Bartering your way to free travel

What do you do when global economic chaos nixes your travel plans? For some the answer is bartering. It’s the original form of economy: you have skills, other people have guesthouses or unused frequent flier miles — why not swap what you have for what you want?

The May issue of Budget Travel has an interesting article (online here) highlighting three travelers who swapped their skills for someone else’s house, a room in a nice inn and a free plane ticket.

All three of the people in the Budget Travel story traveled within the U.S., but similar opportunities exist abroad as well. For example, I traveled in Asia with an artist who offered to design logos or paint murals at guesthouses in exchange for a free night, or meals.

Of course, in my friend’s case, it was more casual than the examples in the Budget Travel article; he never went out of his way or made a sales pitch, generally someone would notice his sketchbook and a conversation would evolve from there. And sometimes he did something without getting anything in return.

Still, with a little planning, it’s not hard to see how you could set up quite a few barter-related stops on a long trip.

I’m curious to hear if any vagablogging readers have done anything bartering in their travels — whether a casual situation like my friend’s, or a long trip planned around bartering. Be sure to let us know how it worked in the comments below.

[Photo Credit: 29cm, Flickr]

Posted by | Comments (3)  | May 26, 2009
Category: General

3 Responses to “Bartering your way to free travel”

  1. Katie, Tripbase Says:

    I have a friend who is a magician / children’s party entertainer. He takes his cards and balloons everywhere he goes. Learn a few magic tricks, buy a silly hat and you can offer magic shows and entertainment in exchange for free accommodation – genius!

    Mind reading, tarot cards, palm reading – all this stuff is gold. actually learning any sort of skill that most other people don’t have will always get you places!

  2. Kris Says:

    I know of this great new site, It’s a semi-new spin on / extension of bartering. Essentially, it is an exchange of skills, hobbies, and time (& some stuff). You can find others in your area who are willing to teach, eager to learn, or simply seeking out others to engage in various activities of interest.

    The site is nicely organized into 4 different category searches for the specified type of interactions each user is seeking. You can decide to just learn or just teach. You can find those who would like to exchange lessons with what you are savvy/knowledgable in with something that you aren’t yet they otherwise are. You can link up with service professionals (like electricians, carpenters, etc.) and assist them for the day / project and in return get priceless exposure & training for your DIY projects at home (they benefit from the free help). Finally, there is a section called “SOCIALS” where you can find others in your area who have shared interests and would like to link up with others to ‘do’ what it is they mutually enjoy (i.e. hiking, knitting, playing poker, etc.). And actually, there’s a bartering section within this category for a number of things.

    Again, it’s a new site, but I think once people like us take a look at it and get some postings on there, it could really take off and be a huge asset to us all who love to learn new things and engage in many different activities without the silly cost of paying to do so! I mean for goodness sakes, we all know something!

    Hope to find others with the same interests as me! 🙂

  3. John Ford Says:

    I recently bartered a painting for a trip to Ireland with a cousin who had long wanted to buy a piece. The trip came before the painting, as Ireland is where she wanted me to take my inspiration from. I’m hoping to be able to do something like this again.