One of the biggest travel myths out there is that you need to be rich to see the world. I admit, I used to believe that myth as well. But after five years of travelling I know this is simply not true.
It was only a few years ago when I remember watching many different documentaries on TV: all of which showing wonderful places around the world. I would often dream about visiting all of these places... (or at least Galapagos, New Zealand and French Polynesia... Please!). But at that point, I was pretty much convinced that firstly I would have to win the lottery or marry Richard Gere (not that I would mind) to be able to cover my travel expenses.
In 2011 I made a big decision and practically out of blue I flew to New Zealand with a few bucks in the pocket (you can read my story here.) But still, at that time, I thought that I would have needed quite a bit of money in order to travel the world.
But once I started travelling on my own, I began to meet a lot of open-minded individuals who also have a passion for exploring our great wonders. I realized that these particular people were able to travel even without having millions or thousands dollars in their bank accounts.
From this, I slowly transformed my way of thinking, my way of life and my way of traveling.
Travel is only expensive if you have expensive tastes. If you’re open-minded and do a bit of research, you will find out there are infinite options.
Here are my tips and great sources I use to travel for cheap or even free. Step by step I will be adding more articles with many more travel tips - don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter so you won't miss any of them!
Choosing the right destination is extremely crucial when you plan to travel on a budget.
Many people decide to go on a two week holidays in various places around Europe or US and spend at least $1000 - $2000 per trip. They can often run out of money in their first week.
Wouldn`t you rather spend $500-1000 (or even less) for a ticket and go somewhere exotic, like Latin America or
Southeast Asia and live like a king (or queen) for 2-4 weeks with as much as 500$ cash in your pocket? Why not sip amazing coctails for $1 on the beaches of the Philippines, why not stay in a surf hostel in Nicaragua or a villa in Bali with your
loved ones or mates?It is better experience, cheaper and a much more intimate and in the
Before buying a ticket to your next destination, do your research, so you can get the full value and experience for your money!
Hint: check for countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Colombia, Bolivia, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. You can live there for 100$ or less per week.
Only if possible, be flexible with your travel dates and with the destination; It can save you hundreds of dollars!
When I flew to Kauai in May, the cheapest flight was on a Tuesday and costed me $420; if I would have picked any other day that very same week, it would have been almost $1100!
- Airline ticket prices vary depending on the day of the week, time of year, and holiday seasons. It’s usually cheaper to fly during the middle of the week than on a weekend. Flights can be also a bit cheaper if you fly after a major holiday. There are many ways and tricks on how to save money on flights and I will mention all of them in the next upcoming articles.
I love search engines. I can spend countless hours trying many different combinations and dates in order to find an amazing deal. I guess I am lucky that I enjoy searching on them, as for most of my friends and family, it is an annoying part of finding the perfect trip. Many times they will even ask me to do the research for them.
It is always beneficial if you try different search engines for the same flights because prices may vary. Once you find a good flight, I recommend that you to go to the official site of the flying company and check if the price could be lower (but most of the time I find deals from search engines to be a bit cheaper). Some of my favourite websites to search for flights are:
- Momondo - Definitely my favourite one. They always seem to find airlines that offer the best deals. I tend to make this my starting point for all international flights.
- AZair - The three websites I mentioned above are all great, but they won't find you flights of budget airlines. AZair finds budget flights around Europe, Mediterranean, and they plan to add coverage for Asian low-cost airlines later this year. (Tip: Don't forget that low budget airlines usually charge you quite some money for your check-in luggage, so before buying the ticket, read the luggage conditions - or that fee could cost you even more than the flight itself)
Shuttle buses and private tours can cost you a fortune. That's why I avoid them as much as possible... and instead I use public transport; which is much more cheaper. I agree, sometimes it can be a challenge and it requires some previous research, but isn't that part of travelling?
I do hitchhike a lot. I almost never hitchhike alone for obvious reasons. But once I have a partner, it's one of my favourite ways of moving around the world. It’s free, it’s fun, helps you meet new people and gives you the chances to see places that you probably never would have seen if you would had taken a bus or plane. I hitchhiked tons of European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, some parts of Asia and Canada. Most of my experiences were incredible! I know it is not for everyone, but if you’re the adventurous kind, give hitchhiking a go! I like to use Hitchwiki to inform myself about hitchhiking conditions in different places.
Accommodation is only expensive if you choose to make it that way. Usually there are alternative ways to stay in your destination spot for very reasonable prices, or sometimes even for free:
A lot of homeowners around the world need or want someone to look after their house while they’re away on vacation. This a great way to live in someone else's house for a few weeks or for a couple of months. Some of the responsibilities of house-sitting can include, watching the house, taking care of their pets, cleaning and gardening. By house-sitting, you get more of an "at home" feeling; this also gives you a break from hostels and noisy backpackers. I already saved thousands and thousands of dollars doing this!
If you are not aware of CouchSurfing.org yet, you will absolutely love it! It’s a very large (5 million strong) community of people from all over the world who open up their homes & apartments to travelers for free. They may have a whole bedroom, or just a couch for you to crash on.
If someone has a spare room in their house, or a whole apartment they are not using, they may rent it to travelers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These apartments usually come fully furnished and include a kitchen — all for the price of a budget hotel.
Sleeping in the airport
Sometimes it just so happens that you have to stay overnight at the airport. Of course you could go to a hotel, but it's usually not worth it to pay any amount of money for just couple hours of sleep. SleepingInAirports is a great website where you can check reviews of 'airport sleepers'. You can get really valuable information on the darkest and calmest spots to sleep, electrical sockets for your gadgets, whether or not there are 24 hour restaurants, wifi, etc.
You will appreciate camping especially in some expensive countries like New Zealand, Hawaii, Iceland, Canada, etc. Even the cheapest rooms, (like 10- dorm room hostels) you can end up paying more than $30 a night. If you find that paying that is too expensive for your budget, you should check out the camping sites in the area.; for instance, when I lived in Hawaii I paid $3 a night, when in New Zealand, I paid $6. Sometimes you can even find free camping sites.
Volunteer or Work exchange
A couple of times I worked for my accommodation. I just walked in a few hostels and asked if I could stay there for a couple of days in exchange a few hours of work a day (this usually ends up being basic cleaning and house-keeping). You can also check volunteering pages WorkAway, WWOOF, HelpX to find a host willing to accommodate you for some work. In most cases they provide meals.
Get yourself a deal!
This works well, especially for cheaper countries like Asia or Latin America.
I wouldn't recommend that you book your hostel in cheap countries via internet. Instead, walk around and look for places. Try to deal a price directly with the hostel. Most likely you will succeed, especially if you're staying for an infinite number of nights.
Be a (creative) weirdo...
... and do what I did, which was knock on the door of every house in the neighbourhood that I was in, in Australia and ask the owners if you can put your tent up in their backyard (or crash at their place for the night). Do that until somebody finally feels sorry for you; it worked for me!
I wouldn't bother with cooking in countries like Latin America or Southeast Asia. For a few dollars (or cents) you can fill there your tummy with delicious foods. But dining out in Australia or Canada would empty my pockets. So I cook instead (or eat plain bread when lazy).
Eat like locals
Wander the streets and see where all the locals are dining or eating. Most of locals eat inexpensively, so you know that those places are more than affordable and that it is safe to eat there.
I love volunteering! I could probably do volunteer work for the rest of my life. Not only does it save your money, and allow you to travel on a long term basis, it also educates you on different countries and cultures. I've learned a lot of new things (sailing, cooking, gardening, horseback riding, etc.). I've met amazing people and I`ve made lifetime friends.
Workaway is one of my favourite websites with amazing volunteering projects. You can sail in the Carribean, get your PADI diving license in Greece, practice yoga in Cambodia, etc. Check out my article about Workaway projects - you will truly love them all.
EVS (European Voluntary Service)
If you're a member of EU and between 18 - 30 years, you definitely shouldn't miss this opportunity. EVS is a part of Erasmus+ program. You can choose a country and type of the project you want to participate in, send the application and wait if you were accepted. I did an awesome project in Spain focused on traditional sailing. Within five months I learnt how to sail and even learnt to speak fluently in Spanish. European Union covers your language course, living expenses, insurance, around 90 % of your transport expenses and you get also small pocket money. Let's find some projects that fit you in database of EVS accredited organisations.
Cheap volunteer opportunities
When you google 'volunteering Africa', you will find a huge number of websites. But if you read carefully, most of them will want to charge you thousands of dollars for a few weeks (yes, still talking about volunteering). No, thank you! I've got for you two great tips for organisations providing volunteering projects in Africa and Latin America:
- Volunteer Latin America - they have an incredible amount of projects from including whale sharks conservation or teaching yoga. Some projects are free, some you have to pay a reasonable amount of money and for some position you are even offered a salary.
- Volunteer 4 Africa - basically the same concept like the organisation above, just in Africa.
(Be sure to like FB pages of their both as they are frequently adding amazing new projects.)
I saved lot of money on my travels by working abroad. But working abroad in itself is travelling and exploring. Currently I am on Working Holiday visa in Canada taking any odd job as I go (I will spend all the summer 2015 on a cherry picking orchard and autumn in the vineyards). If you are looking for a job rather than a career, and stay flexible with your options, you’ll be able to find work anywhere. You can be a bartender in Thailand, yoga teacher in Costa Rica, photographer on a cruise ship or fruit picker in New Zealand. Just be positive and open-minded. Here are some ideas on where to start:
You can obtain this kind of visa for countries like Canada, England, Norway, New Zealand, Australia and many others. Usually there is an age limit of 30 or 35 years old with a maximum stay of 1-2 years (depending on what nationality you are and where you are going). It's fun to look for jobs once you get t!
Work on a cruise ship
Not only will working on a cruise ship allow you free transportation to endless nad beautiful ports all over the world, you will also save a lot of your wages because your accommodation and food on board will be provided. Also, you won’t need to worry about visas because the cruise ship company that hires you will apply for any necessary ones in advance. I got a job as a photographer applying via the company All Cruise Jobs (although I never accepted this job offer as I already had another plan in action).
Become a scuba diving instructor
If you are a certified diver and want to become an instructor, there are dozens of amazing scuba destinations around the world where you can easily find work (Thailand, Cambodia, the Caribbean, and Bali are all good destinations). If you are not a certified diver and don't have thousands of dollars to get your license, many diving schools can offer you a free internship. In exchange for a help in a diving center, you will be offered your course for free. You will pay your living expenses (food, transportation, accommodation - which can be as low as $400 in the countries I mentioned above.). Do some googling or try to contact dive centers directly and ask them if they are offering this kind of internship. I am going to do my internship in Honduras for a few months after Christmas. Can't wait for it!
Teach English (or any language)
This is the easiest type of job to get for native English speakers. Especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America. If you are not a native speaker, you can always teach your native language. There’s a language school out there for everyone, especially in big international cities (yes, even Czech!).
Work on a yacht
If you are the ocean lover, why not work on a boat! Yachting jobs are surprising easy to get without much experience (though it helps) and you’ll be able to sail around the world doing so. Some good job websites are:
Do whatever you are good in! (Or just do whatever you desire to do!)
Are you a great surfer? Why not to teach surfing around the globe? You will be demanded!
The same is with yoga instructors.
Always wanted to work in a bar on the beach in Thailand? Well, go after it! Your chances are pretty good. Just google and send out a few emails. Or better - start to travel and ask for some odd jobs on the way. It can be fun! You might won't make a career and big money, but maybe you will become a happier person!
Just go out and chase your dreams!
Do you know any other tips or sources I didn't mention? I am sure there are many I don't
know yet and I'll
be happy to hear
them all! You can comment below or send me a private message.
Thank you for reading!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Martina is a traveller and photographer originally from Czech Republic and... hello! In 2011 quit my well-paid job in the film industry to travel the world and live the life. I visited 50+ countries and when I am not exploring deserted islands in South Pacific or diving with whale sharks in Philippines, I am panning for some gold in New Zealand. I created this travel blog DreamingAndWandering.com to inspire you to travel more, better and cheaper. To help you making your travel dreams come true.
For many more travel tips, photos and stories from my travels, follow me by "liking" the FB page below!