Most people really do want to get out there and see the world, but in the grand scheme of things, very few get the chance to do so. All around the world, people find themselves without the money and time needed to get away from their daily lives and explore the rest of the planet.
While there are no easy solutions to wanting to travel if you genuinely have no time nor money, there are definitely ways long-distance traveling can be made more accessible if you do have some time and money, just not a lot.
Essentially, there are two main questions you need to ask yourself: what are you travelling for and how minimalist are you willing to be?
Are you looking for a vacation based primarily around fun, comfort and relaxation? Or are you looking for a worldly immersion into other cultures?
If you’re looking for the first one, like a trip to a resort or an action-packed metropolis, it’s going to be hard to save money, but it’s not impossible. If you’re trying to see a faraway land beyond the tourist areas, you can live on a much cheaper budget.
This boils down to the fact that the easiest way to save money while traveling is to trim down on the luxuries. That’s why the second question is important. It’s much easier to be frugal when you’re among regular people living their own frugal lives.
With that established, the best thing you can do is to do as much research as you can and find all available options to see which ones suit you. This may seem like a bit of a hassle, taking even more time to look into how you’ll spend something that’s already going to take a lot of time away from your Regular Life. But if you spend a little time researching, you might not have to spend much money.
When researching, you’ll probably find you really do have many options. There are many ways to do necessary things cheaply, or even for free, or possibly even while getting paid for it.
You’re going to have to sleep somewhere. You could find a cheap motel, of course, but many would prefer to spend less and stay at an Airbnb.
But there’s a lesser-known new option called Couchsurfing. Now, we aren’t just referring to the old act of couch-surfing, but the Couchsurfing community where people share their homes for little or no cost, and accommodations can range from literal couches to fully-furnished bedrooms to just a floor with a roof over it. It’s better than nothing, but for the same price as nothing.
You can also look into whether you have friends and family (or friends and family of friends and family) you can stay with in faraway places.
Many people are already forgoing taxis in favor of Uber or Lyft, but don’t be shy to take public transportation for even less. Not to mention, for maneuvering around a city, you often have one option that will certainly not cost you even a peso: walking.
For longer distances, many countries with state-of-the-art rail systems have rail passes for sale to get around the country at a flat rate that’s cheaper than buying new tickets each time you ride.
This may sound crazy, but in many parts of the world, hitchhiking is still a legitimate way to get around. It’s still probably best to research whether it’s safe in the part of the world you’re going to be in. Ask the locals if they agree and use your best discretion in general. But if you’re serious about saving money, don’t leave hitchhiking off the table just yet.
Not to mention, low-budget airlines are all the rage these days, offering people the chance to fly long distances for much cheaper. The Big Catch about these is they make their money back by nickel and diming you for carry-ons and in-flight amenities.
But you can circumvent this if you’re a smart traveler: just pack lightly. Bring only what you can’t acquire when you get to your destination. This may include a smaller set of clothes than you thought; can you do laundry there? The smaller volume your stuff occupies, the more money you can save from not having to transport it.
You’re also going to need to eat eventually. In fact, many would say you aren’t really traveling if you aren’t trying the local dishes. But eating out adds up.
So, if you find yourself staying at any place with access to a kitchen and cookware, be it a nice hotel room or a friendly Airbnb, buy groceries and cook your own meals. Hey, if you can find a local to help you out, you can still try the local cuisine, now with new friends to boot.
Capitalizing on Traveling
Through all of this, you’re still going to be losing money, right? Not necessarily. There are not only ways to recoup your losses while traveling, but if you play your cards right, you could actually stand to profit off your situation.
Mi casa es su casa…
For starters, what’s going to happen to your place of residence while you’re abroad? Much like how you might be staying at a stranger’s house with Airbnb or Couchsurfing, you could rent out your place to a weary traveler using these same networks – networks which screen both householders and guests to make sure they have no plausible reason to be mistrusted.
For more peace-of-mind, there are also networks that connect people for a one-for-one home swap to stay in each other’s locales. This way, on the off chance anything goes wrong at home, both parties can safely say, “I know where you live.”
Earn a Living as You’re Living to the Fullest
There’s also the option to take up some odd jobs while you’re trekking the globe. In the short term, this can be employment at the place you’re staying.
You could also be a temporary housekeeper for an individual or a family while they’re on their own vacation. Some will let you stay at their house for no extra charge, and others will pay you on top of that.
Furthermore, hostels have high turnover rates, so if you plan to stay at one, see if they could use a helping hand.
For longer excursions, there are many more employment options that could turn your trip into an unforgettable experience. All around the globe, there are opportunities like the Peace Corps that offer paid volunteer work (yes, there really is such a thing!) to make the world outside your borders a better place.
Also, right now, it’s a popular trend for travelers to take up work as farmhands, especially in Australia and New Zealand.
Even more popular is work as an English teacher, especially in East Asia. Oftentimes you don’t even need to be a formally-trained educator for these roles and some schools and companies will even pay for your travel. While it’s true that taking work overseas would certainly be less of a vacation, it would definitely be a more thorough way to see the world.
At the end of this journey…
There are even more ways to save that we don’t have much time to elaborate on here, but recall that the key is to do your research.
You may find it’s cheaper to fly into one airport than another (or you can save even more by flying into one and heading home from another). You may find a big city offers free tours or promo coupons, the off-season weather in your destination isn’t as bad as everyone thinks, or you’ve been unknowingly racking up frequent flyer miles or rewards points on your credit card.
Doing your research on traveling is much like traveling itself: you’re setting out to discover something special that almost nobody else knows about.