Where Should I Stay with No Money?

girl with laptop in hostel bed

Finding accommodation for a couple of days or even for one night is sometimes absolutely necessary, but it's also usually pretty expensive. If you're wondering where should I stay with no money, there actually are answers to the question and more options than you might think.

Traveling on a Budget

If you're traveling and you have very little money or even no money, you just can't stay in hotel rooms night after night. There are many ways to find places to stay that cost a lot less or cost nothing at all.

Remember that for the most part, you won't have a lot of comfort or privacy when you use these options. But you will have a place to stay and when that's all you need, that's all you need.

Take some basic safety precautions by keeping your belongings on you or very close to you at all times and do not lose sight of your belongings. Remain alert and if you get a bad feeling or see a red flag, leave.

Short Term Rentals

Forget about renting out a nice house or getting a hotel room. All you really need is a little bit of space to sleep in for a short amount of time.

Short-term room rentals are the perfect solution. Sites like Crashpadder.com and Couchsurfing.com make it easy for you to find a low-cost place to literally just crash for the night.

This type of rental is also known as a homestay and a farmstay. With farmstay options, you can often exchange the cost of a place to stay for a few hours of work on the farm.

Houses of Worship

Some religious houses of worship provide people with a place to stay, depending on the faith you belong to and where you are in the world. Various monasteries in Itlay and guesthouses for worshippers in Jerusalem are out there.

If you're in southeast Asia, seek out a Buddhist monastery. If you're in India, an ashram is where you want to go.


Though associated with youth, hostels are open to people of all ages. These are extremely cheap places to stay that offer very little in the way of privacy or luxury but they do offer very low prices.

Hostels are all over the world and much cheaper than a hotel room. Conditions are cramped and often noisy but it’s a bed to sleep in when you need one.

Academic Housing

Colleges and universities sometimes provide dorm room housing during summer months and academic breaks. It's a little-known fact that dorm rooms can be rented out cheaply in some areas, so it's worth it to check.

Look online or go to local colleges and places with academic housing during off months to ask about cheap dorm rentals.

Language Exchange

Is English your first language? Some places will let you stay for free if you are willing to share your skill.

There are multiple language exchange programs out there that you can sign up for if you’re a native English speaker, no matter where you come from in the world. Accommodations are available in Spain and Germany, among other places around the world.

This can be a highly affordable way to travel while sharing a skill that you just naturally possess.

Will Work for Sleep

You can also exchange work for a place to sleep. Sites like Worldpackers offer work opportunities where you can literally earn your keep.

You may do some manual labor outside and these jobs are probably the most common, but some places are looking for people to perform indoor work as well. If you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty or work up a bit of a sweat, this is a good way to find places to stay and go just about anywhere in the world.


People actually hire house sitters to come and stay in their homes. Often, you will be asked to take care of pets or plants or perform some other household task while there, but you will get to stay in the home and actually make money out of the whole deal, which is pretty sweet.

You’ll have to sign up for a website offering housesitters or start promoting your services yourself to get started but if you can get a few gigs out of it, why not?

Sleep While You Travel

Going somewhere by plane, train, or bus? Instead of worrying about a place to stay, schedule the trip so that you're traveling at night and sleeping while you travel.

You may not have the most comfortable spot to sleep but vehicles designed to take people across long distances are typically designed to accommodate for sleep in some form or fashion. Use this feature and schedule as many trips to take place while you want to sleep as you can.

sleeping bags in camping tent

Camp Out

If you've got a tent or a sleeping bag or both, just camp out. There are tons of places where you can camp out totally for free and it's perfectly legal.

In the U.S., it is free and legal to camp out in any national forest. In Canada, all Crown Land (which is 88 percent of the country) can be camped in for free.

If you're in Scandinavia, it's considered to be a basic right for you to camp out in a farmer's field and that means any farmer’s field. They're rude if they don't allow you to do it!

Japan and Australia have a ton of free camping areas and basically, just about anywhere you go will have areas where you can camp for free.

Work on a Boat

You can also perform work in exchange for room and board on a boat. If you don't get seasick easily and you don't mind working, this just might be an ideal situation because you get to travel and you have a place to stay.

Boats need crew members in order to function. Whether it's a cruise boat, a fishing boat, a private yacht, or any other conveyance, it needs workers and sometimes, it will provide living quarters in exchange for work.

If that sounds good to you, there are numerous online websites where you can search specifically for these kinds of jobs.

Be an Au Pair

Good with kids and don't mind doing some light housework? Become an au pair.

You get a place to live in exchange for minding children and doing some stuff around the house, which is a pretty sweet gig if this type of work suits you.

There are dedicated websites that list au pair opportunities all around the world for those who have the skills and experience for this kind of work.

Use Your Social Network

Reach out to friends and family through social media and ask them if they know anyone you can stay with wherever you happen to be in the world. You may find that you have extended family members or friends of friends who are willing to give you a place to crash for free.

If they're a good friend or a nice family member, they may even offer you a meal while you're there!

Where to Find Shelter With No Money

If you literally have no money and few resources and you need a place to stay because you are unhoused, there are still options available. In winter when it's cold and those times when situations are rough, sometimes you need to know where to go.

There are places to go.

Free Emergency Shelter

Through the federal housing authority, you can find shelters in all 50 states in multiple locations in every single state. There are shelters open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

The Salvation Army also provides shelters for all people, not just for veterans. They operate shelters all over the country.

If you have been forced from your home due to a disaster, the Red Cross has shelters in major cities around the U.S. that are used for these events.

Find Shelter

If you need shelter and you can get to a phone, try dialing 211. Many states and cities have enabled this feature, which will help you find information so you can get to the nearest emergency shelter.

You can also contact the National Coalition for the Homeless, which can provide you with information about where to find shelter and how to make use of other resources.

emergency shelter beds

Where to Stay When You Have No Money

When you have no money, traveling or just getting through the night can be a source of stress. There are lots of different options out there, however, many ways to find a place to sleep in relatively safe and clean circumstances.

Make use of all of these opportunities and you can travel the world, see lots of places, meet a lot of people, and live a rather exciting life pretty affordably.

Cheap Housing FAQ

How can I travel safely with just the essentials?

Packing light is key if you don't have a set plan or a secure place to stay. Stick to the absolute basics and pack well so that you have what you need and you can carry it all easily and safely.

First, you want to have one bag. That's right, just the one.

And as for what to put in it, that list includes an extra change of clothes, an extra T-shirt, at least three pairs of underwear and socks, a pair of indoor shoes, a rain jacket, ear plugs or earbuds, a toiletry kit containing travel-sized soap and a razor along with a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, a swimsuit, a small first aid kit, and at least one extra warming layer like a sweater or a hoodie. You may also need a phone, a phone charger, keys, and a wallet.

Any other items you feel you need to have must be small and most important, light in weight. Do not bring anything valuable or irreplaceable if you can help it.

When you pack, don't fold. Roll everything into a tube, including your T-shirts and underwear, because you can fit a whole lot more stuff in the bag this way.

Use the different compartments to store items in an organized way. Secure the zippers with a lock and wear the key to it around your neck or better yet, on a chain around your waist.

Sleep with your bag. If possible, secure it to your body with a strap while you do.

How can I find free food?

Sometimes you might be really, really strapped for cash. If you can't afford a place to stay, buying food can also be a dicey situation.

There are ways to get free food as well. Many states in the U.S. offer free food banks, such as Dare to Care, that can provide you with food.

But if you are traveling or you're just in a bind and you need some quick eats, there are ways to get it.

A huge variety of fast food and chain restaurants offer free food on your birthday. As long as you have an ID verifying that the day is, in fact, your birthday, you can often get a free item.

Go to just about any fast food or chain restaurant you find, prove that it's your birthday, and see what you can get for free.

If you've got a phone and it isn't your birthday, sign up for a fast food or chain restaurant app. Many such places offer a free food item or a certain dollar amount in free food just for signing up.

Often, you can go online and get coupons for free food from a huge variety of restaurants. They use it as a promotion and you can use it to get a quick meal when you're seriously strapped for cash.

Consider also becoming a mystery diner. You will get vouchers and reimbursement for eating in restaurants by doing this.

Where can I camp year-round?

While many places in the world have weather conditions that make it impossible to camp out there during certain times of the year, there are places in the world where the weather is almost always fairly temperate and comfortable.

The Hawaii volcanoes national park is beautiful throughout the year and because it's a national park, you can camp here for free. The warm climate in the Fool Hollow lake recreation area of Arizona is also pleasant throughout the year and you can actually see bald eagles flying above while you're here.

Death Valley national park, which covers parts of California and Nevada, rarely dips below 40 degrees at night, which is certainly chilly but still above freezing.

Many parts of the southern U.S. and areas further south, including Mexico and Central and South America, offer warm temperatures even in the wintertime. If you want to sleep outdoors all the time, it is possible to do this in relative safety and comfort by choosing one of these favorable climates.

Further Reading

How to Clean Canvas Camping Tents

How to Properly Wash a Sleeping Bag

Who Needs Expensive Resorts? DIY Travel