It's easy to put off traveling when you expect it to cost an arm and a leg, but you don’t need thousands of dollars to get yourself on the road. In fact, all you need is a little originality, an open mind, and some good ideas to get you started.
Traveling for free — or as close to free as you can get — isn't really all that far-fetched. People do it all the time. Of course, it may require you to break the mold a bit and try something new. But when the travel bug bites, anything that might help you get to where you want to go might be worth considering.
So, here are five original ways to satisfy your wanderlust without having to spend a lot of money.
Rent out your home or house-swap with someone
Renting your home can be a great way to make extra cash to save for your next trip or vacation. By using an online platform, you can easily rent out your entire house, apartment, or extra room to travelers. Most of these companies provide property owners with property damage insurance and accident insurance too, so you shouldn't have anything to worry about. This could be a great way to make some extra money for your travels while giving others a place to stay for theirs.
Sites like Home for Exchange are similar in that you can also offer up your house but for a house-swap instead. You would host travelers in your house who are visiting your area, and they would host you in theirs.
Whichever you choose, accommodations like these have many perks that will help you save money. Things like a fully-equipped kitchen, internet access, and more space to spread out can go a long way.
If you're adventurous and love meeting new people on your travels, couchsurfing can be an excellent idea. You'll be able to see the world, have an authentic experience, and hang out with the locals.
Sound good? Then you'll want to check out Couchsurfing. This social networking site focuses on connecting members with a global community of travelers and people willing to give them a place to crash when they visit.
Not sure how you feel about couchsurfing? First thing, that's completely understandable, and it isn't for everyone. However, if you think you might be open to giving it a shot, it may surprise you how easygoing it is. The thing to remember about couchsurfing is that it's different from staying in a free hostel and your host will definitely vary (and probably affect your experience). Also, couchsurfing doesn't necessarily mean you'll always be sleeping on a couch. Some hosts offer private bedrooms and guest houses, while others can only provide an air mattress or sleeping bag, so flexibility is key.
As a house-sitter, you'll watch over someone’s house while they're away — giving you the opportunity to visit places without having to pay for accommodation. You might be expected to do some chores though. This can include things like walking the homeowner's dog, watering their plants, and running some errands. After caring for the home, you should have plenty of time to explore your surroundings and enjoy the area.
Dalene and Pete from Hecktic Travels have been house-sitting for years and started a blog to share their experience. They both agree that not only does house-sitting keep costs low, it also allows them to have an intimate experience in a new place with complete immersion in a local neighborhood.
A great resource for learning about house-sitting is Trusted Housesitters.
Under 30? Get a working holiday visa!
Many countries around the world offer opportunities for people under 30 to live and work there for up to one year. This could allow you to visit countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, Norway, and other awesome locations.
By working while on holiday, you'll earn money as you go to cover expenses, and in some cases, even return home with some extra money in your pocket. This is probably the easiest way to get a chance to travel, experience a new culture, and earn money as you go.
Do volunteer work
Volunteering on your next trip is a win-win situation; not only would you be giving back to the community, but you'd also be creating great relationships with people and immersing yourself in the local culture. So while it doesn't necessarily pay, you'll save money by receiving room and board for free in exchange for helping. Check out Workaway for more information on finding these types of opportunities.
Use credit card rewards
If the other options feel like you'd be sacrificing your desired travel experience, rewards from credit cards might be a way to travel with autonomy and still not spend a fortune. Many of the best travel credit cards come with a welcome offer for new cardholders after certain requirements are met, and this can often be enough to kick off your travels.
To consistently travel on points, you'll want a credit card that best aligns with your spending habits so you can maximize the points you can earn. If you are new to the travel rewards hobby, don't worry — there are travel rewards credit cards for beginners that can get you started.