this. So he created where people could offer a couch or spare bed to travelers for free. Thanks!

How Couchsurfing works

The way that works is that a host places an ad saying that they have a couch or bed available. You create a profile and send messages to hosts to see if they would like to host you. If yes you will organize the details of your stay together.

Couchsurfing Costs

The signup fee is 15 USD per year so it is well worth the money! You will also get access to an online community that organizes events for travelers to meet up at bars or go on hikes.

So even if the idea of staying at a stranger’s house doesn’t appeal to you the Couchsurfing community is a useful way to meet people if you are feeling lonely on the road.

Couchsurfing Accommodation

I have only used Couchsurfing once while I was in Norway. I was in the same position as the creator of realizing all the accommodation in Norway is way too expensive. So I signed up and got hosted for free!

The accommodation will be basic, mostly a couch or mattress in a living room but also guest rooms are listed. It’s a great way how to get free accommodation while meeting locals and sharing experiences around the world. Try it out!

A man in a blue singlet standing on a rock in Norway while couchsurfing
Me on a hike to Kjeragbolten while Couchsurfing in Norway

5. Home Exchange

This is not something that I have taken part in, as I do not own a home. But I heard about it through an Airbnb host in Mexico. Whenever she wanted to go on holiday she would find someone who wanted to stay at her place in Mexico and swap houses with them.

There are websites such as HomeExchange which help homeowners to connect. So if you own a house it can also help you to get free accommodation while you travel!

Book: Flexible travel insurance with SafetyWing. Read about our experience plus other options here ✈️ We are already 2+ years insured with SafetyWing!

Nomad Insurance by SafetyWing is one of the best travel insurances for travelers on a budget
View over tennis courts from our free accomodation with Workaway
The view from our free accommodation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 🀩

Now you know how to get Free Accommodation and travel more!

Hopefully, you can use these ideas to fulfill your dreams of long-term travel. We were able to extend our travels by months and besides saving tonnes of money on accommodation we created memories and friendship on the way.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or additions and check out the list below to find more ways to travel cheaply!


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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