When you travel cheap, you need to use helpful apps and websites that will save you money, find ways to lower your expenses, and even make money while traveling. It’s all about finding value and lowering your expenses while still being able to afford to do what you want.
When you travel for free, you can take advantage of FREE accommodations, transportation, and activities that are already available and lower your costs to zero. This is where you sacrifice comfort and convenience to extend your travels as long as possible.
With the right budget and mindset, you can make your travel dreams a reality. Even if you don’t earn much or have debt, there are still plenty of opportunities to go overseas (I still had debt when I took my first trip around the world). They may not be fancy or luxurious, but if travel is your priority, you can definitely do it!
Ready to start your budget travel and save money? Just click on any of the links below to jump straight to that section!
- get a job overseas
Not making enough money at your job? Or, even worse, are you working a job you hate? Why not get a job overseas? There are plenty of opportunities in the world, as long as you’re not picky-and after all, this isn’t a career you’re starting, just a way to earn money for travel.
Here are some popular (and easy to find) jobs you can get while traveling:
Au pair – An au pair is a live-in caregiver who helps a host family by taking care of your children and doing some basic housekeeping. In return, you get free room and board and a small salary. This is a great route if you want to learn a new language or immerse yourself in a new culture. You can read this post for more information about an au pair.
Bartending-it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, so if you have the skills, then this is an easy job to move abroad. It is also an easy job to get under the table if you decide to go this route. If you don’t have the skills, bar tend, you should be a dishwasher or busboy.
Hostel worker-Hostel workers rarely stay long, which means there is always a demand for new help. It’s a great way to meet other travelers while you adjust to a new place. You can also usually start as a volunteer (in exchange for a free room) to avoid visa complications. Three websites where you can find hostels to volunteer at are Worldpackers, Workaway, and HelpX.
Waitress/Waiter – there are tons of seasonal restaurants around the world that need extra help during the busy tourist months. If you have experience, this is an easy job to find abroad.
Farm Worker-Although hardly glamorous, this is a great way to make a lot of money in a short amount of time if you don’t mind the hard work (since you won’t have time to spend your money since you’ll be farming in the middle of nowhere!). This job is very popular in Australia and New Zealand.
Dive Instructor-If you have your certification, this is an easy job to travel to as dive instructors are needed everywhwere. Best of all, these jobs are usually in picturesque tropical locations!
Tour Guide-If you have a knack for history and don’t mind speaking in front of groups, this is the perfect job for you. It’s also usually a cash job, which means you get your tips directly.
Cruise Ship Worker-This is a much more formal position, but it is a great way to travel. The hours are long, but there is something to be said about life at sea!
Casino worker-While this might require some training if you are a night owl and don’t mind the casino scene this is a FUN job to work abroad.
Seasonal workers at ski resorts-Instructors, restaurant staff, hotel staff, lifeguards-ski resorts need all kinds of staff to keep things moving, making this a goldmine for the overseas traveler (as long as you don’t mind snow!).
Yacht worker-While the hours can be long, you can make a lot of money working for the rich and famous on their yachts. Best of all, you are usually in some pretty amazing destinations!
Yoga Teacher-If you have the skills (and certification), teaching yoga abroad is an easy way to spend some money. While you may need to know the language, there are yoga studios in pretty much every city in the world.
Working abroad is often discounted as an option because it seems hard to do. It isn’t. Just keep an open mind. These jobs also don’t require advanced degrees or a lot of work experience.
Will you get a high paying office job? No.
Are you going to get a crappy low-paying job that pays all your travel expenses? Yep.
I’ve met people from all walks of life, both Western and non-Western, who fund their travel this way. It’s a fun, easy way to extend your travels, enhance your experiences, and make a little money.
2 Teaching English Overseas
One of the best ways to earn money for travel is to teach English overseas. You can make a lot of money here – I topped up my travel money while working in Thailand, and I’ve had friends leave South Korea with tens of thousands of dollars in the bank.
All you need is the ability to speak English fluently and a TEFL degree, depending on the country you work in. The world craves teachers, and this is a job that is in high demand; many companies in Asia will even pay for your flight.
If you have a college or university degree, you can earn more money and apply for better positions, although this is not required for many countries.
In addition, there are many websites and services that allow you to teach virtually. As long as you have a great Wi-Fi connection, you can help people learn English from anywhere in the world!
Some places you can teach online are:
- go WWOOFing and work on a farm
WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is a platform where you can work on a farm in exchange for free room and board. It is a great way to see a destination in depth while communing with the great outdoors. You have to pay to get to the farm, but once you’re there, everything else is covered! It will definitely help you travel Cheap, have a unique experience and meet lots of Cool people.
WWOOF has opportunities in over 60 countries around the world. Some of the most popular destinations for Wwoofers are France, Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.
- use the sharing economy
Use the sharing economy to find cheaper accommodations, quirky tour guides, rideshares and home-cooked meals with local chefs. You can bypass the traditional travel industry with sharing economy websites and gain access to locals who use your own assets and skills to become small tourism businesses with lower prices. Also, locals know where you can find deals. They know which supermarket is cheapest, which stores offer the best sales, and where to find hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars with the tastiest food at the lowest prices. Talking directly to you will give you access to this knowledge.
These websites have changed the travel game and made travel more accessible to all.
Here are some of my favorite websites:
- Airbnb – the go-to platform for finding cheap accommodations.
- BlaBlaCar – a ride-sharing app that connects you with drivers who have extra seats in your car (especially for medium and long distances).
- EatWith-platform that connects you with local chefs serving private meals.
- RVShare-Here you can rent RVs and motorhomes directly from locals.
- Turo-A car sharing marketplace where you can rent vehicles from locals.
- Campspace-With this platform you can camp on private properties. Properties range from basic tent sites to luxury glamping and RV stays.
- cook your own meals
The best way to save money on the road is to cook all your own meals. I once spent $60 USD on a week of groceries in Stockholm instead of eating out for an average of $15 USD per meal! That’s a savings of $150!
If you’re couchsurfing, your host will likely have a kitchen, as will many hostels, campgrounds, and guesthouses.
No kitchen? Pack your own container and cutlery and make some sandwiches and salads on the go. Not every meal requires a stove, right?
Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to eat every meal. You won’t ruin your trip to Paris if you decide not to eat one day! There’s just no reason to spend a lot of money on food on your trip!
- get train passes
Rail passes (like the Eurail Pass in Europe or the JR Pass in Japan) are a great way to save money when it comes to train travel. If you’re going to be traveling in the region for a while, rail passes are likely much cheaper than just booking individual trips.
If you book individual trips, you can usually save about 50% on the cost of a train ticket if you book in advance. However, that fixes you on a set timeline. If you don’t want to be tied to a set schedule, rail passes can save you a lot of money while giving you the flexibility you need.
- sleeping in Big dorms
Large hostel dorms are the cheapest paid accommodations out there. If couchsurfing isn’t your thing, this is the next best way to save money on a place to sleep. The bigger the dorm, the cheaper it gets. While a 4-6 bed dorm will give you more privacy, a 12-18 bed dorm will be a bit cheaper. In the long run, it will add up. As long as you have earplugs and a sleep mask, opt for the larger door to keep your budget intact!
If you are a light sleeper, be sure to read reviews before booking to make sure you don’t choose a party hostel. In larger cities, you can usually find a hostel that is quieter than the others. It may not be as social, but you will at least be able to sleep well.
In a large hostel, you are almost guaranteed to have some snorers. If earplugs don’t quite do the trick, download an app like Rain Rain that plays rain sounds on a loop. You can set a timer to stop playing after an hour or two so you can ignore the dorm room noise while you try to fall asleep.
- use student – and other discount cards
Are you a student, teacher, or under 26? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a plethora of discounts! Get a student – / teacher – / youth card and save money while you’re abroad. Even if you’ve recently graduated, you can probably still get away with using your expired ID card (as long as it doesn’t have an expiration date). Always ask if there are discounts for students or teens, as this is an easy way to save lots of money while traveling!
Museums, galleries, and other major tourist attractions usually have discounts (especially in Europe). It never hurts to ask!
9 Get City Tourist Cards
If you want to see a lot of attractions in a city, you should get a city tourist card. These give you discounted and/or free access to major attractions and museums, as well as FREE public transportation. I saved over $100 USD with the London pass, $80 USD with the Paris Museum card, $50 USD with a Helsinki card and tons more with other city tourism cards.
They are an amazing way to save money on attractions that not enough people use. Just go to your local tourism office to find out what cards are available. They can help answer all your questions and make sure you save as much money as possible. Not every city has you, but most major destinations do and you will save a lot of money if you plan to see the major attractions.
- sell your services
Do you need some cash? Use Craigslist, TaskRabbit, Upwork, or Gumtree to find people who need a few things done around the house and get paid for it. It’s a way to make money when you travel without committing to a long-term job.
Additionally, if you have a skill, sell it. Offer haircuts to other travelers, busk for money, offer online services like editing, graphic design or consulting. It’s never been easier to work online. As long as you have Wi-Fi, you can make money. The sky is the limit here – get creative!
Travel the world for free
- travel hack and get free flights!
Travel hacking is the #1 way I’ve been able to afford so many flights and hotels over the years. Simply by using a travel credit card for regular spending on food, restaurants, and groceries, I was able to earn FREE flights and hotel stays – all by spending money I was going to spend anyway!
These days, there are countless ways to earn Free Flights. Just sign up for a few travel credit cards, earn miles, and then fly for free.
Most cards offer sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points (or more)-that’s often enough for a free flight right there. If you sign up for both an airline card (say, a United Airlines credit card) and a general award card like the Chase Sapphire, you can combine the two point balances and get a cheap flight faster.
By earning points and miles via credit card bonuses, smart daily spending, online surveys, bonuses and other methods, you’ll earn a lot of miles even before you’ve left on your trip. You can go much further in the world if you take away the cost of flights and some accommodations.
It’s not just for Americans either (although US citizens have the best options). Canadians can also travel, as can people from Australia and New Zealand.
Europeans also have several options, including all kinds of airline cards like Norweigan Air, SAS, Aer Lingus, Lufthansa and more.
- stay Free
There are many services that connect travelers with locals who are willing to let you stay with them for free. If you use these sites, you will never have to pay for lodging. Years ago I las about a man who traveled for years while just Couchsurfing.
I have used this service dozens of times over the years and have always met great people. Sometimes you get a room, sometimes a couch, sometimes an air mattress, but it’s always free.
Ideally, you’d like to repay your host’s kindness by making you a meal, bringing you a souvenir from home, or taking you out for a drink. But this will still be much cheaper than paying for accommodation!
There are also local Couchsurfing group meetings that can help you make friends in your new city.
In addition, due to the rise of the sharing economy in recent years, there are websites where you can not only stay with locals, but also share rides, meals, train tickets, gear, and more! These websites not only save you a LOT of money, but also get you off the tourist track and into local life. Win-Win! Here’s a list of websites you can use for free: Couchsurfing, Servas and Global Freeloaders.
Hitchhiking is a free way to get around that is relatively safe and widespread in many parts of the world, including Central America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
I’ve hitchhiked hazards in more than a handful of countries (and I know solo travelers who have done the same!). Sure, it has a bad reputation in North America, but with some common sense and a little patience, you can hitchhike almost anywhere – and save a ton of money!
Here are a few basic tips to get you started:
Use a sign-Make a clear sign that lets people know where you’re going. This helps drivers decide if you can help.
Look presentable-Wear clean clothes, smile, and don’t cover your face with sunglasses. People want to see who you are picking up.
Check the laws-Hitchhiking is illegal in some places. Always check the laws to make sure it is okay to do where you are.
Take precautions-Note the license plate number of anyone who picks you up and text it to a friend. You probably won’t need it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Keep your valuables safe – don’t leave valuables in your bag when it goes in the trunk in case it’s left in the car (or stolen).
Consult Hitchwiki-Hitchwiki is the #1 hitchking resource out there. Always consult it before hitchhiking for tips and to make sure you’re hitchhiking in a safe place.
- take free walking tours
Want to learn more about the city, get your bearings and see the major sights? Take a free walking tour. You can find them in most major cities-just ask the local tourism office, your hostel staff (or just go to a hostel and ask for it) or Google “free walking tour (city name).”
You’ll get a solid introduction to the city while gaining access to a local guide you can ask questions about. I always start my visits to a new city with one. Just make sure you tip your guide at the end (that’s how you get paid).
- house sitting & pet sitting.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a vacation, consider watching someone’s house while it’s yours! You can sign up for one of the following websites and view people’s homes (and often their pets) for free, so you can stay at a destination for a while without having to pay for lodging. Each account is verified and has reviews, so you know you won’t be scammed. This is a great platform for long-term travel with an important added bonus: you get a kitchen to cook your food (which saves you even more money!).
You also often get access to a vehicle and sometimes get a tip or free food. These are usually people who are well off and can afford to take multi-month vacations, so you’re usually in pretty nice houses and apartments too!
- use your social network
Does your colleague have a relative in Spain? Or maybe you have a distant cousin living in New Zealand. Or maybe a childhood friend works in Brazil.
Nowadays, we have a huge social network of friends and family that stretches all over the world. Don’t hesitate to use it! Ask your co-workers and friends if you know anyone where you are going. Have your mother ask your co-workers and friends too.
Between all these tips, you can travel for relatively little money. Gone are the days of overpriced hotels and expensive flights. With a little planning and some creativity, you can travel the world on the cheap.
You can do it too!
Whether it’s two months, two years or just a two week vacation, travel doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The key is to get out of the mindset that you have to travel with a flight/hotel combination. Using out-of-the-box, non-traditional ways to travel can lead to big savings.
It all starts with a mindset change. From there, with a little patience and practice, you can make your travel dreams a reality – without breaking the bank!