#cheapest way to travel
Make yourself at home
1 Be a house-sitter
A surprising number of householders worldwide will let you live in their home for nothing while they are away. House-sitting is completely one-way – you don’t have to offer yours in exchange – and it is becoming a global phenomenon. Housesitworld.com is the place to go, either to advertise for a sitter or to find somewhere to live rent-free around the globe. Be warned, though: a house-sitter is expected to take care of any pets and will often be required to pay some of the bills. Caretaker.org and Housecarers.com post thousands of adverts looking for sitters, mostly in America but some as far afield as Costa Rica.
2 Enjoy home cooking
For an authentic culinary experience, eschew restaurants and cafes and eat food prepared by locals in their own homes. Homefood.it has trawled Italy for talented cooks prepared to offer visitors a traditional meal for a contribution of around 30.
3 Teach English
You might usually feel like an ignoramus for speaking English abroad, but at Pueblo Ingles (morethanenglish.com ) schools in rural Spain and Italy you can get free accommodation and meals in return for speaking English in one-to-one and group sessions, interspersed with free time and social activities. Further afield, chinahomestay.org will place you with a Chinese family who will feed you for the duration of your stay on condition that you spend four hours a week teaching them English. The fee is 280. If you prefer learning to teaching, france.homestays.free.fr will place you with a French family on the C te d’Azur. They will feed you while bringing your French up to speed. This being the south of France though, the fee is a steep €800.
4 Deliver a car
If your heart is set on a Jack Kerouac-inspired road trip across America but you can’t afford the car hire, fear not. Autodriveawaydc.com sets up driveaways whereby you drive someone’s car across the country to spare them the cost of having it shipped. A deposit and a driving licence are all you need. There are limitations, though. The company only pays for one tank of fuel, and there are limits on both time and mileage. So no detours down to Big Sur.
5 Track down your twin
Visit sister-cities.org and find out which American city is twinned with your own. The website was set up to aid cultural understanding and allow local governments to exchange ideas. But it has expanded into a network of residents who set up exchange programmes. Every year, hundreds of groups travel to twinned cities to foster international bonds. Room and board are covered by participating local families, but you are expected to return the favour at some point.
6 Find a free guide
Greeters – local volunteers who show people around for nothing – have become an institution in cities across the world. Visit bigapplegreeter.org to find greeters in cities as diverse as Paris, New York, Melbourne and Buenos Aires.
7 Work for your supper
Help Exchange (helpx.net ) is the place to go if you’re willing to put in a bit of hard graft in exchange for food and accommodation. The site has listings of farms, ranches, lodges, hostels and even sailing boats in locations ranging from South Africa and Hawaii to Korea and Japan. Typically, you’ll work four hours a day but some hosts expect you to put in as little as two hours. There are two levels of membership – free and premier , but the latter costs just €20 for two years.