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We’ve all heard the saying that the best things in life are always free. But most people assume this rule only applies to life’s little pleasures like smelling flowers, a walk in the park, or laughing with friends. And sure, those are great, but what about those bigger pleasures, like jetting off across the world? Can you do that for free too?
Well, if not for free, then for very cheap. If you’re looking for an international experience but don’t have the cash to pay for, this article is for you. Much to many peoples disbelief, you don’t need thousands of dollars to get yourself on the road. In fact, all you need is a little originality, some guts and enthusiasm, good planning, and some ideas to get you started.
Remember, travel isn’t just for the wealthy; anyone can travel, even if they have little money to fund their trip. If you dream of travelling to far-off lands, here are 6 ways I have found to travel the world for free; Or at the very least, almost free.
You can find several house swap sites online that put people, who are interested in house swapping, in touch with each other. Many of these sites charge a registration fee, which in some cases, is quite high. However, by using such a company, you do have some protection against being harassed by non-genuine people. You can also find home swapping opportunities on websites like Gumtree, Craigslist , Home Exchange, or Loquo.
You need to be comfortable with total strangers living in your home for this to work for you though. To help break the ice, try to get to know your prospective house swapper by exchanging emails and photos before you commit to an arrangement. It also helps to look to swap with someone in a similar lifestyle or stage of life. If you’re a young couple, you’re probably more likely to find a good fit at the apartment of another young couple than at the home of an older, retired gentleman.
When people go on vacation, they may not want to leave their home unattended. This is where the opportunity to house sit comes in. This is a great opportunity to live rent-free in another part of the country or across the world. There will probably be some jobs that you need to do in the house however, like weeding and watering the garden, feeding and walking the dog etc, as well as generally looking after the house so take note of this and decide if this is for you. Not everyone wants to do chores on their vacation. If this option interests you, check out websites such as housesitworld.com and caretaker.org to find house sit opportunities in the areas you want to travel. You can also talk to relatives and friends that live in other places. I have house sat for numerous family members and it has worked out great. They get away, I get away, and the house is looked after.
Get a Job
There are always job opportunities in most countries. Once you are living and working overseas, it is a simple matter to explore the surrounding area and even neighboring countries. You are being paid, so you have funds but you won’t have to pay expensive air fares to get overseas; you are already there. Some large corporations have exchange programs in which you go to work in the office in another city or country. I have had friends who have done this and have really enjoyed the experience.
Teaching jobs are available overseas, in American or UK schools that cater for the children of expats living there. These positions often come with attractive packages that include rent, health benefits and travel expenses. Engineers, accountants, electricians and builders are also among other positions that are often available overseas. This is something my husband and I are actually looking into right now. We might work overseas for year or two. I will keep you posted as to what we decide.
There are also summer camp in the US and Canada where you can work. A working holiday is a great way to see the world without dipping into your savings or running up a huge credit card bill. You basically get paid to go on vacation.
The opportunities for volunteering overseas are numerous. You might like to offer your work talents in third world countries, volunteer in wildlife sanctuaries that are working to protect endangered species, help build houses or community projects in poor areas, teach English or life skills to the underprivileged, join the Peace Corps or be a WWOOFer on an organic farm somewhere. Volunteering is a great way to see the world and help those less fortunate at the same time. Indulge a passion or use a talent for the good of mankind while you travel. Projects Abroad has some very detailed information about this if you want to take a read.
Travel as a Companion
There are people who need a companion to travel with them. Positions include being a nanny, guide or companion. You will usually get to travel and stay for free in return for various duties, depending on the type of position you have. A great place to start is connecting with someone at your local senior centre.
Hitch Hiking and Couch Surfing
There are lots of opportunities for free or low-cost travel. Hitchhiking is safe in many countries but check it out before you travel. Be friendly to the locals you meet and trust in your instincts to find people everywhere who are happy to offer you a meal or a bed for the night. Look for opportunities to do odd jobs, especially in the country areas, in return for a meal and a place to sleep. Check out CouchSurfing.com or Global Freeloaders to find members around the world who are prepared to give tourists a ’couch’ for the night.
As you can see there are numerous ways you can save money on travel and live your dream of exploring other cultures and lands. You don’t need to have a fat wallet to make this possible.
Need some inspiration to get you started in fulfilling this dream? Here are some memorable quotes I love:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
So, are you a travel bug like me? How have you saved on travel? Or, if your dream is to travel and you haven’t done so, what is holding you back?