While travelling on a budget sometimes things can go wrong or different than expected, ending up sleeping somewhere unusual at night. Others times it might be just one's will to experience things from a different point of view. Below a selection of 15 strange places where I slept for free during my trips, without a tent. No need to pay for sleeping at night, if you are in a tight budget and you can have free accommodation!
If this extreme cases are not what you are looking for, then check our article to learn the safe way: "how to sleep for free while traveling" with hospitality networks and beyond.
15 - Sleeping in the Golden Temple in Amristar, India
In the most famous Sikh temple of India, the Golden Temple, even foreigners can join local pilgrims and share a piece of floor space. There is actually a preassigned room only for tourists where it's possible to sleep for free, but it was more crowded there than in the rest of the temple!
14 - Free accommodation on a Deck chair in Turkey
This is not a really unusual choice for budget travellers, that's why it's only at the 14th position of my ranking. While sleeping on a deck chair on the beach is quite common, it wasn't that common the amazing scenary that we enjoyed when waking up on the Turkish coastal town of Kas.
13 - Sleeping for free in Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus
This was my first impact with India: a huge crowd of bodies spread over the floor of the bus terminal in Chennai. What to do when you arrive very tired at night in an unknown country? You just follow the example of the locals and join the mass to take some rest!
12 - Sleeping in front of the custom office at the Turkish-Bulgarian border
While I was hitchhiking from Turkey to Bulgaria a few years ago, I got stuck at the border and I had no other choice than lying down my cheap summer sleeping bag in front of an abandoned restaurant and trying to sleep for a few hours. What I remind of that night, is a cold wind hitting my head, despite my rucksack standing as a protection!
11 - Sleeping in a Yurt in the Indian Himalaya
On my way from Manali to Leh in Ladakh (India) I had the possibility to experience sleeping in a yurt with a whole bunch of new friends. We all got stuck on our way to the Buddhist hamlet because of torrential floods that killed several people in Leh, and our minibuses couldn't go further. Despite we were protected from the rain, I was assigned the only place where water was pouring from a hole over my body. It wasn't a comfortable night.
10 - Free Accommodation next to a greengrocer stand in Turkey
This is another memory from my hitchhiking stories in Turkey. I got stuck while going to Cappadocia and the best option I found to get some rest in the middle of nowhere was this greengrocer stand left unattended at night. It provided me also with some nice cardboard to insulate my sleeping bag from the cold terrain!
9 - Sleeping in the desert in Rajasthan
While sleeping in the desert was free, I had to pay for the tour that from Jaisalmer brought me there. I think I'll never want to ride a camel again after that experience, my butt was really painful! Some good rest at night in the chilly arid environment was what we needed to recover our energies. To find out in the morning snake trails passing just a few feet away from us!
8 - Free accommodation with pilgrims at Kumbh Mela, India
While participating at the biggest gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, I slept in one of the "Baba"s tent where was temporarily moved also a "Rainbow gathering". It was an incredible experience, a huge temporary settlement with hundreds of tents, with pilgrims from every corner of India and beyond, coming for devotion and transforming at night in "party animals" enjoying never-ending traditional dances and musics.
7 - Sleeping under a staircase in Istanbul
This is still another experience from Turkey. Arrived at late night in the outskirt of Istanbul, all I could do was to choose a place, and wait for the sun to rise. When I woke up in the morning, I recognized that I was in front of a busy bus stop, and all of the people were staring at me!
6 - Sleeping on a haystack in Macedonia
This haystack was the comfy place where all of the volunteers where sleeping at night in Shanti Community, Macedonia. 100% natural and free!
5 - Free accommodation under the main square in Ljubiana
In Ljubiana for the first time with no luck finding a host through hospitality networks, I ended up sleeping under the bridge of the main square. I've probably never had such a central accommodation before! In the morning when I woke up, I met a homeless and he was amazed of my "courage" because police was really strict and giving hefty fines.
4 - Sleeping in a "Goahti" in Sweden
In Jokkmokk, one of the centers of Sami culture where is held a famous market, there is a public "Goathi", a traditional indigenous tent that can be used by anyone. How to miss such a great opportunity? There was even a fireplace to warm up the freezing nights of Swedish Lapland.
3 - Sleeping on a tree platform in Czech Republic
This is an incredible experience we had in September, going in Czech Republic to attend a workshop and learn how to build tree houses. And eventually at the end of the course we tested the houses sleeping in them, even if we managed to build only tree platforms. Still an unforgettable experience, that deserve the third place of my ranking.
2 - Sleeping for free in a souvenir stand in Croatia
When we went to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park it was off season, so most of the touristic attractions were closed. At the same time since nobody was around, it was also really safe to use one of the Souvenir stands as our base camp to leave our stuff, and go to visit the park during the day. When we came back, we transformed it in a cozy king size bed and we slept safe and sound till the morning!
1 - Free accommodation in a Norwegian luxury toilet
And on top of the ranking is our famous night passed in a 5 stars public toilet in Fauske, Norway, on our trip to see Aurora Borealis! Very clean, never used and in the middle of nowhere, it was a lifesaving choice to stop there, since it was a snowstorm outside! Not that we enjoy too much sleeping in toilets, but we are happy we had this experience!