It’s been a month since you’ve last felt the pebbles in your shoes, and the familiar wanderlust has already started to itch. The world is yet again open and there is so much to see, taste and experience, but the problem you have is quite a common one – globe-trotting requires a full wallet, and yours is currently empty. Here are our top 5 options for traveling cheap (or free, if the luck serves you well).
1. Swapping & Sitting
In case you haven’t already heard, house-swapping is a real thing, and there is a number of acclaimed and verified websites that can provide you with this option. However spectacular and cost-effective, this option does come with a couple of catches. Firstly, if the location of your house is not a particularly attractive one, you might have a hard time finding a person willing to swap their cozy accommodation for yours, thus swapping locations along the way.
Even if you do live somewhere fancy enough, most of these websites require a registration fee, but then again, it’s a quite negligible one in comparison to what you get in return. House-swapping is a viable option for those looking for a bit more than an empty hotel room, if you are able to provide the same level of coziness in exchange. As always, be careful to do an extra safety check on both the website and the potential swapper.
When compared to this variant, house-sitting certainly seems like a less risky option, which is why it is usually quite harder to find. If lucky, you’ll have to take care of a stranger’s home for a period of time, water the plants, walk the dog and be sure to leave the premises in the exact same conditions as you first found them.
Volunteering To Make a Difference
If roaming around isn’t your only goal, but you actually want to make some difference in the world you’ve been so devotedly exploring over the years, then volunteering for a job, fundraising or a charity organization is an option made just for you. Numerous independent organizations are interested in hiring young and willing people to support their cause on the spot, and most of them are ready to cover your travel and accommodation expenses.
However, they usually demand a lot of your free time and require somewhat strict preferences and skills, but if helping others is your primary concern, than you probably already have what it takes. As an interesting combo of two options, trading labor for hostel accommodation is a good way of paying for a room while living in one.
You can advertise your offer online, research online providers that are experienced in these kinds of services, or simply connect with a number of hostel managers and pitch them your proposal directly. The same applies to other types of short-term jobs, like au pair or fruit picking for instance, which are just as advantageous as hostel work.
3. Hiking & Surfing
Slightly risky indeed, but quite safe for responsible adventurers, hitchhiking is one of the most popular ways of traveling with only a bit of many to offer for gas and other expenses (which most of the drivers will refuse to take anyway). In some countries, however, this practice is prohibited by law, which is why carpooling is a way better and safer manner of commuting. This is another option available for arranging online, and unlike hitchhiking, it allows you the opportunity of meeting with your fellow traveler beforehand.
When combined with carpooling, couch-surfing makes an unforgettable experience. Even if not looking forward to the idea of staying with a stranger, remember that meeting foreigners is the whole essence of traveling far and the only authentic way of experiencing new countries and their cultures. In case you’re determined to stay a lone ranger, we have a couple of options more to suggest to your travel-loving heart.
4. Being Fast Is Being Smart
Although not free, booking in advance is the smartest way of traveling cheap, and this option applies both to commute and accommodation costs. Budget airlines are a big thing in Europe, which is why joining flights in the Old Continent even if going elsewhere is always a clever move.
These airlines, as well as other means of transportation like bus and ship drives come with a variety of options, and since the market is so saturated, there’s always at least one provider offering special deals, travel coupons and last minute tickets. Be sure to research them all ahead of time – the sooner you book, the cheaper you’ll travel.
Alternatively, you can also work as a cabin crew since they get a lot of travel perks on top of having a high flight attendant salary!
5. Educate or Dare
UNESCO Study Abroad Guide is the single most priceless perk good students are entitled to (except knowledge itself, of course), and there’s a similar scholarship program offered at almost every campus as well. The requirements for applying vary from place to place, but if you’re keen enough to read on the bus, learn new languages or improve your expertise on the intercontinental level, don’t be lazy enough to let this opportunity pass you by.
In case you’ve been busy with rambling around during your college years and your grades are simply not good enough for you to leverage them, you’ll have to “settle” for a little more daring option. Charity organizations across the world provide an opportunity, at least once a year, for adventurers to travel as far as they can get in order to raise awareness for a specific cause.
You’ll probably need to be ready to pitch the idea to sponsors yourself, but that’s not the only catch – your travel will have to be an expedition of some kind, and you’ll most likely have to take a less comfortable route like climbing Mount Everest or cruising through India. If going where no one has yet been thrills your wondering spirit, then this option is definitely for you.
“To travel is to live” is the most beautiful fairytale Andersen has endowed us with. To those who understand it, traveling with no money at all will always be an open road.