how to find free accommodations in India

How To Find FREE Accommodations In India: Budget Travel Tips

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Most people often feel that traveling is expensive. But one of our friends, Siva,  traveled to 20 states across India. He traveled for 200 days, and you might not be able to guess how he paid for accommodations. Even we weren’t able to. He stayed for FREE for about 150 days and paid just for 50 days. What if we told you he didn’t camp for those 150 days? 

Well, by now, your jaws must have dropped just like ours did when he heard about his exploits and how he managed to pull it off. His stories inspired us to write this blog for anyone and everyone who wants/needs free accommodations. We wouldn’t have written this blog without a conversation with him, in which he gave us several valuable insights. 

Siva Prakash from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, is a passionate traveler currently working as a social media manager in Chennai. He is also an avid reader and travel cinephile (a person who is fond of movies); you can follow him on Instagram and support his channel on Youtube.

Finding free accommodation in India may be challenging, but there are a few ways to eliminate your lodging costs while traveling on a budget. This blog highlights the valuable information from the conversation we had and his pro tips.

Different Ways To Find FREE Accommodations In India

Clubs

stay with the club members

There are numerous kinds of clubs in India. To name a few, there is the Lion’s Club, Rotaract Club, Mahindra Club, many motorcycle clubs, Pan India Club, and more. These clubs are spread across the country in different states and share different values and purposes. Siva is a part of one such club. This was new to us, and we listened intently to him. 

He said, “I approached my club’s president; and discussed my travel plans and the purpose. I got a ‘Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) letter representing my club and carried it on my journey. The president helped me with getting contacts for other locations and clubs. When I went to those places, I spoke about my club, its values, and my purpose for visiting, and that was enough. They invited me in, and I was treated like a family member. I was offered good food and accommodation and taken to a few offbeat places. The people showed immense kindness and welcomed a community member with open arms.”

We were dumbfounded at how easily he got all this done, and we’re sure you are too. Siva was able to network with over 150 community members of his club while also speaking to several locals. His experience proved how traveling and networking are related and can help someone travel on a budget.

Couchsurfing

Siva with hosts

Couchsurfing is a global community of travelers who offer free accommodation to fellow travelers. You can sign up on the Couchsurfing website or app and connect with Indian hosts willing to share their homes. This is a great way to experience the local culture and meet new people. You interact and learn about their way of life, why certain food items are meant to be a certain way, the history of the place, and so much more. It is truly quite enriching and gives you a sense of fulfillment. You can also indulge in free activities in the area offered as “Couchsurfing experiences.”

Siva has been using Couchsurfing since 2018. Here are a few tips that he shared with us.

  1. Check for house rules and abide by them.
  2. Attend events like “couch crashing” to meet like-minded travelers and expand your network. You can also exchange reviews after the event with other people.
  3. Place multiple requests to hosts so that at least one of your invitations gets accepted.
  4. If you are new to the space, connect with city ambassadors (marked in orange or beside their profile). They have good connections and usually refer people whom you can trust.
  5. Usually, it is a good sign if a host has 5 or more references and has hosted people from different cities and cultures. If a person has hosted different kinds of travelers, such as cyclists, backpackers, and more is also a plus.
  6. The Couchsurfing app is designed in such a way that one cannot delete negative references. So, it is good to look for any negative references before messaging the host.
  7. Your bios are important for you as well as the hosts. Highlight your purpose, interests, hobbies, languages, and all the information that will make them understand better about you.
  8. Add at least 4 or 5 recent pictures of you and link your social media channels.
  9. Make sure to confirm your spot. A few hosts make last-minute cancellations. So be prepared for that and have a backup plan.
  10. You can also host travelers in your hometown and make new friends.

Volunteering

Many organizations and resorts in India offer free accommodation to volunteers who help with various projects. For instance, you can volunteer at an orphanage, teach English, do bartending, or work on a farm in exchange for a place to stay.

Workaway, World Packers, and WWOOF are a few organizations that offer opportunities for long-term stays with food, provided you have to pay a small membership fee. A few of them also offer stipends. Siva said, “I didn’t feel unsafe or have any mishaps during my journey in India despite staying for FREE”.

Other Options

In addition to the above three methods Siva followed to find free accommodations, here are a few other options you can consider.

  • Camping: Camping is a great option for budget travelers. In India, there are no dedicated camping spots to pitch your tents. So, camping comes with a risk.
  • House-sitting: If you’re staying for a longer period, you can consider house-sitting for someone who’s traveling. You can take care of their home and pets in exchange for a place to stay.
  • Monasteries & Temples: India is home to beautiful ashrams, monasteries, temples, yoga retreats, and similar establishments where they won’t charge you for staying. The golden temple at Amritsar is a good example.

The guide has frequently mentioned the importance of having a purpose in traveling. When Siva approached various club members and communities, he shared that his purpose was to explore organic farming, gain more understanding of Indian cultures, explore business and job opportunities, and most importantly, discover his strengths and capabilities. His enriching experience has now made traveling a fundamental aspect of his life.

 

Although he set out with a simple purpose, Siva returned with a wealth of experiences and knowledge. This shows that being open-minded and receptive to new ideas and experiences can have a significant impact, not only in traveling but in life in general. It may seem like a pseudo-philosophical statement, but the outcome was that Siva was able to live for free for 150 days across various locations.

We’re sure there are numerous options, just like this one. If you know how other ways to get free accommodations, do tell us in the comments below.

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