The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You Have no Money

Traveling does not have to be an expensive affair. Even so, ask most people with a thirst for wanderlust and travel, what’s holding them back from going ahead with their dreams of world travel, and they’ll probably tell you that it’s expenses.

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Liquidity, traveling extensively is very expensive. That’s also partly why most people have grand plans of traveling after either winning the lottery or on hitting retirement having saved up through the years. Of course, if you are among that class of travelers who can’t wait until that once in a blue moon lottery strikes, or old age comes knocking on the door, then we have something that can help you.

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You Have no Money

Below, you will find a comprehensive guide that can help you plan your trip under a budget, and some with no money too! These aren’t your usual tame budget travel tips like plan your trip off peak season, or go traveling around local areas that you haven’t yet explored so you save on travel.

Tips for Keeping the Transport Expenses in Check

We’re guessing that you already know most of the overused tips, as every seasoned traveler does. Take the road less traveled with our frugal tips and tricks below, and you will discover a whole new side to travel, one that is more easy on the pocket. So, here goes, your guide on how to travel around the world with little to no money!

Budget flights and Rides

Transport is going to make up a large part of your travel budget, but with some smart planning you can save more than a few hundred dollars. Don’t make the mistake of booking at dedicated airline websites, when you can find the same tickets at cheaper prices at aggregator or comparison flight bookings websites.

For a small $5 or $10 subscription fee, you get access to great airfare deals on these sites. Also, in case you didn’t already know, booking in advance can pay off in many bucks, and last-minute bargain deals come by only a lucky few. Not being too picky about the departure and arrival times of the flight can also help; a couple of hours can make a difference of a couple of hundred of dollars.

Flights from carriers that aren’t too mainstream or tickets to airports that aren’t centrally located, can work out better money wise. Take a look at our comprehensive guide to securing cheap flights. It goes without saying that local transport systems are way cheaper than taxis and rental cars. If you do take the latter, you want to share your ride with fellow-travelers (see BlaBla Car) or look up discount codes. Renting a cycle is another great way to get around a place.

Finding Free Flights and Rides 

Free flights; yes, there is such a thing as free flights, it’s all a matter of getting your seat bumped. So let’s explain how this works, although you should know that it isn’t a sure-fire way to get free flight tickets. The idea is to book your flight on busy days when airlines have a tendency of being overbooked.

Most airlines do this, as there is a likelihood that some passengers may not take the flight, and the other passengers who are under the overbooked list can then take their seat. However, in the odd occasion that a flight is overbooked and everyone does show up, they ask volunteers who can bump the seat in return for a free voucher. If you are one of these volunteers, then you will be put on the next flight for free and given a voucher worth the ticket fare. Remember the best tasting coffee is the free kind, the same is true here.

After You Land at Your Destination

Once you land at your travel destination, you can try hitch hiking to get a free ride. It’s pretty common and safe in places like Eastern Europe, New Zealand and Central America. Of course, make sure you learn the right hitch hiking gesture, it’s different around the world. The traditional thumbs up works if you want to hitch a ride in some locations; if you were in the Middle East and put your thumbs up, it would be seen as plain offensive.

You’ll be surprised to know that you can even hitch rides on ferries, ships and boats. Ask the sailor or captain if they need help manning the boat, and you might just be able to get a free ride. If the destination is not too far, you can walk to it, while you ask locals for directions. This can also be a great way to see the place for what it really is, other than the tourist attractions, and take pictures.

Did Someone Say Free Food?

One of the best ways to cut down on your food budget while you’re traveling is to make your own meals. In some places, you may even be able to get your hands on free food. For example, there are various festivals and religious celebrations in places like India and Iran, during which they distribute food for free.

Food may also be given out for free in places of worship like churches and temples. Another good way to get some free food is to stop by cafe and confectionery stores during closing hours. They may give away extra food for free before they shut down. You can also offer to work in exchange for money at restaurants.

If you aren’t a fan of bartering work for food, you can simply go up to food sample stalls. Large food chains that are launching a new menu item or newly launched food joints may serve up free samples, so it draws in more customers. You can make use of such food samples to calm those hunger pangs if you are not a picky eater.

Sometimes, Good Accommodations Go for Free or Discounted

If you aren’t keen on shelling out a lot or any money on accommodation, you could try couch surfing. There is a large couch surfing community online, wherein people offer up a couch or a room for travelers to stay in for a few days, for no cost.

It’s a great way for travelers to stay on budget, while the host gets a chance to meet and connect with people who have a common liking toward traveling. You aren’t obligated to make any payments or such to the host, just help them out around the house, and have fun exchanging views about different cultures.

Some sites that you want to check out are couchsurfing.org, globalfreeloaders.com and hospitalityclub.org. Of course, if you are not keen on sleeping in a stranger’s couch, you could try dorm rooms. Dorms and hostels can offer accommodation at throwaway prices in comparison to what you would be paying at other lodging facilities.

Some of these facilities even have a provision where you can work for them in exchange for a bed, whether it is helping with the dishes or at the reception desk.

Consider Housesitting for Gaining Luxurious Accommodation

You could try housesitting; it gives you a chance to stay in a luxurious accommodation for free. The idea behind housesitting is expats or locals let travelers stay in their house for free, when they are not in town.

You don’t have any financial obligations for house-sitting, you can stay in the house for free, only you will have to look over the property and take care of the pets, if needed. There are many people in Thailand, Europe and Mexico who offer up their homes for house-sitting.

You could even try good old camping, if you pack a tent in your backpack. Of course, there are a few considerations. The terrain, weather and other conditions may not be suitable for camping in all places.

Then again, there are some places where stealth camping is illegal, and you might just find yourself paying up a huge fine or in jail, if you pitch a tent in such locations. Also, you may have to camp in places that seem unusual or where you are the only one camping, know that you cannot act picky.

Going the Barter Way, Finding Overseas Jobs

WWOOFing gives travelers a chance to learn and work at organic farms, while the hosts offer them free accommodation and food in return. You can find WWOOF communities in Africa, Middle East, South America, North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

If you’re up for doing some solid work and have your food and stay taken care of in exchange, then this is certainly worth a look. In fact WWOOF is not the only site, where you can trade work for free food and accommodation. Sites like Helpx and Work Away present many such opportunities for travelers, and some of them are even accompanied with stipends.

Do Something That You Excel

Instead of doing odd jobs to make your travel dream come true, you can instead try something that you are good at. From scuba diving instructors to yoga instructors, there are many shoes to be filled in at exotic locations around the world, and if you have the knack for one of these things, it may just be the ticket that you need to travel!

You can even play the role of a tour guide. It gives you a chance to do what you want to do in the first place- travel, and make some money too. Intrepid travel and Beach travellers are two such sources that you can use to travel to exotic locations, learn about the place, and make some money alongside as a tour guide.

Speaking of tours, know that you don’t always have to pay for guided tours as a traveler. You can have a look at sites like Free City Tour to get all the lowdown on around the world. Be sure to check for discount passes and round passes so you can go around tourist hotspots for a lesser price. Some places even have free visiting days that you would want to ask around for.

Crowdfunding Your Trip (Yes, it’s a thing!)

You’ve heard of crowdfunding campaigns like KickStarter in the context of businesses, we’re sure. Well guess what? You can ask people to crowdfund your vacation too! Have a look at sites like GoFundMe, YouCaring, Trevolta, Indiegogo, where you can share your story with others and tell them why they should fund your trip.

The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You Have no Money
Instead of doing odd jobs to make your travel dream come true, you can instead try something that you are good at. From scuba diving instructors to yoga instructors, there are many shoes to be filled in at exotic locations around the world, and if you have the knack for one of these things, it may just be the ticket that you need to travel!

The better the cause, the better the chances of people funding your trip. When people think that they can relate to your story or find it inspiring, then there is a good chance that they would want to back your trip. It could be anything, from a longstanding dream to write a book about the place, to working as a volunteer at an outfit in some other country, if you can convince people about your story, your trip is taken care of!

Reward Cards, Credit Cards and Air Miles

Traveling without money is all about smart travel hacking. Watch out for travel credit card offers, reward points and frequent flier miles, and before you know it, you’re travel budget is greatly reduced. If you have a skill (bartending, maybe?) or two, you may be able to barter work in exchange for food and a place to stay.

If you’re a good storyteller, or you have a good story, then you may be able to get strangers to fund your exotic trip. Affordable and even free travel does not seem like such a far-fetched thought after all, now does it? Just know that traveling with little to no money means that you have to flexible and willing to accommodate to what your trip throws your way.

If you’re a picky or uppity traveler, then this may not be your thing, but if you are a travel junkie who’s willing to go the extra mile (or many many miles, as in this case), then go for it.

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