6 Ways to Travel for (Almost) Free
After nearly 5 months abroad, my daily spending has been an average of $36 a day. That's how much I would pay for dinner and a few drinks back home in Indy. I've kept my costs down by only buying what I really need, cutting out alcohol, and working for free accommodation.
The opportunities below are great ways to work for accommodation - check them out! Plus, you don't need a visa to work for free.
Workaway.info is a great website you can sign up for to offer your volunteer skills in exchange for free food and accommodation. Even better, Workaway is an international website, so you can find work opportunities around the world! I was told about this website by a backpacker in Byron Bay who had used it in Costa Rica, and I've since met many other backpackers who have had wonderful Workaway experiences.
As a volunteer, you create a profile that explains where you're traveling and what skills you can offer. Hosts, or people looking for volunteers, build a similar profile sharing what kind of help they need. Most of the hosts are looking for help with their farm or for an au pair. There is a $30 annual registration fee, but I think it's worth it because it will quickly pay off once you find a Workaway position. The annual fee also helps keep the site reliable and safe. Hosts can leave reviews of volunteers, and volunteers can leave reviews of hosts.
Workaway was how I found the opportunity to volunteer on Peter's boat! Peter needed help sailing his boat around the GBR, and I lucked out with the timing. In exchange for cooking daily meals, cleaning, and keeping up general maintenance of the boat, I received a free place to sleep and food. I learned great sailing skills and had an amazing experience on Peter's boat.
I saved $500USD by working on Peter's boat in exchange for accommodation and food for 3 weeks!
I actually have not used Couchsurfing yet, but it's not for lack of trying. Whenever I've tried to book Couchsurfing, the host I've requested has been unavailable. Couchsurfing is an amazing way to meet locals, get to know a new town, and have a unique travel experience. Couchsurfing hosts build profiles with photos and a description of their place. You can read reviews of hosts to make sure your staying with someone who is reliable and trustworthy. I definitely plan to try Couchsurfing at some point!
WOOFing is kind of similar to Workaway, but it's its own organization. WOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and it's a loose network of national organizations that help place volunteers on organic farms. There is no international WOOFing organization, so you have to sign up by country depending where you want to WOOF. WOOFing is very popular in Aus and NZ. Again, in exchange for working on a farm, you receive free food and accommodation. I don't personally know a lot about WOOFing, but I know of its popularity. To get started with more information, check out the WOOFing website.
Working in a Hostel
This is how I lived in Agnes Water for two months! I knew that Cool Bananas was looking for more staff, so I asked to join their staff when I arrived back in town in early January. The expectations for working for accommodation are different for every hostel. In Sydney and Melbourne, you are expected to help / clean for 3-4 hours a day. Of course, the cost of a one night stay is much higher than it would be in a small town. At Cool Bananas, I worked 1-1.5 hours a day and received free laundry, free accommodation, free surf lessons, and discounted tours while in Agnes. I think it was the best deal ever!
Working for accommodation in a hostel is very popular in Aus, so keep in mind that there is a lot of competition for spots in bigger cities and at popular hostels. You may have better luck finding work for accommodation at a popular hostel during low season. Some hostels may require an application. Some hostels may also offer paid positions, which would be around 40 hours a week (you would need a working holiday visa). If you have a European license and can drive in Aus, sometimes that's a bonus so that you can drive the hostel shuttle to pick up backpackers. Most hostels require at least a two week minimum commitment.
Working for accommodation in a hostel is popular worldwide, but opportunities seem to be endless in Aus and New Zealand. If you plan on staying in one place for a few weeks, it is definitely worth looking into so that you can make your money go further.
I saved $900USD by working at Cool Bananas in exchange for accommodation for two months!
Be an Au Pair
Are you great with kids? Consider being an au pair! There is way more information online about being an au pair abroad than what I can offer here. But during my time in Aus, I have seen lots of opportunities to be an au pair for a family, typically in large, popular cities. Au pairing is definitely a great option for work anywhere in the world, but you should do your research and understand what your rights and benefits are according to each country / family. To get started, check out this website.
*You do need a valid working holiday visa to be an au pair in Aus.
Bonus: Stay with friends and family!
I love staying with friends and family abroad. While I know everyone may not have a big family in another country like I do in the Philippines, you might have that aunt who randomly lives in Spain or a cousin who's abroad in Rome. One of my favorite parts of traveling is staying in touch with people I've met along the way. The world can be a small place when you have lots of connections!
Along the rest of my journey, I plan to stay with a high school friend who teaches at an international school in Singapore, with my cousin who also teaches at an international school in Vietnam, and with a girl friend I met diving in Thailand who now works in Hong Kong. My hope is that I can always leave the door open at my place whenever I return to the States or if I ever live abroad. I want to be able to return the favor and show friends and family around!
I saved $300 by staying with my family in the Philippines for two weeks!