11 Ways to Travel for Free
It is a common misconception that travel is expensive and only rich people can enjoy extensive, long term travel. Tour companies, luxury hotel chains and corporate media want you to believe that it is expensive and difficult to travel so that you buy into their all inclusive resorts and expensive guided tours.
But Travel doesn’t have to be expensive!
Did you know that in some countries in South East Asia, Central America and the Indian Sub Continent you can travel comfortably for as little at US$15 or $20 a day! – To find out more check out the Cheapest Places in the World to Travel!
There are even some ways you can travel for free, or for very little.
Of course, nothing in this world is ever really free, most of these involve some degree of work but very little money to be exchanged. Moreover, they offer a way to become more immersed in the culture of the country you are visiting and make connections with local people leading to a more affordable and more meaningful experience!
Ways to Travel for Free #1 – Couch Surfing
Couch Surfing is basically where you stay on someone’s couch for free. Don’t worry if you don’t yet have friends all over the world, the Couch Surfing website connects a global community of travelers with members who are willing to host them in their hometown.
Apart from just a bed (or couch) for a few nights couch surfing is a great way to met local people and hosts will often be keen to show a couchsurfer around their hometown, introduce them to their friends, culture and share local knowledge.
Couch Surfing also organises met ups around the world so even you if decide not to stay with a member its a good way to make friends. It’s free to sign up to the couch surfing website and hosts don’t generally expect any work in return making couch surfing the cheapest and easiest way to get free accommodation.
Ways to Travel for Free #2 – House Sitting
House sitting is the ultimate way to get free accommodation. Many home owners need someone to look after their house and pets while they go away.
There are several websites like put home owners in touch with potential house sitters but house sitting gigs can be competitive and sought after so you will need to build a professional looking profile and will be at an advantage if you can demonstrate experience looking after pets.
You will also need to pay to join a house sitting website, for example to join Trusted House Sitters costs 60 / $96 but this will pay for itself with the money you save on accommodation once you secure your first house sitting assignment. (They have a sale on now, you can get 25% off if you click this link)
Ways to Travel for Free #3 – WWOOF
WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms. The idea is that wwoofers volunteer on organic farms and small holdings, helping with horticulture, permaculture and various farming tasks for 4 – 6 hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation and increasing and sharing knowledge on organic farming practices.
Going rural allows a traveller to see a totally different side of a country that you wouldn’t see in cities. There are WWOOF organisations all around the world, the only downside is that there is no international membership – you have to join and pay for each country that you visit and intend to volunteer in. The prices varies for example membership for Australia is AUD$70 for 1 year but for 15 Euros for Greece.
Ways to Travel for Free #4 – Workaway
Workaway offers a way to travel the world and stay for free with local hosts while learning new skills and gaining authentic cultural experiences. The website lists hosts and workaways can do voluntary work usually for 5 hours a day in return for free food and accommodation.
It is a great way to met local people, save money and learn new skills. You can do many kinds of work, from working in a hostel or hotel, teaching English to helping on a farm or around the home. You can browse the hosts and opportunities for free but you need to pay 25 – 30 Euros for 2 years membership to sign up to contact the hosts to arrange a placement.
Ways to Travel for Free #5 – Helpx
HelpX, is similar to Workaway. The website lists a variety of hosts where helpers volunteer to stay with them and help out in exchange for food and accommodation. Again, it is a cultural exchange for both travellers and hosts that gives the opportunity to stay with local people, be immersed in the culture and learn new skills.
Helpx has more listings than Workaway but has a less user friendly website design. The usual arrangement is 4 hours of work a day in exchange for free food and accommodation and like, Workaway, you can browse for free but have to sign up and pay 20 Euros for 2 years membership to contact the hosts to arrange a stay.
These websites also offer the opportunity to help out by volunteering for free at a grassroots level and avoid paying the extortionate fees charged by international companies offering ‘voluntourism’ holidays.
Ways to Travel for Free #6 – Work in a Hostel
In addition to the ones listed on Workaway and Helpx websites, many more hostels will also let you work for accommodation, and sometimes meals, in exchange for helping out at the hostel, cleaning, changing beds, checking in guests or sometimes just socializing or leading the bar crawl to make sure everyone is having a good time. Hostels are the go to places for affordable accommodation for backpackers so you are also sure to met lots of like minded people.
Transport and getting around can be a big part of your travel costs. Some travelers swear by hitch hiking but you’ll have to assess the safety and risk of doing this yourself. Try ride sharing, ask around in the hostel or on forums and websites like Gumtree to share a ride with someone going the same way and split the costs.
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Ways to Travel for Free #8 – Relocate Vehicles
Companies that need their hire cars or campervans relocated to the other side of the country will often hire out a vehicle on a relocation deal for only $1 a day. Nothing beats the feel of your own wheels on the open road and a camper van has the added value of saving you money on accommodation too. Be aware though that you still need to pay for the gas, you will most likely be needed a short notice and have limited time to get the vehicle to where its required so its not the best for those you like to spend time sightseeing along the way. Imoova is a good website that lists vehicles for different car hire companies in Australia, New Zealand and America that currently need relocating.
If you have the initial money buying your own campervan can enable you to travel almost for free. Having a campervan saves you money on accommodation and transport and offers the ultimate freedom. If you can sell it at the end of your trip then you’ve just paid for the gas and had free transport and accommodation for the trip.
Ways to Travel for Free #9 – Free Walking Tours
Most European cities now offer free walking tours. These are a great way to get your bearings, learn more about the city and offer get some more destination money saving tips. The tours are completely free but you are asked to tip what you think it is worth at the end or the tour guide doesn’t get paid.
Ways to Travel for Free #10 – Wild Camping
After the initial cost of the tent, wild camping is another way to sleep for free and get back to nature, just make sure that it is not prohibited by the local government or you may find yourself moved or, or worse fined. Get a camping stove, build a fire, cook yourself up some tucker and gaze up at stars, sometimes the best things in life are free. In Australia the ‘Camps’ books are a veritable bible with maps and a directory of places where camping is permitted. Even if you can’t find somewhere free to camp, or prefer not to pee in a bush, then a camp site is still a very cheap accommodation option.
Ways to Travel for Free #11 – Sponsored or Press Trips
If you love writing and sharing your travels then it might be a good idea to start a travel blog. Once you are an established travel blogger with a good online presence tourism boards and tour operators may want to work with you and offer a free press trip with the expectation that you promote their brand or destination.
Be proactive and creative, don’t be afraid to contact a hotel or tour operator that you feel would be a good match and offer to review and promote their product or activity. But, like I said before, nothing in life is ever really free, developing a travel blog takes a lot of time and effort and you will be expected to work on these trips, to promote the company and provide them with a return on their investment.
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If traveling for free is not enough for you the check out Ways to Get Paid to Travel