Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. We all know the old mantra, travel is cheaper than staying at home, and it’s absolutely true, but who doesn’t want to minimize travel expenses to get maximum mileage from their money? These days there are many ways to travel the world for free, or at least ultra cheap. Some you’ll know about, some you won’t, let’s take a look at working your way around the world and more.
Travel for Free
Free here means, cash free, of course, you’re going to have to exchange something for your free travel and that usually means time and work.
1. Work For Your Bed and Board, Maybe Even Get Paid, Work Your Way Around the World
The Working Traveler website maps hundreds if not thousands of employment opportunities around the world. Good workers will gain a good reputation on the site and will build up an online resumé to impress future employees, through the site, or in the real world.
The Working Traveller model could help you get a better job when your travels come to an end.
I’m hoping my own kids will use this to get valuable work experience and, guess what, we, a family, even got a one-week placement through Working Traveller at a hotel in Romania.
2. Travel the World For Free With Couchsurfing.
Joining Couchsurfers gives you access to a global network of people, happy to open their homes to you for a night or two, just because they’re nice and like to chat. What goes around comes around, of course, members will do better if they also have a couch or spare room to offer and can build up a strong profile. Couchsurfers could cook dinner of help around the house to say thanks.
3. Become a House Sitter and Have a Whole Home to Yourselves.
When homeowners go away, they sometimes like to have somebody move in to look after their dog, cat, goldfish, and garden, or maybe just be there to keep an eye on everything and be a deterrent for thieves.
These gigs are sweet if free accommodation is at the top of your list of travel priorities.
Finding a house sit can take a lot of effort, the market is highly competitive and professional house sitters with a string of references get first dibs. Improve your chances of scoring a house sit by producing a slick video introducing yourselves to prospective homeowners and loading it onto the house sitting website.
Where to look: housecarers.com , also mindmyhouse.com, housesitworld.com.au, happyhousesitters.com.au, trusted housesitters or aussiehousesitters.com.au. We ‘ve also scored house sits through word of mouth.
4. If You Have a Home, House Swap.
Agencies exist to bring homeowners together for mutual benefit through house swapping. You normally have to pay a fee for annual membership of the house swapping site, but after that expense, you could stay in somebody else’s home, for an agreed period, for free.
This obviously works best if your home is in a desirable vacation spot or big city and you will normally have to book your stay well in advance, it’s unusual to find last-minute house swapping opportunities.
Where to look: Home Exchange ( this is the site we will be using for our Romania house), homexchangevacation.com, People Like Us or homebase-hols.com
If working outdoors, on the land, is your thing, the World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms offer opportunities for volunteers to help out in exchange for room and board.
Where to look: Visit wwoof.org. to find contact details of the WWOOF office in your destination country. You need to register and pay a small fee before accessing lists of member farms.
6. Fly for Free
Budget airlines have been known to offer flights for $0. OK, you will still have to pay taxes, but it’s still a sweet deal.
The trick here is to receive notification of upcoming airline sales and be ready to pounce on a bargain the moment the sale goes live. These offers sell out fast.
Where to look: Sign up with the budget airlines relevant to your area of travel, Air Asia has amazing sales, but you could also try ryanair.com, easyjet.com or flymonarch.com, virginaustralia.com ( watch for daily happy hour rates) and jetstar.com. Email notifications of sales and special offers put you in a good position to score the best deals.
7. Ski for Free
Seasonal jobs in ski resorts give you easy access to the slopes on your days off. Apply early, places fill up fast.
Where to look: Adventure Work or NZSki.com
8. Teach English Abroad
You don’t have to go the whole hog and get a TEFL qualification, sometimes you can just be a live-in conversational language improves.
If you are TEFL certified ( a course to become an English Second Language instructor, no teaching experience needed), you can receive a salary proportional to the cost of living in your placement country. The Middle East and the Far East pays particularly well. Sometimes free accommodation comes with the job.
Alternatively, fluent English speakers can receive free room and board during a period of conversational volunteering. Diverbo ( see below) accepts English-speaking volunteers for their sites in Germany and Spain and provides volunteers with a full room, board, and transport.
Where to look: Diverbo. Read up on what it’s like to teach English as a foreign language here, young couple Andrew and Amy spent the last year teaching in Vietnam.
9. Take To The Seas
If you’ve got your sea-legs, opportunities exist to crew on yachts or cruise ships. What an amazing way to see the world! You’ll have to work hard but plenty of job opportunities exist for chefs, entertainers, cleaners and more.
Where to look: For cruise ship opportunities, go directly to the cruise line’s website, try carnival.com or royalcaribbean.com. To find crew posts on yachts try Crewseekers International, there is a joining fee.crewseekers.net. Alternatively, head down to the port, find the yachties and ask around.
In some parts of the world hitchhiking is common and safe. For example in Romania locals in rural areas regularly hitch a ride and offer the driver a little petrol money. Stay safe, use your common sense and trust your gut instinct.
Where to look: Check out Hitchwiki to find general rules of hitchhiking in each country.
11. Vehicle Returns and Relocations.
Where to look: transfercar and imoova are 2 examples of vehicle relocation companies.
12. Food for Free
Dumpster diving and Freeganism are the buzz words here. I’ve seen city workers in suits picking up sandwiches, all hygienically wrapped, from the supermarket bins in London. So much food is wasted because it’s 5 minutes past its sell-by date, it’s a terrible shame.
Another alternative is gleaning, see the Falling Fruit website, below.
Where to look: Read more about Freeganism at Jamie’s site, Great Big Scary World ( Jamie is the King of free travel), or check out the website for free food opportunities in your area. For the Falling Fruit world map, look here https://fallingfruit.org/.
13. Become a Travel Blogger
Most of the ideas above involve exchanging work for travel, so it’s never totally free, there is a trade of services. Travel bloggers and influencers do the same. Some companies can decide to host you or sponsor your travel in exchange for something so in essence there must be something of value that you must be bringing to the table. In this case it can be advertising of the company on your blog or sampling their brand but it must be something that will make the company more money or establish them better as an authority brand in their field