Five Ideas for Free or Cheap Lodging

Five Ideas for Free of Cheap Lodging! photo by Lena Budraitis

House / Pet Sitting

In exchange for taking care of someone’s home and/or pet(s) you get lodging in their home for free. Pretty sweet, right? Each host lists what they’re looking for and when. After you sign up make an honest profile with a clear photo of your face. These hosts are screening people to invite into their home and care for their pets. Make them want to choose you. There’s a nominal annual fee to use the website.

Work Exchange

For a few hours of work a day your host will provide free lodging and sometimes meals. This is a great way to meet new people and engage with the local culture. Each host lists what type of work they’re looking for help with and when they want help. Again you’ll need to create a profile. Make it good. There’s a nominal annual fee to use the website.


Hosts offer their spare space for free! It can be a couch, floor space, or even a spare bedroom. Click here for their website. Download the app, create your profile, and politely contact hosts.

Leverage your Network

A quick message out to your hundreds (thousands?) of Facebook friends could lead to lodging. Surely someone has a friend with a couch with your name on it. One of my favorite experiences from visiting the UK last summer was staying with the parents of my good friend’s husband. From home cooked lasagna to a friendly glass of wine at the end of the day it was a real treat staying with them.


While more expensive than free, hostels are still a great way to extend your budget. In parts of Thailand you can get a dorm bed for $2 USD/ night. Hostels are also an excellent way to meet fellow travelers. It’s nearly impossible to walk out without new friends from other countries.

Final Thoughts 

With home stays, there’s the inherent risk of staying in a stranger’s home. Most of the people out there are amazing and lovely but just because some aren’t, do your due diligence. Read their reviews, talk to them, try to get a feeling for who they are before  you show up on their doorstep. If you show up and your gut tells you to leave, follow your gut. This probably won’t happen but just wanted to throw that out there.


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