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How to Holiday for nothing, or next to nothing

It seems, even cannier travellers among us who regularly manage to pay nothing, or next to nothing on holidays.

IT would be a dream come true for most of us to get a free all expenses paid holiday but it is possible if you follow these techniques.

Stay longer, safe more

Cashback schemes.

In the same way cashback sites like



Become a volunteer and you’re able to get free stay at festivals in the UK. In return, you need to give your time to help volunteer at the event. Oxfam’s scheme, has thousands of opportunities and stewards at festivals including

You could also try volunteering in other countries like Fiji, Kenya or Peru (the list goes on!). As well as doing something worthwhile, you will also be able to get your own free time to explore the area. There are costs involved, but you are able to cover these by raising funds for the trip yourself.

Check out these two options Projects Abroad or GVI.

Camping and Hostels

You can “wild camp” in Scotland, where you can set up your tent almost anywhere legally with no costs.

If you do want to stick to the UK, there is just one place you can camp. Head to Dartmoor National Park and you can set up for wild camping for a maximum of two nights.

Or you can stay in a bothie?

A bothie is a basic hut – but it’s a free hut.

It’s not the kind of place you need to book and if you turn up and others are there, then you share.

The Mountain Bothies Association with about 100 stone shelters spread across the remotest parts of Scotland, Wales and the Borders, you’ll be right where the wild things are. Accommodation is absolutely free.

Finland’s network wilderness huts offers hikers equally basic free shelter. Slightly more luxurious huts (equipped with blankets and mattresses as well as stoves) are also available and can be reserved in advance, for a few euros.

Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route Pilgrims’ hostels – refugios – punctuate the route, and while the price of accommodation varies between €3-7, most ask simply for a donation. Just don’t forget your pilgrim’s credentials.

YHA is offering a free two-night stay and meals in one of its Youth Hostels in England and Wales to families struggling with financial hardship, disability, long-term illness, bereavement, homelessness or other challenging circumstances, to enable them to have some quality family time. Up to two adults and their children can apply to YHA’s Family Breaks programme for a short break.

Applying for a YHA Breaks family holiday is simple and straightforward. Simply fill out an application form here. Or, get in touch with the YHA Breaks team by emailing or calling freephone 0800 0191 700.


I recommend Albania for a holiday on a budget. It is a third cheaper than Greece I noticed. Some Italian people have their holidays there because it is way cheaper than Italy. Eastern Europe is cheap for traveling by train. It has some amazing cities for exploring. Flights from England to Poland can be a bargain. Look on Sky Scanner.

Travel with work or blogging

Being a holiday rep means you can be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of things like late cancellations that can’t be refunded. Opportunities may also arise to visit a particular destination as part of your job role, such as to review hotels, collect written or photographic content or attend conferences.

Swap your home

Thelma and Louise, the women travellers’ online network.

HomeLink International; established in 1953, it offers a choice of properties across 75 countries.

Mi Casa Su Casa, the home-trade network

Teachers Travel Web; anyone who teaches anything is eligible to sign up for their home swap scheme

Independent Living Institute’s Vacation Home Exchange programme: For travellers with disabilities, latest listings including an accessible family home in Victoria, Australia.

National Childbirth Trust’s House Swap scheme.

The Guardian’s Newspaper home-exchange site.


Free-stay opportunities for artistic people.

Creators Inn in Gothenberg, Sweden, offers free short-term accommodation for visiting artistic people.

Mount Tremper Arts in New York’s Catskill Mountains offers work exchange monthly residencies from one month to one year. In return for you working approximately 10 hours per week, you’ll get accommodation and use of studio space when when available.

La Muse Inn, dating back to 12th century. Writers and artists off season can offer their skills, receiving a free room in exchange for approximately three days’ work a week.

Car hire

Transfercar in New Zealand is an “online relocation service” bringing together travellers and a host of car rental companies. Simply register, choose from the list of free rental vehicles that need relocating. Most vehicles include basic insurance and ferry tickets between the North and South islands.

House work

Do the chores yourself. And there might be a free bed in it, if you go about it the right way.

HostelWorld, have accepted hard labour in lieu of hard cash. They include

  • Green Tortoise Backpackers in San Francisco
  • Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle;
  • Deco Walk Hostel in Miami
  • Southside Lodge in Whistler, Canada
  • Backpackers Hostel K’s House in Kyoto

Scottish Youth Hostel Association requires volunteers to work at its remoter properties for up to two weeks at a time. Chores include gardening, decorating and minor maintenance work, but there are also opportunities to get involved in the running of the hostel –

Broadmeadows, the association’s first hostel, opened in 1931. Situated in the stunning countryside of the Scottish Borders.


Win a holiday

How to bag the best plane seats

Want to know whether 18E beats 19C? When you’re choosing seats, use specialist sites 



to check the plane’s seating plan and see where’s best to pick.

Yet choosing the ideal seat can come with a price premium – up to £30 each way for a standard seat, or as much as £60 each way for extra legroom.

Don’t pay airport prices for travel accessories

Pick up travel accessories such as eye masks and travel cushions and adaptors at the airport and you risk paying inflated prices for last-second shoppers.

So plan ahead – you can often bag ’em cheaply at pound shops. Comparison site Mysupermarket* quickly compares prices across the major supermarkets, plus Boots, Superdrug and Poundland. For adaptors the Travel Adaptor website has useful country-by-country info.

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