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Recently there has been an uptick of travel articles about house sitting. As if house sitting is a newly discovered process for reducing (or eliminating) your lodging expenses.
Here are eight other ways (not including house sitting) to find free lodging for travel.
- House Swapping. If you own a house, condo, etc., you can exchange properties with other world travelers. Imagine staying in an apartment in the center of Paris or on an ancient Italian farm. BONUS: most home exchangers also include their cars which further reduces your travel expenses. A couple of resources to check include: HomeExchange.com, HomeLink.org, and Digsville.com. Some home exchange organizations cater to a specific group, such as educators or Christians.
- Host. Exchange your labor or time for free lodging. Large campgrounds use campground hosts to handle registration and minor clean up duties. Many campground hosts spend entire seasons living in their luxury RVs with free utilities and camping fees. I met one Florida couple who spends every summer as park hosts in Alaska.
- Property Caretaker. Many historic properties and popular seasonal tourist destinations welcome people to stay for free in exchange for duties such as painting, cleaning and upgrading. How about something cool like being a lighthouse keeper for a short time? For an extreme example, think of The Shining.
- Camping. While many campgrounds charge fees, there are countless places to camp for free. Some websites with listings are FreeCampsites.net, FreeCampgrounds.com, and Boondocking.org.
- Parking Areas. On many road trips, I sleep in my car at least one night amongst the RVs in a Walmart parking lot. AllStays.com lists all locations in US and Canada (by state or province) with details, including whether they allow overnight parking (some do not). They also have a convenient mobile app. This past summer I car camped at the LIRR rail station parking lot in Montauk (Long Island, New York); the least expensive hotel room was over $400. I have heard from other travelers about sleeping overnight in their cars near police or fire stations, in church or library parking lots, or in other public or privately owned (with permission) spots. I once stopped at a rest area in Austria to take a quick nap and woke up eight hours later.
- Transportation. Plan your travel components to skip lodging. Take overnight trains, planes, buses, or ferries. During the summer, many people bring sleeping bags and sleep on the decks of Alaska ferries. In a pinch, you can try to sleep in airports or transportation stations.
- Adventure / Public Spaces. Every night people sleep on desert dunes, under boardwalks, on beaches, in parks, on boats. Long term thru hikers pitch their tents or sleeping pads in open nature each evening. A just finished a book about a man who lives in a cave near Moab, Utah (The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen).
- Friends. For feelings of comfort and familiarity (at no cost), probably nothing beats staying with friends. Use your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin networks, contact school and work alumni, or find old and new friends through other means. Here is my prior article on Couchsurfing.
Do you have other suggestions for free lodging? Thank you.