10 Ways to Get Free Lodging on Your Summer Vacation

Lodging is one of the most expensive parts of summer travel. Here are 10 ways to rest your head for free.


We’re deep into summertime, and vacations are in full swing. Unfortunately, the cost of travel rarely is cheap. And lodging is one of the more expensive items on the list.

Just prior to the July 4 holiday, AAA offered the following update on lodging expenses:

Hotel costs have fallen slightly compared to last Independence Day. AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels will average $185, while a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel will average $144 nightly. Daily car rental rates will average $75, six percent more than last year.

Wouldn’t it be nice to eradicate that hefty travel expense? This may sound like a stretch, but it’s possible.

Following are 10 ways to cut your lodging expenses to zero.

1. Use credit card rewards

Travel credit cardAfrica Studio / Shutterstock.com

If you have accumulated a substantial amount of credit card points, put them to use.

I’m not suggesting you sign up for a credit card you don’t need. But if you are shopping for a card anyway, remember that cards with the most generous introductory offers enable you to access free benefits much sooner.

You can find the perfect credit card by using our Solutions Center.

2. Trade in frequent-flier miles

Family at airportMonkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

These perks, which are offered through airlines and select rewards credit cards, can also be redeemed for lodging in lieu of a free flight.

Some people frown on this approach. For example, the Points Guy says that using frequent-flier miles for hotel stays is rarely a good idea, as you typically have to use up too many points to get the free room.

But this may be a good option for some, even if you don’t get the biggest bang for your buck. Use your own judgment.

3. Accumulate loyalty rewards

Hotelracorn / Shutterstock.com

Always on the road? Sign up for a customer loyalty program with your favorite hotel chain and watch the points pile up.

4. Attend time-share presentations

Time shareCheryl Casey / Shutterstock.com

There’s a small price to pay for doing this. You must endure a two-hour sales pitch from a company representative who desperately desires you to make an impulse real estate purchase.

But if you persevere, you may be able to stay at a luxurious resort for an amount that is substantially lower than what you would pay on any other occasion.

My family and I once took advantage of an offer of $99 for a four-day, three-night resort stay that would typically cost at least $250 per night. Not free, but pretty darn close to it.

5. Become a reviewer

Travel bloggerezpic / Shutterstock.com

Are you a travel blogger? This may open the door to opportunities to review hotels in exchange for a free night’s stay. Just be sure to openly disclose the relationship as required by Federal Trade Commission rules.

6. Crash with relatives

RelativesIakov Filimonov / Shutterstock.com

If loved ones have extra room available, they may gladly welcome you into their home. What’s even better is the ability to get firsthand insight into the location you’re visiting.

Just make sure you’re a good guest, and that you treat your hosts to a meal and leave a gift.

7. Swap homes

Home swapDragon Images / Shutterstock.com

With this arrangement, you agree to give up your residence to another family in exchange for a chance to crash at their home for a specified period of time.

Check these sites for possibilities:

8. Volunteer

VolunteerYe Choh Wah / Shutterstock.com

You might be able to land a free stay in return for your work at a community event hosted by a nonprofit organization. And you might only have to volunteer a few hours of your time. I did this once with the Red Cross.

9. House-sit

House-sitterRido / Shutterstock.com

Owners who will be away for an extended period may have an interest in keeping their home occupied so burglars won’t get any ideas. Just be aware that the owner may require that you be bonded.

In addition, extra jobs like pet care and yardwork also may be your responsibility for the duration of your stay.

To sign up for consideration, visit:

10. Join an exchange program

House guestLiukov / Shutterstock.com

When you become a member of a hospitality exchange, you agree to let strangers crash on your couch — or in a guest bedroom — for a few nights. This arrangement is ideal for those who are open to new experiences and don’t mind being generous.

If you’re interested, visit one of the following to learn more and get registered:

Have you landed free lodging using any of these tactics? Let us know why by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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