Five Ways to Get Free Accommodation in a Hostel
No one has the budget to travel forever. No one. You may think you have enough money in savings but eventually it will all run out. Every cent of it. But there are ways to stretch your travel dollar.
Accommodation will be one of your biggest expenses when traveling the world. Unless you take an overnight bus every night, couch surf, or sleep in a park (all viable options), you’re going to need to sleep at hostels. Yes, hostels are already pretty cheap, so if you have to pay for them it’s not too bad. But you can travel longer the more nights you don’t have to pay. That $3 saved is $3 earned.
There are plenty of ways to get free accommodation at hostels and they’re all pretty universal. You can use these tactics whether you’re backpacking in Paris, Thailand, or Uruguay. Here are five of the most common, easiest, and best ways to score a free night at a hostel.
Work at a Hostel
Working at a hostel is the most common way to get free accommodation there. But, there’s a huge catch: you have to work. Luckily hostel jobs are some of the easiest in the world. Usually all you have to do is sit at a desk all day and check a few people in, check a few people out. If you’re lucky you might be able to be a hostel bartender and drink for free too (whether it’s technically allowed or not.) Sometimes hostel workers get paid or get free meals. But whether or not that’s the case they almost always will get free accommodation. Even if it’s the janitor-closet/staff room or the 24 bed dorm.
Become a Travel Blogger
Travel bloggers never seem to pay for accommodation. In fact, I’m confident that most of them would never think to travel anywhere unless it was comped. So start a travel blog. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good, it just matters that it’s there. Then tell every hostel that you’re a blogger and ask for a free night. You might have to take some photos and write a review but that takes about ten minutes. Worth it.
Sleep and Slip Out
We’re all heard of the “dine and dash,” where you go to a restaurant, order, eat, then sneak out before the bill comes (it’s a great way to save money on food while traveling, by the way). But did you know you can apply the same theory to accommodation? Just check into a hostel, sleep there for a night or twelve, and then disappear without paying your bill. This one you have to time just right. You can’t walk by the front desk staff turtled up with a 70-liter backpack and not expect them to get suspicious. Make sure no one sees you leave. And make sure you didn’t give them your credit card information at check in.
Sleep with Someone who has a Dorm Bed
This tactic can be a little tricky. First you have to find a busy party hostel. One with a bar and ladies night specials. Go there, then start hitting on all the girls until you find one willing to bring you back to her bed. This can be complicated because sometimes you’ll spend all night thinking you’ve found “the one” only for her to bail last minute. And sometimes girls are hesitant to bring a guy back to a dorm room. Assure her you just want to cuddle. She’ll usually give in once in the room anyways. And if she doesn’t allow you to get anywhere, at least you have a free bed for the night.
When all else fails: sneak into a hostel. This is best done in the daytime, when lots of people are around. Just walk in and act like you belong there. Some hostels have wrist bands or security guards, but most don’t. So you’ll be fine. Once you’re in just find an empty bed to crash in or, if nothing else, lock yourself in the bathroom. It may not be the most comfortable night you’ve ever had, but it will be one of the cheapest.
Have you ever used any of these tactics to get free accommodation at a hostel? Which has worked for you? If not, will you try one on your next trip around the world?
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Hi Zach and Amy, I hope you don’t mind the plug, but this list of 347 hostels that accept volunteers might be helpful to your readers: http://www.the-working-traveller.com/hostel-jobs-worldwide-347-hostels-guest-houses-open-to-volunteer-work-exchanges-europe-asia-africa/. Part two covers Australasia, North and South America.