The common misconception about travel is that it has to be expensive, but this isn’t true. It can be cheap or even free, or you could even get paid to travel! This requires some thinking outside the box, so I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned through my travels about how you can travel for free.
How to Travel for Free
Be a Travel Blogger
I might as well address this one first since it’s what you’re all thinking about. As a travel blogger, I do get some of my travels for free or paid. This is an amazing job and I love it but it does require an insane amount or work. It takes a long time to develop a blog that’s professional, filled with solid content, and reaches a large audience, before any travel company is going to sponsor you. So, you can’t travel for free right away by being a travel blogger. But if you have a long-term goal of making travel blogging your career, then it’s possible to travel for free this way.
Work on a Yacht
This is what I’m doing this summer, working on a yacht! This is a great way to sail the open seas and travel while working, mostly in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Contracts are often seasonal or for one year, so this is also a good way to save up some money and travel between work gigs. If you want to know more about how to get your first yacht job, click here or read about it in my ebook.
Teach English Abroad
There are a lot of places around the world where native English speakers are in high demand, most especially in Southeast Asia and Central/South America. But I’ve also had friends go to teach English in Europe. You have to become a certified teacher of English as a foreign language, and then you can go off and travel the world teaching English. This is usually paid or in exchange for room and board. Find out more here.
A lot of times people will want to have a house-sitter care for their home (as well as the pets, plants, etc.) while they’re away on vacation. This is especially true in Europe where annual leave can be as long as a month! Sign up here and get started traveling with free accommodations.
Work on a Cruise Ship
Similar to working on a yacht, working on a cruise ship can allow you to travel around the world while working. People from housekeepers, to entertainers, to nurses, and engineers, are needed for the operation of a cruise ship, so you’ll likely be able to find a job that puts your skills to use on a cruise ship! This work is by contract so you can save up a bunch of money while working and travel between contracts. You can search cruise ship job opportunities here.
Being a flight attendant, you can jet around the world for work. And then you can travel for really cheap in your spare time using your employee discount on flights. Sounds like a win-win to me! Find out more about starting your career as a flight attendant here.
Be a Freelance Consultant
Take the skills you’ve acquired through working in a traditional sector, like marketing, financial advising, web development, life coaching, copywriting, or anything else you’re proficient at, and create your own consulting service. Working as a freelance consultant with your set of skills allows you to travel wherever you want because your office is your laptop!
Au Pair for a Family
Many families in Europe (and other places around the world too!) will hire an au pair to help take care of the children and tend to the house. And if the family likes to travel you can also have the chance to travel with them to take care of the children on vacation. So if you are good with children, find out more about being an au pair here.
If you haven’t heard of WWOOF-ing…then you probably haven’t recently attended a liberal arts college. WWOOF stands for worldwide working on organic farms. It’s a way for travelers to connect with organic farmers, to volunteer on their farms in exchange for room and board. The terms and dates are arranged individually with the farmer, and you can do this in just about any country in the world! I haven’t done WWOOF-ing yet but I have friends who have WWOOF-ed in Greece, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Hawaii. And I’m really excited to try it soon! You can find out more here.
Like being a freelance consultant, this can take on whatever form works for you. If you launch a website or online business that sells products or services, you can run this website from anywhere in the world. Get started brainstorming and figure out what business you could run from your laptop, then you’ll have the freedom to travel anywhere while working!
Get a Temporary Work Visa
There are certain countries that make it very easy for young adults to get a temporary work visa, most notably Australia. You can apply for this visa to go work there for a year in a ton of different jobs. Programs like this are created to encourage people to come from all over the world, work for awhile, and enrich the culture of that city, even if they don’t have a highly sought-after skill set (which is a requirement to get a work visa in some other countries, like Switzerland). It’s the perfect way to make some money while exploring a new country! Find out more here.
Volunteer with an NGO
NGO stands for nongovernmental organization, and it’s basically the charities and other organizations that operate without government influence or funding to help improve their country. It’s a broad term but it covers a lot of really important organizations. This is useful for you to know because they can often take on volunteers. Rather than doing a voluntourism trip to a developing country that is arranged by a company that will charge you an arm and a leg to go, you can contact NGOs directly. For example if you want to help with a medical NGO in Vietnam, do a Google search and contact the organizations that interest you. It helps if you have skills to offer, like maybe you’re an EMT or an accountant. Otherwise just offering to come help as a general volunteer is usually well-received! Only your imagination can limit you here, so start exploring how you can travel for free by volunteering with NGOs.
Be a Tour Guide
Usually it’s easiest to be a tour guide in your own country, but this is still a great way to travel domestically while working! Plus you’ll make lots of friends from around the world that you can go visit later in your travels. Contact your favorite tour company and see if they’re hiring new tour guides. One of my favorite tour companies is G Adventures and I’ve heard really positive feedback from people who tour guides (Chief Experience Officers) with them. If you want to try to work for them, check the open positions here.
Couchsurfing is a way of travel whereby you sleep on the couch of someone who opens up their home to you. It’s a really cool way to get into the local scene and make friends while you travel, and when you’re at home you can offer to have travelers stay on your couch too! Using the couchsurfing website here you can properly check out anyone you might want to stay with, to make sure they’ve got a good track record with other travelers, and to make sure you’ll be safe there. This helps you to travel for free by cutting out your accommodation expenses!
Once you have free accommodation with couchsurfing, you can work on getting free transportation by hitchhiking between destinations. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. I hitchhiked from Chile to Argentina earlier this year (read that whole story here) and it was way more fun than I expected! Check out this guide here to learn all about how to hitchhike. It’s a cool way to meet people and get a real story out of your travels, all while you travel for free!
Be a Travel Agent
A lot of times travel agents are stuck behind a desk selling the destinations that they too wish to be traveling to. But every travel agent needs to visit the places they’re selling! So if you want your company to sponsor your travels and you want to spend all day talking about travel, this might be the job for you!
These are just a few of the examples of how you can travel for free, or for cheap, or getting paid. But there really are an endless number of options for making travel cheap or free! I hope this shows you that there are a lot of ways to make travel affordable and to make it a bigger part of your life. You don’t have to be stuck behind a desk Monday through Friday 9-5. You’re really only limited by your imagination, so instead of sitting around wishing you could travel, get started with your travel adventures now!
Here are some books that I recommend if you want to do further reading about travel for free, from some experts in adventure, long-term travel, and nontraditional lifestyles. Never stop dreaming, never stop traveling!