Traveling can be expensive. But there are also lots of incredible ways to get around the globe when you basically have no money. Here are 11 ways to travel the world on a budget.
1. Try house sitting or pet sitting.
The concept is simple: You stay in someone’s house while they’re away and do some task for them — feed their cat, water their plants, or whatever else. They get the comfort of knowing their house isn’t going to shambles, and you get the sweet, sweet luxury of not having to pay for your stay. Best sites: TrustedHousesitters.com, MindMyHouse.com, and HouseCarers.com.
2. Teach or build something while you’re away, in exchange for free room and board.
There’s a word for this: voluntourism. That’s volunteer + tourism, and it’s very popular in the travel community. It’s basically when you go on a trip to do something that helps the locals — like teaching English as second language, or building houses and schools for communities in need — and in return, your stay is compensated.
A word of caution: Not all voluntourism is beneficial for the host community. In some cases, outside help from unqualified individuals can actually end up setting the community back — so be sure to do your homework and research the companies and organizations before you go.
3. Or volunteer to live and work on an organic farm.
There’s an organization called WWOOF, which for starters has nothing to do with dogs. It stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and it’s a large network of non-profit organizations all over the world that connect you with local farmers. The idea is that you go and work on a farm for however long you want, and the owners pay for your stay in exchange for your labor.
Many travelers love WWOOFing. Not only does it help you go to really dope places (Argentina, Cameroon and Nepal, to name a few), but it also gives you a chance to get immersed in the local culture. Plus, you can go on sweet excursions in your downtime — and you meet amazing people along the way.
4. Get a salaried job where you can work overseas.
Office jobs aren’t for everyone, so luckily, there are tons of jobs all over the world where travel is part of the agenda. Try working on a cruise ship, being an au pair, or even teaching a fitness class, like yoga.
5. Or work remotely — while traveling.
The rise of digital jobs has caused a rise in “location-independent” workers — i.e. people who can do their job from anywhere. Consequently, more people are working and traveling at the same time.
And there are loads of startups popping up that connect traveling workers with each other. Remote Year, for instance, is a group of “digital nomads” traveling and working together for one year. And global co-working spaces like the Surf Office in the Canary Islands, and Mutinerie Village, an hour and a half outside of Paris, are great for working travelers.
6. Crowdfund your trip.
Kickstarter put online crowdfunding on the map — it’s basically when you get other people to pay for something that you want. But did you know that you can crowdfund entire vacations, not just tangible things? Check out Trevolta, Indiegogo, GoFundMe,YouCaring, and FundAnything.
A word to the wise: The key with crowdfunding your next trip is to make your story relatable and inspirational. When you create your page, tell everyone exactly why you want to go (perhaps you want to write a book; maybe you want to volunteer), because they will be more likely to fund you if they ~get~ you.
7. Or use Airbnb to fund your trip.
Airbnb is great for finding a sweet place to stay on your vacation — but it can also help you fund your travel in the first place. If you’re going away, be sure to put your apartment on Airbnb while you’re gone. That way, you’ll be earning back the cash you’re spending on your accommodations.
Pro tip: Stay in places abroad that are much cheaper than your place at home, like Thailand, so you’re automatically making money on the financial difference. You can even charge more than your rent (people do it a lot) to stretch that cash even further.
Also: The better your rating as a host, the more you can charge — so find out how to be the best host here.
8. Get free car rides whenever you want.
There’s a company called Bla Bla Car that launched in December 2014, and it’s basically a website that enables safe hitchhiking. It connects people who need rides with drivers who have empty seats — and they have drivers all over the world. Click here to find out how it works.
Of course, be careful: Always carry a charged phone, and if you feel unsafe at any point with your driver, get out of the car as quickly as possible.
9. Use your credit card points to score plane tickets and more.
If you use your credit card smartly, you can rack up tons of points that you can put toward your airline travel — meaning you can end up flying all over the world for basically free. Here are some smart tips on how to do that. “The Points Guy” is also super helpful: He started this eponymous website, which has everything you need to know about maxxing out your frequent flier miles. He has tons of legit advice and cool hacks about how to do it up right.
10. Go on free walking tours.
You don’t have to pay for all guided walking tours — there are lots of free ones around the world, if you know where to look. Check out Free City Tour, which lists all of the ones you don’t have to pay for around the globe, from Paris to Sydney to Jerusalem and more.
11. Barter your way to a free stay.
Step 1: Pinpoint your best, most marketable skill. Step 2: Use it to get free stuff when you travel.
For example, if you’re a really good photographer, email a local hostel before your trip and see if you can take some professional shots for their branding while you’re there, in exchange for a free stay. Or, similarly, if you’re a great writer, offer to help them with the copy on their website if they help you with your funds. You’ll be surprised at how willing businesses are to barter — so don’t be afraid to ask.
Got all that? Now GO!