Prior to the holiday rush, November is generally one of the quieter months for travel. But if you’re looking for a last-minute, pre-holiday getaway for a reasonable price, you may want to take a look at the offerings for Barter Week, which allows travellers to stay in a variety of accommodation options for free in exchange for providing requested services or items. The catch? You need to get booking now and travel between November 18-24.
The premise is simple: pull up the website and either search by location, or scroll through a list of countries that have properties participating in Barter Week. You can also take a look at some of the different services the properties need—everything from painters to tattooists to journalists to people with an IT background. Another way to score free accommodation is to provide a product off a property’s wish list, items like musical instruments, Christmas decorations and board games.
Barter Week began in Italy in 2008, and last year expanded around the world. This year, more than 600 bed and breakfasts, hotels and other self-catering accommodations are open to having guests barter their skills for a free stay. Given its origins, Italy has the most Barter Week options—407 properties. The UK is next with 28, followed by Switzerland (12), the United States (11), South Africa (8) and India (8). There is also a function that allows you to search by city.
Logistically, it’s pretty similar to using sites like Airbnb and VRBO, except without the money part. Once you search the website and find a property you’re interested in, you contact the hosts, who will review your offer and then either accept or reject it. After that, both parties iron out any remaining details and close the deal.
But even if you can’t travel between November 18 to 24, the Barter Week site also allows properties to indicate whether they accept bartering from guests year-round—and many do.
So what’s on offer? A guest house in Bosnia near the Croatian border is looking for someone to take photos of their new renovation, and offers the bartering option year-round. An inn in rural Wisconsin is seeking books and construction work in exchange for a free stay. And a villa and spa in Sri Lanka needs someone to help with SEO work for the property’s website. Got a spare piano keyboard accordion sitting around the house? A B&B in Italy will gladly take it off your hands and let you stay for no charge.