When the travel bug bites, it bites real hard. Do you find the thought of travel creeping into your thoughts daily? If only there was a way you could afford to travel the world or even better, travel for free.
I know these thoughts all too well, thinking I would be able to travel once I’ve saved $1,000, $3,000 or even $5,000, which takes a really long time. I would see people post their stories, videos and pictures of the most amazing adventures and believe that I was never going to be able to get there.
That was my first dire mistake, I was stuck with the ‘I’m too poor mentality’. The travel advice I was reading was for those that had the security and finances, not for me. My second mistake was allowing this mindset to dictate my actions (or lack thereof). My final mistake was waiting until the perfect time, which is a complete myth.
In 2014 I let go of my doubts, packed my bag and went on my first adventure to Austria, as a very poor student, by 2018 the bug has taken me to 23 different countries and counting. I have not had an financial windfall come my way, instead I have worked, hitchhiked and stumbled my way through. Here I will answer how to travel the world for free with six methods that have helped keep the adventure alive, and even paid me.
How to Travel the World for Free
It is possible to travel the world with very little money in your back pocket. If you are willing to sacrifice time and some of the usual comforts, you can have the greatest adventure of your life. Here are six ways I have been able to do just that.
Teach a Language
This is one of the most common ways to travel, and rightly so. English is one of the most sought after languages in the world, and it is a skill which can take you around the world. Teaching experience isn’t always required, the right attitude can get you far.
TEFL qualifications are very accessible and well worth getting hold of, if you are looking for a way to travel long term this is your ticket. Contracts are usually between 8-12 months, and depending on where you teach the pay can be very lucrative (South Korea can pay $2,000 – $5,000 per month).
Teaching English abroad is on of the easiest jobs to get (especially after graduation). English teachers are needed all over the world this can allow you to travel to extraordinary places, earn money, meet great people and provide the funds for further adventures.
My first trip to Austria was supported by teaching German, a decision I look back on fondly as it was the catalyst for my current travel lifestyle.
Summer camps are an awesome way to travel to a new country, have great fun and earn a little money. Held during the Summer months, camps are a great way for students or those with spare time to travel to somewhere new and do something new.
It is common to have your accommodation and meals paid for on top of your wage, oh and you may just end up doing some white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing or an abundance of awesome activities.
I spent two years on and off, working with Village Camps in Austria and Switzerland. They have locations across Europe and America, if you are a student looking for a way to earn some extra cash during those long Summer breaks, why not travel and have a blast while doing so.
Work at a Hostel
Hostels are always looking for staff to work their reception, take guests on tours or design some incredible art. Working at a hostel can last for days, weeks or even months, and give you a real sense of community.
Hostels often exchange a few hours work a day for a free bed and food, although you are not likely to be making money, you will definitely be saving it. If you are a creative soul many hostels are looking to have their walls come to life, I have known many people that have painted beautiful murals in exchange for a bed (and sometimes get paid).
Hostels are filled with some of the most creative travelers and working at a hostel is one of the best ways to immerse in the community and make great friends. I spent 2 ½ months working at a hostel in Nepal, aside from meeting awesome people I saved a lot of money on accommodation.
Worldpackers is a great resource for finding hostel and other work exchange opportunities.
Live With Locals
Living with locals is a awesome way to get insights into the place you are staying, you may even end up seeing some truly hidden gems. Couchsurfing allows travelers to stay with locals all over the world for free as they open up their home to you.
Couchsurfing meetups even allow you to meet with hosts if you are less comfortable going straight to their homes. This really does offer more than just free accommodation, I have frequently used Couchsurfing all over the world and it has exposed me to some of the most beautiful cultural exchanges.
Hitchhiking is safe, that’s the first thing I want to make clear. Yes there are horror stories out there, but hitchhiking can be done safely and millions of people do so every year.
Hitchhiking is not only a great way to save money, it is a genuine method of transport used around the world. It doesn’t only benefit you, the driver could also do with the company and you may end up having some great conversations, share music and learn something new.
I have used hitchhiking wherever possible as a preferred method of transport for years, meeting some of the most interesting and awesome people along the way. Hitchhiking from the Netherlands to Croatia a few years back to attend a festival is one of my fondest memories and greatest adventures.
Working online is by far the most difficult method on this list, and also the most fruitful. There are an abundance of ways to make money online and if you are able to tap into them, the only restriction to your travels will be Wi-Fi.
If you have skills in online design, web services, programming or anything tech, services like UpWork can help you find work. There is a lot of competition, spend a bit of time building up a profile and you can find a constant stream of work. If you don’t have a background in tech there are virtual assistant and research based jobs which you can get hold of with a bit of effort.
Alan Howard, CEO of Sacha Agency describes in this live experiment video how to get find a job on UpWork in 24hrs, with no previous online experience or presence.
Traveling the world is not reserved for those with big trust funds, complete security or highly specialized skills, if the desire is there, so are the means.
This is not a comprehensive list, there are countless ways to travel for free, save money and earn money. Nomadic Matt is one of the most successful travel bloggers and author of ‘How to Travel the World on $50 a Day’, here he lists 15 great ways you can earn money while traveling.
These are six ways I have been able to save and earn money and travel to over 20 countries in the last three years, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. If you have any thoughts about anything on the list, or ways you fund your travels leave me a comment below. If you want to find out more about how I started to make money online, get in touch today.
Adventures are out there waiting for you.