3 easy ways to get free accommodation when you travel

3 easy ways to get free accommodation when you travel
Freelance television producer Mariana Ahmad (second from right), who spent six months backpacking and couchsurfing across Europe, is seen here in Turkey with fellow couchsurfers from Turkey and America.

Most of the cheap or free accommodation options out there require you to slave away on an organic farm for 10 hours a day, share a room with ten sweaty backpackers or commit to being a caretaker for months on end.

If that doesn't exactly sound like your idea of fun, here are a couple of painless ways to enjoy cost-free accommodation.

1. Use your frequent flyer miles

The problem with trying to amass frequent flyer miles is that if you just don't have that many, you could end up only being able to redeem a ticket to KL or Bangkok.

What's the point of wasting your precious air miles on a Singapore Airlines ticket to KL? You'd probably end up paying more in taxes than a ticket on a budget airline would cost.

If you're in the situation where you don't have enough points to redeem a meaty flight with, you have the perfect excuse to use them to redeem hotel stays.

Now, while the KrisFlyer programme doesn't permit you to use your miles to pay for hotel stays, other programmes such as KLM's Flying Blue do.

At the moment, 25,000 Flying Blue miles, about the equivalent of a return flight to Thailand, can get you a night's stay at at five star hotel.

2. Go on a free meditation retreat

If your whole objective for going on holiday is to relax and get your zen on, a free meditation retreat will let you achieve your that at almost no cost.

Many temples or monasteries will feed and house participants of their meditation retreats and courses free of charge, although donations are appreciated.

All you have to do is to shut up and turn off that damned smartphone, which come to think of it might be easier said than done.

Doi Supthep Vipassana Meditation Centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand runs meditation courses ranging from 4 to 21 days.

Brahmavihara Arama Buddhist Temple in Bali conducts short and long meditation retreats.

Many ashrams in India such as Sri Ramanasramam located south of Chennai, offer accommodation for a small donation, although you might be required to attend their courses, which can range from just a few hours a day to hardcore full day affairs.

3. Couchsurf

This is far and way the most popular way to get free accommodation on the road. Depending on your personality, it can be a chore liaising with hosts and not having as much personal space as you would in a hotel.

Or it can be a great way to meet and hang out with locals, who can at the very least clue you in on where all the best eats in town are.

Some hosts might give you the keys to their homes and let you come and go as you please, while others will show you around, introduce you to their friends and even loan you their pets.

You never really know what sort of experience you're going to end up with. If that sounds appealing to you, definitely give it a shot.

Some of my most memorable travel memories were made thanks to couchsurfing, and no, I haven't been murdered yet.

Here are some websites that facilitate the process.

Couchsurfing, the original website and still the most popular

Global Freeloaders

Hospitality Club

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