How we saved 2,500 USD on accommodations

One of the most expensive things of longtime traveling is accommodation. You can afford hotel prices for holidays with maximum 2 weeks of periods, but it can be quite expensive to stay at touristic hotels for longer periods, as most backpackers travel more than 6 months. 

We spend 6 months in different Asian countries and needed to find a solution to reduce our expenses. Before we actually quit our jobs and started our tour, we looked for different ways on the internet by reading travel blogs and websites. There are a lot of ways you can reduce your accommodation costs. Volunteering and Couchsurfing have been the ones that worked for us. 

In general, our strategy has been looking for a central place as a base and traveling from there to the places we wanted to see for shorter periods. We didn’t cover all our accommodation expenses of course, but we still were able to save a lot. 

In this blog, we will give a short description of how we managed to save around 2,500 USD on accommodations during our 6 month trip in Asia. Do note that in some countries we didn’t volunteer at all, so we will describe only the places where we did. 

All round help in Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was the first destination of our Asia tour. It was very exciting for us and we were very aware of our budget. We found a hostel, where they needed volunteers who speak good English.

We worked around 4 hours per day (5 days in a week) and in return, we stayed there for free (private room) and had free breakfast and lunch in addition. 

Our daily tasks have been general maintenance, carpentry (handyman tasks), help with customers, decoration in the hostel. We enjoyed our time and became good friends with the staff. Even after working hours, we spent a lot of time with them. We went to some events in the city center of Colombo, had regular dinners together and even spent a whole weekend visiting the beaches on the south coast of Sri Lanka. 

We used the weekend to travel to other cities in Sri Lanka on our own. Expenses made during these solo travels were all covered by ourselves. 

Couchsurfing in Chennai, India

Probably one of the most known ways to travel without spending money on accommodation is Couchsurfing. Thanks to Couchsurfing, we became friends with an interesting couple. We got in touch with a Turkish girl who is a movie producer and has an Indian, Bollywood producer husband. Although we spoke with the girl first, she was not in the house during our stay. But we got very close with Rathindran, her husband and met some new people (friends and assistants).

During the few days we spent at their house, we got to see some of his work and had lovely dinners together. It was a very nice experience. We got to taste good coffee, nice food and have seen a local household. This definitely is a nice way to get to know the culture of an area.  

Artwork and design in Goa, India

Goa is known for its trance parties and laid back environment. We met a DJ who also has his own hostel near Vagator beach. We spent 2/3 weeks with him, helping him around with decorations and some maintenance jobs such as painting. 

We met a lot of backpackers from all around the world by volunteering at this hostel. We spent our time at the countless beaches of Goa and went to a few places nearby and did a weekend trip to Hampi (9 hours by bus). 

During our stay in Goa, we cooked a lot at the hostel and bought fresh fruits and vegetables at small local markets. 

Taking care of dogs in Koh Chang, Thailand

Koh Chang is an island near the Cambodian border. This island is less touristic than other islands such as Phuket. We spent unforgettable, beautiful days here. We stayed at an amazing Thai style house for free. Our job here was to take care of 20 dogs that lived in the huge garden of the house. The most important thing we had to do was feeding them (2 times a day).

It was an incredible experience because we basically had a whole house to ourselves and got to spend time with lovely dogs (most of them not older than a year). Next to this, we really loved it that the island wasn’t too touristic. There was a beach nearby where we spend our afternoons under the sun. Most days we saw no more than 3/4 people walking by, so we felt like it was our own private beach. We put on our own music and kind of had small picnics. 

We rented a scooter for more than 3 weeks and saw all parts of the island. Nature is amazing. We would definitely recommend everybody to visit Koh Chang.

Social media and photography in Koh Samui, Thailand

After visiting some other Asian cities (in Cambodia), we went back to Thailand and spent another month. After a quick visit to Bangkok, this time it was time for another island, the island of Koh Samui. This island is known as a little more luxurious. 

We met an Irish couple here, who were about to open a hostel. They needed help with the general preparations, setup of social media accounts, setup of booking sites, Mediterranean dishes and they were open to any kind of ideas. Both of them were so sweet. We felt very much at home and had a nice time working with them. There was a Thai lady working with them and she was truly amazing. 

This lady was born on the island and had lived there her whole life. Therefore she knew all the local places we needed to see. We cooked Thai dishes with her, went to local markets and have seen some of the most beautiful spots on the island because of her. 

Koh Samui has been great for us. Some tasks were unbelievable; one of our jobs was to take pictures of the island (we got a scooter) and of the hostel (for the booking sites). We also liked the social media part as we shared ideas and help with the content. 

Painting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

During our time in Malaysia, we spent nearly 2 weeks in Kuala Lumpur. We met a Malay/Chinese girl who owns 2 houses together with her family. They live in one of the houses and are renting the rooms of the other one. They still had one room to offer. She gave the room to us and in exchange, we painted the front door and an area in the garden for her. 

She was busy all week and we saw her only at night and on the weekend. One day she took us to a nice hiking point not too far by car. We spent a whole day together. We closed the day at a nice Indian restaurant called: Lotus. 

Artwork at Bali, Indonesia

In Bali, we met a Dutch guy who wanted a new concept for his hostel. The idea was to make a ‘jungle room’. This meant a green area and using a lot of natural materials such as bamboo. We helped him by giving some ideas, we kept an eye on the staff to make sure every plan is executed properly and we made mural paintings. We worked together with a few Malay friends. 

We loved what we were doing here and the end result was nice. In return, we could stay for free and received 2 meals a day for free (breakfast and lunch). And during our free time, we got a free motorbike from the owner and could tour around in Bali.


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