Free Accommodations While You Travel

Free Accommodations While You Travel

Although we are currently restricted from leisure travel, that can’t stop anyone from dreaming about their next big trip. When all this is over, many of you will probably be looking for a long, extended vacation. However, traveling can be very expensive. This is especially true if you are looking at an international destination. What if I told you there were options for free accommodations while you travel? Here are a few suggestions for those who are looking to stretch their travel budget to reach exotic locations.

Free Hostel Accommodations

Although they are typically referred to as “youth hostels,” this type of accommodation is great for travelers of all ages on a budget. Hostel accommodations are just as diverse as the people who use them. Typically, you will have choices ranging from a bed in a shared dormitory to a private room with your own bathroom. Sites like Hostelworld are a great resource to check out the facilities and reviews before you arrive.

The greatest advantage of staying in hostels is that they are a fraction of the cost for a hotel room. However, if you are a long-term traveler and looking to save money, you may be able to arrange free room and board. Hostels usually employ a combination of permanent and temporary staff members to clean, check in guests, or arrange outings. If you are looking for free accommodations while you travel, you can email management before you arrive or discuss it in person. Not only does it offer free accommodations to stretch your budget, but you will also have the opportunity to meet people from around the world.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is another excellent option to meet new people and experience the local flavor. This social networking site connects travelers with an easy-to-use platform. Simply set up your profile, and then you can begin connecting with and messaging other couchsurfers. It is absolutely free to join, but you can pay to have your profile verified for greater security.

In addition to a free place to stay, you can also choose to meet locals for dinner or drinks. The site also organizes events for members to meet up in cities around the globe. I personally love couchsurfing because you can experience the city from a native perspective. Instead of falling into the usual tourist traps, my hosts take me to their favorite entertainment spots and introduce me to their friends. Some of my best travel experiences have been because of the wonderful people I have met through the site.

WWOOF for Free Accommodations

The WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF project, is a global movement to connect organic farmers with environmentally conscious volunteers. Local growers and producers offer hands-on learning and accommodations in exchange for free labor. Since no money changes hands, it’s a great way to educate yourself and find free accommodations while you travel. The entire movement began as a way to promote organic agricultural practices and build global sustainability.

In order to join the community, you have to create a profile and pay a small annual fee. Once confirmed, you can browse the forums and directory to find an opportunity that suits your travel plans. Each listing will specify the hosts’ specific needs and description of daily responsibilities. Many farms are located far from the bustling city which is perfect if you are looking to get back to nature. Educational opportunities range from farming and animal husbandry to construction and renewable energy projects. WWOOFing offers a unique and rewarding way to save money while you travel.

Final Thoughts

Although your current travel plans have been postponed, it never hurts to look at your options. These are just a few alternatives to help you find free accommodations while you travel. There are tons of options out there if you just think outside the box. Your next great adventure could only be a click away.

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House Sitting in Foreign Locales

House Sitting in Foreign Locales

If you are the adventurous type, house sitting provides a unique way to travel the world. It’s a great way to save money on accommodations, especially if you have extended travel plans. Here is everything you need to know before you consider house sitting in foreign locales.

What is House Sitting?

House sitting is precisely what it sounds like. A person who is looking for free accommodations can make arrangements with homeowners in need of a caretaker. In exchange for free room and board, the house sitter is responsible to look after the property and any pets on site. Sometimes the arrangement lasts a few weeks while others are more long-term.

This is usually facilitated though a house sitting website which requires a membership fee and background check. Once verified, you can peruse property listings around the world. If you are flexible with your schedule, house sitting provides an insider’s perspective of the life and culture of your destination.

Pet Sitting

Some housing assignments will also require pet care. If you have never taken care of animals before, don’t fret! You can volunteer at a local shelter or sign up for animal first aid course. This can boost your credentials and improve your chances of getting your preferred locations.

Mostly, the pet care involves your average household pets…cats, dogs, fish. Sometimes there are more exotic animals like reptiles or birds. Be certain to discuss the specific needs before agreeing to any assignments. The community is based on reviews, so one bad experience could make you a less desirable choice in the future.

Domestic and Foreign Locales

Most people who are interested in house sitting usually want international properties. It is a great way to cut the cost of your trip abroad or extend your travel. However, you don’t have to go halfway around the world to find a prime vacation destination. There are plenty of places closer to home. Often times these are second homes, vacation, or rental properties that need someone to be physically present. There are dozens of house sitting sites to search, so you are sure to find something that matches your skills.

Things to Consider Before House Sitting

Before you make any agreements, make sure that you read your contract thoroughly. Don’t accept any postings if you don’t believe you can fulfill the requirements. There are tons of different options out there, so consider the following things before you sign up for house sitting in foreign locales.

1. Time

House sitting is not a great option for a weekend getaway. Most homeowners are looking for someone to look after their property for a few weeks or even a few months. Some may even want seasonal caretakers or someone to live on site whenever they are out of the country.

2. Finances

Although your accommodations will be provided, you still need to cover the costs to get there. In addition to airfare, you will also need to find local transportation to get you to the property. Sometimes these are in very remote locations and require you to charter local services. Additionally, you should also budget for food and entertainment for the duration of your house sitting assignment.

3. Documents

If you choose an international property, there will be some paperwork involved. If you don’t have a passport, then that is the first document you will need to get. Furthermore, some countries have visa requirements for entry and limitations on tourists’ lengths of stay. Read up on what documentation you will need to avoid any complications with immigration officials.

4. Communication

Traveling abroad always comes with risks, so it is important to stay in contact with friends and family. Most homes provide WiFi, but you can also look into local data plans or SIM cards to keep you connected. This will also help if you need to contact the homeowner in case of an emergency at the property.

5. Research Your Destination

This last point is probably the most important. Many locations appear idyllic on paper, but sometimes appearances are deceiving. Do some research about the surrounding areas and see what local amenities you have. It is also smart to be aware of any safety concerns in the area. You want to be well-prepared for any situation.

House sitting can be a very rewarding experience, but unexpected surprises can turn the perfect vacation into the perfect nightmare. Do your research, weigh your options, and ask questions before signing anything. Before you know it, you could be planning that exotic vacation that never seemed possible.

 

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The Best Benefits of a Travel Credit Card

The Best Benefits of a Travel Credit Card

Credit cards can be a valuable tool towards building your personal credit. However, they can also be a severe temptation, especially if you carry many different cards. I learned this expensive lesson after signing up for several in-store offers and accruing late fees. In the end, I paid more for the penalties than the merchandise I bought. Since then, I have severely limited the number of cards in my wallet.

I now realize that credit cards are a necessary evil and carefully choose which ones I use. As a frequent traveler, I decided on an airline-sponsored credit card to maximize my rewards and cut travel expenses. There are several co-branded credit cards to choose from, each with their own perks. Here are some of the best benefits of a travel credit card to help make your next trip more affordable and enjoyable.

Introductory Travel Bonuses

I first joined my airline’s loyalty program when I moved abroad. It was a free and practical way to earn miles for award travel since I was flying internationally at least twice a year. However, I had no interest in applying for their co-branded credit card until I came across the introductory bonus offer. It was just too sweet to pass up. Not only would I earn enough miles for a free international flight, but they were also waiving the annual fee for the first year.

I literally had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The rewards vary slightly between competitors, but the package usually boils down to the same offer. If you charge enough money to the card in the first 90 days, you will earn enough points for a free flight or stay. I had planned to use the card to purchase airline tickets, so I simply charged them to my card. Within one billing cycle, the introductory bonus had been added to my account.

Redeeming Valuable Rewards

A free stay or flight is usually enough to get travelers to sign up. However, I quickly learned that there were additional rewards which proved to be even more valuable. I began earning miles faster than ever before, racking up double mileage when I booked directly through my airline or its partners. Just be aware that these rewards don’t apply when you book through third party websites. Most awards are also subject to availability, so make sure your dates are eligible before you make other hotel or transportation reservations.

Some companies even offer discounts or allow you to transfer your rewards to their partners, giving you greater flexibility. In addition to redeeming awards for free flights or stays, you can also use your miles or points for merchandise, gift cards, and cash back rewards.

Passenger Perks of a Travel Credit Card

While the bonuses and rewards were enough to convince me to sign up, it was the additional passenger perks that made me a loyal customer. As a preferred member, I am given priority boarding which ensures space in the overhead bins, complimentary upgrades when available, and a free checked bag for me and a traveling companion.

I also receive two complimentary lounge passes each year which can be used at any domestic airport. Lounge access provides me with free wifi, complimentary cocktails, delicious food, and comfortable seating where I can relax and watch the departure screens. Long-distance travel and layovers are unpleasant for everyone, but the lounge access makes it bearable. My complimentary passes are surely one of the best benefits of a travel credit card.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Foreign transaction fees are an unwelcome surprise for any traveler using their credit cards abroad. Most cards charge an additional 3% on purchases that pass through foreign banks or use foreign currency. These small charges can quickly build into a financial headache.

If you apply for a travel credit card, most companies waive this fee, saving you a ton in hidden fees. Additionally, you could save even more money if the exchange rates are in your favor. Since there are no foreign transaction fees with my travel credit card, I opt to charge my purchases in foreign currency and let my bank do the conversion for me. Since the US dollar is consistently strong, I often pay less than the exchange rate offered by vendors.

Comparing Benefits of a Travel Credit Card

If you are a frequent traveler, the benefits of a travel credit card are well worth the annual fees. Before choosing which card is right for you, compare the offers to determine which one best suits your spending habits and travel needs. Be sure to review the terms and conditions each year and pay off your balances to maximize your benefits. Otherwise, your finance charges may offset the advantages.

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