First, you don’t need to save up money for years before you can begin a life of travel. So many people make this mistake in mentality, and as a result they put off their travel goals for years unnecessarily. In fact, starting a travel lifestyle right now is well within the possibility of many people. I realize that there are exceptions, and some people might not want to travel long term like I do, so today I want to give you a heap of ideas for how to manage your own travel goals, whatever they may be.
I’ll tackle four key points:
- How to lead a cheap travel lifestyle
- How to score cheap flights
- How to get the cheapest (and sometimes free) lodging
- How to work while you travel
How to travel the world for cheap
Before we discuss how to travel cheaper, it’s very important to tackle how to live cheaper. This applies to you right now, even while you are settled.
If you have expensive habits now in your settled life, those habits will follow you into your travel lifestyle and rack up unnecessary expenses. It doesn’t need to be this way.
So how expensive is your current life? Before you start travelling, track your actual expenses now and see where they go. Do you eat out a lot? Spend a lot on fuel costs? Does most of your money go to car or home insurance payments?
How to find cheap airfare
Never go to the airline’s own website. Instead, use “meta-search engines” while check and compare the rates for multiple travel sites at once. Also, try to book tickets around 3 months in advance, and choose flexible criteria – especially for the exact day of travel. See what the cheapest day is during the week or month around when you can fly. You can save hundreds of dollars by flying even a single day earlier or later!
How to find cheap or free lodging
- Stay for free with couchsurfing, servas (reference letter required, mostly US senior travellers), hospitality club, globalfreeloaders (I use Couchsurfing a lot for its search feature to find language learning partners too)
- If you speak Esperanto, Pasportaservo.org is like the above sites with the only catch being that you communicate with your hosts in a language you can learn in a few weeks! (Here’s how well my girlfriend did with just an hour a day for 6 weeks)
- Use wwoof.org (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – about €20 per country membership – you work on a farm and get free accommodation, as well as the amazing experience)
- House-sit at housecarers.com, mindmyhouse.com, caretaker.org – This is more suited to stays of a month or longer; you get free accommodation in exchange for keeping an eye on pets, gardens, and other chores.
- Stay in youth hostels – as low as just $5/night in countries like Thailand, cheaper across Europe. Find your options on hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com.
- For stays of a few days or a few weeks, I highly recommend staying in a serviced apartment. For mid-range budgets this is my go-to choice. Find your home away from home on 9flats.com, airbnb.com, homeaway.com, roomorama.com, or wimdu.com.
How to work while travelling
Most people think they have to save their pennies for months or years in advance until they have “enough” money to travel and live off of for a while. Unfortunately, this can only last you so long (unless you have won the lottery, in which case send a donation my way! ). The fact is that you can earn while on the road.
There are two ways to do this:
1) Get a job on-location
What work can you do on-location?
The easiest way by far that English speakers can work abroad is to do it as an English teacher. In countries were English teachers are in high demand, the school will arrange the visa and all logistics for you.
I’ve done lots of work as an ESL teacher myself, all based on an initial weekend affordable TEFL certificate I got from i-to-i, and then building upon my experience earned to get me higher paid jobs with time, eventually working for prominent schools like Berlitz and Wall Street Institute. I’ve also worked the following jobs on location, to give you an idea of your options (your options expand immensely if you learn the local language – don’t forget to sign-up to my newsletter for a week long crash course if you aren’t sure how):
- Youth hostel receptionist
- Store manager
- Basic office work
- Engineer (what my undergraduate degree was in – in this case I worked as an intern)
- Go Kart race controller
- Computer repair / on-site tech support
- Lots of English teaching
- On-site translator