Travel for Free

by Olivier De Winne
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How To Travel for Free

When you decide to travel for a long period of time, you need to travel smart and take a close look at your budget. I used to travel with my oldest friend and we always said that ‘Free is good for us’.  Travel hacks will become your new best friend!

How To Fly For Free

If you travel for less than 2 months, the biggest expense is the flight ticket.  Then, the accommodation (even cheap rooms add up), food and transport from place to place within a country. Free travel is what you are aiming for and a good place to start is how to get free flights. I told you in my first post (Cheap Ways To Travel) that it is a good idea to use credit cards with airline miles like Amex or British Airways. Whilst you are preparing for your trip, you need to use your air miles credit cards as much as you can. Don’t forget to set up an automatic money transfer to avoid any fees! These cards give you rewards in the form of points.  These points can be used to buy plane tickets. Basically, when you have enough points, you will get a free flight.  The only thing you will need to pay is airport taxes, but you reduce the cost of the flight considerably. The inconvenience is that you need to fly for free during off peak times to be able to find a seat. However, this won’t really be a problem for you because you want to travel off peak anyway as you won’t have any restrictions on your time anymore.

Another tip is that when you ‘need’ to go to restaurant (I say ‘need’ because you are trying to limit your expenses to achieve your travel goal), pay for the whole bill on your airline miles credit card to accumulate the maximum points possible.  Ask your friends to reimburse you later. You may be wondering how do airline miles work? Well, these cards have steps.  In the beginning, you will be given free points and then you are going to receive another 10,000 membership points when you reach another step. Don’t forget that these points are money for free flights. If you use the British Airways card, you can even have a complementary flight ticket for your friend. I personally use an Amex card for two reasons.  Firstly, you can fly with any company and are not obliged to fly with British Airways.  Secondly, you can get 2 free access passes to the airport lounge. The Amex card gives you access to the airport lounge twice a year free and then you need to pay £15 per visit. This may look expensive, but when you are in transit between two flights, it is worth it. You have comfortable seats and free food and drink.

How To Chase World Travel And Visit Another City For Free

When travelling from your home to your destination, most people want to take direct flights.  As you know, direct flights are expensive because they are in high demand as they are quicker. What if I told you, you can have a cheap flight and you will be able to visit another city? Sounds good doesn’t it? To achieve this, you need to look for cheap flights with a long stop over. During your stop over, you will have time to visit the city. Don’t forget to check if you need an entry visa to enter the country. I have visited Hong Kong and Kuwait during stop overs. Off course, in 10 hours you just get a taste of the city, but it is enough to know if you want to come back to see more another time.  Most importantly, you are also saving money on the flight.

How To Travel for Free

How To Get Free Accommodation

What would you think if I told you that you can stay in a nice house with all comforts for FREE rather than stay in cheap hostels or the cheapest hotel? It would be nice, wouldn’t it? On top of that, you will be living like a local, shopping in the local market and experiencing everything around your location.   House sitters experience all these things.

What Is House Sitting?

When you house sit, you basically get the opportunity to stay somewhere free in exchange for taking care of someone’s pet. You are a responsible house caretaker.  When people go on holiday, they need to leave their house empty and an empty house can be the target for theft or squatters. When you have pet, it is also very difficult sometimes to bring them on vacation with you. Of course, you have the option to put them in kennels, but you may worry about whether they are going to like it and, on top of that, it is expensive. To avoid all these worries, you can use a service call ‘home sitting’.  If you are off to see the world and you love animals, home sitting jobs offer many advantages to you.

With housesitter jobs, you will be the person living in a house for free and taking good care of someone’s pet. As a house carer, you will have a choice of amazing places to stay around the world.  Furthermore, when house sitting abroad, you can choose to housesit for a weekend or for months at a time. Wherever you are in the world, you can easily search for and find ‘house sitting jobs near me’.  You can travel from home to home all year long for just the price of one night in a hotel.  Added to that, you can help someone out by looking after their pet.

How To Find a House Sitting Job?

To find housesitting jobs, you can register with a website offering this service as an owner of a house or as a person wanting free accommodation. You can also use a house sitting app.  There is a small fee to register and find house sitting jobs. As an owner advertising for home sitters, you need to complete your application and indicate the dates when the house will be free, whether you want someone to take care of your animal and the type of accommodation you are offering for free in exchange for house minding.

How Much Does Home Sitting Cost?

Home sitting is a fixed price. If you are an owner, you will pay £89 per year for unlimited use of the website. If you are a sitter, you will also pay £89 per year for unlimited use of the website for the whole year. If you look closer, you will notice that this is less expensive than one night in a hotel.  Furthermore, housesitting means that you will have a kitchen to make your food and, depending on the accommodation, you may be able to stay in a nice villa with a swimming pool. House sitting properties may often have a swimming pool because the owner needs to have someone to maintain the swimming pool. You may need to check the PH and add products when needed. You can’t leave a swimming pool without maintenance for long periods of time.  Who knows, you may end up staying in the best house in the world!  Hopefully, you are beginning to see that sitting around the house is starting to save you money and will also help you to realise your travel goals!  Among the best house sitting websites we have experienced is ‘TrustedHousesitters’, click here for all the details.

house setting


Another good way to find a free accommodation is to do ‘Couchsurfing’. The idea is very simple – to put locals in touch with travellers. Travellers like us usually have an open mind and love to meet other people and share experiences. Usually, we avoid big hotels not just because they are expensive but also because to be a traveller is to learn about the culture, food or traditional way of living in the country we visit. Nice hotels with nice swimming pools can be found everywhere in the world and are almost always the same with buffet food and free alcohol… However, do you know where the maid comes from? Sometimes they need to travel for hours to make few Dollars a day. I’m not blaming the all-inclusive hotels and I can understand why people like to go but for myself it is more interesting to spend time discovering what the country has to offer. I have said in my previous post that the reality is often safer than what you see on the news.

What is Couchsurfing?

For most people, Couchsurfing literally means web browsing from the comfort of your sofa. However, the organisation ‘Couchsurfing’ was created by people who wanted to connect travellers with a host. Usually, the hosts are travellers too. The host gives you a place to sleep for FREE – there is never any exchange of money between the two parties. It is good practice for the traveller to make dinner, or to pay for an entertainment. You will be hosted by a local and they are experts about what you can do in their town. Often, you will be visiting places with your host and you will see places where other tourists would never go. Just imagine yourself as a host in your hometown.  You would know exactly where to go and what to do. You know where to shop and dine and how to find the best value transport from place to place.

How Does Couchsurfing Work?

First you need to go to the website and create a Couchsurfing profile. This is very easy, and you can create an account or join with email or Facebook. You need to give as much detail about yourself to maximise your chance of finding a place.

As soon you have decided to go for Couchsurfing, you need to find a host.  Read the description of the host carefully to be sure you understand all the details, eg. where you will sleep, whether the location is convenient for you and, most importantly, learn all about your host. When you find your perfect host, you will need to contact them. Send an email telling them about yourself, explaining why you are interested in doing Couchsurfing and why you chose them. Other information you should include is your travel experience, how you like to travel, what kind of culture and entertainment you are interested in.  If you’ve already had experience of Couchsurfing, then let them know.  Basically, the first email is to make a connection with the host and show them you are an interesting person who they are going to find something in common with.


If you receive a positive answer, don’t forget to ask information like:

Where you will meet for the first time – at the home or somewhere in the town?

Check again about where you are going to sleep.

Tell them how long you want to stay and ask them if it is possible.  If not, ask them how long you can stay so that you can plan your trip and find another solution for the rest of your stay.

If you are scared or unsure, I would always advise you to try to meet the host in the town and have a drink with first. Like that, you can judge them before you enter their house or flat. It is easier to leave from a café than from a host’s home.

Also, you should try to find as much information about your host as possible. Check out reviews of the person before meeting them. You can also ask for a photo of your room. Confirm that you will be free to go in and out of the host’s home at your convenience, rather than be dependent on the host all the time. If you are a female traveller, it may be wise to select a woman as a host or a couple. Another good idea is to verify your host via Skype. Try to have a video chat to see if it is the same person as the one shown on the profile.

Home Exchanges

How To Find Free Accommodation Using Home Exchanges

The principal of Home Exchanges is also very simple – you swap your home for a period of time. Firstly, you will need to register with a website for home exchange like “Home Exchange” or “Home Link”.  After that, you will need to find a home in your desired destination and contact the owners. As with House Sitting and Couchsurfing, it is crucial to add as much information as possible to your profile with pictures of your home in order to avoid any disappointment. Everything needs to be crystal clear for both parties. Sometimes you can even use the house owner’s car as well. I did that a few times and you will be amazed by the kindness of people. I remember that when I went to Canada, I made a few contacts with other owners, but one cancelled just one month before our departure. However, another owner was kind enough to host us for free in their big house. We had the accommodation plus a local guide. We have kept in contact with them and told them we would be pleased to host them anytime.

How Does Home Swapping Work?

Firstly, you need to agree about dates, but the website is very useful for this. You enter your travel dates and where you want to go, and the software does its job and puts you in contact with people who want to come to your area at the same time. Usually, you will find more than one possible match for your dates. You will then need to investigate where the house is and whether this would be a convenient place which fits with your travel plans. Select more than one possibility and send the owners emails to ask if they would be happy to swap the house with you. When you have selected one, you need to check where you will find the key of the house. Most of the time, you can arrange to collect the keys from a family member or at a neighbour’s house.

This arrangement works on a basic trust. It goes without saying that you need to take care of the house where you are and leave it as clean as you found it. It’s good practice to prepare a welcome basket of specialities from your area with some leaflets with information about what to see and do.

Sometimes you will be hosted in a very big house in exchange of your small London flat. This really doesn’t matter if everything is clear from the beginning.  Don’t try to lie. For example, if your house is 1 ½ hours from the town centre, don’t tell people that you are close by.  As I said, this arrangement works on trust. People don’t necessarily want to have a big house. They want a place where they think they are going to have a good time. So, don’t be ashamed to apply even if you think you have a small house compared to others.


Do you need a Travel Backpack, let me help you to choose the right fit for you. Best Backpack for Travellers

Work Exchange

What Is Work Exchange?

Another way to find free accommodation is work exchange. This does not mean that you are going to apply for an employment overseas. What it means is that you can exchange your time and skills in exchange for a roof over your head. You can apply to babysit, help with construction work and assist farmers, etc.  Basically, in exchange of your skills, you will get free accommodation. In addition, you will live as a local and benefit from a cultural experience.  As part of this arrangement, you will be experiencing many different things.  One week you may be farmer, the next week you may be a babysitter.

It’s important to be aware that you will be working with a family and will therefore be hosted by the same family. It is possible that you may stay with the family for a long time. So, follow the advice for Couchsurfing and check carefully the exact work you will be undertaking and when you will have free time.  Work Exchange can be a great experience and you will always remember the family in a good way or not.


Collect Hotel Points

How To Collect Hotel Points

The last way of securing free accommodation is to collect hotel points. If you travel a lot, you need to register with all programmes and redeem offers when you find them. Most of the programmes give you a free night when you have enough points. You can use the same system as for free flights. As I told you in my last post, credit cards need to be used with caution. However, when you use them for a good purpose, they are magical.

As soon as you have an idea of where you want to stay, you can start to search for the best card for this hotel. For example, you can use Amex for free stays in Hilton hotels. There are plenty of ways to make a lot of points. As I said earlier in this post, you can use your credit card in a very smart way. When I go to a restaurant with friends or family, I pay the full bill with my card and then my friends refund me afterwards. This allows me to get a lot of points without spending any extra money. Another way is to ask friends or family to use your credit card when they need to by something expensive, then get a refund from them later. I always use my cards to purchase big things that I need.

Remember that you need to play smart and never forget to use the right card for the right occasion. If you need to sleep in a hotel, it is better to use the right card. Some cards allow you to have 1 point for 1 Pound, but special cards can bring you 3 points for 1 Pound if you use them in an affiliate program. Always be aware of where you can make more points for purchases with the right card – this is called the preferred merchants. When you fill your car with petrol, it is better to use a preferred merchant than to go to a service station who isn’t. To be honest, you will be paying the same amount for the fuel, but the difference is that you will be multiplying your points by 3.

Another Tip To Save Money On Flights

Since you will be travelling for a long period and won’t be in a rush, here is another free tip for you. When you check in at the airport, always say to the desk personnel that you want to be a volunteer.  This signals to them that you are willing to give up your plane seat if needed. As you may be aware, airlines often sell more tickets than the capacity of the plane and this is call overbooking. The airlines don’t want to have an empty seat. They are betting that one or two passengers won’t turn up for the flight or will be late. However, if everybody turns up, they can’t accept all passengers. So, they chose one or 2 people to forego their seats. So, if you have said that you are volunteers, they are likely to ask you to give up your seat.  You will have your flight refunded and will get a voucher for another flight. That means that you will be travelling for free the next day and because you get the voucher you will be travelling somewhere else for free.

By now, you have managed to get a very low price for your flight and free accommodation which is especially useful in expensive countries like USA, Australia and Europe.  So far so good, you are on track with our 50 per day. I recommend that you save money anywhere you can, but when it comes to backpacks, this rule needs to be forgotten. I have travelled with backpacks for a long time now and, to be honest, you can destroy your holiday with a bad backpack. In my next post, I will help you to choose a good backpack that will fit you comfortably.

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