Want to travel cheap? Are you looking for cheap accommodations? Maybe live like a local for a while? There are many alternative options beside booking a hotel, guesthouse or apartment! Here are some of the best websites for house sitting, house swapping, homestays, house exchanges and so much more! We picked out those websites who we have either good personal experiences with or other ones that we know of that are really good!
Best sites for house sitting
We love the concept of house sitting! Somebody leaves his house for a couple of days, weeks or months and is searching for a house sitter. This person, couple or family needs to look after the house, garden and/or pets while the owners are away. A win-win situation! You get free accommodation in a fully equipped house, live like a local for a while and the house and pets are looked after. If you are looking for a house sit, it can be difficult to find out which one is the best. So here are some of the websites we like most, have used ourselves or have heard great reviews about! They all charge an annual fee, but if you think about it, that’s peanuts considered how much you can save!
1. Trusted Housesitters
If you Google house sitting, Trusted House Sitters will probably be the site that pops up! It is one of the most popular sites and therefore well organized with a professional team behind it. They have lots of sites all over the world and a very straightforward website. The downside, however, is the quite high annual fee of $119 USD, the fact that the competition is tense on getting the house to sit you want and that they are really marketing-oriented! You sometimes get the feeling it’s mainly about them growing and earning money and not about you getting the perfect housesit. That being said, it still is a good site!
2. Aussie/Kiwi House Sitters – House Sitters America
These are actually three amazing location-specific house sitting websites with the same interface and team behind it. Aussie House Sitters is a very popular site for Australia, his sister Kiwi House Sitters for New Zealand and House Sitters America for the United States. These are also the countries where housesitting is already the most common.
The annual fee is $84 (AUD) for Aussie Housesitters and Kiwi House Sitters and only $30 (USD) for House Sitters America. and even less when you renew your membership. They have a very user-friendly interface with a great search function. The great thing is that a homeowner can actively approach you if they are looking for a house sit. We got lots of requests while travelling through Australia.
3. House Carers
House Carers is one of the earliest websites in this niche, so they are an established partner. Their annual fee is $50 USD. Although they are not the most update looking website, they have an amazing international database. One of the best sites out there!
This is one of the only sites out there that offers a free option for people discovering the house sitting business! Your first three applications are completely free! After that, you pay $35 USD per quarter or $89 USD per year for unlimited access. The only downside to Nomador is that they are relatively new and therefore, their international database still needs to grow. Everything else about them is just amazing, including an up to date looking website!
5. Mind my house
Mind My House has been around for a long time. As the annual fee is very cheap, only $20 USD per year, the competition can be very high. They have house sits all over the world, but mainly in the US and Europe. Overall, we can really recommend this site!
Mindahome is another site only for Australia. They have a very reasonable annual fee of $59 AUD and quite a big database of homeowners looking for a house sit.
Best sites for house swapping
Have you ever heard of house swapping or home exchange? It is a great way to have free accommodation while living in a fully equipped house and feeling like a local. The concept is you get to live in somebody’s house and discover their city or environment, while at the same time they live in your home and do the same. House swapping can be a great opportunity, although you need to prepare it well and make sure you have made the right agreements with the swapping candidates.
Meeting other people who are interested in doing so, is made easy through house swapping websites. Some of them even provide insurance in the membership fee to cover any problems during the house swap. But for the rest, you will have to talk to the other party. Study the pictures of the house carefully. Does it suits your expectations, such as your family situation, hobbies, …? What about utility bills? Do you also swap cars? Do they have pets? With the right questions and agreements, you will have an amazing house swapping experience! Here are some great websites to find possible candidates.
7. Love Home Swap
This is the biggest and most established home swapping sit out there. Love Home Swap has an amazing community of trustworthy members living all over the world. You have a 14-days free trial, which is great for exploring the possibilities and making your first contacts. After that, you pay $13 USD per month (billed annually) for the full package. That price is absolutely worth it, as you will save way more when you are staying in somebody’s home while travelling.
A great feature of the site is the Swap Points System which gives you more travel flexibility. You can either go for a direct swap, which is the original concept of you staying in somebody’s home while they stay in yours. Or, you can offer your home to the community when it is empty, and you get points in return. These points can be used to stay in another members home when they are away.
8. Home Exchange – Guest to Guest
Home Exchange and Guest To Guest are now one and operate together under the Home Exchange website. They have a huge database of over 400000 homes in more than 180 countries. Because they have such a big group of houses, there is a perfect home for everyone anywhere in the world. Just like Love Home Swap, they have a point system to make it all more flexible. The annual fee is $150 USD, but you can also choose to pay $15 USD per year if you want to try it out or will just have a short stay. Another plus is they have the most amazing support team. The website is very user-friendly and has lots of easy filters or extra information on the listings.
HomeLink already exists since 1953, which makes is the oldest and most established home exchange network out there. The amazing thing is they have local offices or people in 24 languages, which makes the chance quite big they can help you in your mother tongue. It is smaller than the bigger sites such as Love Home Swap and Home Exchange, but their members really are loyal and love this community. They charge an annual fee of 102,5 EUR.
10. Green Theme International
This site is a little bit special. Green theme International really wants to promote eco-friendly houses and eco-travelling. They give you an 80% discount on your house swap if you can prove them you are travelling or living eco-friendly. The pricing is $20 USD for 3 months, $30 USD for 6 months and $40 USD for a year.
Knok is a smaller site but is focused on families listing their house and swapping with other families. You will only find kids-friendly houses here. The annual fee is quite low at $29 USD. And this includes home insurance and family-friendly guides.
12. Home for Exchange
Another great site, Home for Exchange operates worldwide. They have many great reviews and an amazing community. The premium package is $13 USD per month (billed annually), but you can also choose a standard package for $9 USD per month or even the basic package for $8 USD per month.
Best sites for staying with a local
One of the most memorable experiences during your travels will be when you meet up with locals. If you can even stay with them, you’ll get so much more out of it. You learn about local habits, meet amazing people or even friends and truly get to soak up a destination. Sometimes staying with locals will be free, more often it offers you cheap accommodation. Here are some great options and sites to explore if you are looking for an amazing experience with locals during your travels.
Homestay is a great platform, connecting local hosts with the world. They have over 30000 homestays in more than 160 countries. You can even filter on hobbies, making it possible to end up with a local sharing the same interests as you.
Airbnb is, of course, one of the pioneers. Millions and millions of people have either stayed in an Airbnb or have listed their homes. We use it all the time. The original concept of Airbnb was locals renting out a room or even a couch. Since its popularity, more and more people have listed properties such as complete houses and apartments, sometimes even rooms in hotels or resorts. But you can still find great places that will allow you to mix up with the locals.
We love the concept of Couchsurfing. Locals who would like to meet up with travellers can offer a couch, mattress or even complete room to them. The site allows you to filter on the number of people you are travelling with, if it should be kid-friendly or not, if you want a separate room or not, … It has become very popular over the years, with millions of members in cities and villages all over the world. The community even organizes meetings for travellers, let them ask questions, … We, even travelling with two kids, had some amazing experiences with it. The only downside, a lot of people have a property listed but are not active anymore. So check out how long ago they were online on the site.
Wwoof is a great way to meet locals and learn more about organic farming or how to live ecologically. The concept is farms or organizations looking for somebody to help them out. And you can live there, eat with them and learn all about their profession. This is the most profound way to get to know the locals and learn more about the country. Wwoof is established all over the world. The only downside is there is a National Wwoof coordination, but also a lot of Independent Wwoof organisations. This means if you pay a fee for the national organisation, you get access to a lot of countries but not all of them. For example, if you want to go to China, Indonesia or large parts of South America, you have to sign up for other Wwoof organisations.
17. Monastery Stays
Although some monasteries will charge you quite a lot, there are also a lot of them that only ask for a donation or are just completely free. Which makes staying at a monastery an absolutely amazing experience, albeit back to basics. Monastery Stays is the website for finding the best options.
This platform has over 260000 members and wants travellers to have a more authentic and budget-friendly experience. Bedycasa offers couches, rooms and complete homes all over the world.
19. Culture Gogo
The concept of Culture Gogo is local hosts who want to learn English and you staying with them in return for some practice. You don’t have to prepare lessons of course. Just being there and doing daily activities together gives your host the change to practise his English. They ask a small membership fee of $9,99 USD for 3 months. Although not present all over the world, they are getting bigger every day!
HomestayIn is present in over 80 countries, mainly Western ones. They offer both very budget-friendly as a little more expensive homestays. Their site is very user-friendly and they have some great reviews!
Hopefully, we offered you a few sites you didn’t know yet and will enable you to get free or cheap accommodation. But even more important, an amazing local experience you will never forget! If you have reviews of any of the sites or other sites we should include in this list, please leave us a comment.