By Eloise Empleton
Living in London is exciting, there is no doubt about that. London is a city where there is something for everyone, whatever you’re into. Living and working in the big city can be intense though and you may feel at some point that you want to escape for a while and do something different. You may start to wonder…How can I travel for free with no money?
1. Is it possible to travel the world for free (or super cheap)?
If you are dreaming of travelling around the world but don’t really have the bank balance to support this then read on. There are now so many options to see the world on a budget and some experiences won’t cost you a penny. You’ll need to be frugal with the pennies you have and get accustomed to budget travelling. You may also want to check out our blog post: how to save money while travelling as a backpacker for extra inspiration on adopting this lifestyle.
It will be important to look at how to move from place to place in a low cost style, including bagging cheap international flights. Accommodation would normally be your biggest expense so it is vital to look for affordable places to crash or if there is anywhere you can stay without paying out. Some places are noticeably cheaper to visit than others so destination is also an important factor when planning your itinerary. It is worth considering working whilst you’re travelling too as this will open up your world in a number of ways! It would be fantastic to earn money to spend while you’re away, meet new people and make memories. Let’s consider in more detail what you need to think about to plan your adventure and jet away…
Have a look at these 50 smart tips for traveling on a budget.
2. How to find cheap international flights?
Check out flight comparison websites – There are so many flights offered by different companies, it is best to check the comparison websites for the best deals. Search Skyscanner, Kiwi, rome2rio and momondo for cheap flights. Also sign up to email alerts to be notified of any flash sales.
Make the most of your credit card – You can earn air miles with certain credit cards so if you put all of your purchases on this particular card you could later exchange the points for flights. You may find some cards also offer a discounted or free voucher for your travel partner, encouraging you to travel together. It is also possible to receive extra points for booking flights, so be sure to benefit from this too by paying with your card. On another note if you fly with the same airline regularly check if there is a loyalty scheme as you may also be able to take advantage of this.
Benefit from an overbooked flight if the opportunity arises – If you find yourself in a position where the airline has overbooked and is looking to offer a free flight voucher up to a particular sum for someone willing to give up their seat, then take it if you have the flexibility to do so. The airline will look to put you on the next available flight and you’ll have a voucher to use for another trip in the future. So it could be a win-win situation! I have a friend who was able to go on an extra holiday last year when she found herself with this offer from an airline. It is just down to luck whether you are offered this by an airline but worth being aware this could happen. Some airlines are more generous than others with their offers. It could be considered compensation for the inconvenience of changing your trip but for sure you could end up quids in from this if you are able to be flexible with your trip and take advantage of the offer.
Here are some more great tips for getting cheap flights.
3. How to find the best and cheapest ways to move from country to country
Catch a ride – Use the app BlaBlaCar to connect with those using their own car to make journeys. Car sharing is typically used for longer distances and enables you to travel across country for cheap.
It could be possible to drive someone’s car across country – Some people require a driver to assist with this if they are moving home, relocating to another area. This is a cost free way to travel and you may even be paid for carrying out this task. It is also a fantastic way to see and get to know a country. Sometimes you can’t beat a road trip! There is Auto Driveaway which can be used for the USA and Canada. There is also driiveme.co.uk which can be used in the United Kingdom.
Rent from the locals – You can rent vehicles from local people by using Turo and camper vans from local people using RVShare.
Go by bicycle – Bicycle touring is a way to see the world at a lower cost. Once you have your bike touring gear list organised, this could be the cheapest way to travel and it is also much better for the environment. This could be the cheapest way to travel and it is also much better for the environment. You can join warmshowers and become part of a community of tourists travelling by bicycle. Warmshowers have hosts which are part of the cycle community and offer free accommodation. This experience can otherwise involve budget overnight stays of your choice such as camping. If you’re not sure about this check out the following link to consider it further.
Travel by train – Consider buying a rail pass if you’re going to be moving around a lot. For example you can invest in the Eurail Pass if you’re travelling around Europe. Be sure to also check out our post on travelling by land across Europe for further inspiration. The rail pass allows for flexibility on your adventure and is a cheaper way to travel. If however you know your travel dates and don’t need the flexibility then you can also book in advance. You can save a lot this way.
Hitch-hike – As long as it is legal for you to do this, then it is an option. This can be a free way to travel around. It is just important that you do so in a safe way. Use a sign to show people where you are going and take action to keep safe, making a note of the registration of the vehicle you get into and sending it to a friend. Hitch-hiking can be safe but make sure you take precautions. Check out Hitchwiki for more tips on hitch-hiking in a safe way.
By Air – Remember you may also be able to get good deals on flights, so it is again worth checking flight comparison websites like rome2rio as mentioned above. There are a number of budget airlines and deals to be had. It could work out the cheaper way to go.
4. How to make money while travelling the world?
Don’t be picky – Remember whatever job you do does not have to be a job for life. It can be part of your experience and fund you living abroad. Popular choices include:
- Bar work and restaurant work. This can be fun and a great way to get talking to locals and other travellers. There are bars everywhere and there is always a demand for this type of work.
- Au pair. This will allow you to live with a family so your accommodation is covered. You will be required to look after the children and carry out housework duties. You normally get a small salary in return. If you are interested in living in another culture and learning a language this could be a great way to do it.
- Are you already qualified in something or have a skill you could put to use? Could you teach people yoga or to dive? Could you become a travel guide? Could you be a street busker? Think about what skill set you already have and what you could do where you want to travel.
- Jump onboard the cruise ship – I had one friend who needed a change. She decided to join a cruise ship. She sailed around the world, was given free accommodation and received an income. She worked relatively long hours and bear in mind the wages are not high but this is another way to see the world. You can meet new people, make friends and enjoy your day off exploring somewhere new.
- Expat friendly employment – There are many job opportunities to be found overseas which can fund and enrich your experience. If you already have a skill or profession you could do this. Many options are open to expats such as nursing, engineering and teaching. There are countless international schools overseas looking for English speaking staff. If you’re not a qualified teacher you can still consider teaching English without this but you’d be better placed to do so if you can obtain the TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language) certificate.
5. How to stay for free and save on accommodation?
Wherever you are going in the world it is possible to do so for free or on a budget. Even in London such opportunities are possible to find, check out our post about finding free accommodation in London for further information.
Sign up to a loyalty scheme – If you are going to be regularly staying at the same chain, see if there is a loyalty scheme you can sign up to and benefit from.
House sitting or pet sitting – Could enable you to stay in free accommodation. There are house sitting websites you can use to put you in touch with people who want this service provided. More often than not though you’ll be caring for a pet, not just the house. This means that you won’t be paying accommodation costs but you do need to plan your days around the pets so you can’t go off on long excursions during this period. Look on Trustedhousesitters.com, Housesitmatch.com and Housecarers.com for such opportunities in different countries around the world.
Swapping homes – So you have a particular destination in mind that you want to visit. This could be the time to consider swapping homes. All you need to do is find someone else who wants to do the same but where you are living. This will avoid paying for accommodation and prevent your home from being left empty. There are trusted websites that can assist you with finding a suitable match. Check out Love Home Swap, HomeExchange and HomeLink.
Hostels – Offer budget accommodation. Staying in dorms will be the cheaper option, the bigger the dorm…the better the price.
Couchsurfing – enables travellers to meet locals who are interested in offering them a place to stay. This could be a room or just a sofa but it is a free place to stay and it should provide you with insight from someone who lives in the location you’re visiting. The purpose is to offer a culture exchange. Even if you don’t want to stay anywhere you can still use the app to meet other travellers and locals to socialise with.
Camping – As well as being a great way to travel cheap it could even be for free in some places. Also check out Campspace to find private property that you can stay on.
Volunteering – You can volunteer and find your accommodation and living costs are covered. You won’t be living it up in a 5 star hotel but you will have a roof over your head that you don’t have to pay for. You could volunteer for Peace Corps and you’ll be housed, fed and watered. You will have to leave the creature comforts behind but you could find it to be a very rewarding experience, as you’ll be involved in supporting the poorest communities and transforming these to be a better place to live.
Work exchange – There are a number of employers who offer free accommodation in exchange for work. Affordable travel can involve many overnight stays in hostels. It may however be that you can stay in a hostel free of charge on a work exchange agreement. Simply offer to work there and it may be possible to stay without paying. WorldPackers (use the Promocode: BROKEINLONDON10 to get $10 discount if you sign up through our link), Helpstay, Workaway, and Help Exchange are websites you can use to help you look for hostels where you can volunteer.
Another common work exchange is to live and work on a farm – It is a way to travel the world and experience local life. If this appeals to you check out WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). You can enter this experience as a solo traveller or go with friends and family. You can find WWOOF experiences throughout the world in around 130 countries so there are many opportunities and destinations to consider.
Find free or cheap activities to do in your spare time – For example take a free walking tour. It is a great way to get to know a place and find out about the history. These can be found in most major cities. If you can, tip your guide at the end…as this is how they are paid.
6. What are the cheapest countries to visit?
Asia – Many Asian countries are cheap to visit, from accommodation costs to eating expenses. It can be an affordable and interesting adventure to travel around Asia.
South America – is also another popular traveller route on a budget.
Europe – There are some less expensive countries to explore in Europe, such as Romania, Poland and Bulgaria. You can however seek to explore all of Europe on a budget.
Australia and New Zealand – These two are popular with backpackers and there are many places of interest to visit in these countries. As it is a popular backpacker route you will find many hostels you can stay at. This adventure however may not be quite as cheap as other places in the world. It is possible to travel on a budget by staying in dorms and cooking your own meals but bear in mind this trip could be a little more pricey. There is also the flight cost to factor in too.
Do you have ancestors from another land? If so you may be eligible to apply for a programme in which you can visit the country to discover your roots. These programmes tend to be aimed at young adults, who are able to visit the country and stay with a host family. You may even find a government funded programme, which means you could be forking out very little for the experience, so do your research. A friend of mine from South America travelled to Italy to discover her roots and in the process was able to obtain an Italian passport, which now means she has an open door to live her life in Europe if she wishes to, so this experience has literally opened up her world.
Think about where you eat – Cook your own food as often as possible wherever you travel in the world. It is important that you have access to a kitchen. Cooking your own meals will save you a fortune. If you want to eat out, why not dine with the locals? Use the EatWith app and this will put you in contact with local people serving meals privately, which can make for a much more authentic experience. You may also find that if you’re staying with a local person you can eat together at home or they can show you the more reasonably priced eateries in the area. Perhaps if you’re staying with someone for free you could cook them a meal in return 🙂
Finally…Look out for student discount – If you’re a student remember to take your student ID away with you. You may find this allows you to pay at a reduced price wherever you go, whatever you’re doing!
You may also want to check out our post on top budget travel tips for further inspiration on this topic before you head off on your adventure.