It can be depressing to scroll through Instagram Stories and see your friends showreel their travel adventures. Video after video of clifftop panoramas, shaky hiking cams, and beachfront foot shots stab you with blades of FOMO and envy. You wish you could travel too, but unfortunately, you’re broke.
It can seem like money does make these dreams come true. But look past the costs, and consider why people travel in the first place: to escape. To find life again. To expand the mind and open our perceptions of the world and the people in it. To journey.
If these things appeal to you, then travel. And here’s the kicker: you don’t need to be loaded or have a healthy bank account to do it. There are plenty of sites, articles, and gurus online who have done it, and will guide you towards fantastic travel experiences on a dime, even free. Here are some of the top tips to get you started.
Work In Another Country
Seeing a new country while earning a salary is probably the ultimate win-win. And it’s not impossible, with job sites that connect you with overseas companies. Countries like Australia also offer working holiday visas that let you take up employment for a limited period, so you get to pay off any debts while you travel. And we’re not just talking about office jobs.
From being an au pair, or domestic assistant to bartending, you can utilize basic skills you already have. A bit of research, effort and patience is all it takes. Soon, you’ll be enjoying a new environment while making some cash to keep you going strong.
If you’ve got a friend or relative who’s living in another country, offering to take care of their place is one way to settle your accommodation. But if you don’t, why not try house-sitting? You get to stay in someone’s home, rent-free, in exchange for taking care of their living space. This arrangement can include taking care of their pets as well, so keep that in mind, especially if you don’t have any experience.
Spearheaded by initiatives from UNICEF and World Vision, there are now organizations you can join to help with projects in other countries. You’ll get your stay compensated in return. Besides immersing yourself in a foreign country, you’re playing a part in improving lives where your help is needed. Most roles don’t require a high level of relevant skillsets but always appreciate passion and enthusiasm.
From building houses and facilities to teaching English (you might need a license or teaching degree), there are few exchanges more fruitful. But be sure to research the organizations before joining, as some may not be doing it for altruistic reasons.
Work on A Farm With WWOOF
Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms was started to promote values of trust, sustainability and cultural education. You’ll get to work on an organic farm, and they pay for your stay in return. More than a chance to see places you’d never thought you visit (WWOOF has a global network of affiliated farms), you’re introduced to a lifestyle that has been forgotten but is worth its weight in gold. Getting daily doses of fresh air in the great outdoors, it could do you a world of good.
Use Credit Points
Thanks to the founder of The Points Guy, we were introduced to the gold mine of credit points, which when accumulated, get you free trips. It might seem complicated, and yes, you need credit cards to do it, but it’s pretty awesome to have someone give you a trip. If you fancy travel hacking, give this a shot. But at their website, they’ve refined this process for easier access. If you can wrap your head around it, go for it.
Go On A Cycle Tour
All you need to start with is a passport and a bicycle. Many people have begun cycle tours from their front door. We’re not talking about tours that charge to bring you through lovely mountain roads.
Try cycling up to Thailand from Singapore. It takes a while, and you’ve got to be prepared for the weather, plan your stops, and stick with it. But as many have professed, it’s a radical way to see the world and alter your perspectives of it, while instilling you with belief. And all on a microbudget. Some have even used their treks to raise funds for charities, that gives you an added drive to your pedalling.
Go on Free Walking Trips
There are so many ways to explore new destinations without having to succumb to tourist traps and pricey itineraries. A quick search online will show you free walking tours in the country you’re visiting, and a great way to get the local insights into your destinations. You’ll have to tip them, but it’s still much cheaper than day tours. Besides this, taking public transportation, or walking whenever you can, is an effective cost-saver, while revealing a city’s nuances and quirks in a unique way. You’ll see more and live more.
Stay in Hostels
Hotels and resorts aren’t the only places where you’ll find great accommodation. Look past the stereotypes, and you’ll find that hostels and Airbnbs are pretty comfortable, no-frills options that come at really affordable prices. Plus, you’ll get to interact with other travellers, locals, and strangers because of the nature of the space. Simple and cosy, most will also serve free meals, so your needs are covered. But of course, research your hostels before booking, to check that they’re safe and reliable.
Embrace the Sharing Economy
Most of these tips are part of the sharing economy, which matches services and goods with customers via technology. It’s what Airbnb and ridesharing platforms operate on. But more than getting you sweet deals that keep expenses low, it’s a lifestyle that encourages interaction and seeing the worth in others. Receiving knowledge from locals and meeting them is one of the joys of travelling, as you see the world through their lens.
Plan your Journey and Discover New Cost-Saving Tricks
Using apps like Wego is a great way to cut through tedious flight searches and find great deals. If you book early enough, you’ll be able to find super cheap flights. Do a little more digging, and you might discover multi-flight routes that come with solid savings. Stopovers can be a great way to catch a glimpse of a new place before you continue on your next flight.
The funny thing about being broke is that you can see it as a time and opportunity to travel, while others with steady jobs and responsibilities are bound to these things. If you don’t see it as a setback, you’ll find you have nothing to lose, and so much to gain by going abroad. But always bear in mind that it’s an exchange, and you will have to work and live lean. But what you gain will outweigh what you put in.
Hopefully, these ideas demonstrate that, with a little creativity, research and willingness, this exciting undertaking could be your most rewarding.