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

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

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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Feb 27 2008

Volunteering to take a later flight


On our honeymoon, our flight connection from St. Louis to Seattle was overbooked.

Since our cruise ship wouldn’t leave for another few days, I jumped at the chance to see if we could get some sweet rewards for volunteering to take a later flight.

You see, airlines typically overbook their flights. For one reason or another, some people don’t show up to flights they’ve booked. I don’t know why they don’t, but it’s enough that airlines often sell more tickets than they have seats to ensure a maximum-capacity flight.

When everyone shows up for their flight, airlines typically first ask for volunteers to take a later flight. Sometimes it’s later that day, and sometimes it’s the next day or so.

Airlines try to compensate you for your troubles. You’ll likely receive vouchers for food, a voucher for a future flight with the company (perhaps worth up to $300 or so) and if you have to stay overnight, they might even put you up in a hotel.

When the  announcement came over the PA that  our flight to Seattle was seeking  volunteers to take a later flight, I practically ran over to the ticket counter to put our names on the list.

I forget the exact amount of compensation, but they would put us up at a hotel overnight, we’d get dinner vouchers, and we’d each get a free round-trip flight in the future.

Thinking how great it would be to be able to fly home for free, and considering we had some wiggle room in our travel plans, it seemed like a good idea.

Unfortunately, the airline didn’t need us to take a later flight after all. Enough people didn’t show up, so we made our original flight.

When we go to Florida in a few months, we’ll consider being overbooked volunteers again, so long as the terms are reasonable.

I hope that someday, I’ll be able to get a free flight!

For more on how this works, read this article on Have you ever been an overbooked volunteer? How did it go?

Posted under Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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