Lifestyle

13 Ways to Travel the World with no Money

One of the biggest myths out there is that you need to be rich to travel. With these simple but life-changing hacks, you’ll be able to travel the world without money!

Simeon Onaji
Simeon Onaji

Simeon is the Senior Editor at Tozome, an amateur pizza connoisseur, and a mediocre Tennis player.

13 Ways to Travel the World with no Money
Photo:Twinsterphoto/Shutterstock

“The best things in life are free.” A common phrase, and one which is usually used when talking about things that money can’t buy, like friends, family, the sun shining, your football team winning the league, that kind of thing.

What probably doesn’t come to mind when hearing that phrase is traveling, because traveling costs a lot of money, right? But what if I told you that it is completely possible to travel the world with no money, and even in some cases, for free? We all want our trip finds to last longer, so here are the top 13 ways to travel the world with no money.

1. Bag yourself some free accommodation

A free wifi sign in Bali, Indonesia

Photo: Bernard Hermant/Unsplash

Accommodation eats up the majority of most people’s travel budget so getting to stay somewhere for free should be high on anyone’s list when looking to travel without money; it’s just worth considering that some compromises may be needed. Probably the most well-known way to bag yourself a free bed for the night is through Couchsurfing, the worldwide homestay network.

If you’re not familiar with Couchsurfing, it’s a site with connects travelers hoping to find not just somewhere to stay but also to meet locals in the place they’ll be visiting. It’s a great chance to get to know people in the local area who can give you tips and recommendations on what to see, where to go, and good places to eat and drink.

The whole idea of Couchsurfing, though, is that it’s a cultural exchange, so be prepared to spend time with your hosts. In my experience, this is really cool as my hosts have taken me out to places that I’d never have found if I’d been going around on my own and I’ve found out really interesting things about the countries I’ve traveled to through listening to their stories. As you’re staying with someone, it’s a good idea to maybe offer something to show your thanks. I usually offer to cook for my hosts, but other friends I have who regularly couchsurf take their hosts out to dinner or bring small gifts from their countries to give to them.

Another way of getting accommodation for free which is becoming more and more popular with travelers is house sitting. House sitting involves taking care of people’s homes and, the majority of the time, pets while they are away, and in exchange, you’ll get a free place to stay. There are a number of websites that advertise available house sits; the main ones are Trusted House Sitters, Mind My House, and Nomador.

House sits are available throughout the whole world, it’s just a case of luck if one comes up for the country you want at the time you want. As the sits usually come with animals to care for, this is something you’ll need to think carefully about; some animals, such as dogs, require a lot of care and attention, so you’ll have to be prepared to put their needs and wants before your own. I personally mostly look after cats when I house sit, which I find fits in very well with what I want to do when I travel.

Something very similar to house sitting are home exchanges. The principle is the same but a home exchange would require you to also have your own home. Using a website like Home Exchange, you find a place which you like and arrange an exchange with them. Then, like in the popular Hollywood movie The Holiday, you swap homes with the other homeowner for the agreed length of time.

2. Do some volunteering

Women collecting garbage on the street

Photo: R_Tee/Shutterstock

Volunteering is great for many, many reasons. You get to be involved in the life and culture of the country you’re visiting, you’ll meet lots of people and it looks pretty impressive on your CV. But they’re not the only perks; lots of volunteering experiences include not just free accommodation but also free food and other cool things, making it really easy to do it even if you’re broke.

Backpacker hostels, especially the smaller independent ones, often look for volunteers to help out. The job usually involves cleaning the dorm rooms and communal areas, working on reception, giving guests information about the town or city they’re visiting, and sometimes hanging out with guests and taking them on nights out.

Most hostels ask you to work around 20 hours a week and in return, you’ll get a free bed, usually free breakfast (this will depend on the hostel you’re staying in and if they offer breakfast to their guests), free laundry, and sometimes some other free perks, such as other free meals, free tours or free bicycle hire.

WWOOFing has been around for years and its popularity is still going strong. Short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, it’s a worldwide movement connecting farmers and growers with volunteers who aren’t afraid of a little hard work. It’s not just a working opportunity; it’s a great chance to learn about farming practices and the organic farming industry. For the duration of your placement, you’ll get accommodation and all your food for free, so all you have to do it get there.

3. Get a job overseas

A teaching volunteer helping two students

Photo: Monkey Images/Shutterstock

OK, so this isn’t the best option if you’re only planning on being away for a month or so. But if you want to be on the road for a substantial length of time, it may be worth getting a job to help pay your way. Getting a job abroad might seem like a difficult task but in many cases, it’s not that hard at all. Here are some jobs which will pay you to travel the world:

  • Casual work – lots of hospitality jobs such as bars, hotels, and restaurants hire people on a short-term basis, especially during peak season, to help out, making it an easy way to make a bit of cash. Just make sure it’s legal for you to work in the country that you’re in; you don’t want to get into trouble with the authorities and get sent home and a possible ban.
  • Teaching English as a foreign language – possibly the most popular option for those who want to spend long periods abroad, a lot of people who get into the industry end up living abroad for years. It’s not even necessary for you to have a teaching qualification; plenty of schools are happy to employ people on the basis that they are native English speakers and are able to communicate with people of all ages, including children.

    This will depend on the country you want to teach in so check with any school about what they require before you apply. The online English teaching industry has seen a massive boom in recent years too; if you have a decent laptop and access to a good internet connection, teaching online may give you more freedom in terms of where you can travel rather than working in one city for an entire year.

  • Hostels – yes, I know hostel work was mentioned in the volunteering section, but some of the bigger or large chain hostels actually employ people as regular workers rather than take on volunteers. It’s pretty much the same gig as you’d get as if you were volunteering but you get paid instead of getting the free perks.
  • Holiday rep – a cool seasonal job, working as a holiday rep could see you spending three or four months sunning yourself in a summer tourist hotspot like Greece or Spain, then heading to a ski resort for the winter season. With these jobs, you usually get your accommodation and food included as well as other perks such as ski passes and free tours. If you’d prefer to move about a bit more, companies like Busabout and Contiki hire tour guides to work on their bus and sailing tours, meaning you’ll get paid to visit a number of countries over a short period.
  • Au pair – a popular option for a long time, as an au pair you’ll be a live-in childminder and housekeeper and in exchange, you’ll receive free accommodation and board on top of a small salary. You may also get access to some other perks, such as the use of a car.

4. Hitchhiking

A hitchhiker hailing a car

Photo: Atlas Green/Unsplash

Getting from A to B is one of the most important factors when traveling – and sometimes one of the most expensive, too. A great way to get around the costs of transportation is to hitchhike. Although it’s had a bad press over the years, hitchhiking is generally a safe way of getting around; in fact, in some countries, it’s a very common practice. Obviously, there are risks which you need to think about with regards to safety but the biggest problem you’ll have is getting a ride when you need one, to the place you want to go to. However, there are some ways in which you can increase your chances of getting a ride:

  • Ask around at petrol stations – petrol stations are a great way of picking up rides, especially if you’re traveling a long distance. It also gives you an opportunity to check out the person before you get into a car with them.
  • Hold out a sign – this lets people know where you’re going, giving them the option to stop for you if they’re heading that way.
  • Smile! – this one is very important! If someone is going to share their car with you for what is possibly a long time then they’ll probably want you to be personable and friendly, and there’s no better way to show this than to smile.

5. Get involved in the sharing economy

A man calling an Uber on his phone

Photo: Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock

Hitchhiking is, of course, part of the sharing economy, but if you’re not sure about that option then there’s something else you can try. Car sharing platforms like Blablacar work by people offering their spare car seats when driving on a journey. Just head to the website, put in your departure and arrival points and the day and time you want to travel, and see if there are any rides available.

If there aren’t any available rides, you can set up ride alerts so you receive a notification when one does come up. Car sharing comes with all kinds of advantages. It’s a comfortable way to travel, you’ll get someone to chat to throughout your journey and, best of all, it can work out a lot cheaper than traveling by train or bus.

But it’s not only transport that you can save money on through the sharing economy. There are a number of websites that offer different sharing experiences that bypass the huge travel tour companies, meaning you spend much less and get a far more authentic, local experience. Popular sharing economy websites include EatWith for meals and culinary experiences, AirBnB for local accommodation as well as tours, and Vayable for tours and global experiences.

6. Get into the kitchen

Making homemade Italian pizza

Photo: Aerial Mike/Shutterstock

Restaurants and dining out can eat up a lot of your budget when you’re traveling; even if you’re in some of the cheaper countries when you’re eating out three times a day, it all adds up. A great way of cutting down on the cost of food is to buy your own groceries. When I was living in Oslo, my groceries used to cost around $50 per week – the same price as two dinners and a drink out in restaurants or pubs, so the savings you can make are massive.

The great thing about traveling nowadays is that most accommodation options these days – backpacker hostels, AirBnBs, the house sits, Couchsurfing – have fully-equipped kitchens where you can prepare all kinds of meals. Food bags and Tupperware boxes are also pretty cheap, so if you’re planning on spending a day sightseeing, make yourself a packed lunch of sandwiches or a salad to take with you.

7. Get yourself a discount card

A male traveler making a payment with his card

Photo: Rasulov/Shutterstock

The students among you will know of the fantastic discounts you can get on transport, restaurants, and attractions with a student card. But did you know that there are other discount cards available so you can get those same discounts even if you aren’t a student? Youth cards are available for those of you who are under the age of 26 as well as a special card for teachers.

If you plan on spending a lot of your time on your travels staying in hostels, there is a Youth Hostels Association Card giving you access to over 4,000 hostels in over 80 countries along with discounts at local attractions and retail outlets.

8. Make use of your air miles

An Airplane wing

Photo: Ross Parmly/Unsplash

The students among you will know of the fantastic discounts you can get on transport, restaurants, and attractions with a student card. But did you know that there are other discount cards available so you can get those same discounts even if you aren’t a student? Youth cards are available for those of you who are under the age of 26 as well as a special card for teachers.

If you plan on spending a lot of your time on your travels staying in hostels, there is a Youth Hostels Association Card giving you access to over 4,000 hostels in over 80 countries along with discounts at local attractions and retail outlets.

9. Buy a city tourist card

A city Sightseeing bus

Photo: Tseinn Wong/Unsplash

This is a perfect solution if you’re spending a few days in one city and are planning on visiting a lot of attractions. These cards will offer you discounts or even free entry to a number of attractions and restaurants as well as free transportation throughout the city. Depending on the place, there are plenty of options with regards to the number of days, from one-day passes up to a week, meaning lots of savings for you.

10. Save tonnes on travel with transport cards

Shinkansen N700 Bullet train in Tokyo, Japan

Photo: VTT Studio/Shutterstock

Possibly the most well-known of transport cards are railcards such as the European Interrail cards and the Japan Rail Pass. Great if you’re traveling around one area or country for a specific time, these cards will save you bags of money; if you can book them in advance, you can save up to 50% off tickets. If traveling by train isn’t your thing, there are also bus passes for pretty much every continent on the globe, including Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

If you’d like that bit more independence and flexibility but still want to save the pennies. Consider hiring a campervan. An extremely popular option in Australia and New Zealand, riding around in a campervan gives you the chance to set off when you want, stop off when you want and even have somewhere to sleep if you find that perfect place to enjoy that perfect sunrise.

11. Sell your skills

A young woman taking picture at Cappadocia, Turkey

Photo: Kudla/Shutterstock

Everyone has a skill they can offer which someone will be willing to pay for, whether that’s painting, hairdressing, translation, consulting, nail art, computer programming, photography… the list goes on and on. There are loads of websites where you can advertise your services in order to make a little cash without committing to a long-term job. Check out sites like Gumtree, Craigslist, or even local Facebook groups to see if you can offer your services on there for the place you’re in.

If the skills you have can be offered online, try putting up gigs on sites like Fiverr and Upwork so you can work wherever, as long as you have access to a laptop and an internet connection. Some travelers even make money by designing online courses and selling them on Udemy, giving them a steady income while they’re on the road.

12. Sightsee for free

Tourists on a Free Walking Tour in Lisbon

Photo: Glen Berlin/Shutterstock

Everyone loves wandering around a new city and exploring their new surroundings but this isn’t the only thing you can do for free when traveling. Most of the major cities – and even some of the smaller ones – have free walking tours you can join. Led by locals or residents, you will spend a couple of hours being taken around the main sights as well as all the little nooks and crannies you’d probably never find without the help of someone who knows the city intimately. These tours are run on a tip-only basis so if you feel your tour guide has done a great job then you can give them a small donation of your thanks – but you’re certainly under no obligation to do so.

A lot of museums around the world are also free, or at least offer free days. For example, a lot of museums are free on the first Sunday of the month in Paris, and every Tuesday in Krakow. Do a little research before you head to your destination to see which museums are free. Other events and activities that can be free on your travels include festivals, sports activities such as free ice skating in winter, churches and other religious buildings, and natural areas such as botanical gardens and parks.

13. Use your social network

Phone with social media apps

Photo: William Krause/Unsplash

Using your social networks can be useful when traveling the world with no money. You may use your social network to keep in contact with your friends and family when on the road, but you can also make use of accounts like Facebook and Instagram to see what you can get for free. If you need somewhere to stay, post a status seeing if you know someone who knows someone who can offer you a room or sofa in the place you’re visiting. Check out local groups to see if there are any free events happening. Social networks are also great places to find a job if you need to earn a little bit of money.

Another great way to use social media to get freebies is to enter some of the many competitions that you find on there. OK, it’s not the most fail-safe way to get stuff for free but they can be fun to do and you never know, you just might win something. So as you can see, traveling the world doesn’t have to be super expensive. In fact, with a little forward planning and some imagination, it doesn’t have to cost you very much – or even anything – at all.

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