Got that travel bug biting away at all your thoughts? Can’t go a day without wanderlust poking its way into your agenda? If you constantly find yourself daydreaming and thinking of your next great escape, maybe you should just stop thinking about it and put some plans into action.
For anyone thinking, “Ya right. I can’t afford to travel.”, this article is for you!
The reason you might think time away is going to cost a fortune is because hotels, car rentals and activities come with a price tag. But, there are many alternative ways to travel that not only save money but allow you to engage with local communities and people in ways that will absolutely immerse you in a whole new culture and outlook on life.
Plane tickets cost money, sure, but adventure and spirit-filled happiness is priceless.
The following programs and websites offer some totally awesome ways to help lower your expenses and, essentially, travel the world for free.
You’ll be amazed at how you can find ways to see the world for free!
Volunteer Work in Exchange for Accommodation
Websites like Work Away list hosts in all different countries around the world that let you stay with them in exchange for a few hours volunteering throughout the week.
Okay, you pay a signup fee for this website, but it’s like 10 euros. Considering you’d struggle to get a hostel for a night for that price, and here you get access to all these hosts for two years. It’s a no brainer!
One of the better-known free methods of travel is Couch Surfing where you can host or stay with people around the world. People likely to host you couch surfing are travelers themselves who know what it’s like to be on the road.
Some people may be worried about their safety when staying with a stranger, but use your best judgement and have some trust in fellow humans.
You’ll probably meet some of the coolest people out there!
Put on your responsible hat and take care of someone’s house, pets and gardens while they’re away. Websites like Mind My House help play matchmaker for homeowners and home “watchers” around the world.
Again, there’s a small annual fee but, for long-term sitting, you’d be paying pennies per day to live in an amazing property! Hello, month-long accommodation!
While this is something that mostly benefits American travelers, credit card rewards programs offer benefits for everything from free fine dining to free hotel stays to free international flights.
While it can take some serious research and a bit of a mastery of rewards programs, travel hacking can help you use rewards points wisely and ultimately travel for free.
Start earning those reward points and GO!
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms where travelers can live and work on a farm in exchange for free meals and accommodation.
It’s a great opportunity learn about a local culture, learn something new and get outdoors. Simply pick a destination and see what opportunities are available!
Same as with couch surfing, it’s time to trust in mankind! Western European countries like France and Spain have a great reputation for hitchhiking, as well as places like New Zealand, and people will get you places safely.
Use your best judgement and use helpful resources for hitchhiking tips and information on how to get started. For women, hitch-hiking will always have an element of risk, so never go alone.
Take a friend with you to be safe and share the adventure!
Teaching English as a Second Language
There are so many ways to teach English all over the world where you actually get paid to travel! The beauty of a TESOL or TEFL certification is that you get trained on the job and once you have that certificate you can teach ANYWHERE!
Working at a Camp
Working at a recreational camp in Europe or the Americas is not only super fun but will save you so much money. Some programs geared towards college students, like Camp Adventure, even earn you college credits.
For the length of your contract you typically receive a living stipend, plus all accommodation, meals and laundry are provided.
Your free time may be limited to the weekend but it’s a great learning a cultural experience!
Car Sharing Network
If you aren’t keen on sticking out a finger and waiting on the side of the road, use a car sharing network like Bla Bla Car. It’s basically organized hitch-hiking that connects people who need to travel with drivers who have empty seats.
Save money on train or plane tickets, chip in for fuel and meet some awesome people!
HELPFUL TIP: If you have been looking to get a travel reward credit card, I recommend applying for one before a big trip or purchase. Some of the biggest benefits are earning points to use for free flights and hotels. Plus, many cards offer additional points when making travel-related purchases. Some cards also offer travel protection when you pay for a trip with the card.
My personal favorite is the Chase Sapphire Reserve (for frequent travelers) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred (if you’re just starting out)!