Last Updated on July 29, 2020 by Kendrick
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Did you know it’s really easy to score free accommodation when you travel to Colombia? The single best way to make this happen is through hospitality exchange methods.
The most obvious one is couch surfing. Many Colombians are friendly, and will offer to let you stay on their couch for free. Just make sure to fill out your couch surfing profile, and send out as many requests as possible. It seems like women have better luck when it comes to scoring a place, as many female backpackers I have met has successfully secured a host while I haven’t.
If you weren’t able to secure a couch, another way to score free accommodation is through Workaway!
Workaway for Free Accommodation in Colombia
Workaway is a website where you can sign-up, and look for a host to volunteer for. In exchange, the host will provide you with free accommodation, and sometimes, a free meal will be included as well.
I managed to secure a volunteer gig in Guatape, Colombia after sending out multiple requests. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made!
The volunteer work I did in Colombia required me to work in a hostel 6 times a week, 4-5 hours per day. My work varied from washing dishes, cutting vegetables and serving customers, to checking in backpackers at reception, and upselling bike, kayak or motorcycle rentals.
One of the greatest things about workaway was I was able to build friendships with my co-workers. It’s hard to make friends when you only get to spend a few hours with them, but because I stayed in that volunteer position for at least 2 weeks, I was able to get to know one another much better.
Besides free accommodations and lasting friendships, another perk that came with volunteering was the free bike rentals and kayak usage, helping me save even more.
A free meal is included with this particular volunteer gig. Even though dinner wasn’t served until 10PM, I can’t complain because it’s a free meal!
Since I had such a positive experience, I have applied for and secured other workaway gigs at other destinations I plan on traveling to.
Besides couch surfing and workaway, I have met other travellers who simply contacted hostels directly, and asked for volunteer work. Many require you to speak Spanish in order to be accepted.
What’s strange about the hostel I volunteered as is they required you to speak English instead, so I guess this requirement varies depending on the hostel.
If you plan on going this route, but you can’t speak Spanish, make sure you have other handy skills to offer! I once negotiated with a hostel if I could stay for free if I made them a music video for their website.
They agreed, however I turned their offer down because I accepted the gig in Guatape.
Popular skills that will get you hired for volunteer work are:
• Speaking multiple languages (especially the local one and obviously English)
• Web design
• Marketing and Sales
Hotel Points are Always a Great Fallback
Outside volunteering, you can also travel hack hotel points. Colombia is one of the best places to use your hotel credit card points because for as little as 2-3000 points, you can stay for free!
I personally redeemed Starpoints from Starwood hotel and was able to get one week of free hotel stay in Bogota and Medellin! All for 2000-3000 points per night which was a great deal in my opinion.
Other options I did not try but are available are:
• Trusted House Sitting
By using any of the methods above, you can travel for cheap in Colombia and save your money for activities or food!
About the Author: Kendrick of Travel and Live Free was a contributing author to share stories from his trip around the world from 2016 to 2017. He now has the goal to visit every country in the world in the next few years.