James of The House Sitting Couple is here to let us know the price you can wind up paying for a free night’s sleep. I won’t ruin the story, but I will tell you that I won’t be shaking his hands any time soon!
I was going to tell the story about when I couchsurfed with a nudist because it meant free accommodation. It was a very cold January in New York and it made me question firstly whether nudists should be so dedicated when it’s -3 outside and secondly what I’m willing to do for free accommodation. That story is for another day though.
There are plenty of websites out there all offering different ways to get free accommodation. They’re popular as well of course; accommodation costs are one of the biggest costs most travelers face and a week’s free accommodation could work out to be a saving of anywhere from around $100 at the bottom end of the scale to several thousand at the other end, depending on where you’re visiting and what type of accommodation you’re staying in.
Aside from couchsurfing, some of the other popular websites offering free accommodation include wwoof, helpx and workaway.info. All of them require you to make some sacrifice for your accommodation, but as with couchsurfing, it’s not just about the free accommodation, it’s the experiences you get as well.
Although it’s been several years since I found myself staring at a New Yorker’s family jewels in order to save money on the cost of a hotel room, a recent experience left me wondering whether I’ve changed or if I’m still as tight as ever when it comes to travel accommodation.
I was house sitting in France with my girlfriend. For those that don’t know, house sitting is looking after other people’s home and often pets while they’re away. It isn’t an entirely new concept; people have always needed house sitters, but it’s something that’s only really gained popularity online in the last few years. (You can get a feel for a typical house sitting assignment by looking at some of the latest sits on , the website we used to find this and most of our other house sits.
I’d found a less than typical house sitting assignment looking after an alpaca farm. It was two weeks of hands-on training to be followed by the ‘house sit’ when we were ready to look after the farm ourselves. We learnt how to herd alpacas, how to hold them, we learned to weigh them and how to separate the boys and the girls, especially the stud male.
All was going well though and we’d successfully prevented any alpaca babies, despite all of Prince Charming’s attempts (the stud male) when we were told to do an inspection of the alpacas. One of the alpacas had a cut and it was our job to find it.
We looked over every alpaca. Inspecting an alpaca isn’t easy I should tell you; they like to spit if you come anywhere in front of them and kick if you come anywhere behind them. After about forty-five minutes we were covered in bruises and regurgitated grass and we still hadn’t worked out which one had the cut.
There was of course one place we hadn’t checked on the alpacas and that was mainly because we presumed fiddling about down there is frowned upon, even in the middle of the French countryside. It was down there (ahem) and a few minutes later I found myself, antiseptic cream in hand, staring at yet another pair of family jewels wondering how, after everything I promised myself, I was back in pretty much the same place as before.
What’s the best thing you’ve done to stay somewhere for free?
Author’s note: Despite the giblets, the alpaca house sit and all of the other house sits we’ve taken on have turned out to be some wonderful experiences and they’ve all given us some stories to tell at the end of them. You can read more about our adventures house sitting on our blog, thehousesittingcouple.com