Ways To Travel For Free & Budget Options
I’m always meeting people who say “I wish I could travel as much as you but I can’t afford it,” and it frustrates me because you seriously don’t need much money to start travelling the world. To give you perspective, I left Australia with $4000AUD in my savings, after 8 months of non-stop travelling around Europe I still have enough to keep going. You need to be creative to live nomadically, especially if you don’t have a steady income, but if I can do it then there’s no reason why you can’t too. I’m going to share with you my tips and secrets on how to travel for free and alternative budget options.
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Volunteer in exchange for Food & Accommodation
WorkAway – We have been volunteering our way around Europe for the past 6 months through a company called WorkAway, which has saved us A LOT of money because all we’ve had to pay for is transport to get to our destinations. There are so many different jobs you can do with Workaway around the world and you generally help your host for just 5 hours per day, 5 days per week in exchange for food and accommodation. Read our guest post on the WorkAway blog about the benefits of travelling with Workaway Vs. Backpacking…
WOOFING – A similar option is WOOFING which stands for World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s the same concept as Workaway, you volunteer in exchange for food and accommodation, but it’s specific to working on organic farms. I know from experience that this isn’t my thing but it’s perfect if you love being outdoors and working with the Earth. You can find hosts all around the world but it’s especially popular in Australia & New Zealand for people who can’t get a Working Visa but still want to explore the beauty of these countries without having to pay the high living costs.
Find A Crew – If you’re like us and have ‘Sail Around the World’ on your bucket-list then the perfect way to gain experience is by volunteering on yachts – something we are going to seriously look into for the near future. A good website that’s been recommended to us by experienced sailors is Find A Crew. There are many yachties out there that offer food & accommodation in exchange for help on their boat, and a bonus is that you get to travel for free to the places they sail to.
Couch Surfing – It’s 100% free and there’s no catch. Couch surfing is an online community where travellers find locals who allow them to sleep on their couch while they’re passing through. The locals don’t get paid but it also doesn’t cost them anything so they purely do it to meet like-minded people. Since we’ve almost always had free accommodation through volunteering, we haven’t had the opportunity to experience couch surfing yet but have friends who highly recommend it. If you’d like to host us please get in touch through my profile.
House/Pet Sitting – If you like looking after animals then pet-sitting someone’s pets while they’re on holiday in exchange for staying in their house may be the perfect way for you to see the world and travel for free. We have experience working with animals and are wanting to create a house/pet-sitting profile soon so have done some research into it. According to our favourite traveller bloggers’ tips, Trusted Housesitters is the best website to get started with.
Work in Hostels – We’re currently volunteering in a hostel in Gran Canaria in exchange for accommodation. Even though we actually found our host through Workaway, sometimes you could just turn up to a hostel and ask if you can do some cleaning in exchange for a few free nights. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, right? If you’re in the right place at the right time some hostels might even offer to pay you if you stay longer.
Budget Accommodation Options
Airbnb – The concept of AirBnB is that instead of staying in a hotel room, you either rent a room or the whole house/apartment from a local in the place you’re travelling to. You get to live like a local, its generally a lot better AND cheaper, and you get to help out the local community. Read our article about all the benefits and reasons why we love and recommend Airbnb for more info. You can sign up for a free $43 AirBnB credit using this link, and if you do then AirBnB will also reward us with a credit to use on our next trip – it’s a win win situation!
Hostels – If you can’t find a good/cheap AirBnB or if you’ve left it too last minute and aren’t getting a response from a host then the next best budget option is to stay in a hostel. We always use Hostel World to find the best hostels that match our needs and budget.
Hitchhiking: ‘to travel by standing on the side of the road and soliciting rides from passing vehicles.’ Make sure to check with trusted locals whether hitchhiking is accepted in the place you’re travelling in before sticking your thumb up. If it’s generally all good then go for it, it’s the best way to travel for free (literally!) and I’ve met some really interesting people hitchhiking. You could also hitchhike by boat when travelling between islands.
Budget Transport Options
Blablacar – When arranging transport from one destination to another we always look at Blablacar first because we’ve only ever had good experiences with it. It’s basically like hitchhiking but a lot safer and more reliable because money is involved. When local drivers have spare seats in their car they advertise where they’re going and travellers can pick up a ride with them if they’re going the same way. It usually works out a lot cheaper than public transport so you save money, it’s a lot better for the environment and you get to meet locals too.
Public Transport – When Blablacar isn’t an option, public transport generally is. In most places we’ve travelled to buses have been a lot cheaper than trains, except for in Portugal, so make sure to always do your research first.
Uber – To get around short distances in a city, taxis are obviously the easiest (but most expensive) option. If you can’t or don’t want to use public transport we recommend to always choose Uber over taxis – it’s a lot cheaper! Uber is a similar concept to blablacar where locals use their own car to give you a lift, but they take you to where you want to go like a taxi service, and it’s more suited for short distances. Get your first ride free and by doing so we might get a discount off our next Uber trip as well!
Cheap Airlines – When travelling long distance, sometimes it’s even cheaper to fly to big cities than to catch a bus or train (depending on where you’re going). We always use Sky Scanner to find the cheapest flight options then go on the actual airlines websites to book flights in order to avoid paying commissions. Some cheap airlines in Europe include Ryan Air, Easy Jet & Whizz Air, or if travelling within Australia Virgin & Jet Star are the best budget airlines.
The best way to find out what attractions are free in the places you’re travelling to is to read travel blogs and do your research. You’ll be surprised at how many museums have free entry on particular days.
Free Guided Walking Tours – One of the first things I do when planning my itinerary in a big city is to go on the Sandemans website and see if they do any free guided walking tours there. So far I’ve been on free walking tours in London, Amsterdam and Madrid and learned a lot about the culture of those places from a local’s perspective. It’s free because the tour guides work on tips, so if you really can’t afford a thing then you don’t have to pay, but they are usually so great that you want to tip what you can afford.
Internships – Have you ever wanted to learn activities like surfing, scuba diving or yoga for example? Why not ask for an internship? Chances are that by donating your time you’ll get to learn new skills, do activities for free and make new friends. We recently did an internship at a Scuba Diving centre in Gran Canaria where we got to learn how to Scuba Dive and get PADI Diver certified for free in exchange for our help.
If you’re still not convinced that it’s possible for you to travel for free or on a budget then you must watch this Tedx Talk by Tomislav Perko about how to travel the world with almost no money. His story is very inspiring.
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