Two New Ways to Vacation for Free

Because I've added an invaluable new tool to the Chowgypsy repertoire on money-saving techniques for travel, I thought I'd spend a bit more time reminiscing on the results of said tool before moving on.

Spoiler Alert: we're headed to an Olive Farm!
While sleeping in abandoned houses isn't an ideal way to vacation for free, it is a beautiful thing to find standing amidst an olive orchard as I walk around Elea
And honestly, there are just so many pictures I have to share with you. It seems sacrilegious to move on from Elea without showing you more of how utterly amazing this spot is.

But let's cut to the chase. John and I stayed at somebody's home for four weeks: one week spent getting to know the amazingly friendly and entertaining British homeowners, Dilys and Les, and the rest taking care of their pets while they visited family in Singapore
Ellie's big day of mountain climbing
Foxy's typical spot
If you don't find this adorable, then your feelings are wrong
Just keep trying Ellie, just keep trying.
It was a nice home, it had all the amenities you could dream of, and it had two amazingly sweet dogs that simply wanted to hang out with us.
And it had a view. Did I mention the view? This is our "bullfrog" at sunset.
Because Dilys and Les allowed us to chip away at their food supply, John and I ended up spending hardly any money on food (we of course purchased a steady supply of fresh fruits and veggies). I whipped out the money-saving kitchen staples list, and we got by on less than $35 per week to feed ourselves.
Perusing the Friday Market in nearby Molaoi
And it's CITRUS SEASON!! Two pounds for a nickel, baby!
And did I mention that with their enthusiastic consent, I was able to invite and spend Christmas with my mom and dad for the first time in five years?
Picnic of local cheese, salami, bread, and olives
looking mischievous
Who knew she could cut hair?
don't disturb them...
For all intents and purposes, we were vacationing in one of Greece's most beautiful spots for free. For three weeks. For free.

It's experiences like this that prove my theory that you can travel the world without spending much money (are you listening!?).
Elea's Porto Cafe, where we went to sit seaside drinking coffees and eating these cheese-stuffed peppers
The bay was only about a mile away from the house, so we could take the dogs for a visit and stop for a coffee
All this is thanks to Vacation-for-Free Tool #1: Housesitting.

It takes a bit of effort, just like all worthwhile things. For this housesitting assignment, we paid $60 to register on a website called and filled out a lengthy profile about ourselves essentially stating why a home/pet owner should choose us as your sitters over anybody else. We assumed a $60 payment would pay off in the long run, and it already has in our case.

I will mention that we were lucky to have been chosen. Dilys told me that around 50 people applied, and we ended up being the [very] fortunate ones. The only thing I can say here is that authenticity helps when filling  out these profiles--don't say things like you love dogs or you love living in isolation if you don't actually enjoy them very much. It'll be a waste of time.

Once Dilys and Les returned, we had an unforgettable farewell dinner at a typical Greek restaurant. The food was amazing, due in part to the fact that the sole cook was the old woman who'd been cooking there for decades. There is somethin' about those old woman chefs.
Traditional dome-like interior with few windows to keep out the sun in summer and maintain heat in winter. 
John and me with Dilys, Les, and the son of the chef
A Greek homemade pasta similar to gnocchi, garnished only with butter and pan fried cheese
The ubiquitous Ī£aitia ("saitia") spinach and cheese pie
Fried dough balls (loukoumathes) with local honey and cinnamon. Can't go wrong with that.
Local goat and goat broth soup. The meat typically looks this dry, but it's not as bad as it seems.
And before I officially move on from our unforgettable experience housesitting, I'll mention a hike we went on in nearby Molaoi.

Southern Peloponnese is stunning. I can't say it enough.
A small white church that overlooks Molaoi
The huge cross that towers over the town
Snow-capped mountains in the distance
To your right, mountains, and to your left, the sea. Yes!
Another website we've found for housesitting but have so far been unsuccessful with is Hopefully we'll find something when we venture on to more exotic locales.

Vacation-for-Free Tool #2 is a website called This website links volunteers with a variety of "work" opportunities in exchange for room and board. So for our first experience, we've found two farmers on the coast of northwestern Peloponnese. British expats, they've spent the past ten odd years running around Europe in a camper van before finally settling in the town of Zacharo.
The final sunset from Dilys and Les' porch that you'll see. Unless, of course, you visit the Chowgypsy Facebook page.
As we head to our next vacation-for-free spot, we will actually be doing a bit of work. But when you spend four weeks wherein the most difficult part of your day is losing at backgammon, real work is a welcome idea.
Meet Ellie, Lexi, and Charles (on pastie-making day), the fantastic Brits who are stuck with us for the next two weeks
With over 400 olive trees, a kitchen garden, and their fair share of sheep, pigs, and other farm animals, we should be able to find something to do...

Follow the farm life, click here!


  1. Driving on your local will renew the things you already know about your place. Going to places near you and spending the time with your love ones is already a travel vacation for me.

  2. A vacation sounds nice right now. It's been a stressful week for me at the office and I'm really tempted to hire a camper van and take a hike somewhere. If only it's that simple.

  3. Oh yes, a vacation sounds nice. But if you really are that stressed out Jacinta, no need to wait and sulk around. Just jump into your van and take a road trip and enjoy a ride to random places. It'll help you relieve some stress.

  4. It's a great way to affordably see a new place and live like a local...
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  5. Yes you can travel for free, various companies offer ways to work your way ... Please double check all information for yourself, particularly visa ... There are many ways to work your way around the world, some old, some new. TellHappystar

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