How to Travel the World Without Spending a Dime: 12 Ways to Make Your Travel Dreams Happen
So we've talked about traveling the world without spending a fortune, but how about traveling the world without spending a dime?!
Surprisingly it IS possible to travel practically for free! If you really want to do it, there are opportunities; you just have to be willing to take them. If you're looking for an international experience but don't have the cash to splurge on it, then this article is for you.
Here are 12 ways to make your travel dreams come true without spending any money. I've even included a free PDF download with extra tips for you at the end!
1. HOUSE-SIT AROUND THE WORLD
We've all heard about babysitting and pet-sitting, but what about housesitting?! Did you know that there are people around the world who are willing to pay you (or exchange a free place to stay) to come and stay in their home while they are away? All you have to do is make sure the house stays in the condition the owners request, and maybe also tend to pets or gardens.
It is a win-win situation for all involved. You get to stay in a fully-furnished home at no cost to you, and the owners get peace of mind that their home is being safely watched over. These gigs can last anywhere from a short period of time (a few weeks) to long periods of time (a few months).
How to get started: There are a number of different websites that connect house sitters to home owners. You will likely have to pay an initial sign-up fee, but consider it an investment for all of the free lodging you will get in return. Seasoned house sitters recommend signing up for multiple sites to increase your chances of getting matched. Check out MindMyHouse, Trusted Housesitters, HouseCarers, or House Sitters America.
2. WORK OVERSEAS
It is possible to exchange simple work for accommodations, food, and transportation. There are plenty of websites and forums to check out for opportunities of easy work opportunities abroad. Also consider approaching hostels, restaurants, or locally owned-businesses for some sort of agreement that you can exchange work (i.e. cleaning or tending to guest services at a hostel) in exchange for something you need.
You could even bartend, become a tour guide, teach yoga (or some sort of activity), or pick up a serving job to make some extra cash to get you by. If you're still looking for ideas, here are 20 examples of jobs and careers that allow you to travel and make cash along the way.
How to get started: Once you know where you're going, start doing some research for places you can approach for work. Global Work & Travel, Alliance Abroad, Work&Travel Company, Workaway.info, Help Exchange, and (in some cases) Craigslist can be good starting points. You can also directly contact hostels or businesses yourself if you prefer that method.
3. COUCHSURF OR CARPOOL
Couchsurfing is a great way to travel the world, immerse yourself in the local culture, and stay with someone who is an expert on the area, all while getting free accommodations. Hosts open up their homes to travelers for free so they can have a place to crash--a couch, air bed, futon, or even real beds. You can have as little or as much interaction with your host as you want.
If you're heading somewhere within driving distance, consider carpooling to save on transportation costs. There are websites and forums that give travelers the opportunity to connect with other travelers who are heading in the same direction. Link up with them and hitch a ride!
4. PARTICIPATE IN HOME EXCHANGE PROGRAMS
If you've ever seen the movie The Holiday, you know what I'm talking about. With this option, you are able to swap your home with another person's in exchange for free lodging for both of you! Win-win again! Plus, staying in a fully-furnished home usually offers more perks than staying at an over-priced hotel.
5. WORK ON BOARD
Have you ever considered cruising, sailing, or yachting your way around the world? Why not try it out? Work on board a cruise, yacht, etc. in exchange for free travel. It will be worth the experience, you will get paid, and it will probably allow you to see more places than you would have in a shorter amount of time.
Don't worry if you're not an engineer or captain. There are plenty of jobs on board that include entertainment, hospitality, or maintenance.
How to get started: Consult sites like Crewseekers, or check the job openings on major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, etc.
6. TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD
If you have a passion for teaching in addition to your love for travel then consider teaching English abroad. These positions are always in high demand and can be very rewarding if working with students is something you're in to. Most gigs will cover all of your living and travel expenses, and some places will even offer additional funding on top of that!
You'll need a TEFL Certificate first, and then you can start applying to positions wherever you want. Contracts can last from a few months to a few years, so it is a great way to immerse yourself in another country.
How to get started: Get your TEFL Certificate at places like TEFL Online or International TEFL Academy. Most establishments that you get your certification from offer job boards that you can refer to, but you can also consult sites like CIEE, JET Programme, AEON, or ESL Cafe. Make sure you know everything you are receiving with your gig (lodging, transportation, airfare, etc.) before you proceed!
7. AU PAIR
If you love working with kids, become an Au Pair! The Au Pair Program is a cultural exchange program where families will host you--food, lodging, etc.--in return for you caring for their children. There are many families abroad that will pay both long and short-term contracts. Apply for the program and see where the opportunity could take you!
How to get started: Apply to be in the program on websites like AuPair.com. Having a knowledge of more than 1 language can also come in handy for landing awesome gigs, but it's definitely not a necessity.
8. BECOME A TRAVEL BLOGGER
Interested in traveling the world and sharing your experiences on your own platform? Become a Travel Blogger or Vlogger. Skills in photography, writing, and business (yes, business) definitely come in handy if you want to be really successful in this field.
Very successful bloggers can enjoy perks such as free/paid trips, brand sponsorships, complimentary clothes/gifts, and more. Keep in mind though: it's a very small percentage of bloggers who receive these perks and definitely not everyone. But it doesn't hurt to work hard and aim high!
How to get started: See my post on How to Start a Travel Blog in 5 Easy Steps and get your blog going today!
9. FLY FOR FREE
Embrace the art of travel hacking and you can fly for free. Travel hacking is essentially the act of accumulating a ton of rewards points--whether it be from credit cards, frequent flyer programs, contests, etc.--and cashing those in for free flights (or accommodations) around the world. It takes some time to rack up the points, so planning ahead is key for this one.
How to get started: Sign up for any frequent flyer programs with every airline that you fly. You can also sign up for credit cards that offer airline miles in exchange for every dollar spent. If you want to learn more about how to get cheap airfare (particularly without signing up for credit cards), click here.
Ever considered volunteering your time in exchange for free accommodations (and sometimes free flights)? You definitely can! With programs like WorkAway, all you have to do is devote a few hours through the week in exchange for free lodging.
You could also join the Peace Corps to get a global experience on someone else's dime. There are a ton of benefits to joining the Peace Corps too besides the good feelings of volunteering. You can get loans deferred, have all of your living and housing expenses paid for, and even have easy access to transitioning into another job when you go home.
11. WORK SEASONALLY AND ESCAPE NORMAL
If you're not committed to staying in one place, consider working seasonally as a camp counselor, a guide, or something else. There are great communities, like Escape Normal, who consist of individuals who want to stay away from the typical 9-5 life and travel the world while working seasonal jobs.
Many jobs will provide food and housing for you, and some may even offer more. It is a perfect opportunity for you to travel seasonally and experience a new way of living. You could be an adventure tour guide in California one season, and guiding kayaking tours in Costa Rica the next.
How to get started: Log onto Escape Normal and see what job opportunities might be available. If you're interested in being a camp counselor, look at websites like CampStaff or CoolWorks for open positions; or do a little research on your own to find camps in countries you're interested in.
If you're into farming and agriculture, you can try and join WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and you will be able to exchange farm work for house and other living expenses. There are programs in many different countries, so all you have to do is choose which one you want to go to.
This is a good option for people who want to have a local experience in a countryside setting. It might be a bit slower paced than the fast city life, but you might have the chance to travel around when you aren't working.
How to get started: Visit the WWOOF website, choose a country you want to visit, and apply! Make sure to read the details of what is included with your trip.
What are other ways that you travel for free or cheap? Comment below with more suggestions!
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