Free Accommodation Hacks, Part 2

07.08.2017 |

Episode #9 of the course How to travel long term/full time by Nora Dunn


After learning about volunteering and house-sitting yesterday, are you eager for more? Great! Here are three more free accommodation hacks.


Living on Boats

I spent three months living on five boats spanning three countries in the Caribbean, with not a night on land! Even more amazingly, I didn’t have any sailing experience, but if you’re keen to get free accommodation on boats, I’d recommend having better “sea legs” than I.

Getting free accommodation on boats encompasses a wide range of possibilities, from being a deckhand on small yachts/sailboats, to helping out on charters (often in exchange for some money), and even earning a full income on mega-yachts and cruise ships.

Some travelers use their sailing skills to get free passage from one destination to another (even across oceans). Others are happy to simply help out on board and live a casual nautical life. The yachting community is very small, and once you’re on one boat, it’s easy to meet other captains and move around.

Find a Crew and Crew Seekers are the most popular resources for finding free accommodation on boats; you can also search on Desperate Sailors, Yacht Loop, and Superyacht Jobs for free accommodation and paid work.

As with all free accommodation gigs, it’s important to vet your captain to ensure a good fit, possibly more so with boats, given the close living quarters and inability to “jump ship” if things go wrong.


Hospitality Exchanges

Commonly referred to as “couchsurfing,” hospitality exchanges involve staying with locals in their homes for free. It benefits both parties: you get a free place to crash and local insights and tips, and your host enjoys a cultural exchange with travelers.

Whereas most of the previously mentioned free accommodation gigs can be long term, hospitality exchanges are inherently short. My rule of thumb is that “good house guests are like fresh produce: they go off after a few days!” Although sometimes you may be invited to stay for longer, it’s best to assume you’ll only stay for a few nights.

So, from a long-term travel perspective, I only use hospitality exchanges sporadically; it’s a great social opportunity, but it takes time to find a host who is a good fit, and managing an online career concurrently doesn’t always work well.

You can find hospitality exchanges on sites like Couchsurfing, Hospitality Club, Global Freeloaders, and TalkTalkBnB. Each site has its own flavor, geography, and theme (TalkTalkBnB, for example, specializes in language exchanges).

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, communicate with your host beforehand, only contact hosts with traveler reviews on their profile and with whom you have something in common, and meet in a public place first.


Home Exchanges

If you are leaving a home behind, you can use it to host other travelers while you stay in their homes! This is the principle of home exchanges. I’ve never tried it myself (being proverbially homeless and all), but those I know who have done it love it.

Home exchanges work better for limited-duration trips, unless you have somebody (your official representative, perhaps) who can check in and prepare your home between home exchange gigs.

There are dozens of home exchange sites; three of the most popular ones are Home Exchange, Guest to Guest, and Homelink.

That’s it for free accommodation! You just saved the majority of your travel budget, and you got a culturally immersive and rewarding experience. We’re nearing the end of our time together; I look forward to seeing you here again tomorrow so we can wrap up this information-packed course!

Happy accommodation hunting,



Recommended book

How to Get Free Accommodation around the World by Nora Dunn


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