Let me preface this article by asking you a personal question. “What would you do if you had a million bucks?” The reason for this question is that it will show a little about you as a person and what you want out of life. I will guess that your response will be something like, “I’m going to Disneyland!” Okay, I guess that counts as travel but what you will really say is: “I’m going to travel the world.”
Of course, that’s only after you’ve wisely invested most it on some high return, a high yielding account that will fund your adventures and travels for the rest of your life. But mostly, your excuse will be the lack of money. I have a detailed article here, citing various ways you can earn/save money to travel the world. Rather than rehash what’s already covered there.
How To Travel The World For Free
I’ve met enough people during my travels who are probably more broke than you are and they travel free. They’ve visited more countries than all years I’ve been on this planet. I truly believe that if it’s something you really want, you will go to the lengths it takes to achieve it. If travel is a life you want then all your resources, labors, and pains, should be dedicated towards that goal.
Do your planning and preparations now. Sell all the shit you don’t need. Get rid of it. Donate it.
Things you own, end up owning you. These “things” are the Kryptonite to your Superman. It’s just stuff, you can’t take with you, do everything to get you ready for a life of travel. If you wait around and just think about it, it will become an empty dream. Make a mental note if you have to. It’s better to plan your trip within the next month or two to get you to commit to it. Drop everything, the partying, the spending, and work on your trip. There’s no reason to wait around.
I decided to travel a month before I bought the ticket. It was on a whim. I’ve already saved up enough money from adopting a minimalist lifestyle. It was a no-brainer after that.
Write a list of destinations you want to travel to. But also leave room for destinations you’ll hear about in your travels. Part of traveling is the uncertainty and spontaneity. If plan on traveling solo the better, planning the logistics should be easy. Don’t put it off, act now and plan now.
If you’re a trust fund kid or have a lot of money saved up, you have no excuses, buy that plane ticket and go. If you have a flexible telecommute job but are hesitant or have the jitters, you might wanna check out RemoteYear. It’s cool program that pairs you up with a bunch of other telecommute peeps to form a community where you travel and work at the same time. But for the rest of us, lay folks, we ain’t got no dinero. I have outlined some creative ways to travel with little to no money.
Traveling without money
Yes, it’s possible. I once picked up a hitchhiker in Monaco. A Slovenian dude who looked like he belonged in the Baroque era with a Van Dyke beard and short Capri pants. We had an interesting conversation on the way to Barcelona. He’d been traveling throughout Europe for the past 5 years. He was doing odd jobs like picking grapes seasonally in the French wine country and other random gigs.
He used to have a well-paying job as an attorney to a mob/mafia in Eastern Europe but grew a conscience and left that life to travel. He mentioned he was squatting at an abandoned house in the islands of Tenerife in Spain. During the summer months, he was scrounging for food that restaurants throw away (dumpster diving more or less). He said he’s been to over 50 countries earning only 600 Euros a year!
While his lifestyle might be a little too extreme for me. It shows that traveling for little to no money is possible. Here are a few ways you can travel free.
Accommodations for free
By now you’ve probably already heard of CouchSurfing. It’s part of the growing concept of hospitality exchange (accommodation sharing) where people, usually travelers, offer or seek accommodation in exchange for volunteer work.
I was going to skip Paris altogether during my Euro Trip. But I received a few invitations to CouchSurf in Paris! I stayed for a week and had a blast. My host was very gracious and generous. I had a room to myself, allowed to come and go as I please and was even given various tours throughout the city for free. The host worked for the tourism board.
Given the stigma and fear for safety from staying at stranger’s home, it is wholly up to you to make the correct judgment. It’s to your benefit to fully research where you’re staying. Couchsurfing works on the premises of community ratings.
This will all be visible in the member profiles. There are references you can check and a vouching system. It’s still up to you to make the right judgment call, trust your gut instinct. I can tell you from personal experience that Couchsurfing has been nothing but a positive experience for me.
Hey, what could be better than getting shit for free? Here’s a place where freeloading is encouraged. Like to take advantage of the hospitality and generosity of others? This place is for you. It’s like Couchsurfing but with a more direct and blunt approach. No spiel about cultural exchange or enriching lives, just a place to crash.
Mind my House is a matching service that connects house sitters and homeowners around the world. House sitters can get paid as much as $20/hour. Homeowners join for free while house sitters pay a membership fee ($20 a year). From there the service will hook the homeowner with the house sitter with various legal forms and such sorted out.
Housecarers is another house sitting website with a global following. They give a secure environment where homeowners can find a reliable house sitter. The sitters can find their accommodation and make a few bucks.
This is still the best way to get around. Meet people. Get from point A to point B, free. While hitchhiking in the U.S. has gotten a bad wrap, hitchhiking in Europe is safe. There are WIKI sites dedicated to it.
Roadsharing is a carpooling service for commuters that also offer free car sharing and hitchhiking services. This is a great way to save money by splitting costs between commuters.
To sustain long-term travel, you need income. If you have a location independent job, great. Short of that, I’ve listed a few areas you can explore to work overseas.
Travel is an escape. You can escape from the rat race. Escape from the cubicle walls. And even escape from your boring job.
Escape the City is a cool concept. It aims to help you escape your terrible corporate job that you’ve been agonizing over for years. Afterall, Confucious once said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
WorldHelpLink provides a platform for you to find opportunities to volunteer, work, teach, intern, learn, and do more abroad.
Workaway.info seeks to promote fair exchange between budget travelers or individuals looking for work, volunteer, or other activities. You’ll volunteer 4-5 hours of your day for free food and accommodation, with projects lasting anywhere from several days to several months.
This program allows you to travel cheaply and stay for free while making a difference. You can put your existing skills to good use, or try something new and learn a new skill along the way.
Helpx is like a Craigslist of work exchange. They provide listings of host organic farms (like WWOOF), non-organic farms, Bed & Breakfasts, lodges, homestays, ranches, hostels, and sailing boats, who invite travelers to stay with them short-term in accommodation and food.
WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – it’s a platform to find work opportunities at an organic farm. Work at a farm, see the world, get free accommodation. Find a country specific WWOOF program as there is no centralized place where you can apply.
Au contraire, be an Au Pair
Au pair is like a domestic assistant from a foreign country. They would work for, and live as part of a host family. It’s not for me personally, but I’ve met a few travelers in Spain who has had this arrangement. Again, as native English speaker, it will be to your advantage as some family would hire you as an Au Pair to interact with their children (improving their English).
Work on a Cruise Ship
Few jobs can boast traveling around the world while increasing your savings account. Working on a cruise ship is one those few that can. I prefer to be pillagin’ and sailin’ aboard me ship, the Black Pearl. But hey, a pirate’s life is not for everyone. Maybe you can find yourself aboard a cruise ship. There’re a lot of resources out on the web that can help you land these jobs.
I can tell you from my travels that English is a highly sought after commodity. It is , the international language for business and as a native speaker, you can use this to your advantage. Teaching need not be a long term commitment. I used a program called Angloville in Poland that only lasted for a week getting me free accommodation and food during my stay. I know somebody who’s teaching English in South Korea and he could pocket at least 1k a month after all his living expenses.
Teach English Online at Cambly – Cambly pays you $10 an hour for teaching online! Combine with this with a workaway project on your spare time and you got it made.
Become Tour Guide
Again, being an English speaker has its advantage. It can also land you a job as a tour guide. I spent an entire summer as a Docent at Point Reyes National Seashore once. I’m not sure how that’s related to this, but somehow I felt like I was a glorified tour guide for the Tule Elks and the Park. I rather enjoyed it, so what’s to say you won’t enjoy being a tour guide? Paid travel at least!
Trim marijuana when in California
I’ve met a few travelers from Europe doing this. Trimming the Mary Jane in Humboldt County Norcal is a lucrative business where weed is tolerated. Although, technically illegal, it is tolerated in the area because, well, it’s the only industry out there. You can make over a thousand dollars a day if you’re fast at trimming.
Crowd Fund Your Trip
Crowdfunding seems to be the in thing nowadays. Just look up some of the successful projects taken off from Kickstarter. Own it, live it, accept it, crowd funding is legit.
This is a new platform for raising funds for your trip. They take 6% of each contribution made. If you have a trip that will offer value to someone, perhaps they’d be happy to support your venture.
GoFundMe is another site where you can raise funds for your travel. I have a friend who raised money to help her out for her volunteer endeavor for the Peace Corps. Believe it or not, there are people traveling around the world because other people paid for it. I know somebody who raised money for his adventure travel around the world. In return, he offered an Ebook with his photography and memoirs.
If you want to write a book or make a documentary. Whatever offers value then maybe there are people out there who wants to offer money for your venture. Money is just an exchange mechanism. If you offer something valuable to somebody else and they have money, they will probably barter with you. Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard somebody say they want to live vicariously through somebody else because they can’t.
Get Online Gigs
Interview Candidates at Eteki
Have a technical expertise? Interview candidates at Eteki and make a few bucks on the go. You’ll need Skye and decent internet connection.
Catch a freelance gig at UpWork
Got any technical skills? You can get a few gigs at UpWork. This is currently how I supplement my income during my travels.
That’s it. I’ll keep updating this article as I find more ways to travel free during my travels.