Couchsurfing and homestay are economical travel options. When I first planned to visit Australia in 2009, I was daunted by the prospect of traveling to a first-world country. I knew the travel expenses would be higher – the 40 Philippine Pesos against the 1 Australian Dollar was a constant reminder of that. Within 3 years my working circumstances got favourable and I was able to push through with my walkabout trip in 2012 because of the couchsurfing and homestay accommodation.

I wasn’t fond of bringing any travel guide book such as The Lonely Planet with me. I depended mostly on the internet and my Australian hosts for place and city information.
I never stayed in any hotel while I was on a trip in Australia. Of course nothing beats economical stay if you have a close friend in Australia. Your friend’s family would love to have you over for a while and they would be more than willing to show you around. Australians are hospitable people.
Otherwise, I would recommend the site Gumtree because it is easier to use and you get ad responses in less than 2 hours. You can put up an ad for free indicating that you need a place to stay for a week or more. You can also browse under the Couchsurfing category – you would find that there are hosts who are putting up their spare rooms for a generous fee per night’s stay inclusive of laundry and internet use.


The Harbour Bridge in Sydney, NSW

Some just want to experience hosting a foreign tourist to their country in exchange for a service, e.g., babysitting their kids. Others would boldly state in their ad that they will let you couchsurf for free in exchange for a massage. I had experienced receiving responses to my ad which were perverse in nature. You will get those, too, but it’s best to ignore them.

If you don’t like the unpredictability of couchsurfing, then homestay is a more comfortable choice. I personally recommend Sydney Homestay Directory. Gumtree also has a Homestay Category in their website you can browse with but Sydney Homestay Directory has more detailed hosts profiles. Homestay is not for free, though. Depending on the area in Sydney, the homestay rates can go from 110AUD to 200AUD per day. With a 150AUD I had 3 free meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), free laundry and access to WiFi. I picked a place which was closer to a train station so it would be easy to commute to and from the city.

I considered 150AUD a good bargain because of the free meals. You would find that having your meals in fast food chains and restaurants can be costly and even unhealthy. I was lucky to have an Egyptian architect and builder for a homestay host who also knew how to cook.

Couchsurfing and homestay accommodations allowed me to immerse myself in the Australian culture. Wherever your next travel will take you, do consider these 2 options.