Accommodation: how to save money and not to die in the attempt?


How do we live when travelling?

One of the questions most people ask me when I say I live on the road, is how do I maintain myself economically? I always reply that this trip-life project is just beginning as it started on the 1st of January 2019. That is why there are still many things that I’m working out. I’m sure the road itself will reveal the answers. Little by little I will share all the teachings of the journey with you.

As well as generating income along the way, the key is to reduce the fixed costs. The most important one is accommodation.

You can do a lot, when traveling slowly and long term. Here are some effective ways for saving money on accomodation.

Systems to reduce accomodation expenses


House-sitting
We took care of this house during our first five-week house-sitting in Granada, Spain

We knew this even before we started the trip: house-sitting is our preferred system, because it adapts perfectly to our personal projects.

This system is about traveling while taking care of houses that for some reason are empty. For example, if the owners go on a vacation and need someone to take care of the house so they don’t have to worry about it.

It usually includes taking care of pets, which we love to do and it gives the stay a priceless extra seasoning.

House-sitting is really compatible for digital nomads, because it allows you to organize your schedule in a very flexible way. At the same time, taking care of the house and pets, naturally generates routines that are so necessary for the independent worker.

If you want to deepen the issue of house-sitting, you can read in detail everything you need to become a house-sitter (platforms and their costs, tips to build a good profile, tips to communicate with the owners, etc).

You can also read here our first experience doing house-sitting in Spain, for five weeks, taking care of five lovely dogs.   


Voluntary work
This is the patio of the house where we did volunteer work in Córdoba, Spain

We use the Workaway platform, although there are also others such as Worldpackers, Helpx, etc.

In this system, you exchange some hours of work per day for the accommodation and in some cases meals. The amount of work hours, having a private room or not and whether or not the meals are included depends on each case and should be agreed with your future “bosses”.

This option is very good for saving money in the cases where meals are included, because the two biggest expenses of a trip are eliminated: accommodation and food, 2 x 1. What is “negative” compared to house-sitting, is that usually there is more hours of work and there could be more strict work schedules, so it is less flexible than the house-sitting system.

Anyway, we made our first Workaway in Spain a few months ago and it was more than positive experience (you can read about the experience by clicking here). We also tried doing voluntary work five times in Morocco. I say “try” because for one reason or another, three of those five did not work for us (you can read these experiences in detail by clicking here).

Some brief recommendations for a successful volunteer work stay, based on our experiences (good and bad):

  • Ask all the questions you have before giving a confirmation.
  • Ask even about the things that are explicitly detailed in the announcement, because in reality it may not be so clear.
  • Read the comments that other travelers left in the feedback.
  • Be demanding in respecting the agreement.

If you want to read more about how to travel doing voluntary work, I leave this guide with lots of useful information:


Couch-surfing

https://www.couchsurfing.com

The sunset in Tetouan, where we made our first couch-surfing

This is a system that encourages cultural exchange through accommodation in houses of local people. Without money in between. It is excellent to meet people from the place where you are traveling, their culture, customs, language, in short, to live as locals and accompanied by locals. I do not recommend it if you have a very tight schedule or want to do “traditional tourism” and the only reason why you are interested is to save in accommodation. Couch-surfing is much more than that and often implies that your host will want to show you his city, his friends or family, take you to places that tourists do not arrive normally and so it would be good that as guests we have some free time and we are open for this to happen. We did couch-surfing so far three times in Morocco and we always had good experiences (you can read here the story of the first, in Tetuán).

These are the systems that we know and have used for now, but there may be many more. I will expand on the topic as the trip progresses and we try new things. If you have suggestions or questions, put them on the comments below.


Postscript

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One thought on “Accommodation: how to save money and not to die in the attempt?

  1. Was wondering how people who did this for a consistent period handled the down time of when they did not have a house to sit? If they have one for a couple weeks and another for a month but there is a week in between the two opportunities that can t be filled?

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