If you are a fan of low-cost lodging, there is no better price than free. That's what you get if you qualify to be a member of an online community called Global Freeloaders (www.GlobalFreeloaders.com.)
Qualifying is relatively easy--all you have to do is sign up for a period of 12 months, during which you agree to host guests yourself as well as being a guest. Hosts are supposed to be willing to accommodate guests in any way they can, completely free of charge, at the host's convenience. In other words, you don't need to accept guests if you don't like their approach, if you yourself will be travelling, hosting family, etc. And the lodging need not be elaborate--a mattress on the floor will do, or a room, or a separate apartment or cottage.
The community was started and is still run by Adam Staines, a 24 year old Australian who has already travelled widely and enjoyed meeting people all over the world. I like the layout of the site--minimal ads, lots of text, no distracting photos or videos. It is also filled with testimonials from people who have used the site successfully in their travels.
It is somewhat similar to Couchsurfing (www.Couchsurfing.com) except that Couchsurfing allows you to be either a guest, a host, or both. I also notice that Couchsurfing has become more elaborate, and that it now links to a number of social media sites. If I wanted to become a member, it looks as if I would have to do so through my Facebook account.
If you are up for the challenge of staying with strangers, GF may be for you. I never thought I would like staying with people I had never met, but after a trip last year with Friendship Force (www.friendshipforce.org) I am a convert. Whatever else, it is always an adventure.
Labels: Couchsurfing, Friendship Force, Global Freeloaders, low-cost lodging