There’s nothing quite like free, especially when it comes to travel. Jenny wrote a fantastic article about getting around Australia free of charge and so I thought I would pitch in and cover some of the ways to get free accommodation whilst travelling.
Couchsurfing is a form of travelling where you stay on other people’s couches or if you’re lucky, in their spare room. In return it’s expected that when you’re back in your home town, you’ll host out-of-town travellers as well.
The process for getting started in couchsurfing is fairly simple: just visit couchsurfing.org and create a profile. The trust system is built on getting references from other people and the easiest way to get a reference is to host other people. If you’re already on the road and don’t have this luxury, take a look at some of the events happening in your area. There are usually meetups, language exchanges and nights out happening; just get involved, make some friends and hopefully you’ll pick up a few references while you’re at it.
House sitting means looking after someone else’s home (and usually pets as well) while they’re away. You might have done this for friends and family, but did you know there are online communities where people ask others to come and house sit for them? You can have an entire house to yourself for free in return for looking after the property and usually carrying out a few chores such as pool cleaning, collecting the mail and dog walking.
Australia is actually one of the best countries to house sit in, not only because hotel and hostel costs are significantly more expensive than other parts of the world, but because so many homeowners use house sitters when they go away. TrustedHousesitters.com for example, one of the largest house sitting websites, currently has more than 350 Aussie house sits available, around three times as many as other countries such as the US and Canada.
As with couchsurfing, the system is based on references. You can add references from previous employers and landlords; however references for previous house sits obviously hold more value. To get started the best thing to do is to get in touch with friends and family and let them know that you’re available to house sit, should they need someone and in return could they give you a reference.
If you want to escape the city life for a bit, have a go at wwoofing, otherwise known as working on organic farms. Here you help out on a farm for a few hours per day (usually around 3-4) and in return you get accommodation and usually at least one meal per day.
The attraction of wwoofing isn’t so much the free accommodation – you are working for it after all – but rather the experiences you get. You could be doing anything from working on a vineyard to herding sheep or working on a vegetable plot– the WWOOF Australia photo gallery gives a good idea of what sort of experiences you can expect.
If you aren’t interested in farm work but are willing to work for a few hours in return for your accommodation, check out helpx or workaway, both of which have a more varied mixture of jobs that includes everything from farm to computer programming work.
Article written by James
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