On our gap year travels, accommodations are a main concern. We want a place that is clean but affordable, well located but spacious. While many vacationers use hotels, budget minded travelers should think about alternate forms of accommodations. Here are a few sites that offer budget and free accommodations for long term travelers, where work is exchanged for a room.
A site with advertisement all over the web, AirBnB seems to be making great strides in terms of growth and company focus. We’ve used them over a dozen times for accommodation in Quito, Cuenca, Cusco, Lima, Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba, Reykjavik, and Montevideo. Both hosts and travelers have profiles with reviews. So whether you are looking for private rooms at a homestay in Cusco or a private apartment in Cordoba, you can see what others have said about the host. In general, choose hosts with complete profiles including pictures and reviews. Don’t be afraid to email them directly for a discount if you are interested in a longer stay. Neil and I have been so happy with the services that we endorse them on World Winder. So do us a favor and check out their cool listings for international housing. Remember to ask for discounts on longer stays when you are renting an apartment overseas. Once we landed a beautiful loft for 50% off the posted price because we were honest and said we could only afford US$35 a night but could commit to 3 weeks. Jackpot!
An international database of hosts, Staydu is a European based company that brings together skilled travelers and world wide hosts looking for help. Sometimes travelers work for a small stipend but in general expect to trade your services for rent. You may do anything from painting a fence to translating a website to chatting with the host’s children in your native language. Start by browsing the directory and registering for free accommodation. The $23.75 membership is good for 2 years. For a discount, use code: 3277DU when signing up. Tell them World Winder sent you. In Europe, we have plans for a work exchange for free accommodation in Berlin and Frankfurt.
Similar to Staydu, Work Away is a database for travelers looking for free or subsidized accommodations. Neil and I stayed at one hotel that works through Work Away. We traded our writing and editing skills for a room at the number one hotel in town. It was fabulous to wake up next to a river and walk into a resort town. The $27.50 membership is for two years and couples can have a joint Work Away account, so that hosts know to expect two travelers. The site is full of pictures and contact information. Often, we were contacted by homestay hosts too! So make a rockstar profile with pictures and they will come.