Cheap Trips by the Charity of Others

After finishing up the Camino, I've been giving a lot of thought to traveling super cheap, and also the idea of living off the charity of others. We never actually did it on the Camino, but we certainly heard stories of people on the trail who either because of whim or necessity, asked locals for free room and board. As far as we could tell, most of the local people obliged. We even heard a story of one group that stayed at someones house, and when they went to leave they left some money on the homeowner's counter top before letting themselves out. Just a little while later, after the local found the money that was left, they chased the peregrinos down to give them their money back.

Its a pretty crazy idea, just to go stay with a stranger for free. Anyone who knows Lauren and me, knows that our home is always open, free of charge, room and board provided (within reason, don't get any crazy ideas). Although, I don't know that I wouldn't feel a little uneasy about staying over at another persons house for more than a night or two without repaying them somehow. Maybe its just that rugged individualist streak imbued in us by our frontier ancestors (or at least our frontier ancestors' mythical representations). Either way though, staying with someone else sounds like an adventure to me, and would no doubt make the trip more memorable and cheaper than just booking a hotel or hostel somewhere. The best part would just be meeting locals who just enjoy meeting other travelers (no, not those travelers), and who can give you advice on all the places to go or not go (mostly the places not to go).

Another bonus to this whole lifestyle is that, as with many things these days, the Internet makes it just that much easier to find like-minded charitable people with whom to bum a couch. I just thought I would share some of the websites I'd found when looking into this, just in case any of the rest of you might also like to bask in the charity of others.

This is the most well known and publicized of all of these sites. Although I've not signed up yet myself, I've heard good things about it. If you haven't heard about it, its kind of like an online dating site for couches. You make a profile up, then can browse other peoples profiles (which people can review, either as couch giver or receiver), to decide with whom you would want to stay with. I imagine its probably best for one or two night stays, not longer ones.

Staydu allows people to post places to stay for free, for work, or for pay. It seems like this would be a better bet if you want to go for a week or longer. I think this is a pretty new website, but already has some pretty awesome sounding stuff listed. I'm feeling sheep farming in Scotland or primitive farm living in Sweden. There's also a bunch of stuff closer to home, like this possible hippy commune in New Mexico. Lots of the people just want to learn another language as well, and are just looking for people who speak that language to stay with them to help them learn.

This site is basically set up for people to rent out spare rooms in their house/apartment, or whole houses when they're out of town. I don't know that it is necessarily the cheapest way to travel, but if you want to go somewhere for a month or more, you would probably be hard pressed to find a livable place for cheaper.

This is another work for board kind of a site, but the opportunities are limited to specific organized programs to teach English. The whole idea is that native English speakers volunteer in exchange for a free week at a resort hotel to teach people English. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to get a free vacation just to talk to people.

1 comment:

  1. This is super interesting! Thad & I have wanted to make it out to New Mexico some time - how cool!