10 Ways to Travel for FREE!
How can you travel for free?! It is not as impossible as it might sound; it just takes a bit of ingenuity and outside the box thinking. That’s what this post is all about.
If you’re open to some pretty alternative ideas, aspects of travel needn’t be expensive (or needn’t cost anything depending on how far you’re willing to go).
How can it be possible to travel for free?!
Easy – take something that costs, and think of a way to not pay for it…without breaking the law. Failing this (the ‘not paying for it’ part, not the ‘breaking the law’ part), then you might have to make an initial purchase in order to save money elsewhere. Then, either sell your purchase/get a refund/some other method…
For methods on how to save money for travel, check out our blog post here.
Most things on this list will take some determination and effort on your part, along with invested time…otherwise, everyone would be doing them if it were easy and quick), and sometimes a bit of luck, but it is possible.
The most expensive part of travel: Accommodation
The single biggest expense for travel is accommodation. You have to sleep and store you stuff somewhere, and usually this falls under the job of hotels, hostels, or AirBnB’s to keep you covered, but paying sometimes upwards of £30 ($40US) a night for a bed, a toilet and 4 walls can add up to thousands, especially if you are going for a long time. Here are some alternative options to travel for free:
Download your FREE housesit checklist
Housesitting is an incredible way to travel on a budget and still have the company of pets, however, housesitting carries a lot of responsibilities. Here is a comprehensive checklist guiding you through what you need to know and not miss to ask before your housesit starts.
Involves 2 parties: Party A (you) and party B (homeowner). Party B wishes to go travelling/visit family/go away from their house for a while; a couple of days to a couple of months, but does not wish to leave their household alone. This could be for many reasons, most commonly because they have pets that need looking after. Thus Party B needs someone to look after their home. This is where Party A i.e. YOU come in.
We have a complete blog all about how to housesit (including a free checklist) so go and check that out if you are seriously considering it but the gist of it is that you get to stay in someone’s house for free. All you usually need to do is look after their pets, keep it tidy and don’t burn the house down – the usual stuff. In exchange, you get somewhere to sleep, a bathroom and Wi-Fi – which, let’s face it, is all you need. Oh, and cooking facilities and a fridge/freezer as well, so you can finally buy ice cream…
BUY A CAR
Okay okay, let me explain a bit more. If you’re travelling for a long time (3 months+) then this might be a more viable option.
Step 1: Buy a car/camper/van/vehicle of some description.
Step 2: Make vehicle habitable if not already so. Level of comfort depends on individual needs. Foldable £40 ($50US) mattress or backseats might be sufficient sleeping quarters. Add extras if desired like a stove, storage, electricity, fridge.
Step 3: Use vehicle as the transport to explore destination for x amount of time, and live in a vehicle, thus saving money on accommodation.
Step 4: At the end of said travels, sell the vehicle. To ensure little expenditure, sell the vehicle to as close as buying price as possible (factor in repair costs if need be).
Example: Watch our video HERE to see what we mean 😉
AND CONVERT IT
This might seem a bit crazy, but we did exactly this in New Zealand and spent ZERO $/£/cats or tin cans on accommodation. Since we converted a normal car into a camper, its value at the end of our travels was worth a lot more than our purchase price – to the right buyer. Factoring in repair work as well as the conversion costs, we didn’t lose any money when reselling it either. The only net cost was fuel. If you are planning to move around long distances, you’ll have to pay for somehow anyway, fuel or bus fares or plane tickets.
Buying/selling vehicles will be easier in some places than others. Most places will have some sort of established 2nd hand car market; all you have to do is find it.
Or hey, better yet if where you are going isn’t that far away and you already own a car, you can use that as your bed. (or even if it is far away, do a road trip… although that might require a slight change of plans)
USE YOUR TRANSPORT AS YOUR SHELTER
Furthering on from my previous point, if you’re hitting a couple of cities, use your mode of transport to get some sleep. Book the train/bus overnight and sleep there, that way you don’t have to pay for a night’s accommodation. You can arrive at your next destination in the morning so you have the whole day to do your thing. Taking it one step further, you can sleep at the airport the night before an early morning flight. There’s even a website: HERE explaining all about the best places to sleep in certain airports – how cool is that?!
IS ALTERNATE LIVING FOR ME?
Download your FREE eBook
Here is the complete overview of What alternative living is, Why it’s a good idea and How you can get the ball rolling.
CAMP IN A TENT
Not all countries will have free campsites, especially in towns and cities. Nevertheless, it is possible to find campsites for free and thus, free campsites = free accommodation. This does of course require a tent and other camping equipment, but if you already have some…voila!
Couchsurfing is sort of what the name suggests (well minus the surfing part); people offer up their couch/sofa bed/mattress/spare room/even an actual bed. In exchange, instead of paying in money, you pay with experiences. Couchsurfing is usually seen as “Not just a free room” so cooking the homeowner a dinner, or having them take you out on a tour of the local area/city is usually how couchsurfs go. You pay with memories.
Okay I get that accommodation can be free, what else?
Now that you’ve opened your mind up, the rest is figuring out inventive ways that you can get by for not a lot.
Please remember, that it is not possible to do absolutely everything for free. Some things you pay for, do go to good causes (like museum entrances for example). Also, in some poorer countries, where things cost less, trying to squeeze people for every last drop they have and haggling down an already cheap item is rude. With that in mind, here are some ways we have discovered and used ourselves to reduce the costs:
FREE CITY TOURS
If you haven’t done much research on a place and are interested in a lot of history, city tours are a great way to become an encyclopedia on a places’ history. Most large cities have some sort of free tour, available in different languages. However, some tours can cost as well, and the way free tours make their money is sometimes by stopping you off at specific shops/cafes. They earn revenue on each customer this way – just something to bear in mind.
AVOID PAID TOURS WHERE IT ISN’T NEEDED
Sure, you could pay for a “guide” to lead you across public mountain passes in New Zealand, or you could also just walk it yourself, for free. Tours will usually help you by kitting you out with equipment, telling you about history/geology. They can even provide “free” transportation and meals (included in the cost, of course). If you have your own stuff, are capable of buying a sandwich and have Wikipedia open, then this can all be accomplished solo. And you don’t have to wait for the person walking at 1km/hr, or, if you are that person, then you will have the leisure to zigzag as much as you want…
GET OUT THERE AND MAKE YOUR OWN MOMENTS
There are hundreds of places that will gladly take your money in exchange for something. If you look hard enough, there will probably be a free entrance somewhere else. Take cave tours for example; certain very popular cave sites will probably have a cost associated with entering. This is due to a) safety (they hire people to check the safety of these caves due to lots of people walking through them). And b) they are a business and want to make money. Caves are natural and thus, will be found in abundance in nature so you can, usually, walk in at your own risk, although, caves are often shut to the public if deemed too unsafe. Plenty of other examples of free entrance experiences exist: forest walks, museums and beaches are some of them. If you really want to visit that specific place and it costs, then don’t let the cost stop you. But if you just want to do a walk (any walk or whatever) chances are there will be free alternatives.
RELOCATE CARS OR CAMPERS
Google “campervan relocation place/country name” and there will be options. These sometimes cost but you can find ones that are free and even include fuel money. In essence, you have a set amount of time to get from Point A to Point B in a campervan/car. Fuel is sometimes paid for, sometimes not, same with the rental, but you can find them for $1 or free. What would you do with 4 days to get from Berlin to Rome for a £1 a day (fuel included)?
If you need more guidance in understanding alternative living, be sure to pick up your FREE ‘Is Alternate Living For Me’ eBook.
If you’re up for an adventurous career, getting a job within the travel industry can be a great way to go travelling, and not only have it for free but get paid to do it. Flight attendants, representatives, tour guides, personal photographers, there are many options, including finding remote work. More and more companies are now offering work from home roles, which could be only partially remote or fully remote.
Vanlife security is a BIG thing when it comes to converting your own DIY campervan – we all know those stories of vans being broken in to. So we run through some of the essential security features you should have in your van conversion, and how to protect your valuables and van from being broken into.
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