For some people, spending as little money as possible on traveling is the goal. Staying at a 5-star hotel, all on points, is the ultimate win. But if you think about it, those points still cost you something in some way, shape or form.
There are some hotels (and other places), on the other hand, that are indeed free. Their only “cost,” if any, is that you give of yourself in some way, as a volunteer of some sort, for a short time. And if you think about it, as a traveler, that might be one of the best ways to really immerse yourself wherever you are, don’t you think?
Here are some of the opportunities:
Shakespeare and Company is an independent bookstore in Paris that was opened by George Whitman in 1951. He was a self-proclaimed “tumbleweed,” blowing from place to place, sheltered by the kindness of strangers.
He founded the bookstore with the motto, “be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise,” and always had his door open to writers, artists, and intellectuals who needed a place to stay. Almost 70 years later, they’ve hosted over 30,000 “tumbleweeds.”
Tumbleweeds who stay at the shop are asked to “read a book a day,” help out in the shop for a couple of hours and write a single-page autobiography for George’s archives.
More info about being a Tumbleweed can be found here.
Barter Week is an annual tradition in late November, where travelers can stay in bed & breakfasts for free, in exchange for something they’ve bartered or with. Examples are comic book illustrations, food blogging, photography services, etc.
Locations of B&Bs vary throughout Italy. Guests can apply to the B&Bs of their choice and once their offer is accepted, they’re set to go.
Qatar Airways has a very interesting program that allows its passengers to spend free nights at a 4-star or 5-star hotel in Doha (including the Crowne Plaza, Grand Hyatt, Marriott Marquis and the Westin) for just a small service fee.
More info on this page of Discover Qatar’s website.
Spain & Germany
If you enjoy meeting new people, this could be perfect for you!
Diverbo offers free vacations for English speakers who are willing to spend time mingling with foreigners in Spain or Germany to help them practice their language skills.
For each weeklong program, native English speakers volunteer to “populate” one of the company’s hotel resorts and provide conversation in English, through a diverse daily schedule. Germans/Spaniards adults are there to practice and improve their English in a natural way.
Diverbo offers these language immersion programs for adults as well as for teens,
Click here for more info.
Another way some people get to visit places around the world for free is by being a house sitter. Simply put, you take care of someone’s house and sometimes their pet(s) while they’re away for however long.
We used Trusted Housesitters to find people to stay at our house and watch Dobby (toy poodle – at the time she was 7) when we went to Australia and Japan for 2 weeks. It was perfect for us. Our sitters, a retired couple from Canada, apparently enjoyed sitting as well, since they had already been doing it for quite a while, traveling from place to place.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary