From completely free stay options to home sharing and discounted hotel accommodations, this list of websites will help you save on your accommodation when you travel the globe.
Accommodation is one of the most expensive purchases for travellers. And despite the fact that I love Booking.com’s ease of use and easy cancellation options, their hotels’ stays can cost you a pretty penny.
Just like you, I’m always looking for ways I can save on my stay, so I have more money to spend on sightseeing and activities in the places I’m visiting.
In this article, I’ve listed over 7 websites that will help you save on your accommodation – and even stay free – when you travel the globe.
Here they are, starting from completely free stay options to home sharing and discounted hotel accommodations.
Become part of the world’s leading Home Exchange Community and stay absolutely free in over 65,000+ homes around the world, says the website. But to make this work, you must be willing to let strangers live in your home in exchange for letting you live in theirs.
Here’s how it works:
- List your house or your apartment so the HomeExchange community can see it. Use high-quality photos to provoke more interest in your listing. Add photos of local attractions or a profile photo of you and your family to make it more personal.
- Browse over 65,000+ listings for homes and locations you love, and use the website’s simple messaging system to get in touch with the Members whose home you would like to stay in.
- Check out inquiries sent to you from Members who’ve expressed interest in staying in your home, and when you’re ready, simply arrange your Exchange. You’ll be required to sign a digital Exchange Agreement at the bottom of the message where you’re discussing the exchange.
Home Exchanges are not for the paranoid. If you have valuable items in your home, it’s best to lock them in a room and keep them off limits to your guests so they can use the rest of your home without you worrying that your valuables will get damaged.
Also, leave detailed instructions on how things work in your home to prevent any mishaps, and write down emergency numbers to contact, if things like plumbing and electricity break down.
2. Housesitting with Pets: HouseCarers and TrustedHousesitters
If you love animals and enjoy spending your vacation taking care of someone else’s pets, house sitting may be the job for you.
Pets are far happier when staying at home than in a kennel and when they get someone like you to stay home and care for them, it’s a win-win situation.
You get to stay free in a new city or country, and the pen owners get to travel without having to pay for expensive pet boarding services. Of course, you must make sure their pets are well cared for or you won’t receive a good rating.
Here’s how to get started with House Carers:
- Register with House Carers.
- Subscribe to receive house-sit opportunities matching your desired locations and preferences.
- Get found in search results and get chosen to housesit.
House Carers will help you with tips and guides on how to land the house-sit and give yourself the best exposure on their website.
If you decide to use TrustedHousesitters, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Join as a sitter or owner for an annual membership fee.
- Members swap free accommodation for free pet care.
- Sitters stay for free & owners travel without worry.
As a veteran house sitter, Ryan Biddulph notes in the article here, “House sits pulled us to places like Cyprus and Qatar; countries we’d never think to visit until sitting jobs popped up in these areas. Sitting is rent-free living contingent on caring for pets and keeping homes tidy. Easy peasy and the ultimate travel hack for me and my wife, for experiencing exotic spots.”
House Carers will help you with tips and guides on how to land the house-sit and give yourself the best exposure on their website. If you find the idea of house sitting interesting, consider buying Ryan’s book, How to Land the Best House Sits Easily.
If you’re not comfortable exchanging your home with a stranger, you can always opt for a homestay. These are definitely cheaper than hotel accommodation and you can stay with a local host family in over 160 countries.
If you love authenticity in travel, homestays can help you discover rustic, authentic and unspoiled gems. You get to do what the locals do, eat where they eat and experience the realness of the place you’re visiting.
The website provides video call and instant messaging features to help you get to know your hosts before you choose to stay with them.
As a Chapter Organiser of Wanderful Pune, I just love this identity-verified home sharing community exclusively for women travellers looking for a safe place to rest their head.
Members can rent private rooms to one another for a fee, or just take each other out for a cup of coffee or provide a friendly face at the airport. Right now Wanderful is just in 20+ cities around the world, but are rapidly adding new members and chapters.
Each member (both the hostess and the guest) completes a two-step identity verification process and may opt for a background check for enhanced safety.
Wanderful is committed to trust and security and goes beyond home sharing to create a collaborative and inclusive community of women of all ages and backgrounds who help one another travel the world.
Wanderful Chapters connect locals and travellers together over brunches, workshops, day trips, and events like the Women in Travel Summit (WITS) and Wanderfest, to build positive connections and lasting friendships.
If you don’t mind sharing a dorm and toilet with other travellers, then you can save hundreds of dollars on accommodation living in very decent hostels. Some hostels even offer private rooms with your own bathroom.
Besides having other travellers to turn to for advice on the place you’re visiting, you also get to benefit from the camaraderie and fun that is very much part of hostel life.
Airbnb really needs no introduction. As one of the pioneers of the sharing economy, it allowed homeowners to rent out their homes by the night, to travellers weary of paying for expensive hotel stays.
Not only do these options cost less for travellers and digital nomads who might want to spend an entire month in a certain location, but the website allows us to find and stay in homes that offer unique and exclusive experiences, ranging from a Seashell House in Casa Caracol to a Secluded Intown Treehouse in Atlanta.
If you’ve decided that you prefer staying in a hotel room, but want to save on the cost of your bookings, you could join GOjoinGO.
This is a membership travel club that offers its members access to unpublished hotel rates up to 70% lower than any other online travel website or hotel website.
Their online search and booking process is identical to all the other online travel websites and you have access to over 800,000 participating hotels and resorts worldwide.
Members can also book discounted flights, cars, entertainment, and vacation rentals. The annual GOjoinGO membership fee is just $99.00/year and most members make back their membership fee within their first hotel booking.
Get $25 off when you use the code “ahoymatey”
Please note: We have not included Couchsurfing.com in these options because we do not feel it is a safe option for women travellers, especially in light of the incident here and the many controversies around its functioning.