Many people are hesitant to pack their bags, book a flight or take a long ride to a far-off place because they think that traveling will cost them their life’s savings. This is not the case, as many travel bloggers, project volunteers, farm workers, hostel staff, and house sitters can attest to. Many of them have documented their travels around the world on a limited budget, and there’s no reason for you to not be able to do the same.
If you think your prospects of being able to travel are slimmer than your near-empty wallet, you’re mistaken. There are many ways to travel on the cheap, as long as you have an open mind, the right attitude, and a great sense of adventure. Don’t let a sad wallet fool you into thinking you’re destined to just stay where you are. Make your way all over the world with these five easy tips, along with reminders on what you must do to make sure that things go smoothly all throughout your trip.
1. Use online discount coupons
There are numerous sites online offering deals on airline tickets and hotels around the globe. One thing you should bear in mind is that before you book the actual ticket, you should do a quick google search to see if that particular site has any voucher codes that you use to a discount on the price. More often than not, you’ll find a code that you can add to the booking and save yourself a bit of cash by doing not much more than a simple search. You can find voucher codes for just about everything you’ll need for your trip, from hotels and flights to even stuff you’ll take away with you on your trip, like clothing and cosmetics that might be easier to buy at home before you set off.
2. Use budget airlines
Budget airlines offer the best prices when you’re looking to travel on the cheap. Many online travel providers aggregate airfare costs from airline to airline, which is something that can help you find cheap flights on the dates of your planned trip.
Airlines usually have a limit on baggage weight for tickets bought on discount, but it should not be a problem if you know how to pack properly and smartly. You can also get lucky on seat sales from airlines, which tend to come up from time to time. You have to be fast when it comes to airfare deals though, as they can be gone within minutes. The deals are usually announced via social media so follow airlines’ and deal hounds’ accounts and grab a deal as fast as you can.
Another way to spend less on airfare is by booking connecting flights instead of purchasing a round-trip ticket—reports have shown that doing so could save travelers as much as a hundred dollars. It’s important to note, however, that if you do choose to do this money-saving option, you should consider flight times very carefully. When booking, make sure you leave at least one and a half hours between connecting flights, just in case your first flight is delayed or arrives at the connecting airport late.
Must-do: Learn to pack light and fit everything into one piece of carry-on luggage that will be easy to transport to and from airport gates.
3. Offer to house-swap or house-sit
House-swapping is exactly what it sounds like: you swap houses with another person for a specific time period that you both agree on. There’s no cash involved, and the “house" you can offer up for exchange doesn’t have to be a house in the traditional sense of the word. It can be an apartment unit or a boathouse, as long as it’s a place fit for sleeping in. If you have a house or apartment unit to offer up for house-swapping, there are websites that allow you to advertise your property for a fee.
The exchange can be simultaneous (both parties swap houses at the same time) or non-simultaneous (when one party chooses to let their exchange partner use their house, then take their turn some other time). Non-simultaneous exchanges usually happen between parties who own second homes or vacation houses. Another option to consider in this regard is a hospitality exchange, where both parties take turns using each other’s into their homes—this is usually done if you only have one house and don’t mind welcoming a temporary housemate.
With house-swapping, you save money you would normally spend on accommodation. If you’re itching to see another city on the other coast for instance, it would be a good idea for you to look at house exchange listings in your desired destination, and offer your own up for swapping. There’s bound to be someone like you who also wants to travel on the cheap but would still like to have the comforts of a home. With that said, you get the added benefits of living in a fully furnished house while exploring a new city.
You can also have your home rented out while you’re away so you can have money for your travels. If, however you don’t have your own house to swap, then a house-sitting job in another part of the country (or on the other side of the world) may be a good option. True, the job requires you to be a caretaker in the house and you may not be able to do all the touristy stuff you would like to do, but if the house sits by the beach and relaxation is all you need, then it’s all good.
Must-do: Get acquainted and learn to trust the other person you’ll be swapping homes with. Discuss house rules and don’t forget to respect and treat your exchange partner’s house like you would your own.
4. Volunteer on a development project
If travel and humanitarian work are two of your passions, then volunteering on a worldwide development program might just be for you. There are probably hundreds of international organizations offering opportunities to help out in their development projects and you might just be the one they are looking for.
By devoting your time to a worthy cause in a less-privileged part of the world, you not only get to travel and learn about other cultures, you get to help out in making lives a whole lot better, too. Many socio-civic organizations look for volunteers to help in teaching children, caring for the sick, managing community livelihood projects, building sturdy homes and doing other tasks that their programs entail. In exchange for your services, they may help you out with airfare as well as room and board.
Must-do: There are thousands of volunteer opportunities posted online. Do your research—take your time to determine what kind of project will suit your interests and your skills best. Take note of the requirements organizations ask for from applicants, and clarify which expenses the organization can help you out with.
5. Share a ride or hitchhike
Traveling as a group can come with cheaper fees, but if you’re going solo, you can carpool, rideshare or even hitchhike your way to different places. Ridesharing announcements are usually advertised on travel forums and websites, hostels, and other places where backpackers and budget travelers congregate. You can also check out several ridesharing apps available for both iOS and Android mobile operating systems so you can hitch or share a ride wherever you may be.
A plus when you book rideshares and carpools via websites and apps is that there are reviews, ratings, vehicle license numbers, and tips, which can help you to be better informed about your options and the people you’re sharing rides with, providing you with a safe means of traveling on the cheap.
By sharing rides, you not only offset the costs of fuel (and save gallons of gas—and the planet), you also meet new people as well. Do take note that with this mode of travel, you rely on the kindness of strangers and fellow travelers, so do take care.
Must-do: Download and install ridesharing apps (they’re usually available free of charge), and register. Some may require you to log in by email or Facebook; the latter is a good way to find out if you have friends in common.
6. Work your way around the world
Working on a farm builds character and adds to your travel fund. An international network of organic farmers called WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) offers volunteer opportunities every now and then. There are more than 60 countries on their list, so if you’ve always wanted to work on a farm, now is a good time to seriously consider it.
WWOOF volunteers help with the organic farm’s day-to-day activities such as making compost, weeding, milking, harvesting, fencing, bread making, and other tasks, and usually work 4 to 6 hours a day. Hosts provide food and accommodation, so if you’re open to learning about sustainable farming methods and techniques and are keen try out an alternative way of life, this could just be the perfect travel gig for you.
Volunteers and hosts directly negotiate the length of stay. Stays can last between one and two weeks, while others last up to six months.
Aside from farm work, you can also pick up some casual, short-term work abroad such as trail maintenance, fruit picking, and bartending. Some positions don’t offer any cash as payment (it may be a violation of the local laws to do so), instead you’ll get free meals and accommodation. If your work does come with monetary compensation or tips, you can use what you receive to supplement your travel fund.
Short-term work in a foreign country is not only good for keeping travel costs to a minimum, it’s also a great way to immerse yourself in local culture, learn new skills (or practice old ones), and interact with locals and fellow travelers.
Must-do: Do note that some countries may require you to have a working permit or work visa, so do your research before committing.