This is probably the question most frequently asked to me on all my social media accounts and the question everyone wants to know the answer to! Usually, the questions I get asked regularly are, “How to travel the world for free?” and “How to make money from travelling?” These are very different questions and have different answers; however, they are related to each other. I would like to answer the first question in this post. So tighten your belt because this is going to be a very informative read.
Travelling solo or with a group comes with a very important factor: Cost. A lot of travel enthusiasts out there want to explore the world but the balance in their bank account doesn’t allow them to move far. That’s where the Wanderer comes in, bringing you probably the most elaborated and researched post out there about how you can travel the world “almost” free. Let me start by saying it is possible to not spend your hard-earned money and still explore the most amazing places in the world—but that doesn’t come free. You may not have to pay money in this case, but you will need something more important: Time.
This post may not be entirely helpful for those who only wish to travel for a few days or need a relaxed vacation. For a vacation, you pay; for travel, you don’t need to. If you have enough time in hand and you are determined to do anything to save the cost of your travel, this is going to be very helpful for you. So the secret is, there are lots of organizations and websites these days that offer you free accommodation, food, sometimes money and other facilities in return for you doing some holiday work for them. For example, helping a hostel in their admin work gets you a free stay in the hostel with food and other facilities absolutely free, helping a family with their kids or household work can get you good pay and opportunity to live in a foreign land to explore on your day offs, etc. The type of work you want to do can be different in nature, and I am going to divide them into two categories and talk about the most famous establishments or websites that can help you find a holiday work.
Work to Make a Difference:
A lot of organizations out there give you the opportunity to join them for volunteer work so that you can be part of projects that are designed to make a difference to the world. For example, working with a house-building project in some poor country, working with animal shelters, working on educating kids or being part of environment-friendly agriculture projects, etc. The organization will be responsible for your accommodation, food, and other basic facilities in the country you are going for the project. Here are some of the organizations you can explore and join if you like.
WWOOF is a great movement that links volunteers from different parts of the world with organic farmers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange. What this actually means is, you can sign up as a volunteer, link with the organic farmers around the world, and choose to live with the farmer to help them in their day-to-day activities while learning more about sustainable organic farming. It doesn’t pay you to volunteer, but your stay with a local family, food, and basic facilities are taken care of. WWOOF has national organizations in most countries that you can join. So, if you want to travel your own country while learning some skills, choose your national WWOOF organization at http://wwoof.net/
AISEC is probably the most familiar name around as it is the world’s largest youth-run, non-profit organization. AISEC is very popular among students and young professionals who want to explore their skills, learn new languages, and travel the world without detaching them completely from their careers. AISEC has three major programs you can signup for Global Volunteer, Global Talent, and Global Entrepreneur. As the names state, these global volunteer programs require you to have about 6 to 12 weeks of time in hand, so you can apply for multiple international projects. If you are selected, you will be living and work there. The Global Talent program offers you internships and working opportunities with established companies, and it also pays some compensation in return. In order to sign up for this program, you will need to have about 6 to 72 weeks of time in hand. So if you are a young travel enthusiast but don’t want to disconnect with your job or studies, AISEC can be perfect for you.
Work to Make Your Travel Free:
If you are a backpacker and your whole motive for the trip is just to travel from place to place for free while making some money or at least not paying for the basic facilities, then this section is mostly for you. There are many websites where hosts post the advertisement about short-term skill work in exchange for basic facilities. For example, working in a guesthouse, helping the family with household work, working with elderly people, working as a receptionist in a hostel, doing some paint job, etc. Here are some famous portals where you can sign up and look for work in the city or country you are planning to go to and get things sorted before you get there.
During my travels around the world, Au Pair was one of the most common platforms I came across. An Au Pair is a domestic assistant from a foreign land. Basically, you can sign up on the Au Pair website and contact the families who need domestic assistance in their house around the world to live and work for them. This not only gets you a good stipend but also allows you to live with the family, eat with them, learn about their culture and enjoy so many new experiences. In return, you will have to help the host family with their household work, which can be taking care of kids, helping with the daily household work or providing any assistance they need. Once you sign up, you will need to apply for the posting you think you are interested in. If the host family finds your profile good enough for the work, they will talk to you about the call or video chat to establish trust with you before letting you stay in their house. I have come across many students in US and Europe who use this to get living experience in different countries and make some extra money.
One of the most commonly used sites for backpackers and a really good option for anyone just starting the travel is Work Away. Work Away is an international hospitality service that allows members to contact each other to organize homestays and cultural exchange. A lot of hostels, hotels, guesthouses, farmers, and organizations post their ads here to have the backpackers help them with their work. In return, you get food, accommodation, knowledge, and experience for free. Some even offer a little stipend, but the best part what makes Work Away a better option for everyone is it doesn’t require you to stay at a place for a month. It usually requires one week to however long you can be there; short-duration stays are the best option for backpackers who don’t want to be stuck at one place for long. To make an account of Work Away, you will have to pay a sign up free of approximately $30, but if you are on a long trip, this money is worthwhile. There is no formal process; you can directly contact the advertisers and fix the date. I met a lot of hostel admins on my trip who were working there for a few weeks through Work Away for free accommodation and food.
Very similar to Work Away, World Packers lets you exchange your skill for free accommodation and food. Hosts advertise their needs on the website. You need to look for the region you are travelling and apply for the work you are comfortable doing. The advertisement has full information about what is expected of you and what you will be getting in exchange, so that makes your decision easier. Every job in Work Away or World Packers has a few days off so you have your own time to explore the region. World Packers also have a joining fee of about $45. As I mentioned before, if you are on a long trip, this is a very good investment to save your money in the long run.
Interexchange is a platform that you can use to find multiple types of work aboard that can give you an opportunity to volunteer or work for schools, farms, hotels, hostels, etc. The only setback is that it is only for the US-based travellers or those who are travelling to the United States. It is not free; basically, Interexchange designs programs. For example, it allows you to spend a complete year in different countries (if you are a US citizen), and you have to pay them a handsome amount for it. They take care of most of the basic things you require; if you ask me, this isn’t the best choice if you are trying to travel the world for free. But it is a good choice for someone who wants to take the adventure slowly and not jump into solo travelling too quickly.
Overall, these tools can really help you in making sure you are not paying anything from your pocket in your quest to not only learn new cultures and language but also getting free accommodation and food. The most expensive parts of any travel plan are transport, accommodation, and food. If you understood the power of the tools above and use them right, you can eliminate all these from your trip. I will personally suggest starting with Work Away and World Packers if you are only into the backpacking experience and not looking to polish your CV for corporate works. Otherwise, if you are a student or a professional, volunteer work can be helpful for you. These are the ones I have experienced and met people from. I am happy to update this post if you know more such tools that can help people. Feel free to write to me in the comments section.