How to Network for Cheap Travel


Networking is all the rage these days.

You can’t go to a conference or read a career website without hearing about how it can change your life. We use it for our social lives, for getting jobs and for collaborative projects.

So, there is absolutely no reason we can’t also use it to benefit our travel lives as well.

Travel networking can have a lot of benefits, so brush up on those conversation skills and find some great ways to make your trips a little bit better!

  • Benefit the bank account

Networking for travel can certainly help offer some relief for your wallet and bank account if you have the proper connections. One of the most common ways of doing this is by networking for cheaper, or even free, accommodations.

While I was in Australia, we had two major holiday breaks during the semester. For the first one in March, while many of my friends were paying steep prices to go on organized bus tours, I managed to network my way to a pretty phenomenal trip.

One of our new Aussie friends offered up his house in Esperance, Western Australia for the holiday. We’re not sure if his mom knew at the time that she was opening her house to ten international students, but she couldn’t have been more accommodating.

When we got to Ben’s house, we were amazed at what we saw.

A gorgeous house on a cliff overlooking the beach, huge windows everywhere, a backyard with a hammock, an awesome balcony for stargazing, and surfboards, canoes and kayaks galore.

We were sleeping on couches, air mattresses, or sleeper sofas, but we were in heaven. A full kitchen at our disposal, family vehicles to use, and the company of a new family for the week were perfect.

And it was free.

On the second holiday, I went a bit further and spent more money on the actual travel – a flight to Melbourne, on to Sydney, back to Melbourne and then back to Perth – but once again did not pay for accommodations.

Lady Bay Beach and Sydney Skyline

I had a friend from my middle school years who was studying in Melbourne the same semester I was in Perth, so I spent a couple days with her there, living in her dorm room and having her show me around the city.

After that, we headed off to Sydney together, where her aunt lives. Her aunt picked us up from the airport and, to our surprise, took us to a swanky new hotel in the city for the first night. “So that you can explore the city all day tomorrow while I’m at work, then I’ll come pick you up and we’ll go to my house.”

She refused to take money from us for this hotel, and based on the prices of the drinks in the bar, it cost her a pretty penny.

  • Seeing the world through the locals’ eyes

Another huge benefit was having Ben as a tour guide for us, free of charge. He took us to some of the greatest lookout points for a view of the town and the most majestic sunset I’d ever seen, as well as the most immaculate beach I’ve ever been to at Cape Le Grande National Park .

The rest of our time in Sydney was spent at my friend’s aunt’s house in the suburbs, but she taught us the local ways, including taking the Manly ferry instead of a Harbour Cruise. She was also kind enough to drive us into the Blue Mountains one day, which I am beyond grateful I was able to see.

You can’t beat the knowledge of a local when it comes to trying to get away from the typical touristy stuff. Those are the times you really learn about the culture and the city you are visiting.

  • Free accommodations means more freedom to explore

The free accommodations on these trips allowed me to spend more money on the experiences and attractions I really wanted to see. They also really made my time there more valuable, getting a true local feel for these new cities, as well as the old comforts of a home-cooked meal and a movie night with family.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask!

Couchsurfing is a fairly common practice around the travel world these days, but I am a huge advocate for seeing what existing connections you can dig up!


Ask your friends and family if they know anyone living in the city you are planning to visit, and to see if they will facilitate an introduction for you. Put word out there on your online networks to see if anyone has friends or family who may be willing to host you in your destination.

You might be surprised at who you will find, and what great unknown places you might fall in love with thanks to them.

  • Show your appreciation

As with any other kind of networking, be sure to show your gratitude to those who opened up to you.

In Esperance, we cooked dinner for Ben’s family one night, and cleaned the entire house, top to bottom. Upon arriving in Sydney, my friend and I presented her aunt with a gift we had picked up at the market in Melbourne. Simple gestures like that will go a long way and help you to maintain those connections for the future.

Have you had any travel experiences where your networking skills came in handy? Any other tips?


About Author

Lindsay spent the first 18 years of her life in Baltimore, then moved on to North Carolina for college. Spending a semester studying in Perth, Western Australia changed her life and gave her an incurable case of the travel bug. After a year and a half of cubicles and admin work, she decided it was time to go after her dreams. She is now working as a freelance writer and editor in Annapolis, Md. and taking whatever trips she can manage to fulfill that wanderlust and hopefully fuel her soon-to-be travel writing career.


  1. I am a huge fan of couchsurfing! While I haven’t actually surfed on any couch yet, apart from my friend’s, I’ve hosted a bunch of people and I’ve always had an awesome time! I only host when I know I have time to show the person around and I can take them to a bar and meet my friends 🙂
    It is just one of the awesomest website I’ve discovered in the past 2 years (along with Go Girl Guides of course^^)
    I encourage everyone who loves to travel to try it 🙂

    • i did all 3!! it wouldn’t let me suseggt friends to clourby candace but i suseggted your own page and have been telling eryoine i know how needs a makeup girl that your THE girl to come to!!

  2. Super advice, I think a lot of people would be surprised at how enthusiastic others are to open their home to travelers! As for tips… I used to use the whole “do you have a lighter?” trick to meet people while traveling, which once ended with me befriending a boy from outside Zurich while in Geneva and ultimately staying with him and his family in a cute Swiss village. He even got my friend and I bikes to show us around spots I never would have even heard of otherwise! It totally beat the pants off a hostel.

    • Just did all three steps and I had even already sehrad your information as a recommendation prior to this incentive. Hope to work things out during my visit to Charlotte in Dec. Thanks!

  3. Oh my goodness! I love them all! The ppootgrahh showing her beautiful eyes is so pretty and I just love the one with her little fingers holding Brad’s fingers. Then, I love the one with Amy on the bed with Claire, too! I guess I just love looking at pictures of this precious child.Pure innocence and beauty! Great job, Aharon!

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