Got A Skill? This Company Lets You Use It To Travel And Get Free Stay & Meals
Stay On Skill (SOS) is a Chandigarh-based company that lets you use your skill as a currency to travel. If you're a master at any skill, you can stay for free with verified locals across the country in exchange for helping them learn your skill.
What Makes It Awesome
Arjun (the founder) was running another start-up before he finally came up with SOS in 2017. He wanted to find an affordable way to travel and used his coding skills for the same. Soon, he built a website, listed it on Betalist and got 4,000 sign-ups within a week! As of today, travellers have received 4,000 hours of learning and have gone for over 350 trips across India (Coorg, Tirthan Valley, Auroville, Gujarat, Spiti, among many others) via the platform.
Here's how it works: You'll have to list your skill, and a skill you wish to learn on their website. Then, choose from a variety of hosts in cities you want to visit, or find experts in skills you want to learn (yes, you can sign up both as a host or as an expert in a skill). Once you've sent requests to a host or expert and you've found a match, you're all set.
Note that you will only get free stay and breakfast (but all meals are usually included), and would have to pay for everything else like transport, shopping etc. However, this still is a great and affordable way to travel. You'll not only make friends, have a blast and see new places, but you can learn a skill too.
But what about safety? Quality? Sign-up fees and more, you ask? So, all the hosts listed on SOS have undergone rigorous background checks; They won't give you just a couch to live out of (expect a proper room) and there is no sign-up fee involved either.
As for experts, if you're saying that you're skilled at something, you will have to share a valid proof like a video or two for guitarists, a website for people who're skilled at coding, or a video of you drawing if you say you're good at it. Only once the folks at SOS are sure that you're actually good at a skill can you be allowed to travel as an expert. Else, you can get better at that skill by hosting experts, maybe?
What Could Be Better
Safety could always be a concern, but the fact that Stay On Skill has put a bunch of systems in place definitely makes things so much better.
SOS has also started these programs recently where experts can sign up for stipends in exchange for teaching their skills. This is usually available for hotels who host experts in exchange for their services (like Yoga instructors etc.).