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10 ways to get free lodging

Wouldn't it be great to slash your next travel bill by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars? Here are 10 ways to rest your head for free.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 3, 2014 12:17PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIt's summertime, and vacations are in full swing. Unfortunately, the cost of travel isn't getting any cheaper. And lodging is one of the more expensive items on the list.

AAA offered the following insight into lodging expenses for Fourth of July travel this year:

(H)otel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase 9 percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $178 per night compared to $164 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 15 percent with an average cost of $137 per night.

But wouldn't it be nice to eradicate that hefty travel expense?

That may sound like a stretch, but it's totally possible. Here are 10 ways to go about it:

1. Use credit card rewards

If you have accumulated a substantial amount of credit card points, put them to use. I'm not suggesting that you sign up for a credit card you don't need, but those with the most generous introductory offers will enable you to access free benefits much sooner.

2. Trade in frequent-flier miles

These perks, which are offered through airlines and select rewards credit cards, can also be redeemed for lodging in lieu of a free flight. However, The Points Guy says that using frequent-flier miles for hotel stays is rarely a good idea.

3. Accumulate loyalty rewards

Always on the road? Sign up for a customer loyalty program with your favorite hotel chain and watch the points pile up. I personally love Marriott’s programs because not only do the points accumulate rapidly after each stay, but they occasionally run a promotion that automatically grants you a free night when you stay two in a row.

Couple Entering a Hotel Room © Fuse/Getty Images4. Attend time-share presentations

There's a small price to pay: You must endure a two-hour sales pitch from a company representative who desperately desires that you make an impulse real estate purchase. But 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 recently 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

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

If they 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 them to a meal and leave a gift.

7. Swap homes

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

Check these sites for possibilities:

8. Volunteer

You may be able to land a free stay in return for your work at a community event hosted by a nonprofit organization, even if it’s only for a few hours of your time -- if the organization is short on local volunteers. I did this once with the Red Cross.

9. House-sit

Owners who will be away for an extended period of time may have an interest in keeping the 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 may also be your responsibility for the duration of your stay.

To sign up for consideration, visit:

10. Join an exchange program

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?

More from Money Talks News

Jul 3, 2014 1:52PM
Hook a teardrop trailer to your 35 mpg car and go out and see the states.
Jul 3, 2014 1:28PM
Sleeping under a bridge. Sleeping while your gov screws you. Sleep reading this crap
Jul 3, 2014 3:08PM
Another inexpensive option during the summer months is to contact local colleges and universities in the area you are visiting. Most of them, to generate some extra revenue, will rent out married housing apartments on campus at a very inexpensive rate. The only drawback (though I don't find it that bad) is you will need to bring your own sheets/blanket. You have your own kitchen so you can also save money by not eating out every meal. The last time I did this is was only $21 per night.
Jul 3, 2014 1:47PM
Section 85? where the taxpayers pay freeloader's rent.
Jul 3, 2014 5:18PM
They left how the #1 way...LEARN SPANISH...and head for the border all expences paid...
Jul 3, 2014 6:50PM
trading houses and couches can leave you wide open to strangers bringing in bed bugs.  You don't know where they traveled before they got to your house, and they could bring in the little 'hitch hikers'.
Jul 9, 2014 5:37PM
#12- Murder someone in cold, calculating fashion. Receive Murder 1 conviction in Death- Penalty jurisdiction. You'll have housing for life by the time the appeals exhaust.

Heck, I'll be dead.....and have paid for your housing (meals & healthcare, too) before they spark you up.

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