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how to get free accommodation while traveling by volunteering, volunteering abroad for free accommodation

How to Score (Almost) Free Accommodation While Traveling by Volunteering

How to Find Free Travel Accommodations by Volunteering, how to get free accommodation by volunteering

This post is part of a collaboration with our partner HelpStay. We only work with brands that we know are awesome and that our readers will think are awesome too.

You’ve probably read about travelers getting free accommodation and meals in exchange for helping out. But the reality is that it’s not that easy to find places that are willing to do that while you’re traveling. You’ll either get stuck paying for a hostel bed at the last minute or spend your entire first day in your new destination trying to find someplace that will do an exchange. Where’s the fun in that?

If that’s still an option that you want to explore, then let me tell you about HelpStay.

Get free accommodation (and sometimes meals) when traveling

HelpStay is a site that helps travelers like you connect with organizations around the world that are willing to offer up a free place to stay in exchange for a few hours of help. It’s a win-win for both parties involved— you get to stay (and in many cases also eat) for free, and in exchange offer a helping hand to these organizations that could certainly use it.

Change the world or add new skills to your resume

Free accommodation is just the start of what you could get out of doing a placement via HelpStay. Whether you want to make a difference with your volunteer hours or gain some skills that you can talk about in your future job interviews, you’ll be able to find a placement that fits what you’re looking for.

Some examples of jobs that have been listed on HelpStay:

– Volunteer at a nursery school in Uganda
– Help out at a hostel in Belgrade
– Assist with running an ecotourism facility in the Rocky Mountains
– Maintain a local’s property in Brooklyn, NY
– Be an intern for a tour operator in Bolivia
– Help run a Yoga & Eco Farm in Ireland

Get your free accommodation sorted out before arrival

Just because your travel accommodation will be free doesn’t mean that you can’t have it planned in advance. If arriving to a brand new destination without anywhere to sleep for the night isn’t your thing, then HelpStay would be a good option for you. You’ll have a chance to speak to the organization before you arrive, and can ask any questions that you’d like to help you feel like you’ll be safe and happy in your temporary new home.

Stay in unique homes and locations

The thing about free travel accommodation is that you might find yourself staying in a super-unique place— way better than a boring hotel! Some of the accommodations that have been offered on HelpStay include an eco-village in the Dominican Republic, a horse farm in Argentina, a beach hostel in Costa Rica, or with a self-sustaining family in the Czech Republic— just to name a few.

how to get free accommodation while traveling by volunteering, volunteering abroad for free accommodationInteract with the locals

By volunteering alongside the locals, you’ll experience a destination much differently than if you were to stay in a hostel filled with foreigners. You’ll have the change to interact with them, learn about their traditions, and hopefully get to try their locals foods. You’ll learn so much, even in a short amount of time. You may find that they can also help arrange some cool experiences for your downtime that most travelers would never get the chance to do. And speaking of…

Experience the area during your free time

Depending on your placement, you’ll have a certain amount of hours during your stay that are completely free for you to do whatever you’d like. Since you’re not paying for accommodation, and possibly your meals, you’ll have some more spare cash to spend on exploring your destination.

Stay safe and be informed

In the end, HelpStay is a site that helps facilitate successful exchanges but to make you feel as comfortable as possible each host is verified with an in-person visit or a telephone interview. HelpStay also encourages their helpers to contact potential hosts to ask questions about the placement and agree on all terms, like hours worked and meals provided, before applying.

How do I get started?

Sign up for HelpStay as a single volunteer for just €19.99 for one year, or if there is a group of you who want to get free accommodation, up to four of you can take advantage of the family package for €26.99 per year. This price includes full access to hosts’ profiles, the ability to create and manage your own profile, the chance to review your HelpStays once you’ve completed them, and the option to meet other travelers who are members. Considering that many of the placements offer free accommodation for long periods (say, a month of longer) the sign-up cost is quite low— imagine how much your travel accommodation for a month would cost…

Before you sign up, browse through the projects that are currently available on HelpStay to see if anything suits your fancy, and if so, sign up to see the host’s full profile and to message them with any questions that you have.

Head to HelpStay’s website to learn more and check out what volunteer placements they have available.

Be sure to pin this to your travel board on Pinterest to save for future referencing, or share it with your travel-loving friends on Facebook or Twitter.



Jess is the Editor-in-Chief of The Abroad Guide. After studying abroad in Belgium during her junior year of college, she caught the travel bug. Her experiences include volunteering in Nicaragua, backpacking through Europe, and a year-long adventure in Italy, and she's now settled in London.


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