So today marks a month in New Zealand and out of the 30 days I spent on hostels just on 2 nights. Yes, it is possible! Travel does not always have to be costly. Having travelled quite a fair bit over the past couple of years, I’ve realised bulk of my travel expenses amount from spending on accommodation. I’ve to admit finding ways to save on accommodation has taken up so much of my time, and more importantly, consumed a large portion of my already sizeable number of brain cells. But, knowing that, I can breathe easier when my funds aren’t depleting faster than a exponential curve makes all my effort worthwhile. So, here are some options for you to consider when, like me, you’ve embarked on long term travel.
Despite being a member of Couchsurfing from 2012, I’ve to say, I actively started using it just last year when I travelled to Australia. To me, Couchsurfing is an amazing platform that connects travellers from over the world and walks of life with locals. It might not always be a very comfortable stay (some cases it is a private room AND an actual bed!) but, it allows you to meet interesting people who are genuinely nice without expecting anything in return. Each Couchsurfing experience I’ve had, thus far, has been positive (yay!) and I’ve met some very interesting people (double yay!).
I’ve stayed in a garage of a farm house in the country side of Sunshine Coast with more animals than people and I’ve also stayed in a house not too far away from the city in Adelaide with 8 other people. Each connection I’ve made over Couchsurfing has inspired me to host when my situation changes back at home (hopefully real soon). And oh, in case you are not aware, it’s free to join Couchsurfing as well as you get to stay with hosts for free as well. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a souvenir or a gift to your host.
I guess I have been fairly lucky on Couchsurfing as I managed to find hosts during a week I spent in Auckland last month. And I’ve been told, Auckland is one of the hardest cities to Couchsurf in. Secretly hoping to be a CS ambassador someday. 🙂
If you aren’t already sold on Couchsurfing, have a look at this article.
HelpX is an online community comprising of different accommodation types from farms, home stays, lodges, backpacker hostels and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can ‘queer’ accomodation like sailing boats/campervans/solar powered cottages etc. An usual arrangement is such that for about 4-5 hours of work per day, meals and accomodation would be provided for you. Hosts usually want helpers to stay 1-2 weeks at the very minimum just so it isn’t very disruptive to their homes which is fair. I moving to a home in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty region I found via HelpX, in a couple of weeks time.
When you register as a helper you automatically become a free member of HelpX. However, to be able to contact hosts directly you would need to upgrade to a Premier member which costs 20 Euros for 2 years worldwide membership. It is 20 Euros for twin memberships as well.
Rodney & Sheryl – my first Workaway family
Workaway works in a similar concept as HelpX. But, in my opinion, tasks on Workaway can range quite a fair bit. It can go beyond usual home set ups and involve you managing retail stores for an instance. I have had a very good first experience via Workaway 2 weeks back with Rodney and Sheryl’s family in Coromandel Peninsula region. A country side home to enjoy tranquility and soak in the peace is just perfect after doing some hardcore travelling.
Similar to HelpX, a 2 year membership with Workaway costs 20 Euros. For a couple, it is an additional of 10 Euros.
4. Au Pair
Au Pair is usually the most common among travellers as there are plenty of Au Pair networks available so finding a family isn’t hard at all. The only issue with Au Pair is that families usually are after someone who can commit for at least 3 months. So, travellers if you are good with that kind of commitment period, Au Pair would work well for you. There are plenty of agencies connecting families with Au Pair as well as numerous Facebook groups. So, best of luck finding a suitable family.
WOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is probably the most common when you are in the country like New Zealand! After all, you are in a land with more sheeps than people! To be honest, I’ve yet to try out WOOFing only because my interest in farming is close to non existent. But, hey, that might change in a couple of months time when I become more Kiwi. 😉
The only experience I have had in a farm was when I did a farm tour with Rodney when I stayed with his family. That just involved me sitting quite precariously on a tractor while I watched silage being moved, being a passenger on a 4WD to bring the cows back to the milk shed and there after, attempting to milk the cows. Definitely an eye-opening experience!
WOOFing internships are also an option for those interested in picking some concrete farming/horticultural experience. Membership to join the WOOFing network costs $40.
Good luck planning your travels and let me know if there are any other options out there! Safe adventures till then!
All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.