5-star resorts, private shuttles, and business class have conditioned us to think that travel is always going to break the bank. Of course, there’s space for budget-minded travelers, but have you ever wondered how to kick it up a notch and really save money — perhaps by spending hardly any? With some creative spirit, there are plenty of ways to travel the world for (nearly) free.
Most of these are for the adventurous soul, so prepare to exit your comfort zone and enter that money-saving mode. From sleeping in airports to crashing on random couches, there’s no shortage of ways to cut costs. Try some of these ways to make it work:
See the world for free by joining a work exchange platform
Can you pick fruit all day? Clean a questionably nasty bathroom? Wash piles of dishes? If the answer is yes and you’re willing to do it, you can find an opportunity for these types of jobs (and a handful more) by joining a work exchange platform. Participating travelers provide their labor in exchange for a free place to stay, with occasional bonuses like food or drinks, depending on your setup. With opportunities all over the world, this is one of the most common methods to get a free place to stay on the road.
Work in a hostel, earn free accommodation
For those who gravitate towards the backpacker lifestyle, working in a hostel gives you a cost-free place to hang your hat, cultivate a community, and have fun while doing it. Many hostel jobs are posted on the aforementioned work exchange platforms, but cold emailing is another useful tactic. Most hostels will ask for several days per week of work in exchange for a free dorm bed — and don’t be surprised when you receive free drinks, either. It almost makes up for the moldy shower that you now call yours.
Hack your hotel budget by becoming a house sitter
Enter house sitting: a far more comfortable way to be a total cheapskate. Studies have shown significantly lower volumes of snoring bunkmates and moldy showers by taking this avenue. It’s a bit more competitive — but not impossible. General duties include making sure that no one breaks in, occasional care for pets, garden tending, and any other upkeep that requires a traveler’s touch.
Aspiring house sitters can check out House Carers and Mind My House. Word of mouth is fairly popular with this option, but the magic of the Internet can pull through too. Either way, references are a big help. And, if you have a home of your own, check out HomeExchange: a unique, mutually beneficial way to share your home in exchange for a stay in someone else’s.
Save the cash for future travel by Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a global network of travelers and gracious hosts opening their homes (and often hearts) at zero cost. That’s right—it’s 100% free, and often an awesome social experience.