As demand for travel continues to increase, the cost of hotels and other accommodations is rising sharply. This is bad news for budget travelers looking to stretch their dollar as far as possible.
Demand for budget accommodation in the U.S. is increasing. In April of this year, there was an 18% increase in demand for budget and economy short-term rental options.
But with a little innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, it is possible to travel the world, whether for leisure or as a digital nomad, without spending a penny on hotels.
Travelers are becoming increasingly creative in how they save money to continue funding their adventures.
Here are three ways that budget travelers can secure accommodation for free:
Some homeowners don’t like leaving their property vacant when they take their vacations. Second homeowners are also aware of the risks posed by leaving their property empty for an extended period of time.
Enter the house sitter: someone who stays in the property, ensuring that the property looks occupied by turning the lights on occasionally and generally using the home.
Some house sitters are also asked to do gentle chores, such as ensuring that plants are watered or light cleaning.
In exchange, you can stay somewhere new without paying a penny for a hotel. This is a particularly attractive proposition in big cities like New York or Tokyo, where accommodation costs can be ridiculously expensive.
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While the cost of your accommodation is free, you may have to pay a fee to register and join a house-sitting website. You are advised to do this rather than seek house-sitting opportunities independently, as you will be better protected from a personal safety perspective.
There are loads of house-sitting websites available. The best of these is the Paris-based website Nomador, which has a huge international community. A three-month membership to the site costs $79, but you can sign up for free to decide if housesitting is the right option for you.
If you enjoy spending time with animals then pet sitting in exchange for accommodation is another great way to travel the world for free.
Just like house sitting, you are staying in someone else’s home. But instead of focusing on looking after their property, your focus would be on looking after their pets.
Walking dogs, changing litter trays, and of course, ensuring the pets are fed and watered would be your main requirements. Outside of these chores, you would be free to spend your time exploring your vacation destination.
Demand for pet sitters is high because the cost of animal care can be prohibitively expensive for many pet owners. Many more would simply prefer that their beloved pets stay at home, rather than be caged in a cattery or kennel.
It is a win-win situation for animal-loving budget travelers.
UK-based TrustedHousesitters is one of the biggest pet-sitting websites in the world and charges its members an annual membership fee of $169. A small price to pay for unlimited access to free accommodation.
If you want to travel without the work of chores or dog sitting then you could also consider exchanging your own home with someone else. Think ‘The Holiday’, but without Cameron Diaz and Jude Law!
The home exchange concept is not new, but it is growing in popularity as economic restrictions force some travelers to look outside the box for affordable accommodation.
You can exchange your own house or apartment with someone else, giving you the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world.
This means that your home won’t be left empty while you’re traveling, which can be hugely beneficial, but it does mean that you’ll have to be happy with someone else staying in and using your home.
There are a huge number of home exchange websites available to choose from.
One example is Intervac Home Exchange. With this site, no money switches hands between the exchangers, so you can get free accommodation anywhere on earth. You can try the site with a free 21-day trial, after which the annual membership fee is $115.
U.S.-based company HomeExchange is also worth exploring. They have seen their membership levels increase by 77% already this year, meaning that there are more exchange properties than ever available.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com