Do you dream of having luxurious white-sand beaches and crystalline water outside your front door? How about year-long sunshine and warm weather?
I've been traveling full-time since 2006, but I count my two years of living in the Caribbean – for free - among the absolute highlights. Here's how I managed it:
Since I started traveling full-time, I specialized in finding various forms of free accommodation. Believe it or not, there are quite a few ways to get free accommodation around the world! But one of my favourite ways to get free accommodation is by house-sitting.
House-sitting involves taking care of somebody's home (and sometimes pets, plants, vehicles, and other accoutrements of home life) while the home owner is away. Length of house-sitting gigs can vary widely, from a few days to even a few years depending on the situation. In return for your services, you get a free place to stay, and the ability to enjoy the comforts of home – somebody else's home, that is.
I've had house-sitting gigs in about a dozen countries, and they've been fabulous experiences. So when I applied for a house-sitting gig on the Caribbean island of Grenada, I was thrilled to get the job. It was on a villa property owned by a British couple who spent half the year in the UK and half the year in Grenada. Hence when they were away, I got to stay in one of the villas on their property (for free of course) in exchange for taking care of their dog and generally keeping an eye on the maintenance and operation of the villa hotel, which pretty much ran itself with a full complement of loyal staff.
Interested in House-sitting? Great! But it's not always as ideal as I described above. Check out these 19 Cautionary Tales About House-Sitting to inform yourself.
Living on Boats
When I wasn't house-sitting in Grenada, I was living on boats throughout the Caribbean...of course, for free. The sailing community is a very small one, and once you know one captain, it's likely you'll be introduced to others who can give you passage to your next destination of choice in exchange for lending a helping hand around the boat.
So when the villa-owners returned to Grenada, I flew to St. Martin to join a boat owned by a friend of a friend who I knew in Grenada. He was anchored for many weeks in St. Martin working on a video business, which I helped him with in exchange for my own room on the boat.
But after a few weeks of being anchored, I was eager to hit the high seas, so jumped ship to join the captain of another boat who had some guests joining him in the British Virgin Islands. We sailed there together, and in exchange for free accommodation and a small stipend, I assisted the captain in ensuring his charter guests were well fed and comfortable.
Then, it was back to St. Martin to join yet another friend who I'd met in the sailing community to sail around the island and enjoy some lovely down time. And then....well, you get the picture. All in all, I lived on five boats spanning three Caribbean countries over three months, not a night of which was spent on land...and not a night of which I had to pay for.
If you're interested in the nautical life, and even getting paid to live on boats, check this out: How to Get a Job (or a Free Ride) Living on Boats
How to Get Free Accommodation
Are you interested in learning more about how to get free accommodation through things like house-sitting and living on boats? How about volunteering, cultural exchanges, and home exchanges? It's all possible, and in my first five years of full-time travel alone, I saved over $63,000 on accommodation expenses alone.
Learn more here: How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World
Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo; a woman who sold everything she owned (including a busy financial planning practice) to embrace her dreams of full-time travel. She has been on the road ever since, and on her site she teaches people how to travel full-time in a financially sustainable way. She has authored many books, including Working on the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom and How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World.