Mar 24 2008

Traveling on a shoestring and a prayer: Cheap places to sleep

Looking for new, cheap ways to travel and meet people as you go? I read a few ideas in the March 31, 2008 issue of TIME (page 61) that I’d like to share with you.

Do any of these sound appealing to you?

Guest swap

Sort of like being a foreign-exchange student, you could have a guest swap. Travelers can serve as both guests and hosts. In the story’s example, a lady from France visited a lady from Japan in her home; the next year, the Japanese woman visited the Frenchwoman.

You’ll see how locals live, meet new friends, and when you’re serving as a host, you’ll be able to show a bit of hospitality and also get to know your own area a little better.

Kind of nice, considering the alternative could be staying in a pricey hotel and eating all your meals in a restaurant.

If you can’t host someone overnight, you could also be a "day host."

For more information, visit Servas.org.

Earning your keep

If hard labor instead of hospitality is more your style, consider working to earn your keep. In the TIME example, one woman picked figs while she stayed with locals in Greece. I guess that’s one way to fit in your workout while traveling!

"I wanted to remind myself that there are other ways of living and earning," she says. "It was hard work, but I wouldn’t have been able to go otherwise. I didn’t spend any money that month."

For more information, visit Helpx.net.

Couch surfing

Finally, here’s the one idea that I have heard of already. You could try couchsurfing–basically crashing on a host’s couch for the night for free.

It’s not all about the free sleep accommodations, though. According to the web site, "it’s about participating in creating a better world. We strive to make a better world by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available."

Essentially, you’ll get to know someone a little better and learn how others live.

If you’re concerned about safety (who isn’t?) there’s a member verification process as well as a vouching system.

Have you tried these ideas? Would you? What are some other ways to have free accomodations?


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One Response to “Traveling on a shoestring and a prayer: Cheap places to sleep”

  1. I’ve thought about doing the couch-surfing thing and I’d do the earn my keep thing if it were the right situation. Another cheap but not free option is hostels. I stayed 4 nights in Cancun last month for a total of $37.81. That wouldn’t have got me even 1 night at a hotel.

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