Local organisations (3/4)

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Another great way to find cheap or free accommodation in an area is to research the local organisations there and see if they are offering beds in exchange for a few hours work or a small donation. I have had some of my most rewarding travel experiences doing this. Here are a few ideas on where to try.

Ashrams/monasteries: A lot of these types of establishments warmly welcome those wishing to learn about daily ashram or monastery life. They will normally provide a bed, meals (sometimes) and permission to take part in their day to day activities and ceremonies for a nominal fee or for a couple of hours service in the garden/kitchen etc. The photo above is from my month long stay in the Ananda Gaorii ashram in Denmark where I spent 4 hours a day helping out with the cooking, cleaning and gardening and, in exchange, got a bed, vegetarian meals and the opportunity to take part in their daily meditations and kirtan (spiritual singing)

Hostels: On my travels I’ve come across many hostels seeking people to man the front desk and help with the cleaning in exchange for a bed in one of their dorms so I decided to give it a go in Youthink Hostel in Cluj Napoca earlier this year. While I’ll admit the freezing cold month of January is not the best time to visit Romania, I had a nice experience and enjoyed my time there. The workload was small and I got to meet some amazing people from all over the world.

Volunteering sites: Spending hours searching online for appropriate organisations in your destination can be tiring and off putting. Thankfully, some clever souls decided to put together websites where organisations, businesses, farms and families can create host profiles and offer meals and accommodation in exchange for your work. There will be a small fee for any volunteers looking to join the site but, once a member, you can access all of these hosts for free. My absolute favourite site is Workaway but other popular platforms are Helpx and Wwoof. I won’t delve into too much detail here (we’ll save that for another post) but I will say that the absolute best travel experiences I’ve had have been while volunteering.

Written by Ishtar Darlington

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