1. Stay with Locals: Www.couchsurfing.org is a great resource for finding a place to stay with another traveler for a night or two all over the world. It’s best to open an account. Fill in as many sections of the profile as you can and include some photos. Experienced couchsurfing hosts will rarely host someone with a blank profile and no photos. As well when requesting to stay with a host, be polite and give as many details as you can. Also mention something about the person that you read in their profile. For example for me, I like the person to mention something about my kids so I know that they have read my profile and are aware that we don’t sleep in until 2pm!
2. House Sit: Www.trustedhousesitters.com is another great resource for the budget traveler. Keep in mind that the person seeking a house sitter is trusting you with their HOME. This can mean a huge investment for the home owner. So be professional. Do some housesitting for friends and family locally to get some experience and references. Make sure your profile is professional and has photos of you. Sell yourself well!
3. Work for Your Board: Www.workaway.info is an opportunity for you to work 4-5 hours per day in exchange for room and board. It’s not for everyone but it can be a great experience. There are a mirriad of opportunities availableall over the world. Make sure you work out the details of what you will be doing in exchange for your room and board before you get to your hosts home.
4. Share a Meal with a Local: Www.mealsharing.com is a great way to meet locals in new areas and share a meal with them. There is a nominal fee for the cost of the meal but it is a great experience
Www.vizeat.com is relatively new. You can take a cooking class, get a tour of a local area or share a meal with a local for a nominal fee.
Www.eatwith.com is another meal sharing venue.
5. Use Local Resources: Check bulletin boards at local libraries, super markets, community centres etc for announcements for free food and community activities in the area. Also check Facebook groups for local areas as well. Sometimes even googling “free things to do in (wherever you are) this weekend” will give a lot of things available.
There are numerous Facebook couchsurfing groups for different locations. Join the group (you can leave the group when you leave the area). In the past we’ve found a place to go for a barbecue or for dinner with another couchsurfers. Community activities that are free or low cost.
6. Camp: If you have camping equipment http://www.freecampsites.net is a great resource for finding free camping spots across Canada and the USA. Some are just Walmart parking lots but others are actual camp sites in nature!
7. Dumpster Dive: Dumpster diving can create an abundance of free food. Www.trashwiki.org has information on dumpster diving in various locations around the globe.
8. Barter Your Skills: Www.worldpackers.com allows you make a barter of your skills with hostels around the world. You get a bed in exchange for some work done for the hostel.
9. Work for Your Stay:Www.wwoof.net has been around for decades. It runs on the same premise as workaway, you work a few hours a day in exchange for room and board. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Therefore the majority of the hosts are in rural communities.
10. Deliver Items: Www.grabr.io allows you to make some money while traveling. Basically you buy a product where you are and deliver it to a person. In return you get a small stipend. However if you plan this so you are going that way anyway, you won’t be wasting time or money.
11. Places of Worship:A lot of churches will allow you to spend the night if you ask. Be polite and courteous when asking. Be sure to look presentable. Most mosques will do a free tour and free lunch after if you call and ask for this service.
12. Social Media: Use social media. Everyone has social media these days. Use it for what it’s for and network with others for places to stay and eat!
13. Craigslist: Place a free ad stating that you are willing to do odd jobs in exchange for a meal or place to stay. You can also use Craigslist for finding free activities and meals around the area you will be in.
Once you are accustomed to looking for free food and activities it is easy to find and becomes a way of life. It becomes second nature to look for free accommodation and food while traveling.