The Ultimate Guide – How to Travel When You Have No Money

cheap travel

When I ask readers what the most significant barrier to travel is, I almost always get the same response: money.

Everyone I talk to says the same thing: “I simply don’t have enough money to travel.”

This issue — and how to solve it — is my most frequently asked question.

But I know that no matter how many times I address this issue, it will come up again.

Because this question is frequently asked, I like to remind people that they do not need to be wealthy to travel.

Let me say it again: you don’t have to be wealthy to travel.

There are numerous ways to travel on a budget (or for free) if you are willing to be creative.

Traveling the world on a shoestring budget sounds like an impossible dream. But it is easily possible, and you can do it responsibly without going bankrupt. It should be noted that there are some expenses you should not skimp on (such as travel insurance), but there are numerous ways to travel the world on a budget — including numerous ways to travel for free.

In this post, I’ll show you two things:

How to Travel on a Budget
How to Get Free Travel

Traveling on a budget is all about using money-saving apps and websites, finding ways to cut costs, and even making money while on the road. It’s all about finding value and cutting costs while still being able to do what you want.

Traveling for free entails taking advantage of existing free accommodations, transportation, and activities, thereby lowering your costs to zero. You can also use points and miles to get free flights and hotel stays. You give up comfort and convenience in order to travel as far as possible.

You can make your travel dreams a reality with the right budget and mindset. Even if you don’t make much money or have a lot of debt, there are plenty of ways to travel abroad (I still had debt when I went on my first trip around the world). They aren’t fancy or luxurious, but if travel is your priority, you can make it happen!

Get a Job Abroad

Are you not earning enough money at your job? Worse, do you have a job that you despise? Why not look for work abroad? As long as you aren’t picky, there are plenty of opportunities in the world. After all, you’re not starting a career here; it’s just a way to earn money for travel.

Working abroad is frequently dismissed as a viable option because it appears to be difficult. It isn’t. Simply be open. These positions do not necessitate advanced degrees or extensive work experience.

Will you get a high-paying office job? No.

Will you find a low-wage job that will cover all of your travel expenses? Yep!

I’ve met people from all walks of life, both from Western and non-Western countries, who use this method to fund their travels. It’s a simple, enjoyable way to extend your travels, broaden your experience, and earn a little money to keep traveling.

Teach English Abroad

Teaching English abroad is one of the best ways to earn money for travel. You can make a lot of money teaching — I replenished my travel funds while working in Thailand, and friends have left South Korea with tens of thousands of dollars in their bank accounts.

Depending on the country you work in, all you need is the ability to speak English fluently and a TEFL degree. Teachers are in high demand around the world, and many companies in Asia will even pay for your flight over.

A college or university degree will allow you to earn more money and apply for better jobs, though it is not required in many countries.

Furthermore, there are numerous websites and services available that allow you to teach virtually. You can help people learn English from anywhere in the world as long as you have a good Wi-Fi connection!

Make use of the Sharing Economy

Use the sharing economy to find more affordable lodging, unique tour guides, rideshare options, and home-cooked meals prepared by local chefs. With sharing economy websites, you can bypass the traditional travel industry and gain access to locals who can use their own assets and skills to become small tourism companies with lower prices. Furthermore, locals know where to look for bargains. They know which supermarkets are the cheapest, which stores have the best sales, and where to find the cheapest hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars. Talking to them directly gives you access to their knowledge.

These websites have changed the game of travel and made it more accessible to everyone.

Some of my favorite websites are as follows:

Airbnb is the go-to platform for finding low-cost lodging.

BlaBlaCar is a ride-sharing app that connects you with drivers who have available seats in their vehicle (primarily for medium and long distances).

EatWith is a platform that connects you with private chefs in your area.

RVShare – Allows you to rent RVs and camper vans from locals.

Turo is a car-sharing marketplace that allows you to rent cars from locals.

Campspace enables you to camp on private property. The accommodations range from simple tent plots to luxurious glamping and RV stays.

Trusted Housesitter – Offers free lodging in exchange for pet sitting.

Prepare Your Own Meals

Cooking your own meals is the best way to save money while traveling. I spent $60 USD for a week’s worth of groceries in Stockholm instead of an average of $15 USD per meal eating out! That’s a $150 USD savings!

I’ve done the same thing in dozens of countries around the world, especially in expensive destinations like Iceland, where eating out can quickly deplete your bank account.

If you are staying in a hostel, book a room with a kitchen so that you can cook. Your host will most likely have a kitchen if you are Couchsurfing or using Airbnb.

Is there no kitchen? Pack your own container and cutlery for on-the-go sandwiches and salads. Isn’t it true that not every meal necessitates the use of a stove?

You don’t have to eat out every meal just because you’re on vacation. You won’t sabotage your trip to Paris if you don’t eat out one day! There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on food during your trip!

Purchase Rail Passes

Rail passes (such as the Eurail Pass in Europe or the JR Pass in Japan) are an excellent way to save money on train travel. Rail passes are likely to be much cheaper than booking individual trips if you’re traveling around the region for an extended period of time.

When booking individual trips, planning ahead of time can save you up to 50% off the cost of a train ticket. However, this confines you to a specific time frame. If you don’t want to be bound by a schedule, rail passes can save you a lot of money while providing you with the flexibility you require. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars doing this in Europe!

Sleep in the Big Dorms

The cheapest paid accommodation is large hostel dorm rooms. If couchsurfing isn’t your thing, this is the next best option for saving money on a place to stay. The larger the dorm, the less expensive it will be. While a 4-6 bed dorm may provide more privacy, a 12-18 bed dorm will be less expensive. This will add up in the long run. As long as you have earplugs and a sleeping mask, choose the larger door to save money!

If you have trouble sleeping, read the reviews before booking to avoid staying in a party hostel. In larger cities, you can usually find a quieter hostel than the others. It may not be as social or as centrally located, but you will be able to get a good night’s sleep.

There will almost always be snorers in a large dorm. If earplugs aren’t enough, try downloading an app like Rain Rain, which plays rain sounds on repeat. You can set a timer for them to stop playing after an hour or two, which will help you ignore the dorm noises while you try to sleep. Spotify also has numerous rain and whitenoise playlists.

Purchase City Tourist Cards

If you intend to visit many attractions in a city, you should obtain a city tourism card. These will provide you with discounted or free admission to major attractions and museums, as well as free public transportation. I saved more than $100 USD with the London pass, $80 USD with the Paris Museum card, $50 USD with a Helsinki card, and hundreds of dollars more with other city tourism cards.

They are an excellent way to save money on attractions that are underutilized. Simply go to the local tourism office to see what cards are available. They can assist you in answering all of your questions and ensuring that you save as much money as possible. Not every city has them, but most major destinations do, and if you plan on seeing the major sights, you’ll save a lot of money.

Travel Tip: Get Free Flights!

Travel hacking has been the primary means by which I’ve been able to afford so many flights and hotels over the years. I’ve earned free flights and hotel stays simply by using a travel credit card for regular spending on groceries, restaurants, and shopping — all while spending money I was going to spend anyway!

There are numerous ways to earn free flights these days. Sign up for a few travel credit cards, earn miles, and fly for free.

Most credit cards offer sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points (or more), which is frequently enough for a free round-trip flight. And, if you sign up for both an airline credit card (for example, a United Airlines credit card) and a general rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire, you can combine your point balances and book a cheap flight faster.

You’ll rack up a lot of miles even before you leave for your trip if you collect points and miles through credit card bonuses, smart everyday spending, online surveys, bonuses, and other methods. When you factor in the cost of flights and some lodging, you can travel much further around the world.

It’s not just for Americans (though US residents have the best options). Canadians, as well as people from Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, can travel hack.

Stay at No Cost

There are numerous services that connect visitors with locals who are willing to host them for free. You will never have to pay for lodging if you use these sites. Years ago, I read about a guy who spent years traveling solely on Couchsurfing.

I’ve used this service dozens of times and have always met wonderful people. You may be given a room, a couch, or an air mattress, but it is always free.

You should ideally repay your host’s hospitality by cooking them a meal, bringing them a souvenir from home, or taking them out for a drink. But it will still be much less expensive than paying for lodging!

Local Couchsurfing group meet-ups can also help you make friends in your new city. You can even use the app to meet people without committing to anything. It’s a great way to meet local insiders, whether or not you need a free place to stay.

Furthermore, as the sharing economy has grown in popularity in recent years, there are now websites that allow you to not only stay with locals but also share rides, meals, train tickets, gear, and much more! These websites not only save you a ton of money, but they also get you off the beaten path and into the heart of the local culture. Win-win! Here is a list of websites where you can find free lodging:



Take Free Walking Tours

Do you want to learn about the city, get your bearings, and see the main attractions? Take advantage of a free walking tour. Most major cities have them; just ask the local tourist office, your hostel staff, or Google “free walking tour (city name).”

You’ll get a thorough introduction to the city as well as access to a local guide who can answer your questions. I always begin my visits to new cities with one. Just remember to tip your guide (that’s how they get paid).

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