Woman Traveling Alone

Free Places To Stay Around The World

One of the only negatives that comes with travelling is often the cost of it all. Between transportation, hotel fees, food and drink costs, souvenirs, etc. going on a vacation has become nothing more than a fantasy for the average worker. However, what if one of the major expenses on the long list of things that require financial compensation, was no longer there. Finding a place to stay is often one of the most expensive aspects of going on a vacation, however, what if you didn’t have to pay anything? There are actually a multitude of places throughout the world that offer free temporary residency for any vacationer, you just have to be strategic about it all. 

For instance, Shakespeare and Company is a historic bookshop in Paris, France that offers free residency for writers, something they’ve done since its opening in 1951.  The bookstore offers residency through something they call the Tumbleweeds Program. This program allows writers to sleep in beds that are hidden away between the stores bookshelves. Instead of monetary compensation, guests must help out around the bookstore for a few hours every day, as well as write a one-page autobiography for the store to display; see what I mean by strategic.  

The Ace Hotel in New York City also offers a very similar residency program for creatives in which they let artists stay at their hotel for free every Sunday night, in exchange for a custom art piece for the hotel itself.  Additionally, they offer the same service for writers in a program they call “Dear Reader,” which also gives writers a free nights stay in exchange for an open letter for future guests to be put in their bedside tables. 

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The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, China also offers an artist residency program, however, this one is more of a long-term commitment. Artists of all sorts can apply to the residency, and if accepted artists will be given the opportunity to meet other creatives, explore Shanghai for inspiration, and create art for the hotel that will stay behind in the form of the hotels virtual museum. Residents under this program can stay in the hotel up to six months and are also given a free continental breakfast. 

Beyond just artist residency, Italy has an annual event known as Barter Week which takes place towards the end of November. During this week, travelers from all around are able to come and stay in one of the thousands of bed and breakfasts located in the country. Online, you’ll find what each bed and breakfast will specifically require of you in exchange for your residency. These requirements can range from helping clean up, knitting, blogging, cooking, drawing, or even dancing! You just apply to the specific bed and breakfast you’re interested in and once accepted you’ll have a place to stay free of charge. 

The Appalachian Trail is 2,200 miles of pure landscape that extends from Georgia all the way up to Maine. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, there are about 250 back-country shelters throughout the entire trail that hikers can stay at for free. Each shelter is about five miles apart from the previous, and all are unique; some look like cabins, and some take on more of a tent aesthetic. 

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In Corfu, Greece, the Sunrock Backpackers Hostel offers a similar exchange to that of Barter Week in Italy. Travelers can spend one month at the hostel for free in exchange for work. Duties typically include greeting guests, cleaning rooms, working the bar, and helping with food preparation, and in exchange guests will receive free meals, accommodations, and the wonderful sights of Greece. 

The Mountaineering Club of Alaska offers seven huts throughout Alaska’s vast mountain ranges where members of the club can stay at anytime for free. These huts sit at different altitudes throughout the Chugach and Talkeetna Mountains, which accommodates people at different stages of their climbs/hikes. The huts can typically house up to 8 people at once, and the only financial cost is an annual fee of $20 for being in the club itself; which is basically nothing when compared to how much a night at a hotel in Alaska would cost. 

Finally, the UXUA Casa Hotel and Spa in Trancoso, Brazil offers yet another artist residency program that gives artists a place to stay for up to a month. The only compensation needed is a work of art that specifically utilizes local materials that they will donate to the hotel at the end of their stay. This program is meant to encourage travelling artists to explore the surrounding area and really take in the culture and materials that its citizens use in their everyday lives.  

As you’ve read, many of these programs are geared towards creatives, and there’s actually dozens more just like them available in practically every country. However, there’s also many other offers out there for other types of exchanges that will not only help your wallet, but provide you with an unforgettable experience.