How to Sleep for Free * While Traveling

Those of us traveling on a budget ask “how can I save even more money?” so we can travel longer and more frequently. Well, I found an awesome article that you should check out that lists out 28 Ways to Sleep Free Traveling and made some comments about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you skim it.

Here’s a simple list of each option:

  1. Couchsurfing
  2. BeWelcome
  3. Hospitality Club
  4. Global Freeloaders
  5. BeLodged
  6. TrustRoots
  7. Warm Showers
  8. Night Swapping
  9. Trampolinn
  10. Housesitting (Trusted Housesitters, Housacarers, Luxuryhousesitting, Mindmyhouse)
  11. Workaway
  12. WWOOF
  13. HelpX
  14. Worldpackers
  15. AuPair
  16. Find a Crew
  17. Temples and Monasteries
  18. Churches
  19. Bus and Train Stations
  20. Airports
  21. Beaches
  22. Parks
  23. Hostels and camping areas
  24. Homes of locals
  25. Ask for help in a community
  26. Your Hitchhiking Ride for the Night
  27. Police Offices and Fire Stations
  28. Wild Camping

I could add some other options, like general public areas, under a bridge, squatting in an abandoned building, and sleeping with a local, but take those with their own caution labels.

Now you might think “Wow, there are a lot of options! I could go around the world for free!” Well, let me give you some insight into each.

The real costs

*Nothing is actually free. If you receive an object, it takes space to carry/hold/keep it. Same goes for the intangibles, there’s some kind of expectation/time commitment that goes into it. Here are the real costs of some of the options listed:

Couchsurfing Your time to get to know the host, money to spend while hanging out with your host and/or a gift for your host
Housesitting Trusted Housesitters is $130 CAD as a sitter each year, or $160 as both a sitter and homeowner, taking care of a house and/or pet
Workaway Your labour for a few hours each day
WWOOF €47.8 for a membership with WWOOF Thailand. Every country has its own website, increasing the costs a lot if you want to join these via a website.
HelpX €20 for a year ($22 USD or $29 CAD)
Worldpackers $49 USD per year solo plan, $59 USD per year for 2 people
Aupair $50-4000 USD is the estimated range for the program with (visa, transportation, insurance); expect similar with
Find a Crew Not everyone wants/is able to live at sea, but it sounds cool! Here’s a resource I found (pic below)
Airports Usually far from city centers, many don’t have showers nor lockers to store your bags
Parks Be careful with in-city parks as law enforcement may try to fine you (or worse)
Homes of locals Time to find one, effort to communicate that you need a place to stay, gifts, etc.
Wild Camping Research and time to find the right spot, need to bring equipment with you

These are the options I’ve used to sleep for free:

  • Couchsurfing
  • Tent/camping
  • Beach
  • Direct work exchange
  • Indirectly used workaway and helpX to find hosts

In the future I’ll probably also use Housesitting for longer trips when I want a home base and train stations if I ever miss (another) train …

Suggestions on choosing which options to use:

  • Look into the websites to see how many hosts/places are available in the country you’re going to so you know if the fee is worth it
  • Look into laws and regulations of your visiting countries about sleeping in public areas
  • Many of the options are quite niche, so know what kind of traveling you want to do. Permaculture? Working with kids? Staying disconnected in the great outdoors?
  • Make sure to do the research so that you know what you’re getting into. I’ve had my own negative experience(s) on Couchsurfing but I haven’t lost faith in it.

My sleep for “free” recommendations:

It really depends on where you are, your situation, and your comfort levels. Personally, camping, couchsurfing, and work exchange with a local family are my top choices to “sleep for free”. Camping is free in many senses and you get to plop down wherever you want, couchsurfing is a community and there’s information on hosts and surfers, and work exchange for the local experience. I’m also really looking forward to using Trusted Housesitters so that I have a surrogate pet and a place to call home while traveling!

So now you’re more informed and ready to sleep…for less! An exchange! Cheaply! It’s better than watching your money rush down the tourist-driven drains. Sometimes you even make amazing connections because of these experiences – I know I have. Now go forth and get a good rest!

What have you done to sleep for free or exchange? What would you want to try or say NO WAY to? I want to hear your stories! Let me know in the comments below or one of the social platforms (email, Facebook, Instagram)~

Some related posts if you’re interested:

Leave a Reply