Of course, the most common reason we put off our traveling dreams is that traveling simply costs too much money. We are used to quick one or two-week vacations that cost thousands and only give us a quick burst of the world. This makes long-term travel seem impossibly expensive and leads to us feeling trapped, with no way to realize our traveling dreams without becoming very rich first.
Luckily for all of us, the truth is that traveling is not just for rich people. Long-term travel is an option for everyone no matter their net worth or income. If you have the desire to travel and a willingness to get creative with the methods you use, you can travel as much and as far as you want on amounts so low, they will shock you!
What We Will Cover in This Article
We are going to explore six essential points to travel without tons of money. These are:
- Must-haves for traveling
- How to travel for free
- How to travel for cheap
- Couchsurfing – the best way to find free accommodation
- Choosing the right credit cards and utilizing points
- Travel tools and tips + the best influencers and blogs to follow
Must-Haves for Traveling
The first and most important thing to cover when traveling is getting traveling insurance. This will protect you should anything very bad happen to you and leave you in a tough situation. Traveler insurance covers health costs, potential legal fees as well as evacuation costs. Find the best travel insurance companies around and check what each of their plans offers. You want the most coverage for the widest range of scenarios. You never know what could happen so it’s best to be covered for even the extremely unlikely worst-case scenarios.
It is also critical to be aware of potential health and safety hazards on vacation. Being intelligent about your health decisions can make the difference between having a great long-lasting travel experience, or getting sick and missing weeks or months of fun.
A few health and safety hazards and things to be aware of traveling
- Get any necessary vaccines before you leave (Ask your doctor)
- Drive carefully and minimize time on the road
- Be aware of any infectious diseases in the area and take necessary precautions
- Do not drink water you are not sure is safe
- Keep medical records on you in case of emergency
- Keep first aid supplies and disinfectants with you just in case
While thinking about some of these things may scare you and put you off a bit from traveling right now, don’t let them! These are just here to make sure you take the necessary precautions. All of these hazards are very unlikely and traveling is very safe. If you are smart and arrive prepared, you will be just as safe as you were at home.
Tips for Travelling for Free
Now that you have the safety basics covered, it’s time to get to the exciting stuff. Traveling for free sounds like an impossible dream to most people. We are so accustomed to spending thousands per week on vacation that traveling for months for free seems impossible. Yet so many people are doing it each year.
There are various ways to travel for free, but they fall under two categories:
- Working while you travel
- Traveling by volunteering
Working while you travel
The funny thing about living abroad is it is much cheaper to live in most places around the world than it is to live in North America or the most expensive developed countries. You will find you can get a simple job, even just working part-time or seasonally, and be able to cover all of your expenses monthly with money to spare.
Examples of jobs to work while traveling and living abroad:
- Hotel/Hostel worker
- DJ or Bartender
- Waiter or Waitress
- Tour Guide
- Diving or Sport Instructor
- Yoga teacher or personal trainer
- Massage therapist
- Teach English or another language, online or offline
- House and pet sitting
- Freelancing online
Travel by volunteering
Traveling by volunteering allows you to get incredible life experience, meet new people, challenge yourself and grow as a person, all for free or at an incredibly low cost!
There are tons of programs out there allowing regular people to travel the world helping out those in need. This not only allows you to travel for free but also gives you a great perspective on life and an experience you will never forget. These experiences are often much more genuine than the standard tourist vacations we are used to and will help you discover more about yourself and the world than you ever knew existed before.
Some of the best websites to find volunteering opportunities:
This website gives a wide range of opportunities around the globe in multiple categories. Whether you want to help on a farm, in a local community, teach in schools, or just help around a campsite. There are tons of options. Most opportunities provide housing, food, drinks, and tours around the city. This website can find you an all-in-one amazing vacation that costs nothing but some of your time spent doing fulfilling work helping others.
Workaway connects hosts in countries offer experiences to travelers in exchange for some work. There is a ton of different opportunities such as working at hotels, helping on the farm, or even participating in road trips with others. This website allows you to connect with great people around the world and share experiences with them at no cost to you other than a bit of hard work and lending a helping hand.
WWOOF stands for worldwide work on organic farms. It allows you to select a country from a world map and find work on an organic farm within that country. Whether it is a vineyard in Italy or an organic farm on the coast of France, you can help out your host and get great perks as well. This is a great way to get in shape, eat some great food and gain incredible life experience all for nearly $0 out of your pocket.
Helpx allows you to pick any continent and look for volunteer opportunities in that area. They offer an incredible variety of experiences between teaching in schools, helping on farms, working at a local business, and much much more. They also allow you to filter to hosts who will teach you their language, accept couples, and other great criteria.
All of these websites serve the same purpose. They allow you to offer your time and effort to others around the world in exchange for a place to live and eat while you have incredible experiences within a new country. There is no better way to fully immerse yourself in a foreign culture and the incredibly low costs are just a bonus!
Tips for Travelling Cheap
- Renting apartments or houses instead of hotels
Staying in hotels constantly can be a huge drain on your travel funds. Websites such as Airbnb, Wimdu, and VRBO make it easy to rent great apartments and houses around the world for much less than a hotel. If you stay for long periods you can often negotiate a better deal with the owner as well, as long as you are kind and book many months in advance.
- Outdoor Experiences
A great alternative to hotels and housing is to camp outside. With websites such as Campspace.com, you can find camping getaways as well as rent vans, motorhomes, and trailers from locals. This allows you to experience the great outdoors no matter where you are, giving you an authentic vacation in nature as well as saving you money.
- Eating with locals
Check out Eatwith.com to find locals in your area that you can go out for a meal with. Often they will pay for your meal but even if they don’t you get to meet great potential new friends and will often make a connection that will allow you to learn even more about the location you are in. This will also help save money as locals typically know where to get the best deals as well as how to avoid tourist traps that kill your travel budget quickly.
- Use a local taxi app
In many countries, services like Uber, Lyft, Grab, Gojek or Gett offer much cheaper rides to and from wherever you need to go. Whether it’s a ride to the airport or a ride home from the bar, if you can save a few bucks as well as connect with a local driver it’s a win-win.
- Rent someones unused car
Just like using ridesharing services instead of taxis, you can rent cars from regular people instead of large rental companies. Services like Turo or Getaround allow you to find locals to rent a car from for a few days when you need it. This will once again save you money as well as connect you with locals and likely get a cooler car to drive as well.
- Driving and sleeping in an unused RV
Websites such as RVshare.com and trailermade.co allow you to connect with locals wherever you happen to be traveling and use the RVs they have sitting around unused. This could save you some serious money and also allows you to get the incredible RV experience at next to no cost!
- Sharing a ride
Websites such as blablacar.com, liftshare.com, kangaride.com, and shareyourride.net allow you to split rides with strangers near you. This can cut the cost of your rides in half or even more and you get the bonus of meeting new people to potentially travel more with!
- Search for local free walking tours
Nearly every big city in the world has a local free walking tour anyone can go on. These allow you to get a good feel for the city and learn interesting facts from locals who love the history of their city. This also allows you to meet plenty of new people, as well as save money and avoid the tourist trap of expensive city tours.
- Cook your own food!
Many people scoff at cooking their food on vacation. This adds a huge cost to traveling because eating out for every meal adds up fast and thus it is hard to last more than a few weeks on a tight budget. If instead, you cook your own food at home often you can save tons of money. This will also allow you to learn a great new skill as well as test your hand at the local cuisine. Find a good market near where you are staying and you can interact with the locals as well as get incredible deals on amazingly fresh local foods.
- Get rail passes or a public transit card
If you are taking taxis everywhere you need to go on vacation you are likely burning money much faster than necessary. You can get a month’s worth of public transit for often a very small price in most cities. This will allow you to get around the city with ease and experience the everyday life of the cities citizens. It also allows you to see more of the city as you will walk more and be able to explore more freely. Don’t pass on public transit, it saves you money and allows you to experience more of the city you are in!
- Sleep in hostels with large dorm rooms
Another great way to save money and meet like-minded travelers is to stay in hostels. Hostels are the ultimate way to save money traveling and make lifelong friends on the way. You can get beds in dorm rooms for a fraction of the cost of a hotel and the camaraderie in hostels is famous. Saving money and making great friends is all you can ask for as a traveler isn’t it?
- Look for discounts unique to you
Are you a student? Veteran? Senior? If you are a member of any unique group you can often get major discounts if you know where to look and who to ask. Leverage your unique background and find places that are willing to offer great deals to people like you. This will allow you to save some money and meet kind-hearted strangers.
- Check for a bulk tourism card
Instead of paying up for tons of tourist tours and experiences, buy a great tourism book or guide for your city and take yourself on a great tour. Not only can you save money but you get to create your schedule and see everything you want to see most, as well as avoid everything that doesn’t interest you.
- Consider hitchhiking
While many look down on hitchhiking as below them, it is yet another way to meet kind-hearted people on your travels and do some traveling for free. If you meet some great friends who are going your way you can hop in with them and have an incredible experience with a free ride on top of it!
- Stay with friends or friends of friends
Whether you are just getting started traveling or have been out for a while, there aren’t many better options to travel for incredibly cheap than staying with friends. Not only do you already know you will get along, but they will also love the opportunity to show you a good time in their city and host you to the best of their abilities. If you don’t have friends in the city you want to go to you can always ask around in your network and it is likely someone you know knows someone in nearly every city on earth. Take this as a great opportunity to make a new friend through a mutual connection as well as have a great time for cheap in a new city or country!
One of the greatest ways to immerse yourself in a countries culture is to find a local to stay with. Not only does this give you a great friendship and an in-depth look into the culture, but it also can allow you to stay for free wherever you go!
With the internet, it has never been easier to find a host wherever you go and sleep on their couch or in a spare room. These hosts are often incredibly nice and want to show you the best parts of their country as well as help you save money.
You should start by setting up a good profile, add some friendly pictures and a great bio about yourself and your interests. This will help potential hosts get to know you and most importantly want to trust you to live in their homes.
You can also be a host in your city. This can be a great way to meet friends from all over the world and show them all that your home city has to offer.
To get even deeper into this world you can go to meetups related to Couchsurfing and meet fellow travelers. They may just invite you to visit them and stay for free in the future!
When sending messages on the platform be sure to be friendly and start slow. Don’t be pushy or arrogant, but instead be thankful for them considering allowing you into their home. You want to build a friendship that you will both want to continue by living together for a time.
Last but not least remember it is a numbers game. If you don’t get responses the first few times don’t get down on yourself. Send multiple messages to people per day and don’t get discouraged, it is just a matter of time until you meet the perfect match and start on the adventure of a lifetime!
Choose The right Credit Cards and Maximise Your Points
Credit cards have become one of the most effective ways to travel for free. If you spend some time finding the best rewards programs available to you, and then make sure to spend efficiently to maximize your rewards you can easily get free flights and even accommodations wherever you go. There are tons of guides online about credit card hacking and many people make it their mission to not spend a dime on travel year-round, instead, they buy all of their flights with rewards from their everyday purchases. This is a great way to get free flights just by spending the same money you are spending anyway, definitely worth looking into!
Great Travel Influencers
- Murad Osman @muradosmann – Incredible travels with his wife, iconic photos
- Chris Burkard @chrisburkard – Takes great photos of sprawling landscapes and visits incredible views
- Yes Theory @yestheory – Getting out of their comfort zones to do crazy things around the world
- Benjam @benjam – A true ocean lover, stunning ocean photos and destinations
- The Blond Abroad @theblondeabroad – Great world travel and lifestyle photos
Great Travel Blogs
- Book your hotels from Hotels.com, they offer great deals and help you to find the best price. They will also give you your 11th night for free!
- Book your hostels from hostelworld, it is the biggest hostel platform out there and allows you to find the best and cheapest hostel wherever you are.
- Find and compare cheap flights with Skyscanner and Google flights. These allow you to find the best deal quickly and easily wherever you need to go.
- Utilize offers from low-cost airlines. You can often find incredible deals if you search the lesser-known airlines, just be sure to know their baggage rules and guidelines so you don’t get caught in a tough situation.