Backpacking South America? How to Stay in Hostels For Free

For the past couple of months, I’ve been developing a new website called the South America Tourist. The site is a collection of hostels, tour companies, blogger guest posts, South America destinations, and everything else that will make a backpacker’s life easier and more enjoyable in South America.

Since I arrived in Ecuador, I’ve been staying in hostels for free. In exchange for a listing on South America Tourist, including an original description, photos I take myself (normally), and social media promotion, I stay in the hostel in a private room for about 3 to 4 days.

The reception from hostels and hotels has been great, and I get a response in almost every city.

Then I had an idea – why not help you guys stay for free too? You get free accommodation, the hostel gets free publicity and an expert review, and my website gets free promotion as well.

How to Apply

If you’re interested in staying in hostels for free in South America and writing for my website, shoot me an email at jasminewanders[@] At first, I’d like to take on just established bloggers and writers who have a social media following on Twitter and/or Facebook and a personal travel blog or website. Send me the URL to your blog and your social media accounts as well as an interest letter to apply.


To maximize the benefit for the hostel, the following is required for the free stay:

–       Write an original description of the hostel/hotel of 3 – 5 paragraphs

–       Take high quality photos of the grounds and rooms

–       Promote the hostel/hotel via your social media accounts

–       Complete the report before you leave the hostel/hotel

–       Do appropriate keyword research for SEO

If you have any questions or would like more information, leave a comment here or send me an email. I look forward to having you on board!

  • Wade |

    This is truly a good way to move about the world — if you are willing to do a little work while traveling (most travelers are on vacation and don’t want to work haha). These work trade deals are essential for long term budget travel, and can really cut out the largest cost a traveler faces.

    This is truly an excellent way to move around the world.

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  • Brilliant idea Jasmine, brilliant!

  • thanks Bryan! You could do the same in Aus with HoboHideout if you were interested :)

  • So true… though it definitely is work. Sometimes I’m on my last night at a place and realized I’ve barely written anything for them. But working like this is so worth it, I’ve halved my travel costs easily by writing about the hostels.

  • JB

    Not a bad idea at all, BUT I don’t see how you will handle the situation of a bad hostel, especially since there are a lot of bad hostels out there. Even more OK hostels but with negative issues that should definitely be mentioned in a useful review. I can’t imagine any hostel happily giving free accommodation for a mediocre or bad review.

  • Jasmine, I truly wish you the best of luck with your new website. I think it’s a great idea and if you really put work into the SEO, you may have a small amount travel income coming your way. ;)

  • Thanks! Yes that’s the idea for sure… until then, the free accommodation has been awesome :)

  • Generally, when I would do webpages for accommodation trades, I would often stay in the hostel first as a paying guest for a night, check it out in person, or only send proposition emails to places with good reputations. But, even if you did land yourself in a poor hotel, you could just put up a quick site not glamorizing it and leave as soon as possible (or just pay and tell the owners their place is awful haha).

  • That’s a great idea. I wouldn’t have a problem leaving if the place was horrible, but checking out a few reviews online is a good place to start before bunking down for a few days.

  • Luciana prato

    Hello JAsmine!!! How are you?
    Soy Luciana, nos conocimos en La Isla de La Plata. Quiero reservar room en Backpaker BAnios Hostel, que me recomendaste y no encuentro el tel en tu blog.
    He mandado e-mail al site del hostel, pero prefiero llamar por teléfono para asegurarme.
    Necesito habitación para el 3 febrero…tal vez mañana, 2 de febrero.
    Espero me puedas ayudar!! SAludos a Giovanny!!! Dónde están ahora??

  • Hola Luciana! Que tal? Fuiste a los Galapagos? Ya estamos en Guayaquil, y despues vamos para Cuenca.

    El numero que yo tengo por el hostal es +59332741825. Suerte!!!

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  • David

    the best way to sleep for free, is via whereby you can live and acknowlogde the real culture, people.. and gread cultural feedback

  • Couch Surfing seems like a great concept for a certain type of traveler…. but not for me. I need lots of alone time, time to work, and I feel stressed out under forced socializing settings.

  • Max

    Congratulations on your blog, where or what countries do you visit?