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How to Travel for Free—Seriously

If your vacation budget is running on empty, consider these ways to—basically—travel for free, according to folks who have mastered the craft.

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Sign up for a travel rewards credit card

Choosing the right card that provides rewards that can be turned into cash for hotels or airlines is a smart way to save money and get out of town, says Christina Vidal, luxury travel blogger. Her favorites include American Express Platinum, which offers 5X points on airfare booked directly with an airline. American Express Travel also gives you access to the luxe American Express Centurion Airport lounges, where you can snack on the complimentary food and beverages and skip the airport’s overpriced food court. Another go-to is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which gives you 3X points on travel and dining, as well as Priority Pass airport lounge access. Lastly, consider American Express SPG Luxury card, which offers benefits including 2X rewards on travel, Priority Pass lounge access, $300 toward resort expenses annually and one free night at an SPG property (including Marriott, Sheraton, and more) once a year.

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Woman Coming Home From Work And Opening Door Of ApartmentMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

House swap with your friends

If you have a friend who lives across the country, in Europe, or near the beach, there are two ways to utilize your friendship, according to travel writer Sarah Wilson. Either you can ask to come stay a week on their couch, or offer up a “house swap,” where you both save that hard-earned dough. “I’ve been seeing more and more Facebook statuses pop up from people who are looking to travel somewhere, and asking if anyone would be interested in swapping with their house or apartment in exchange for somewhere else around the world,” she shares. “Not only is it spontaneous, but it’s a great way to save a ton of money on accommodations while traveling.” There are also websites, such as that can help you find an answer to the question: How to travel for free.

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Consider housesitting

For the past year, travel blogger Megan Starr has been housesitting around the world and it’s a practice to plans to continue. “It is definitely the best way to travel at no cost and it has brought me some of the coolest experiences thus far,” she shares. Recently she took care of two Jack Russell terriers in a sleepy, coastal town in Wales she would never have ventured to otherwise—and had zero expenses. “If you’re looking to travel for free, you seriously can’t beat housesitting,” she continues. Get started at Make sure to avoid these 9 travel mistakes.

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Mature businessman using mobile phone at the airport in the waiting room. Business man typing on smartphone in lounge area. Portrait of latin man sitting and holding passport with luggage.Rido/Shutterstock

Say “yes” to overbookings

No one wants to be bumped from a flight when they’re excited for a vacation or on deadline with a client. But if you aren’t in a rush and actually have the time to spare, co-founder of Andrew D’Amours says an overbooking can actually lean in your favor. “Always be proactive and volunteer to be bumped from flights—and always negotiating the compensation as the airlines as the first offer is rarely the best,” he says. These are the 18 things you should never do on an airplane.

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Father walking with a stroller and a baby in the city streets4Max/Shutterstock

Become a nanny

How to travel for free without a college degree? For younger generations who are looking to take a gap year or are just starting their work lives, international au pair opportunities are a fun way to see the world. While, yes, your primary responsibility is to take care of children, you can negotiate time off to sightsee and experience whatever country you’re in. Depending on the gig, you might even have the chance to vacation with a family, too. Travel blogger Elizabeth Blasi recommends getting started at sights like New Au Pair, AuPair and GumTree.

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Woamn's Hand on the Car Ignition KeyNovikov Alex/Shutterstock

Drive someone’s car cross-country

You want to see every state you can squeeze in between New York and California, but you don’t have the gas money, much less a set of wheels. Solution: Register at a company like AutoDriveAway that pairs travelers with folks who need their car driven nationwide. Digital nomad and web developer Jessica Tatham says this as a cost-effective way to get out of town without spending much.

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Sign up for a “stopover” service

If you only have a hot second for a quick trip, traveler and author Kelly Hayes-Raitt suggests signing up for While it is a traditionally a housesitting website, it also offers a unique “stopover” program. This is a smart idea for when you only have a night or two in a place and want to stay for free. Yep, you read that right: no money! All you have to do is contact a host and request the evenings.

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Volunteer teacher helping schoolgirl at her desk, close upMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Volunteer abroad

For an extended stay in a city and for the opportunity to make a difference in a meaningful, significant way, consider volunteering your time abroad. Sites including WWOOF and Workaway invite nomads to volunteer a few hours a day and receive accommodations and food in exchange, shares travel blogger Inma Gregorio.

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Sign up for

As travel blogger Nina Ragusa explains, for those who have deeper pockets and not enough time, hiring a part-time helper is an easy solution. You can find such a gig at, a network that partners people who need help with random things such as running their BnB, cleaning and running their hostel, gardening, household work, farming, and more, with those looking to provide it. In exchange for your time helping, they provide a room and sometimes food too.

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A professional photographer adjusts the camera before shooting, hands, camera, backgroundIlya Oreshkov/Shutterstock

Sell your photos

You’ll want to practice and perhaps take a class or two, but if your travel photos are captivating, travel expert Carolyn Scott-Hamilton says there are complimentary trips to be had for a talented photographer. “There are so many ways to sell your photos from the traditional selling to print media to cool new apps and websites looking for all sorts of travel, landscape, portrait, and even stock photos,” she shares.

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Fill out surveys for freebies and perks

Ever received an email from an airline or a hotel asking for your feedback? Instead of automatically deleting the email, travel expert Kristin Addis suggests combing through the fine print. How come? Often times, for your time, you might be offered a travel voucher or a free stay. For an hour of your time, it isn’t a bad trade.

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Male teacher listening to students at adult education classMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Teach English

You don’t have to be a certified teacher to make a living helping others speak the English language. Tatham recommends Diverbo, a company that provides native speakers with full room and board in exchange for teaching villages in Spain and Germany their language. You will still have to pay for your flight, but the rest is covered, and your nights are free.

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Modern luxury hotel reception counter desk with bellDmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock

Look into work exchange programs

If you have some extra time on your hands and want to take an extended vacation, Wilson recommends work exchange programs, where you can log a few hours every day at a hostel or a front desk, and in return, receive a free place to lay your weary traveling noggin’. “While traveling through New Zealand, I helped with the reception for a few hours a day in a guest house, in exchange for accommodation. Many tour sales reps would visit the hotel and offer free tours if we would sell their tours. I enjoyed trips to Mount Cook and whitewater rafting in my free time,” she shares.

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Man with suitcase sitting in airport waiting area. Business man sitting at airport lounge with laptop having coffee and looking away.Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Take advantage of flight delay insurance

Some travel days go smoothly, even landing early in your destination. Others? Not so much. While it can be frustrating to miss a connection, did you know you can actually get reimbursed when this happens? D’Amours says to use your credit card’s flight delay insurance and get up to $500. This can be used toward a hotel room, a meal or even another plane ticket. Learn more about your rights on an overbooked flight.

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How to Travel for Free—SeriouslyJirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

Become a brand ambassador

Though you might have to work on your Instagram following, if you’re a mega fan of a travel brand like Contiki, a tour operator, or a hotel chain, let it be known! If you sing their praises frequently and accumulate a following, you might be offered an opportunity to travel for free in exchange for covering. The key to success, according to Blasi, is remaining consistent.

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Close Up Of Hospital Staff Reviewing Notes On Digital TabletMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Take your nursing certificate on the road

Want to see the country—and work? If you’re a nurse, you’re in luck. Via, you can take assignments between 8 and 26 weeks, all around the United States. In addition to your housing and meals covered, you’ll also earn a salary, based on your experience.

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Person delivering a speach. Audience at a conference presentation.Bizi88/Shutterstock

Attend a timeshare meeting

You might roll your eyes at the idea when you’re vacationing at an all-inclusive, but if you take the time, you might receive a freebie in return. Blasi explains plenty of these resorts and destinations will give some sort of reward, even if you don’t sign-up, for listening to the presentation. Even if it’s a free night—that’s better than nothing, right? Next, read on to find out how to travel on the cheap with recommendations from travel agents.

Lindsay Tigar
Lindsay Aurora Tigar is an experienced digital editor and blogger in NYC. Her blog, Confessions of a Love Addict, has a large following around the world, thousands of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of unique visitors a year. A book project based on her blog is under development and represented by theJames Fitzgerald Agency.The New York Post named her New York City's most eligible single in January 2014. She was also selected as one of New York's most desirable singles by the lifestyle dating website, Rachel & Chris, and has partnered with several popular dating blogs to create viral content. She is part of the HerCampus Blogger Network and spoke at their summer conference in New York on "How to Be a Powerhouse Blogger." She's a social media and digital media guru with big followings on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.She freelances for several sites, including,,, Engagement 101 and more. She's also the resident dater forWomen', writing weekly about her dating adventures in her 'Dater Diary' column.