Check out these sites to do a home exchange, find like-minded souls who are willing to offer a crash pad for a global freeloader, or rent a house to spread out and have a kitchen.
Free Homestay Programs
Couchsurfing was founded by an American in his twenties and has become much more corporate than when it started, but it’s still the top player for crashing with someone. As its name implies, you don’t have to offer much to be a host. Travelers may get a room–or surf a couch!
Servas is the grandaddy of all homestay programs, with a history that stretches back half a century. Their purpose is to advance understanding, tolerance, and world peace, so don’t expect a list of places to sleep off a hangover. You’ll need to apply, be interviewed, and pay $65, but you’re sure to meet interesting and insightful people.
Want to be a housesitter? Check out Trusted House Sitters, where you can crash in exchange for taking care of an empty house and maybe some pets. Or visit the site Mind My House, which is working to bring homeowners and house sitters together.
Home Exchange Programs
The following all offer a database of home exchange participants and a worldwide network of people to hook up with. Fees range from $0 to $150 per year. Of course you could try to do this informally through Craigslist or message boards, but these give some security and support. Listed below are the most popular sites. Browse the listings and figure out what best fits your needs and your destination.
Homeaway (now owned by Expedia) has long been the biggest home and villa rental source, with brands like VRBO and VacationRentals.com under its umbrella.
AirBnB offers more selection in a lot of markets now though, especially if you want to rent for less than a week. A great selection from air mattresses in a spare room to full-blown vacation villas for rent.