Anna Lebedeva writing on travel

One of the main excuses people use for not traveling more is “I can’t afford it.” So many dreams are put on hold because of the common misconception that travel is expensive. However, there are so many ways to travel well on a tight budget. With low-cost airlines, it is easy to find great deals on airfare anywhere in the world. Once you arrive, there are plenty of options to find free accommodation.

Housesitting: You can save thousands of dollars on accommodation costs by housesitting around the world. A number of websites such as House Sitters America, Mind My House, Trusted Housesitter, or Nomador list opportunities. You can register as a housesitter for a fee ranging from $20 to $90 depending on the site and start browsing offers. You job will involve keeping an eye on the house and, often, pets while their owners are away. Housesits can last from a few days to several months.

House-swapping: This is a great way to see the world for less if you own a house. You can trade your dwellings with someone in a destination that you want to visit. With many reputable website organizing house swaps, you are spoilt for choice: International Vacation Home Exchange, Intervac, Homelink, and Love Home Swap. All websites charge users a fee ranging from $120 to $375 to list and search for homes. You can choose a simultaneous exchange staying in your exchange-partner’s home while they stay in yours, stay at a home-swapper’s vacation home on a non-simultaneous exchange or be a guest while your hosts are in the house.

Bartering skills and goods: Almost a thousand B&Bs in Italy listed on Barattobb.it are happy to provide free rooms and breakfast in exchange for translations, help with social media or house repairs, belly-dancing lessons…or whatever skill you have to exchange. Each B&B on the website has a wish list that you can check to see if there is something you can do in exchange for hospitality. The free stays are offered during low season and vary in length. Don’t be shy. Contact the owners of the B&Bs that you like to see whether they are interested in your barter offer.

Volunteering: If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves to earn your keep, this option is for you. I spent three weeks in Tuscany volunteering at an organic farm through WOOOF and loved it. The area near Pisa where I stayed was too expensive to rent, so I helped at the farm with weeding and tree-pruning four hours a day in exchange for full room and board. HelpX lists farms, homestays, B&Bs, and hostels across the world who are looking for volunteers to help them out with various jobs for short-term accommodation and food. Hovos is another website that connects volunteers with hosts who need a helping hand in their garden, hostel, or at the farm. The website charges a small membership fee, $20-25 when you register.

Travel writing: If you are running a blog, you have a good chance of finding free accommodation in exchange for posts. Even bigger hotels and resorts do not shy away from a free promotion on the web. Your blog doesn’t need to have a huge amount of traffic to secure free accommodation. Even if you have a small but strong, active, niche audience, you can contact hosts and offer an exchange. Small B&Bs and guesthouses in Spain, Italy, France and many other countries are always happy to get a mention from an American or Canadian blogger.

Image: ©iStock.com/Flightlevel80

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