I like to share common questions I get not only because it helps you but it saves me time in responding to emails and messages throughout the day. I do this in my “ask me anything” series. Click over to see more questions I’ve answered. I get this question a LOT about how to travel the world for free:
“I don’t have much money, I just break even paying my bills but I want to travel! How did you save? How can I start traveling, just get up and go with NO money?”
Ermm… it’s not that easy! But with some planning there are a few steps you can take to get on the path to traveling and help you see how to travel with no money. First up, remember to check out the articles I’ve already written on budget:
- 9 ways to save money for travel
- 13 ways to spend less money while you travel
- 14 ways to EARN money abroad
How to Travel with No Money / Ways to Travel the World For Free
Make your Couchsurfing profile as soon as you start thinking about how to travel the world with no money. It’s a website that helps connect travelers and hosts. You stay for free and the host will show you around their town most likely. Start hosting people who come through your town.
Even if you are in a small town, people might come through. Make a full post & follow these 9 safety tips for couchsurfing. You can go to “Couchsurfing meetups” to make friends in the community to give you references. Once you build your profile, reach out to hosts and set up free accommodation in the places you want to go. You truly can stay for free every night of your trip abroad. Always remember to give back to the community as much as you take; this platform will only enrich your experiences with locals and see a place the best way possible!
- Sign up and create you profile so that you seem like a safe candidate to hosts. You can use this to sign up – it’s free.
one of my favorite Couchsurfing homes in North Dakota
2. Research what’s free in the places you are going
Usually cities offer free walking tours which are a great way to see the city. Literally google “what can I do free in insert city name” and see what pops up. Whether its museums, hikes, public pools, or cool parks, there are an abundance of activities to do for free.
3. Start trying to save at least a little / Earn money online
You have to get a plane ticket. No one is going to give you that for free! You need to save money. It’s not possible to be dead broke and start a round-the-world trip (even if blogs makes it seem that way). Here are some tips to start saving money that actually work and tips on how to stay on your budget.
You could get a free flight potentially with travel hacking, but you have to spend money to earn points so this may not be an option for you if you’re broke. But if you’re using your card to pay bills online, why not earn points on that toward a flight or upgrade?
Earn money online: You can find odd jobs on Fiverr even if you don’t have graphic design skills, for example holding a sign about a company up in a pretty place and taking a photo: $5 in your bank account. Crazy. I totally recommend signing up! As a blogger, I hire people on here all the time.
For more on my blogging tips:
- How I Make Money from Travel Blogging
- Best Blogging Tools for Productivity & Earning a Higher Income
- 10 Fail-Proof Ways to Up Your Travel Blogging Game
4. Travel somewhere less expensive
Your money will go further in Kuala Lumpur than in London. You have to pick a budget destination. Think Southeast Asia, India, Nepal, or Eastern Europe. This might be the most important step. A good idea is to use Kiwi’s anywhere or radius tool to “fly to the cheapest place” from your base and see what pops up. Next, you can see which of those places is affordable to travel. Now you’ve got a cheap ticket to a cheap place.
5. Travel to that less expensive place at the least expensive TIME
Traveling off-season has saved me bundles of cash. Everything in Goa is 1/2 off in monsoon! You’ll find great deals and have fewer tourists around. The best time to go is just before or after a destinations “peak season” or you might get caught in too rainy of weather. Here are 11 ways to save on offseason travel. You can find all the best hotels deals online ahead of time for the monsoon seasons of the world.
** Get $35 credit toward your first room!!*
THE BEST DEALS are going to be people’s homes who are on vacation since locals leave in the off season. Check airbnb and get a gorgeous villa cheaper than a hotel. Sign up now on this link and get $35 off your first booking! It doesn’t expire.
6. Stay in rural areas
Sometimes staying away from the cities can save you huge amounts of money. In India for example, you’re going to spend more in Delhi and Mumbai than if you go even 45 min outside the city.
7. Consider hitchhiking or car sharing
I am not saying it’s safe, but I have done it in a number of countries. It saves bucket loads of money. If you feel like it’s too dangerous, that’s fine. It’s just one way that’s helped me. There’s a lot of websites offering car sharing now like Bla Bla Car or you can join Facebook groups, for example, in Goa, there is a Goa car sharing group and people go to the airport together.
Many volunteer programs charge a hefty fee, but there are some that will give you a free place to stay and food if you work for them. You’ll be helping the community, learning more about the locals, and not have to spend much money at all. Sites like Work Away can help you find gigs but it does cost money to sign up. I can best speak to volunteering in Goa, so check that post out for tips.
Another option, WWOOF stands for worldwide opportunities on organic farms. You can work on farms and in return get free lodging and food. Some people do this as a way to get a working visa into a country and then stay longer after working to explore. WWOOF isn’t the only way, and some jobs like this do pay. I met a girl who made minimum wage in Aus picking tomatoes and working on their farm from the break of dawn.
Just be careful you’re not veering into voluntourism, which can be detrimental to the community!
9. Cook in or eat local
If you’re really broke you won’t be able to dine out all the time, so this is imperative. Buying pasta and cooking it in the hostel will save you cash. Eating street food will also save you bundles. Even choosing take away rather than eating in (you can drink your own drinks and won’t have to pay luxury/sitting taxes many places have to eat in).
10. Camp or sleep in overnight transportation
You can camp if you take your own sleeping bag and tent. I haven’t done this because it’s a lot of work. I do tend to travel on overnight buses and trains instead of during the day because it saves on a nights’ accommodation.
11. Do your own laundry
Instead of paying someone to wash your clothes, wash them yourself! Here’s a guide on how to do laundry while traveling.
12. Housesitting instead of Couchsurfing
You can sign up for sites like Trusted Housesitters and just babysit people’s houses as you go. You might have to take care of their pets but in return, you could get a great villa in middle of nowhere countryside! Typically you don’t get paid for this. Here are some tips on how to start housesitting.
PS it does cost money to sign up but is worth the investment. I’ve seen some bloggers perfect this and share the incredible mansions they stay in!
**Most importantly, travel slow & safe**
The longer you stay in one place (especially a free one) the more you save on transportation. When you’re on the road, that’ll cost you the most so this might be the most helpful tip of all. When you travel slow, you can also pick up work. Start your travels in your own country, figure out how to earn money online or another way (remember that article I linked above with 14 ways to earn while traveling?) so you can stay on the road longer!
You’ve got to be safe while you travel as well. The most important thing you can do is get travel insurance before your trip so you don’t have crazy bills abroad if you end up sick from the water, fall of your scooter, get an IV for food poisoning, or anything else.If you can’t afford that, you probably should wait for your trip!
Now that you’re doing all this to save up, spend less, and travel for free, you need to take the tips linked above to earn some money. Once you combine them all, you can shift to taking nicer transport and staying in cozy hotels with room service, right? ;)
But really, it’s a slow process. If you are dead broke I can see how it seems unreachable and could be. I don’t know your life, ya know? But when I think back to leaving for Europe the first time, after booking a plane ticket I didn’t have much more than 1,000 bucks and an emergency credit card. It was 6 years ago and I lived on baguettes and lettuce from the supermarket. You have to be able to rough it if you’re broke but if travel is your goal you WILL find a way to make it happen!
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Sleeping on overnight transport is my number one top tip for saving when backpacking. On my first couple of trips I made the mistake of wasting a couple of days on long bus journeys that I could easily have done overnight. Plus you save the money you would have spent on accommodation. I even enjoy most overnight buses – or at least I did in South America – as they’re quite comfy and they show hilarious movies :)
a movie would be nice! some volvo buses in india too, but they are VERY loud bollywood movies and i hate it lol
HI Rachel, nice summary indeed! Although it seems like these things are for free, they are indeed not. You always give back something to do community, just in a different form. House sitting is on my to-do list for next year, and I also want to try workaway.com project. I’ve been following you for some time, thank you for being so inspirational!
Now I finally had enough courage to create my own travel blog – http://www.nextstopabroad.com
I hope to be as successful as you are one day :)
I’m sure you will overtake me ;) good luck with your blog & thanks for sharing your thoughts
Great tips! We’re planning our long-term travel now and I completely forgot about WOOfing! Thanks for the reminder :)
awesome, have fun
Travel is like the comment that I made the other day about staying healthy; if it is a priority, then you will find a way to make it happen, if it is not, you will find excuses. That being said, there are plenty of ways to save money for a trip in addition to being frugal WHILE traveling. Here are my ways that we save PRIOR to traveling so that we can travel as much as possible! (Some of them are quite extreme, but hey, like I said, it is a priority to us, so we’ll make it happen!)
sometimes extreme measures must be taken :)!
Great list… and add on season work! Its got me round the world for four years non stop… great because the company give you everything AND you get a wage. Think ski seasons, summer camps, yacht jobs…. I’ve even been a cowgirl in the outback! :)
great advice!! being a cowgirl sounds totally cool
Before kids, I did the Eurorail trip & always took night trains as it was cheaper -India is good for night train travel too. Will have to venture into camping with kids now! Great story & website! Keep adventuring!
that sounds like it’ll be fun!
Great tips Rachel. I’d agree with travelling slower and not trying to rush through every destination in just 24 hours unless you’re only going to visit a little part LOL and of course, go to cheaper destinations like Asia & Eastern Europe. Not only do they cost pennies, but you’ll find the locals more approachable and the experience more worth-while, since “everyone” hasn’t been there already LOL!
Also, save a little and don’t try to leave your home country without some savings as you never know what might happen along the way!
great advice. you’re right you have to try and have some savings, i think it’s so important!
It so much excites me that you are staying in Goa… I belong to near province of UP.Currently working in Malaysia.
I myself miss my food. and language.. But have seen generally beaches in Thailand and Bali etc. very beautiful.
What made you stay there so long?
Also… I would like to know …as night parties in Phuket,Pattaya etc.are so lively, how did you decide to stick in Goa.. Just m curious…:)
My boyfriend works in India, so we chose to live in Goa.
I also always think about sitting more on the one place as transportation really takes significant part of the budget (even at such comparatively cheap countries as India and Vietnam), but I am always getting bored so soon when sitting on the same place for more than several days..
Great tips!! I am just starting to blog and I am slowly saving for a month long trip to Thailand and I was pricing all the flights to travel throughout the country and it was adding up quickly. When I repriced with doing overnights trips on trains instead of flights it was dramatically less. Thank you!!
Awesome, happy to help!
no body has mentioned Africa yet. I traveled as a tour leader for an overland company for 3 years round Eastern and Southern Africa. Getting paid to see and do some amazing things. Overland companies often advertise for staff in Wanderlust magazine or online. You don’t have to drive trucks or buses either you could be a camp master and look after the catering and finances. I now enjoy overland trips round Europe and the UK in my VW caddy van. Vacations are the way to go! Happy trails folks.
That should say vancations not vacations. Sorry
OMG! THis is the best blog I have ever read! Thanks so much for sharing!!!!
Great tips! Especially about travelling to places that are historically less expensive. Your money can go a lot further in a place like Indonesia than it can in the United Kingdom, or France.
Yes! I was just in London and couldn’t get over the high prices! ahh
How’s Goa compared to other places you had stayed as per cost of living.
I have a excellent suggestion one can contact by email the marketing head of state tourism departments and large travel companies usually they offer a all free stay especially to greatly dedicated bloggers with high follow rate like yours…
Omg! Thank you very much for these tips.
I’m only 15 years old, but I’m interested in travel. I can’t wait to grown up and to visit the world. Is one of my deep dreams. I save money since now, because I think people waste money on unnecessary things. So, for travel is worth it.
P.S. I’m sorry if my English is a little bit stupid, but I try to speak better everyday.
Thank you again!
That’s awesome you know you want to travel at such a young age- so did I! It’s always smart to start saving young.
I think, it’s great to dream about your future, also it’s a good idea to save some money – it’s allways helpful)
You can also “travel by google map” using streets’ sights or use some tips like to-do things to plan your trip.
I have never heard of couchsurfing, but it sounds really cool. It would be cool to host it too, I think people would love to go hang out in my little town.
You should totally sign up! I loved hosting when I lived in Charlotte.
You’re absolutely amazing Leanna! Truly, I have done the same things as you traveling wise but only in America. It makes me want to go across seas to Ireland and Rome like I’ve always wanted! Thanks for that extra push reading this made me feel like I’m not so alone in the World. Peace be with you Love. :D <3
Some great tips. I’m a travel hacker fan but appreciate it isn’t for everyone. Where in Goa are you?
I stay in North Goa near Anjuna!
Thank you Rachel
For tips, tricks, hacks and insights
And above everything thanks for showing the possibilities
I want to volunteer abroad so badly! I haven’t done it yet because I need to do a ton of research before I go – I have to fully trust the initiatives of the company and be sure that it’s making a positive impact on the surrounding community! Great tips here though, done quite a few of them myself
Yes that’s the problem it’s really hard to trust these companies because so many are cheating the people who need help.
Very good ideas here! Thanks for the post!
A very informative article to travel the world, save money and make some money to stay on the path we are following, not easy indeed, but possible – Hi this is Adam.
I love this post, always refer to it. Great advice. Everyone should be able to save a small amount to travel initially. There are so many travellers who start in Australia as the working holiday visa is easy to obtain and actually the money is much better than even in the home town. I had 2 friends from France who worked for 3 months and then traveled the whole Australia for another 3 and still had savings from their farm work to open a photography studio in Lyon. Australia has great programs for young travellers. Plus its a beautiful place (Im bias ) ;) Plus Australia is close to Asia and many travellers also do the South East Asia route after seeing Australia as its pretty cheap to get there. I’ve started a new section See Australia where I’ll give visa info and other backpacking advice for young travellers wanting to see Australia. http://www.eatstaylive.com/category/see-australia/
Hi Rachel, Interesting article, although I feel the title is a little misleading. Only 6 things on this list are actually free, the rest are good budget options. I also wanted to comment on ‘free’ walking tours. While this is how they are advertised, most ‘free’ walking tours ask for a tip at the end of the tour. While this tip is optional, it is also the only wages that the tour guide gets paid! So it’s important to encourage people to leave a good tip that represents the value of the tour, or else many of these tours may cease the exist. The only exception is free walking tours organised by the local council/government where the tour guide is a government employee (but these kind of tours are rare).
Anyway, love your blog, keep up the great work.
Nice article it inspired me im totally fed up with this daily routine my wish i have to left everything and bag pack up travel the beutiful world like u rachel.
Thanks for suggestions Rachel. It has great info regarding start of travel though with less bucks having in pocket. I ll take these inputs and thanks for being inspirational
Great ideas! I will definitely take a look at Fiverr. Personally I am also a big fan of doing work exchanges with Workaway.
I am also planning to go somewhere, my tricks are inspired from your suggestions like travel with local bus with my friends and stay in normal good hotels which are not so expensive, Thanks for your help.