Travel at it’s best is about connecting with people, learning, and experience.
In fact, traveling in the traditional way — staying in hotels and jetting from one tourist site to another — is the anti-engaging way to travel.
Try these sites and suggestions for free ways to engage with locals and have a memorable experience!
- https://www.warmshowers.org/ This is a site for touring cyclists to find places to stay. It was recommended by my colleague and friend Susan who went on a bike tour of the UK with her husband this summer.
- http://www.meetup.com/ This is a great site to meet locals who are interested in sharing hobbies, playing sports, discussing passions, or exchanging language.
- https://www.couchsurfing.org/ Known as the poor man’s AirBnB, Couchsurfing is a way to stay for free with generous locals. There’s also an option to just meet for coffee.
- / This is an interesting site for global pop-up restaurants and dinner parties. Strangers get together and eat at someone’s house or random spot.
- Consider volunteering in exchange for a place to stay. You can look for a church, monastary, farm or other community organization and ask them if they can host you while you volunteer. There’s no specific website, but you can start by searching for WWOOF, international monasteries, religious groups, or other community-based organizations like Habitat for Humanity, etc.
Travel, in my opinion, is about getting immersed in the local culture, making friends with locals, helping out, and perhaps even gaining new location-specific skills like language, cooking, or a hobby related to the place. These 5 ideas are excellent ways to get started for free!
Photo credit: Steven Depolo