That is my current view from the rooftop terrace of my place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. How did I get here? Because I was a good girl and Santa Claus finally recognized it – just kidding (partially). I signed up for a house sitting website with the intent of spending the holidays away from freezing my behind off.
Since I’m here, I have received many questions about how I get to stay in an amazing place for free in exchange for sitting a house, a cute cat, and an even cuter dog. Some people’s minds are blown that I have free accommodation while I travel. In this post, I’ll explain all of this in more detail, and will provide you with even more options to save on accommodation while you travel, so there’ll be no excuse left, to get the F out of your country.
There are a few different websites out there, and I have only personally tested Trusted Housesitters. On this site, you can find houses to sit primarily in Australia, UK, US, Canada, and Western Europe. Other countries are rarer to find. Mostly, house owners have a dog or cat you have to take care of and the stays can vary from a weekend to a few months. Unless you as a sitter have to go out of your way to sit pets (such as 10 horses or something), gigs are free of payment for both parties. Accommodation in exchange for walking and feeding pets. There are 3 stages of verification you can go through, but it’s not mandatory.
Their annual membership fee is $120, with a few sales throughout the year (such as Black Friday). If you want to join Trusted Housesitters, join through this link and get 20% off (and help me get two free months in exchange :D):
Here are some more alternative websites (all prices in USD):
https://www.housesitmatch.com/ ($43 – $92)
https://www.nomador.com/ ($89 per year)
https://www.housecarers.com/ ($50 per year)
http://www.luxuryhousesitting.com/ ($25 per year)
Another housesitting tip: If you join expat groups for your desired destination on Facebook, there’s a high chance you might get a house sitting gig by simply introducing yourself in the group stating that you’re open to it.
You can welcome someone in your home and want to exchange houses? You can do this on https://www.homeexchange.com/en/ for $150 per year. This is a great and easy option, especially for the summer. It’s not only a mutual house, but a mutual trust exchange as well and families can always communicate via phone and/or email.
Here are some alternative websites with the same goal:
http://www.lovehomeswap.com/ ($20-$34 per month)
http://www.homeforexchange.com/ ($79 per year)
https://homelink.org/en/ ($150 per year)
The Couchsurfing community has been around since 2004. People from 200,000 cities worldwide invite travelers to stay in their homes for free. And if you’re lucky, your host will even be your tour guide, show you around and/or introduce you to their local culture.
Yes, there have been horror stories, but if you use common sense and carefully read the reviews of your potential host before you message them (the more reviews, the better), you will be absolutely fine and most likely make lifelong friends.
If you’re a girl, join Girls Love Travel on Facebook, look for their Couchsurfing subgroup, and their group on the Couchsurfing website. You’re guaranteed to find welcoming travelers like you.
If you have some money to spare, check out www.trampolinn.com for homestays with hosts.
Housing opportunities in exchange for work:
Work on a farm
Do you like organic greens, beans, potatoes, and tomatoes *signs*? At WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), travelers can work on organic farms for a place to stay. WWOOF is available in almost every country of the world. While on the farm, you will meet like-minded volunteers.
Assist on a boat
There are three options for people who want to stay on a boat: recreational, professional, or commercial. Mostly sailing or motor yachts and vessel owners want a helping hand on board cruising around Australia or the Caribbean, for example, and in exchange, provide you with a place to stay on the boat. Some gigs are paid.
Check out Find a Crew for more information.
Idealist.org provides plenty of volunteering opportunities in exchange for free accommodation and sometimes even daily meals. Whether you want to assist at a surf camp in Ecuador, take care of kids in the Peruvian Amazon or work with refugees in Cairo, there are so many opportunities to make this world a better place!
Do you know about another way to get (almost) free accommodation when traveling? Please share it with us in the comments!