I like to share common questions I get not only because it helps you but it saves me time in responding to emails and messages throughout the day. I do this in my “ask me anything” series. Click over to see more questions I’ve answered. I get this question a LOT about how to travel the world for free:
“I don’t have much money, I just break even paying my bills but I want to travel! How did you save? How can I start traveling, just get up and go with NO money?”
Ermm… it’s not that easy! But with some planning there are a few steps you can take to get on the path to traveling and help you see how to travel with no money. First up, remember to check out the articles I’ve already written on budget:
- 9 ways to save money for travel
- 13 ways to spend less money while you travel
- 14 ways to EARN money abroad
How to Journey with No Money / Ways to Journey the World For Free
Make your Couchsurfing profile as soon as you start thinking about how to travel the world with no money. It’s a website that helps connect travelers and hosts. You stay for free and the host will show you around their town most likely. Start hosting people who come through your town.
Even if you are in a small town, people might come through. Make a full post & follow these 9 safety tips for couchsurfing. You can go to “Couchsurfing meetups” to make friends in the community to give you references. Once you build your profile, reach out to hosts and set up free accommodation in the places you want to go. You truly can stay for free every night of your trip abroad. Always remember to give back to the community as much as you take; this platform will only enrich your experiences with locals and see a place the best way possible!
- Sign up and create you profile so that you seem like a safe candidate to hosts. You can use this to sign up – it’s free.
one of my favorite Couchsurfing homes in North Dakota
2. Research what’s free in the places you are going
Usually cities offer free walking tours which are a great way to see the city. Literally google “what can I do free in insert city name” and see what pops up. Whether its museums, hikes, public pools, or cool parks, there are an abundance of activities to do for free.
3. Start trying to save at least a little / Earn money online
You have to get a plane ticket. No one is going to give you that for free! You need to save money. It’s not possible to be dead broke and start a round-the-world trip (even if blogs makes it seem that way). Here are some tips to start saving money that actually work and tips on how to stay on your budget.
You could get a free flight potentially with travel hacking, but you have to spend money to earn points so this may not be an option for you if you’re broke. But if you’re using your card to pay bills online, why not earn points on that toward a flight or upgrade?
Earn money online: You can find odd jobs on Fiverr even if you don’t have graphic design skills, for example holding a sign about a company up in a pretty place and taking a photo: $5 in your bank account. Crazy. I totally recommend signing up! As a blogger, I hire people on here all the time.
For more on my blogging tips:
- How I Make Money from Journey Blogging
- Best Blogging Tools for Productivity & Earning a Higher Income
- 10 Fail-Proof Ways to Up Your Journey Blogging Game
4. Journey somewhere less expensive
Your money will go further in Kuala Lumpur than in London. You have to pick a budget destination. Think Southeast Asia, India, Nepal, or Eastern Europe. This might be the most important step. A good idea is to use Kiwi’s anywhere or radius tool to “fly to the cheapest place” from your base and see what pops up. Next, you can see which of those places is affordable to travel. Now you’ve got a cheap ticket to a cheap place.
5. Journey to that less expensive place at the least expensive TIME
Journeying off-season has saved me bundles of cash. Everything in Goa is 1/2 off in monsoon! You’ll find great deals and have fewer tourists around. The best time to go is just before or after a destinations “peak season” or you might get caught in too rainy of weather. Here are 11 ways to save on offseason travel. You can find all the best hotels deals online ahead of time for the monsoon seasons of the world.
** Get $35 credit toward your first room!!*
THE BEST DEALS are going to be people’s homes who are on vacation since locals leave in the off season. Check airbnb and get a gorgeous villa cheaper than a hotel. Sign up now on this link and get $35 off your first booking! It doesn’t expire.
6. Stay in rural areas
7. Consider hitchhiking or car sharing
I am not saying it’s safe, but I have done it in a number of countries. It saves bucket loads of money. If you feel like it’s too dangerous, that’s fine. It’s just one way that’s helped me. There’s a lot of websites offering car sharing now like Bla Bla Car or you can join Facebook groups, for example, in Goa, there is a Goa car sharing group and people go to the airport together.
Many volunteer programs charge a hefty fee, but there are some that will give you a free place to stay and food if you work for them. You’ll be helping the community, learning more about the locals, and not have to spend much money at all. Sites like Work Away can help you find gigs but it does cost money to sign up. I can best speak to volunteering in Goa, so check that post out for tips.
Another option, WWOOF stands for worldwide opportunities on organic farms. You can work on farms and in return get free lodging and food. Some people do this as a way to get a working visa into a country and then stay longer after working to explore. WWOOF isn’t the only way, and some jobs like this do pay. I met a girl who made minimum wage in Aus picking tomatoes and working on their farm from the break of dawn.
Just be careful you’re not veering into voluntourism, which can be detrimental to the community!
9. Cook in or eat local
If you’re really broke you won’t be able to dine out all the time, so this is imperative. Buying pasta and cooking it in the hostel will save you cash. Eating street food will also save you bundles. Even choosing take away rather than eating in (you can drink your own drinks and won’t have to pay luxury/sitting taxes many places have to eat in).
10. Camp or sleep in overnight transportation
You can camp if you take your own sleeping bag and tent. I haven’t done this because it’s a lot of work. I do tend to travel on overnight buses and trains instead of during the day because it saves on a nights’ accommodation.
11. Do your own laundry
Instead of paying someone to wash your clothes, wash them yourself! Here’s a guide on how to do laundry while traveling.
12. Housesitting instead of Couchsurfing
You can sign up for sites like Trusted Housesitters and just babysit people’s houses as you go. You might have to take care of their pets but in return, you could get a great villa in middle of nowhere countryside! Typically you don’t get paid for this. Here are some tips on how to start housesitting.
PS it does cost money to sign up but is worth the investment. I’ve seen some bloggers perfect this and share the incredible mansions they stay in!
**Most importantly, travel slow & safe**
The longer you stay in one place (especially a free one) the more you save on transportation. When you’re on the road, that’ll cost you the most so this might be the most helpful tip of all. When you travel slow, you can also pick up work. Start your travels in your own country, figure out how to earn money online or another way (remember that article I linked above with 14 ways to earn while traveling?) so you can stay on the road longer!
You’ve got to be safe while you travel as well. The most important thing you can do is get travel insurance before your trip so you don’t have crazy bills abroad if you end up sick from the water, fall of your scooter, get an IV for food poisoning, or anything else.If you can’t afford that, you probably should wait for your trip!
Now that you’re doing all this to save up, spend less, and travel for free, you need to take the tips linked above to earn some money. Once you combine them all, you can shift to taking nicer transport and staying in cozy hotels with room service, right? ;)
But really, it’s a slow process. If you are dead broke I can see how it seems unreachable and could be. I don’t know your life, ya know? But when I think back to leaving for Europe the first time, after booking a plane ticket I didn’t have much more than 1,000 bucks and an emergency credit card. It was 6 years ago and I lived on baguettes and lettuce from the supermarket. You have to be able to rough it if you’re broke but if travel is your goal you WILL find a way to make it happen!
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