Work & stay for free – Funding accommodation while traveling

work and stay for free

Working in exchange for a free stay sounds great, doesn’t it? Even better, you could make some cash on the side while doing the thing you so love -> Traveling!

Well, accommodation cost will most likely take the biggest cut of your travel budget. To avoid unpleasant surprises, proper planning is needful. You needn’t necessarily dig too deep, but you should at least have a fair idea of how to take care of accommodation cost.

Basically, there are two routes to securing accommodation in exchange for work when traveling:

  1. Signing up to work-stay programs worldwide 
  2. Freelancing to make some cash.


Working all the time is not necessarily a good plan when you’re on a short trip, but the only way to extend your travels when you’re broke. While some only want to have a lot of free time and see the country, on the other end of the spectrum there are the nomads, which always need to find a balance between working and leisure.

1. Work-stay Programs

At its basics, work-stay programs are programs put together by international organizations to help visitors access free accommodation. In essence, the free accommodation serves as a compensation for the free service the visitor offers.

Work-stay programs will definitely be your best bet when looking to stay for a long time –say weeks or months – at your travel destination.

There are various kinds of work you could do to secure free accommodation. Here are some of them.

  • Farm work: Have a thing for farming? Or maybe you love nature, and wouldn’t mind giving an arm and a leg to get up close with nature? This could be it!

Typically, your tasks are simple and easy, and require very little technical skills. A normal day routine will involve tasks like picking ripened fruits, pulling off weeds, applying manure to growing plants, milking goats and cows, and many more.

Farm work volunteer opportunities can be found via platforms like WWOOF International– the largest of its kind.

  • Hostel work: Hostels, just like organic farms, offer travellers work-to-stay opportunities as well.

If you plan going this route, be prepared to work for a long time – 4 weeks at the minimum – at any hostel you find work. Reason is that most hostels that offer work-to-stay opportunities require visitors to work for the long haul before leaving.

What kind of work will you be doing? Well, basically menial jobs like cleaning of rooms, fixing up beddings every morning, fetching supplies, bar tending etc. However, some hostels prefer to hire people with some technical skills, so don’t hesitate put your skill forward if you have.

Additionally, some hostels offer some form of monetary compensation in addition to living space. So do a proper research when hunting hostel work-to-stay opportunities.

To find work, search for openings on Hostel Jobs or, even better, walk up to the manager of the hostel and ask to be employed – it works. A very similar option is, with plenty of offers for hotel-volunteers or helping hands. There is a small sign-up fee, but it’s usually worth it

There are many more kinds of work you could do in exchange for a free bed space. If you happen to be around Australia or New Zealand, is a great ressource.

On a side note, there are more pages which work as agencies. If none of former options offers any interesting positions for you, you might want to give these a try:

2. Freelancing to make money

Now, working for free in exchange for free bed space will mean you giving up some personal space and convenience. If you work in a hostel for instance, you can’t help but get used to the frequent partying and boozing of your lodge mates.

The good news, however, is that you can enjoy a nice, decent lodging – which of course won’t be free – while traveling, without breaking your budget.

How? Freelancing.

Technically, freelancing is any form of work you do remotely – meaning from anywhere. And, unlike work-to-stay jobs, you get paid in full when freelancing.

Talking about freelancing opportunities, your options are near limitless. As a matter of fact, many travel magazines are willing to pay you big bucks for your travel stories. All it would take you is a little bit of research to find such opportunities.

One easy way to find freelance work is by searching for them on online job marketplaces like As you would expect, possessing some skills is a prerequisite to your success on Upwork and the likes of it.

So there you have it; creative techniques for finding accommodation while wandering the world even if you have nothing.

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