House sitting – $0 Per Night. House sitting enables you to live quite well for a few weeks or months in someone else’s place, in exchange for keeping an eye on it. Sometimes there are pets to feed and play with, plants to water, and other chores. But having a whole house to yourself, for free, is usually worth the minimal effort involved. House sitting tips: Provide solid references, maybe house sit for a friend first. Ensure your responsibilities are written down & agreed to. Be flexible. You never know when & where an opportunity will pop up. TrustedHousesitters is a great site for locating housesitting jobs.
Similar to house sitting is a home exchange where you are swapping houses with another traveler. A way to enjoy the comforts of home while traveling, and it’s practically free. To become a member of a home exchange network, you will typically pay an annual fee that costs about as much as a night in a hotel room, so after the first couple of nights of your vacation, your membership has paid for itself and then some. A positive is that there are the conveniences of a home—kitchen with all the gadgets, laundry with detergent, Wi-Fi—and usually, a location away from tourist traps and traffic. Some things to watch for are there is a chance something might happen (power outage, burst pipe, the homeowner’s angry ex banging on the door at 3 a.m.) and there’s no one around to take responsibility except you.
Couchsurfing would cost you $0 a night. CouchSurfing.org is a very large (5 million strong) community of people from all over the world who open up their homes & apartments to travelers for free. It’s a great way to meet like-minded travelers and staying with a local always helps you enjoy a city more. Try to request at least three days in advance although some people prefer a week or two (much harder to do when you’re traveling without set plans!) They may have a whole spare bedroom or just a couch for you to crash on. After a hosting experience, both the host & traveler can leave a reference about one another. This vouching & verification system works well to prevent misuse of the site. Tips on couchsurfing: Provide tons of information on your profile to gain trust. Send out personalized CouchSurfing requests, not generic ones. Make time to chat or do something fun with your hosts. Join local CouchSurfing meetups to get your first references. HospitalityClub & WarmShowers have similar communities.
Overnight transportation will cost you the ticket price and could save you money. Transportation will get you to your location and you can get some sleep if you travel at night. Sleeping on trains, planes, buses, and boats take practice to master. But when you get good at it, you’ll be able to wake up refreshed and ready to explore your new surroundings. Some tips: choose a seat/location with a lot of legroom. Bring earplugs, an eye-mask, water, and something warm and secure your valuables to yourself. Befriend your neighbour so they’ll wake you before your stop.
Public places are a place that may cost you nothing. If you booked an early ride (flight, bus, train) you could just stay/sleep in the terminal/station. If you have luggage and look relatively clean, you probably won’t be bothered by security. Terminals have bathrooms, food, and are usually open all night. You might even get free WiFi. In fact, there is a whole website dedicated to sleeping in airports. A few tips: find an area away from heavy foot traffic. Bring earplugs, an eye-mask, water, and something warm. Secure your valuables to yourself. Stake out a good spot early, before others start looking.
If your flight leaves early in the morning hang out in a café or at a hostel and head to the airport around midnight and find a place to nap until check-in. There is also a website named sleepinginairports.net which rates airports and gives information on the facilities available.
Squatting could cost you nothing, but not something I would recommend. It is when someone lives in someone else’s home or other property without their permission.
Staying with friends and family is where an excellent facebook network comes in handy. Make people aware of your travel plans and they will often volunteer people they know to show you around or host you. It’s also a great excuse to connect with extended family.
Using Referral Programmes
Booking options such as Airbnb and Booking.com offer refer a friend bonus. If you can sign some people up then you can make enough to yourself a place to stay for a few days. If you want to get started sign up for Airbnb and get $30 off your first stay.
Last-minute booking sites like Lastminute.com and other similar ones sell hotel rooms for really cheap prices if you book at the last minute. They tend to be expensive hotels, to begin with, but if you’re looking for luxury there are huge discounts available.
Groupon offers deals for all kinds of things, from restaurants to massages but it also has a holiday packages section. Sometimes you can be lucky and find a deal that’s valid during your dates.