Need to stretch your travel budget? Ever thought about how you can save up on all the hotels and hostel expenses? Thinking if it’s possible to travel and get sleep free? Imagine how much longer you can stretch your travel budget when you don’t have to pay for sleeping. Great news – This is very possible. Below, you’ll find out all the ways you can sleep free while traveling without money, and how to choose which options can work for you.
I have traveled far long and wide, 70+ countries and still counting, and I have met countless locals and have experienced their way of life, by being with them, staying with them, eating with them, playing with them…
Today, let’s talk about how you can get to sleep free. And yes. It’s completely possible.
This article will have 2 main parts:
1. The mindset and thinking on why you will want to sleep free during your long travel; and
2. The surefire ways you can get to sleep free traveling nowadays, and how you can maximize these opportunities.
Why bother writing about the first part? Because I have really wanted to address some comments against traveling for free. Although this is a minority among the readers, I can’t help but feel that there are some travelers that are feeling like this. You might have questions that are stopping you from trying to do the actionable steps provided in this blog. So let’s take a beat and talk about this.
Different people have different dreams. Just like different travelers travel in different ways. That’s just the way it is. Taking chances on traveling without money, or with little money as possible isn’t something wrong. Nor is it the best way to travel for everyone. Honestly, it is not for everyone. It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for those who love the luxury of materialistic travel – first class flights, chauffeurs, five star hotels.
Traveling without money has its core on being with locals, living in the moment with utter simplicity, and experiencing the world in its real and natural beauty. It may sound cheesy in writing. But the only way to understand it fully, is to experience it. I know I have. And this blog is written for you to get your push and inspiration to experience the same now. I have traveled the “usual” way before and not until I have seen what traveling without money can do to you as a person, and how you see the world, did I start to really embrace this way of traveling. It is for people who feels happy learning with the locals, living with the locals – seeing, understanding, and experiencing how they live their lives. And how those lives connect to you.
Traveling without money may be not for a lot of people, but for me, it is. There are communities built to support this type of travel. It may also be for you. There is no way you should be thinking about how you may be taking advantage of someone else. This is the sharing world. Sharing freely. Being mindful. Being helpful. Being grateful. Everyone has a limited time, so we all make choices. Our choices make up who we really are. And for travelers like us, we choose to use our time, money, our life for this purpose. And we respect how others choose to use their time and money. And that’s what you need to do. Act on your dreams now and make the choice.
Now, these words are meant to inspire you. To answer some of your objections. And how about getting to the juicier part? How to get to sleep free while traveling without money. Let’s check 28 solid ways on how you can sleep free on your long trip.
Getting to sleep free is one of the most important things you can do when you are traveling on a very tight budget. There are various websites, organizations and communities that can help you get started on how and where you can sleep free. My favorite one is Couchsurfing.
1. Sleep free using Couchsurfing
Here’s how the site works.
This is my favorite website, not only because you get the chance to sleep free, but also because you get to meet local people. From the moment that you reach your host’s home, you can get the experience of the local life. I’ve been using Couchsurfing for all my trips: Traveling by bicycle , hitchhiking, even when I’m using public transportation. This website gives you the opportunity to contact with local people. And not only that. The local people who are in this website are people who are already willing to share a space in their home for you to sleep free. That’s what the community is all about. Different hosts are of course giving different types of free sleeping places. Sometimes you may be sleeping on the floor, the couch, a bed, a caravan, a mattress, you name it. Also an important note. This site is actually for free. It will give you various reminders to “verify” yourself, but it is not required.
If it’s your first time to hear about Couchsurfing, let me explain to you how you can make sure that you are using the site correctly and getting the best out of it:
How Couchsurfing works
Create a complete profile. And when I say complete, I really mean it. Do it once, and you never have to do it again. A complete profile will not only show that you take the community seriously, but will also help you attract hosts to help you sleep free easily. Hosts will be happy to have more information about someone that they will allow to stay in their home. You are giving them the chance to trust you easily. Fill out basic information like name, from where you are, where you are currently traveling in and what your current travel goals are. Tell them about your travel experience, your life experience, your philosophy in life. Focus in travel stories, since travel is a main interest of the community. You also need to fill out information about how you are participating on the site – only as a couchsurfer? Or do you also host? Are you just open for meetups? Just be your real self and fill out all the necessary information plus add more details about you and your beliefs.
Communicating with possible hosts
Once you have completed your profile, you can begin to send messages to hosts. There are various ways you can look for people. By age, by location, by gender, whether they host only women, or if they can host more than one people, for those traveling in groups. Send great requests so you can get better chances of being accepted. Try to send messages to more than one person to increase your chances of getting a host. Wanna know what hosts want to see in your request? Try unique, personal messages. Make sure to catch their attention by mentioning something about their profile. Talk about why you think you it will be great for you to meet each other. Spotted any shared interests? That’s a great way to start a conversation with them. Seen something interesting or maybe something you know that they don’t? Offer to teach or share to them some skill you have. There are also hosts that plan certain activities to do with their guests, so let them know in advance that you will happy with any plans they have. Think outside just getting a free space to sleep. Remember that these hosts open their houses for people who are traveling, and are giving away a part of their time to host and entertain guests. Reward them with kindness, good behavior, helping them at home, or spreading happiness.
On objections from people outside the community
There is some misunderstanding from people who don’t belong to the community that this is only for freeloaders. That cannot be father from the real truth. Hosts from all over the world are happy to do it. Not because they feel pity. No, none of that. These are the people who believe and are fully integrated in the sharing economy. While you get to sleep free in their home, they get to experience meeting someone from another culture. They make new friends. They feel comfort in helping someone. They get excited about the possibility of hearing travel stories and the adventures that you’ve been to. They might be excited to show you their life, how amazing their home town or city is, and see how their country or town is appreciated by someone outside their culture. I have hosted so many times in my home town too. And it feels so good. That’s it. It could be just for one night, or a couple of days, but getting to know and to meet someone whom you otherwise would not have met because you are far from where they live, will bring you genuine joy.
The site has evolved after a couple of years, and they continuously try to have great systems in place to make sure users get a good experience with the community wherever they may be. The site uses a system of references where in people can talk about their experience which will serve as a guide for other people. References help you know more about a possible host or guest. After meeting someone from the community, you can leave a reference on their profile, which any member can see and you can rate your experience as positive, neutral or negative. As a guest, make sure you are on your best behavior when you get your chance to sleep free. Again, give back. Extend help on their home, share your stories, be kind and friendly.
After your couchsurfing stay
The more positive references you have, the greater chances you can get hosts easily in other locations. Always remember that Couchsurfing is a cultural exchange. It is an opportunity to meet local people and live as they do. Sometimes you may be staying with a family, a man, a woman, or a couple. They can be living in the city, by the beach, on mountains, in a farm, or in a countryside. They can introduce you to local life, local food, their family and friends. And you get to experience all those for free.
More tips on being a good guest
Couchsurfing lets you integrate in the local culture of your host. When you do couchsurfing, you need to do your best to socialize with the people who are hosting you, giving you a space to sleep free. You need to try to adapt to their schedule, and share your time with them. They are opening their home for you so why not do your best to be kind and friendly to them? Wash the dishes, clean a little bit, help in other home tasks. When I get the chance, I usually cook for them. Since I’m Spanish, I usually cook Spanish omelette for my hosts. The ingredients are easy to find everywhere. I usually like asking about their life, their routines, some talk about their family and friends. Hosts, in return, will usually like to ask about your trip. And since they are locals, they will give you really good advice about where to go and what places you should see in the area. They can give you inside details about places you can visit which are not very touristic (which are almost always expensive to see). They can even give you directions on how to visit some places in the city the local way. You can get more information about which destinations you can visit next. They can show your pictures, and you’ll hear insights from a local point of view. And since you are the foreigner, there is a pretty good chance you will find out about something you have never known before.
On being a good host
Some travelers host when they are in their hometown, or if they are staying longer in one place and they have rented a space to stay for a certain time. You are not required to host. You are free to use the site only as a couchsurfer. However if you get the chance to host someone, return the favor to the community. I love receiving friends and showing them my town, my country or my family’s customs. I usually introduce travelers to my family and friends. I even try to teach them a little bit of Spanish, and of course, make sure I show them the beautiful spots in my city that they definitely need to see.
On meeting up with travelers
Another option is to only accept meetups. There are some members of the site that do not have an extra space in their home to host, or that may be sharing their houses with members that are not open to couchsurfing. You can opt to just be open for meetups. These people are great too. You can meet up with people in a bar, stay with them in a park, go for a beer, walk with them, and just exchange stories. It’s also a great experience.
Now, like everything we do in life, we should exercise proper caution. Couchsurfing has systems in place to help you keep yourself safe. Make sure you read references to see how people’s experience are with a certain host. If you can, try to read between the lines for neutral and bad experiences. To help others, also make sure you leave honest references. Don’t be shy to give a negative reference if you had any inconvenience or at least for the next traveler to have an insight about possible inconveniences. Regarding hosts who may delete their profile, you will get email notifications to help you get a chance to look for another host and make sure you will not have a problem to get a place to sleep free.
There are more websites that embody the same community like Couchsurfing. Some may be less popular because of less users, but nevertheless, still genuine ways for you to get a place to sleep free while traveling.
Bewelcome is another community very similar to Couchsurfing. You have a profile, where hosts can view you. Newer than Couchsurfing, this website has fewer members and might give you lesser chances of getting a host. Give it a try and with a complete profile and compelling request, you might just get more chances to get a space to sleep free.
Global Freeloaders is also a similar community like the others to sleep free. Here’s the interesting difference: Here, if you are a guest, you would later need to host people. For example, if you’ve been visiting 20 hosts, later, you have to host 20 people. Global Freeloaders is also open for free registration.
Belodged is very similar to Global Freeloaders. If you visit someone, you need to host someone. It is mostly focused on short stays, one or two nights to get free sleep.
Trustroots is very useful for hitchhikers. You can sleep free and your host will give you the best advice on how to start your hitchhiking the next day. Your host can easily direct you the best points in town where you can get to hitch a ride easily, or who knows, might even know someone who can drive you.
Warmshowers is a big community that usually allows hosting for free for short stays. It is intended only for people who travel by bicycle to sleep free and share experiences with people who love cycling .
Nightswapping is not exactly for free. The main rule is for you to create a profile, show photos of the place that you are offering for people to have a chance to get to sleep free. Every night you host someone, you get one free night of getting to sleep free when you are traveling.
Trampolinn works similar to Nightswapping. Every time that you host someone, you will get points. When you are traveling, you can exchange those points which you can use when you are the one traveling and looking for a space to sleep free.
This is a totally different way of getting a place to sleep free, compared to the previous ones discussed. With housesitting, you will need to take care of someone’s house while they are traveling or living abroad. This is a perfect sleep free chance for you, especially if you are on a time of your travel where you are feeling the need to rest and stay in just one place for a longer time. While resting, you can blog about your experiences and prepare for another trip. You will need to do some house tasks during your stay. Feeding animals. Watering plants. You can take care of a little garden or you may be fixing and repairing some things (will depend of course on your capability). When the owners are back, they will check if everything was maintained properly in their home. Here are different websites that offer housesitting options: Trustedhousesitters, Housacarers, Luxuryhousesitting, Mindmyhouse.
This website is focused on long stays. Upon signing up, you will pay 29 USD if you are alone, or 38 USD if you sign up as a couple. Your host will show and explain to you all the work that you will have to do. They will show you pictures with all information that you need, your work schedule, and when the off days will be. They will give you information about the place, and possible things you can do on your free time. Workaways will usually offer free food and accommodation. This website has a good and organized system for giving you work options. This is another great option for you if you feel like you need some down time from your active travel. You can even meet local people, make new friends, and learn a new language.
Woofing gives you a chance to work with organic farms. Upon sign up, you will pay 30 USD, and there are no other lower sign up options. This is a good option for you, if you want to stay in a particular place or country for a longer time. It could be a few weeks or even months. You can choose a country on the site which will give you a list of all the farms you can work with. You can possible hosts and they will in turn give you information about the specific work they will need from you. They will also inform you about the no. of hours you need to work, how many days in a week, and if there are weekly off days. Usually they will provide a house and food for you. They will tell you in advance if they are offering free accommodation. Aside from farms, you can also get jobs for hostels, camping, bars and restaurants. They also have a reference system where you are given the chance to leave either a positive or negative reference about your stay. Again, leave a good and honest reference. This will help the next woofer and your form of giving back to the community.
Helpx is more focused on short stays. Farms and backpacker places are very usual users of this site. You can get free food and accomodation in exchange for some hours of work in a week. Some needs help fixing their home, some to tend their gardens for a few days or weeks. You can sign up for free. But if you want to see all the profiles, you need to pay 25 USD.
Worldpackers is more focused on your skills. You will have options to choose your skill and the site will use that to give you information of the possible hosts you can stay with, plus information on how long you can sleep free on a place of a particular host. You can also get free food during your stay.
Aupairworld.com is a famous organization. This one is also different from all the previous ones mentioned. Here, you will need to register, choose the country you want to work in, and then pick a family. They will ask you about your skills. They will interview you and ask you questions like how will you manage with the language differences (if applicable) helping the kids, and maybe helping in the kitchen. Examples of things you may do: drive the children to school, prepare food for them, Spend time with them and teach them a new language or help them with their homework. You will not only get a place to sleep free, but you will also get paid for the work and time you’ll be staying there. This is why you need to contact a prospect family in advance and let them know how long you are planning to stay with them. This is one of the more professional options among the list.
If you don’t like farms, babysitting, or housesitting, you might like the sound of living in a boat. You can sign up and check options on boats you can travel with. The captain can then give you information on what type of tasks you can help them with. You may be an assistant when sailing, or you can offer to help fix the boat, or clean the boat before sailing. This site is free for all members.
17. Temples and Monasteries
This option works especially well in Asia. Thailand, for example, has many temples. If you reach one by 7-8pm, you will be offered a free place to sleep for the night. Buddhist people love travelers. They will be able to practice their English with you. You can also meet a monk and stay in the temple for a few days, learning about their culture while you, in return, teach them your language.
This option is works in Europe. There are many of them. I used them when I was cycling. These are good options to give your roof, during rainy days. If you talk to them properly, they will let you sleep inside even if they have to close at night. They will trust you that you will just need a place to sleep free for the night and you can just give them back the keys in the morning.
19. Buses and Train Stations
If you will stay to sleep free in these places, make sure that they will not close at night. Of course, you can easily sleep free if you are riding a night bus or night train. This will help you travel and sleep at the same time.
Here’s a site where you can check various information to sleep free. Sleeping in the airport is like in a hotel: You get a fancy toilet, wifi and sleep. Try to buy food before going to the airport. Prices are usually expensive inside airports.
Is there better place to sleep free than in a beach? You can hear the water and the waves, while laying down on the sand. First thing in the morning, you will get the best reward: the sunrise.
A usual hack to sleep free in the city. If you have no more options, there are spaces waiting for you where you can spend the night.
23. Hostels and Camping Areas
If you are traveling without money, you can ask hostels and camping places if you can sleep free. Tell them that you can help them in some tasks they need the next day. Don’t ever be shy asking for this. There is always a possibility of getting a no. But you never no when someone might say yes. They might also be able to provide you a little space where you can put up your tent.
24. Homes of Locals
This is a just-knock-on-the-door technique. Ask locals if they can allow you a little space in their gardens to pitch your tent. If they cannot, they will usually advise you where to go, or maybe they can offer you to even sleep inside the house.
25. Ask for help in a community
I’ve been able to stay with Hare Krishna communities a few times. I like their ideals about living a simple life and eating vegetarian food. You can join them and help them with their tasks for a few days. You will not only get a place to sleep free, but you will also learn new things about their community and beliefs.
26. Your hitchhiking ride for the night
If you are hitchhiking, you can get lucky and get invited to sleep free in your ride’s house. To be honest, you almost always get this invitation if you stay friendly, sincere, fun and talkative. If your ride felt very comfortable with you and they want to spend more time listening to your stories, they can invite you to sleep at their place.
27. Police offices and fire stations
If you have no place to sleep free, ask them and maybe they can help you. They can even let you put your tent inside, give you a space in their couch, or just tell you where you can sleep free.
28. Wild camping
If you want have a good rest, you need to choose the right place for camping. One important thing to note is that some countries don’t allow pitching tents. For example, its not allowed in Spain, France and Denmark. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a tent. You just need to be very careful where you put up your tent. Under a roof is a perfect place, to cover you from rain or wind. This might be tricky to find. If you can’t find any roof, try to pitch the tent in the flattest place you can find. This will be comfortable for your back. Avoid stones as these will be too uncomfortable, even when you are sleeping on a mat. In my experience, pitching the tent in a flat place can also help in days that are raining. The rain can make sleeping feel bad for you. Usually, after an hour of raining, it will be humid inside your sleeping bag, and you should be ready for the cold.
Another option is to choose to sleep close to a river. You can bath and wash your clothes, and get water in the morning, before heading for your bike trip. Make sure before going inside your tent, that there are no mosquitoes. If there are any mosquitoes that already made their way inside your tent. You need to try to remove them, so you won’t experience an uncomfortable night. Also, pitch your tent in a quiet place, far away from the noise, to have a good rest. If you make a fire, make sure that you put it off before leaving.
Out of all these 28 options, I have successfully tried 13 of them. Not that the others are not working. But because I have found my favorite ways of how I can get to sleep free when I’m traveling. I highly encourage you to try one. Try it even if you’re not in it for the long haul. Trust me when I say the community and the sharing will be intoxicating and that you would be happy to add these experience in your box of treasured travel moments.
Are you ready to sleep free anywhere in the world? Let me know if you have doubts or inhibitions. Did I miss any other ways of getting to sleep free while traveling? I’d love to hear in the comments. Let us know so we can update everyone. Any tricks you want to add? Go ahead and share them. If you liked this post and know people who will value the information, please share it to them 🙂
Buen viaje my dear friends!