Don’t want to pay for a hotel? Can’t afford Parisian prices? Can’t afford the expensive tours around the city, or just can’t suffer the snap-happy fools you’ll be experiencing it with? Well couchsurfing or one of the many other free hospitality exchange options may be for you.
1. Couch surfing & Homestays
With 2.5 million members across the globe from Taiwan to Timbuktu, and advanced security referencing couchsurfing .com is a great way to travel the world. Stay with locals for free. The multi-lingual hospitality exchange BeWelcome offers a similar platform to couchsurfing.com, yet is Europe specific. A registered NGO, it has 10,000 members.
Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) offers a perfect break from city living. The hospitality exchange offers food and board for a few hours of work or skill-share. Work may involve childcare, teaching the owner your native tongue, picking fruit or any other duties. The beauty of this site is that it specifies the exchange. A farmer on the British Columbia, Canada is building a fence, give him a hand… A single mother in outback Australia needs a farm hand or childcarer for a week… Pick your destination, pack your bags and experience local life, whereever you are, for free!
Volunteering is a fantastic way to take a city break both locally or international. A host of websites offer free volunteering breaks for city dwellers with free accommodation and food. With a vast array of opportunities both local and abroad you can find just about anything you want. An enriching experience and holiday combined.
4. Servas open doors
The UN recognised NGO, Servas Open doors, has 13,000 members or as it calls them ‘open doors’. Homestays are easily arranged with anyone of these members with profiles viewable on the website, you know what you’re getting, before you get there. Servas also supports volunteer programs that have led aid missions in India and Pakistan. Bragging to be ‘multi-generational’, the organisation welcomes young and old promoting goodwill and mutual tolerance.
What top 5 would be complete without the intrepid travellers ultimate hospitality exchange, squatting. While often discarded to the dustbin of travel, squatting has for decades been a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the oft-unseen underbelly of everyday society. The ‘movement’ in Europe and North America has gained speed in recent years with many squatting abodes across the globe now bordering on hotel standard, some even bed-bug free! Numerous websites now exist to facilitate your stay, helping you negotiate the legalities of such travel and putting like-minded squatters in touch with each other.