How to get FREE Stays and FREE flights- Start here!
Updated: Sep 23, 2019
Since I left the corporate world in December 2018 and the idea of going back to it makes me want to hurl, I have discovered so many ways to not only work remotely but also to travel for cheap or free! Some people that have known me a while have asked: how is it that you are starting a brand new remote business (and making a lot less $) and are still able to not only keep up your travels but actually travel more? So I decided to share some cool ways that I have found to travel if you are on a serious budget!
I won't go into remote work or cheap hostel stays, that's why this is the 3 ways to travel and stay free- This is just how to get started. Yes, you can blog your way there (takes a while), you can couch-surf, you can volunteer abroad, you can hitchhike, you can find work or you can talk your way to free accommodations if you have a gift of the gab ;)
1. Free Stays!
Yes you can stay completely FREE. People love their pets, and their plants and their homes. Well, people from all around the world are traveling more and more and we all know that boarding can be expensive. I use this website Nomador. It's a website that posts house sitting/ pet sitting gigs from all over the world. I tried the 3 months subscription for $35 and have booked a 2-week Belgium trip where I paid only for the flight. For this specific destination and time of the year, I booked 2 days before the gig and am staying one day extra so I could pay 50% of the flight cost. Thankfully, with the help of hostels and Air BnB option, I'm still at $600 total for flights and stay with travel insurance for a total of 18 days! I spent more than that in Austin TX for 3.5 days!!
In addition to free stay, I will have an apartment to cook which will allow me to save money on food too. I was also offered a week gig in Fort Myers at a beach house that I had to turn down due to date conflicts, and also a week in Jalisco, Mexico. There's only one thing I have to do while in Belgium: look after 2 adorable cats!
Obviously, a gig like this poses some risk, especially being a woman traveling alone. Nomador, specifically (I haven't dug deep enough on other sites) allows you to register other people on your profile. Some gigs specifically requests couples, or any two people or people of a certain age.
But for those traveling solo like me, just make sure to get travel/cancellation insurance and develop a relationship with the host. It's a relationship of good faith really; they are trusting their home, pets, plants and have travel plans too. So if you bail, you would be screwing them just as much as if they bailed on you.
Nomador does have a verification process which requires ID, bills etc. While there's no exchange of actual fees, Nomador wants to at least verify that you are not homeless looking for places to crash. Reviews come in handy too for both the host and the sitters. You will find gigs that are for 2 days all the way to months at a time. Some people only have plants, while others may have horses, cows and chickens! Yes, you can get a whole life experience through Nomador. But please, be genuine, honest and do right by your hosts. We nomads, don't want a bad rep :) I will report back on my experience as an update to this post!
2. The old but goodie credit card hack- Free Flights!
This is where you fly free!! I get it that some of you are thinking "I don't have good credit and don't qualify for mile rewards credit cards. Get yourself to Credit Karma ASAP! You have to start somewhere and the time to start is now.
The idea behind this is simple: whatever bills you have that you can pay with a credit card, use the miles card! Finding a miles card that have no annual fee is hard, if not impossible, so make a note to close the account before the 1-year mark. Get the miles and not the annual fee that typically starts at $65.
Also, make sure you understand what you have to do to get the miles. Read the terms, otherwise you are wasting time. There are excellent cards out there that will give you 50,000 to 65,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in 3 months or $4,000 in 4 months. And get creative; pay your friends dinners and get their cash instead!
From experience- I accumulated close to 70,000 miles on a card, paid for a round trip to Italy that would have cost me $700, but was FREE!
Warning: When you cancel the credit card, there may be a period of 30 to 60 days where you may not qualify for another one. Be patient, sooner than later you will be able to get another.
3. Rewards, rewards, rewards!
If you are serious about wanting to travel more, being part of rewards programs such as hotels.com is a must. I just cashed in the one night at a hotel in Belgium with my reward from hotels. com. It doesn't cost a thing and you can accumulate overtime. The reward will be based on the average amount of stay for the past 10 nights of bookings.
Another membership that is so low and may be worth it if you want to travel within the US is Spirit Air. I realize that Spirit Airlines have a bad rep by some, but they are a solid airline and if you have their membership you can qualify for the $9 flights.
I was pleasantly surprised by Spirit when I went to Austin recently. The plane looked recently updated, the seats didn't recline but were ergonomically comfortable. I was highly disappointed when I was in my 11- hour flight to Italy in a American Airlines flight where the plane looked and smelled old.
Remember to signup to any and all flight rewards because eventually that can turn to FREE flights!