July 4, 2024 | Peter Kinney

15 Hacks To Travel The World For Free


Yes, It’s Possible

If you’re open to trying something new, it is possible to travel the world for free—or at least pretty darn close to free. Here are some real ways to check off some destinations on your travel list without breaking the bank.

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Housesitting

In addition to keeping homes safe while people are away, housesitting can be a way for you to get free accommodations. And for those who like the companionship of furry friends, housesitting can also be a unique opportunity to try your hand at being a pet owner.

woman pushing open main gate door of housePR Image Factory, Shutterstock

Housesitting (cont’d)

There are lots of reputable websites that can connect travelers with homeowners. TrustedHousesitters and Housecarers are just two examples, and you don’t have to put your own home on offer to sign up as a housesitter.

Man sitting on sofa with domestic animalsJaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

Travel Hacking

Credit card rewards and air miles really do add up, enough to cover your travel expenses. It’ll take some savvy, but you can save a lot on travel by signing up for travel credit cards and taking advantage of sign-up bonuses and points.

Travel hacks and tips conceptsulit.photos, Shutterstock

Travel Hacking (cont’d)

If you decided to try travel hacking, make sure you keep an eye on your finances so that you’re not spending more money to save a buck for your globetrotting. Stay on track by pinpointing where you want to go and focus on earning enough points to get there.

woman holding phoneTUBIRY.PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

Work Exchange

If you don’t mind putting a few hours of work each day, a work exchange program is a great way to get free room and board in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Similar to housesitting, there are lots of trusted online platforms, like Workaway, that help you connect with friendly hosts around the world.

worker with food served on a tray in McDonald'sSorbis, Shutterstock

Work Exchange (cont’d)

While it might seem a bit counterintuitive to be doing work while you’re on vacation, a work exchange offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and perhaps even gain some experience for a future career. You also only work a few hours per week, so there’s lots of time to explore and have fun.

food courier waiting in front of McDonaldsRiku Mannisto, Shutterstock

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is like getting an Airbnb without having to pay for it. Lots of people have spare rooms and, of course, couches, offering travelers a chance to meet locals and get free boarding.

Couchsurfing.Jellis Vaes, Shutterstock

Couchsurfing (cont’d)

Platforms like Couchsurfing can connect you with safe places to stay, and they provide reviews so you can choose the perfect host. Of course, though, it’s always best to have a backup plan with couchsurfing—you are, after all, relying on the kindness of a stranger and don’t want to be stuck in their home on the off chance that things go sideways.

cropped image of girl sitting with laptop with loaded couchsurfing pageLightField Studios, Shutterstock

Volunteering

Volunteering is a meaningful way to help people need while you’re on your travels. It’s also a great way to get a free room, and sometimes, free meals.

teenager volunteeringKrakenimages.com, Shutterstock

Volunteering (cont’d)

Organizations like International Volunteer HQ offer lots of programs that can connect you to projects you’ll like in your favorite destinations. A word of caution though: If a website charges hundreds of dollars to “volunteer”, run in the opposite direction.

Female VolunteerGorodenkoff, Shutterstock

Free Tours

If you’re ever traveling and thin k you can’t afford to go on a tour, think again. Cities around the world are full of free walking tours, of those that charge on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Group of tourists in Pisa, ItalyWilliam Perugini, Shutterstock

Free Tours (cont’d)

Websites like Free Tours By Foot can show you available tours all over the world. Technically, the tours aren’t completely free, since a $10 or $15 tip is customary, but it’s still a heck of a lot cheaper than many traditional tours.

Travel, education and a teacher with students on school field tripPeopleImages.com - Yuri A, Shutterstock

Crowdfunding

If you’ve got a supportive network, chances are you could try crowdfunding on platforms like Patreon or GoFundMe to save up for your bucket list destinations. In exchange, for their support, use your platform to share things like vlogs, personalized updates, and souvenirs from your travels.

Mobile phone with logo of crowdfunding platform company GoFundMeT. Schneider, Shutterstock

Crowdfunding (cont’d)

For crowdfunding to work, you’ll need a good marketing strategy and a gripping story. If you’re trip has a heartfelt goal behind it—like taking a family member back home to visit long-lost relatives—crowdfunding is a great way to save up for your travels.

Illustrative Editorial of GOFUNDME website homepageII.studio, Shutterstock

Make Friends With Locals

Meeting and befriending locals can lead to travel benefits like free accommodations, meals, and tips on the best places to explore. Locals can also give you a better look at their culture and make your trip more immersive and authentic.

Image of excited happy pretty girls friendsShift Drive, Shutterstock

Make Friends With Locals (cont’d)

Sites like Meetup make it easy to find events where you can meet friendly locals. Being open and showing a genuine interest is the key to forming strong connections that can enhance your travel experiences. Of course though, like couchsurfing, have a backup plan if you take new friends up on an offer of accommodations.

Multiracial group of young hipster friendsPersonal Belongings, Shutterstock

Do Remote Work

Remote work opens up a world of opportunities, including the freedom to travel the world. If your job can be done virtually, then you can take work with you anywhere in the world.

girl working at a laptop at sunsetOlezzo, Shutterstock

Do Remote Work (cont’d)

Platforms like Hacker Paradise can offer you tailored trips with accommodations, spaces to work, and fun excursions at a cheaper price than if you planned it all on your own. And you get to be part of a friendly community of digital nomads, taking away some of the stress of planning a workcation.

man reading an email on a laptop on beachPeopleImages.com - Yuri A, Shutterstock

Teach English

If you want to earn some money while you see the world, teaching English is a great opportunity, especially in Asian and Middle Eastern countries. However, opportunities for teaching English can be found all over the world, since the language is in high demand.

English grammar vocabularytawanroong, Shutterstock

Teach English (cont’d)

ESL teaching abroad often comes with benefits like free room and board, a competitive salary, and paid travel expenses. There are lots of online job posting for ESL teachers, but you’ll usually need a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification (which you can get online) to get approved by anywhere reputable.

female tutor teaching EnglishProstock-studio, Shutterstock

Travel Grants And Scholarships

There are lots of organizations that offer funding for educational, research, or cultural excursions. Even National Geographic has a travel grant, given to explorers, researchers, and educations who do work with educational, conservational, and storytelling projects.

College Grants -text on notebook at officeFox_Ana, Shutterstock

Travel Grants And Scholarships (cont’d)

If you want to apply for a travel grant, you’ll need to plan out your goals and present them in a detailed proposal. If you get accepted, the grants can cover a large portion of your travel expenses.

Scholarship Award College Achievement AcademicRawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Live Like The Locals

Living like a local is a great way to save some cash while you’re traveling. Instead of hitting up touristy hotels and restaurants, look for food at local markets and use public transportation to get around.

Smiling woman reading label on food package while buying groceriesDrazen Zigic, Shutterstock

Live Like The Locals (cont’d)

In addition to saving you money, staying clear of tourist hotspots will give you a more authentic experience while you’re travelling. Shopping and eating at local haunts are the perfect ways to immerse yourself in the culture of your destination.

Woman owner fresh grocery organic shopRawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Sell Your Skills

If you got a particular skillset, like photography, you could barter your skilled for free accommodations, meals, or other perks, like tours. If you’re a photographer for example, you could offer to take promotional photos for a hotel in exchange for free room and board.

A male photographer in a white shirt with a camera takes a photo in the bedroomAndrey Sayfutdinov, Shutterstock

Sell Your Skills (cont’d)

Websites like Fiverr and Upwork can be great ways to connect with reliable clients around the world. These sites are particularly useful for those who provide freelance services.

Fiverr logo on phone screen stock imagesdx15, Shutterstock

Use Hospitality Networks

Hospitality networks like BeWelcome and Servas International are another way for travelers to connect with locals and get free accommodations. Cultural exchange is the priority on these networks, and they make it easy to build friendships with people across the globe.

Booking Hotel Reservation Travel Destination ConceptRawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Use Hospitality Networks (cont’d)

Hospitality networks may sound like couchsurfing platforms, but the difference here is the focus on cultural exchange, not just a free place to stay. It’s a great way to learn about a city’s hidden gems and get a more authentic view of a place.

Man using a laptop and smartphone for booking hotel onlineCustomdesigner, Shutterstock

Free Events

We all know that tourist attractions and fun events can add up. Luckily, many cities are host to lots of local attractions that are free, or pretty darn close to it. With just a little extra research beforehand, you can find all the free events in your next destination.

The audience watching the Tentertainment music festivalDavid Fowler, Shutterstock

Free Events (cont’d)

Parks, museums, and local festivals are often free to attend or offer free entry on specific days of the week. You can check websites like Meetup or Eventbrite to see what free things might be going on. Visitor centers and tourist sites will also have information about what’s going on in your chosen destination.

Mori Digital Art Museum full of peopleAberu.Go, Shutterstock


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