How to holiday for (almost)free

How to holiday for (almost)free
Credit: Te Lensfix

The cost of living is getting higher, but that shouldn't mean you have to sacrifice your annual holiday.

Read below for some innovative ways to holiday for less.

House and Pet Sitting

Sites like TrustedHouseSitters or MindMyHouse allow you to stay in someone else's home for free while you care for their property and/or their pets. Many people find that house/pet sitting is rewarding as well as cost-effective, as you enjoy the company of furry friends, or make new friends in that chosen community. Some sites do require a membership fee or annual subscription, but it's worth it for the multitude of house-sitting offers. As with other exchange-type services, you will be rated as a host or a house-sitter and you can redeem more benefits as you build a great reputation.


Exchange Your Home

You've seen The Holiday right? Yes, you can actually swap your home for a place in L.A.! Sites like LoveHomeSwap or Home Exchange allow you to do a straight swap with another household or, exchange your accommodation for member points, which can be put towards a future exchange. As with House Sitting platforms, some membership and extra fees apply, but you would be surprised just how many properties are available for an exchange, like this Hollywood home, or this beachfront apartment in Florida. Not convinced? Lovehomeswap actually offers a free trial. What have you got to lose?


The practice of Couch-surfing has lost popularity since the 00s, as the trademarked platform ran into safety and verification issues. New Couch surfing sites like are aiming to bring the practice of Couchsurfing back to its roots and promote real community and connection. By creating a not-for-profit platform, that is community managed, and boasts improved technology and peer reviewing, they are hoping to bring the free fun of Couchsurfing to Gen Z. So, if a couch is enough for your sleeping needs, and you like the prospect of meeting someone new and immersing yourself in a new culture, could be for you.



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Are you a happy camper? Do you love hiking, pitching a tent in the wilderness and braving the elements? You may want to look into Bothies. A bothie, put simply, is an old stone structure that was originally erected in Great Britain to house travelling farm labourers. They are basically old abandoned cottages in rural locations, usually boasting no more than walls and a roof, and situated far from modern infrastructure. Community organisation Mountain Bothies encourages campers to use bothies for shelter in a safe and supportive way. They do not own the bothies, but work to keep them water-tight and provide the information you need to use a bothy for your trip. Bothies would not be for the faint-hearted, but if you like the idea of remote camping in the beautiful Scottish highlands, read more about bothies here

Help out on Holiday

If you are willing to mix work with travel, you can explore a new place and culture with sites like HelpStay and WorkAway put you in touch with hosts on farms, in NGOs, in hospitality venues, in schools, in both tourist-centric locations and remote parts of the world. Put simply you will be volunteering your skills, and receiving accommodation in return. Some hosts require a small fee for bed and board, while others, like this cute French café, offer you all meals and accommodation for free in exchange for part-time work. If you want the combination of a holiday and a summer job, this could be for you.