No matter what it is, it is always better when it is free!
Travelling is the most enriching and valuable experience for a person but more often than not, it can be the complete opposite for your bank account. With transportation, accommodation, food, beverages, shopping and attractions it can all add up to a pretty steep price but when you start getting into it there are always little, and sometimes big, things you can do to cut these costs down.
Although you may feel the need to try to cut these costs down all at once, like many things it life, it is best to be done one step at a time. So lets take the first step and focus on the cost of accommodation.
Not only minimising the cost but cutting it out completely!
That’s right, FREE ACCOMMODATION!
Before we get deep into the tips and tricks of travel, I must warn you that my advice is not 100% reliable and may not be for everyone but don’t shut it down yet, it may be the best travel/life advice that you will ever read!
Are you ready?
The key to free accommodation is…..
I’m sure some of you are probably a little confused and are maybe even thinking, “what the hell is she going on about, that can’t be it!”. but you just have to believe me when I say making friends is the ultimate way to save money on accommodation.
These friends include:
The one you have known forever
This friend is someone you have known from a very young age, someone who has put up with you through almost every stage of your life so far and is commonly referred to as ‘The Best Friend’ or ‘Family’. Whether this friends lives around the corner or lives on the opposite side of the world, they will always make room for you.
The exchange student
For me, this has been the most successful friend, not only is it because for you, as an exchange student, the accommodation and host family is all set up before your arrival but also for the students you have hosted yourself, you have already developed the friendship and if you did a good enough job of looking after them and showing them around, they are always happy to do the same!
Throughout the years the definition of penpal has changed, but the basis of what this friend is has not. For many a penpal is a long distance friend who you have built a friendship entirely or majorly through non verbal communication, but whether this is a friend you send letters to or just chat to over facebook, there will be a time where you will finally or once again have a face to face conversation with this friend (by this I do not mean skype or facetime) and if you are lucky enough to get a really good penpal they will even invite you into their own home, be your tour guide for your stay and the most important of all is, they will be your friend.
The one you met travelling
In many ways, this friend is similar to a penpal, however, where many penpals are found online these particular friends are found out in the real world. they may be travellers too or many even locals in the town you are wandering through. Again, it will not be as simple as running into someone on the street and being invited straight in to their home for not cost at all, that stage of friendship may take a littler more work. With this friend the most common way to save money is sharing a room or splitting the bill, you never know, this friend may turn into your travel buddy! The world may seem really big but you will be surprised how easy it is to run into someone you know!
The friend of a friend
Once again, I need to make it clear that making a friend does not give you automatic permission to enter their home free of charge, especially if you barely know them. I am not cutting out the possibility of being able to stay with this friend of a friend (and every other type of friend you can think of) completely, you just need to be aware and understand the reality and boundaries of this concept. This person is usually recommended to you by a friend. Although they may not invite you to stay, they are usually quite happy to met up and show you around.
Extra tip: Make sure they have some notice of your visit! I’m sure you would be feeling a little confused if a stranger turned up at your door, so keep that in mind!
Think of the world as a monopoly board; each new friend you make is a new hotel on the board. The more hotels you have on the board, the more likely it is that you wont have to pay for someone elses!
As much as we like to win and we wish it could be as simple monopoly, as I keep saying, you must be aware that this concept is not always reliable, but most importantly, if you are lucky enough to find a bunch of these generous friends that will supply you with ‘free accommodation’ make sure to always be respectful and generous yourself. For some this respect can be shown through keeping your room tidy while you are there, using your manners, shouting your host/friend for dinner and sometimes, although it takes away from the idea of ‘free accommodation’, it doesn’t take much to throw in a couple of dollars for your stay either!
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.
That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”