This Ultimate Guide is a 6-part series of how to travel for free or almost free. Click any specific aspect to learn more. Each category shares more in-depth details about the topic.
- General Travel Tips
- Get Around: Free Transport
- Stay: Free Accommodation
- Eat: Free Food & Drinks
- Do: Free Activities
- Get Money: A Job
Travel For Free: Accommodation
With all the review platforms available, do more research on the accommodations before booking. Check TripAdvisor, Google Maps Review, Hotels, Agoda, Booking and other blogs to learn more about the hotel. Being cheap does not mean it’s terrible. Being expensive doesn’t mean it’s good.
Free Accommodation: Couchsurfing
This is one of my favourite ways to meet people when I am travelling alone. The idea is simple: you send a request to people saying when you want to stay. And if they accept, you will stay with them during your trip there. Turns out, it was not exactly as straight-forward as it sounds. Learn how to use Couchsurfing for your trip.
Sell Skills: Photography/Videography
If you are a photographer or videographer, you can exchange your skills for a free accommodation. Offer free photos or videos in exchange for a free stay. Good photography can be very costly. Before you start, you should have a portfolio of your skills. Check out hotels in Booking and contact them.
Camping is one of the cheapest ways for accommodations. Check out the rules and regulations when you are trying it out.
- Camp in the forest or national parks. We camped in the Blue Mountains during our road trip in Sydney (free). I’ve done plenty of camping in Hong Kong by the beach (free) and in France for a road trip (payable).
- If you dare, you can camp on rooftops in high-rise apartments. Check for trespassing rules to make sure you are fine.
- Camp at airports. If you are on a night flight and arrive in the wee hours of the morning, spend the night in the airport till the morning so you save the night’s accommodation. Good international airports: Singapore, Qatar, Shenzhen.
- Camp on the beach if the weather is good
- Camp in a public park. In China, we had to catch a flight the early morning and decided not to waste a night in a hotel. Instead, we spent the night sleeping under a blanket of stars in the public park of Shenzhen.
WWOOF is an organisation that gives you free accommodation in exchange for help on the farm. Author, Yi Hong, spent 2 weeks in Norway with WWOOF. It is a good way to explore an expensive country without having to pay as much.
You can volunteer at other places like Australian farms to work and get accommodation in return. It is a simple and easy way to travel and give back at the same time.
Au Pair is a popular way to travel. Basically, you are attached to a host family and you look after the kids and teach English or you learn their local language. You stay with them for free and provide services in exchange. Many au pair and their families become very close that they still meet up after the au pair period! Au pair period usually lasts about 6-12 months.
Travel at night
One of the best ways to save on accommodation is to travel at night. Take the night flight, night train and night bus. You wake up fresh in a new destination, saving time. Also, you get to sleep on your journey there! Free nights!
One way to have an accommodation is to stay in the monastery. Many monasteries offer free accommodation in exchange for some volunteer work, donation or just a free stay. Check the monasteries in your area. There are quite a few in Insadong, Korea, offering free stays. But that is specifically got, religious followers. Some monasteries do not require you to be religious.
Local homestays are usually a small fraction of usual hostel prices. When I was travelling in East Java with Elma, we did not have a place to stay. As it got dark, we walked to the closest village and started inquiring about local homestays. We literally went knocking on doors to ask for a place to stay.
Finally, between body language and laughter, we found a homestay! A simple bed with toilet access and a meal. It costs US$3 that night.
If you are in Cuba, you should also look for homestays with the locals for a more authentic experience! They are also cheaper than the hotels available. They cost 25CUC per night.
Spas in Asia
Certain spas allow travellers to stay overnight for a small fee. These spa open 24/7. After enjoying the sauna and steam bath, you are free to roam around the place. Some spas have a time limit while others are open to allow you to stay for a day. There is a common area and gender-specific area. It’s more common in South Korea though.
Where you can find these spas:
- South Korea: you call them Jjimjilbang. You can stay overnight in the common relaxation areas. Example: Dragon Hill Spa
- China. Example: Queen’s Spa.
Other Travel Resources
- Free Things To Do in Japan
- Travel hacks at the Airport by Frequent Travellers
- How to choose a good backpack for travel
- Headsets for Travel
- Travel Gadgets: Headsets | Camera | Phone | Drone | GoPro | Laptop (Capturing these memories are everything and they help in the jobs section)
- 15 Things Under $100 You Need