Do you yearn to see new sights and meet new people – maybe cross some adventures off your bucket list – but your budget just won’t allow you to travel the world? I was really surprised to learn that even in this day and age of expensive packaged vacations and tours, you can travel just about anywhere, even to the most exotic places, at no cost or extremely low cost! You don’t have to build a hot air balloon and attempt a solo globe-spanning voyage, and you don’t have to marry into the cutest free-travelling family alive, either. You just have to be willing to exchange some sweat equity for all that free travel. Here are the best, totally do-able ways to see the world for nothing…I might just have to try one of these!
Volunteer in exchange for room and board. Remember the olden days of working on a farm in exchange for three hots and a cot? Me neither, thank goodness, but today’s volunteer opportunities are so much more varied – and you have a lot of choice when it comes to the intensity of the labour and the hours you want to work for your keep. Of course, there is farm work available if you want; you can help someone with her garden in France, but there are so many other types of opportunities too, from building homes to rescuing animals and preserving wildlife habitats! Sites to check out: Habitat for Humanity, Volunteering for International Professionals, GoEco
Be a trip leader. Just like earning points for referring a friend, organizing a big trip has its privileges; get 8 to 12 friends (or students, if you’re a teacher) together to travel with you and book through the same tour or cruise operator, and your flight and accommodations can be free. Just make a point of asking your travel company what incentives are offered for bringing them this much business.
Teach English. Did you know you don’t necessarily have to know the host language, to be an ESL teacher anywhere around the globe? The demand for foreign English teachers hasn’t gone anywhere, and the job is salaried, so consider it a paid vacation where the organizers will help you find accommodations and make necessary arrangements. Of course, one potential drawback is the commitment level; most postings are for a minimum of 9 months, making this the ultimate paid vacay for someone who wants to ‘go native’ and live like a local in their destination of choice. Sites to check out: GoAbroad, Geovisions
Use special skills. Do you know how to ski, climb, snowboard, scuba dive? Put those skills to use teaching fellow tourists at an international resort. While this is big in the adventure travel space, consider using other special skills, like those in medicine or logistics, to provide emergency mobile medical care around the world and not only travel free, but get paid to lend your expertise. Sites to check out: AdventureWork, MSF Tip: for long postings be sure to bring an excellent hardside bag with you, such as the Heys Canadian Print Large Spinner, which is not only one of the best luggage brands, it has the bonus of showing off the country you are proud to call home!
Sponsored travel. Professional travel bloggers get paid to collaborate with brands and communicate that brand value to their readers. But fancy hotels and restaurants around the world aren’t just giving away freebies; you’ll need a well-established blog with great writing and great pictures, and a following that can be measured in unique visits to your site and social media followers. When you’ve hit the big leagues (10,000 site visitors per month and up) most brands will be thrilled to work with you in exchange for your making mention of their properties in your posts.
Excited to give one or more of these strategies a try? I am definitely up for being a trip leader…or a paid blogger for sure!