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Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank, like I’ve indicated in some of my earlier blogs.
Trading and bartering has been around for centuries, and the internet has made it more possible than ever to exchange work, expertise, and camaraderie for lodging.
So here are four actual, real-life, TACTICAL ways to travel without spending bucket loads of money.
Note: As you’ll hopefully notice, his blog focuses on saving money, but another way to do it is to make money WHILE you travel. That’s a whole other topic, but extremely possible: you can do freelance work for various digital skills, teach English online, get a remote job, and many, many more.
As for myself, I’m currently on a career break/mini-retirement — I had a remote job during the first 1+ year of my nomadic travels, and during that year (and the years before it), I spent less than I earned and built up my savings so I can afford what I’m doing now. But, that’s me — and there’s no one-size-fits-all. Maybe you want to travel NOW, without having to save for years like I did — consider the options below!
Short-term work/skill exchange
Worldpackers is a platform that links up budget travelers with businesses around the globe, to exchange their skills for accommodations and meals.
From marketing, to teaching English, to cooking, gardening, or party planning, you can exchange your special talents for free room and board at various locations around the world. Stays are typically a few weeks to a few months, and require about 20 to 30 hours of work a week, with days off for exploring.
Some notable listings? A yoga retreat center in the Austrian Alps; a food truck on the island of Pico in Portugal’s Azores; or building tiny houses in Byron Shire, Australia. I mean… if you call that “work!” There are even opportunities in the U.S.: like organic farming in the Matanuska Valley, Alaska, or content creation at Joshua Tree CoLiving Eco Community in San Bernardino County, California.
A yearly membership to Worldpackers — which allows you to apply for as many volunteer opportunities as you’d like — costs $49/year. Save $10 with my referral link/promo code JULIEBROSE.
I haven’t tried Worldpackers yet, but I plan to do so when I return to the Americas — which, of course, I’ll blog about!
House and pet sitting
House sitting is another way to curb lodging costs while traveling — in exchange for free accommodations, house sitters often take care of dogs, cats, water plants or the like — while homeowners are away on holiday.
Trusted Housesitters is one such platform: pet parents and sitters each pay between $129 to $259 a year to connect with one another over the platform. Like other membership sites, you have the opportunity to read and leave reviews, and talk to potential sitters and homeowners to ensure expectations before committing to a sit. Bonus: You often get to stay in pretty amazing locales!
Yes, membership is pricey — but if you intend to house sit as much as you can, and are very flexible in your locations, it can certainly pay for itself (and I’ve heard from many it does!). Learn more and sign up with my referral link.
Cultural exchange: couch surfing
I’ve been “couch surfing” ever since 2017, and I’ve met some amazing people I still keep in touch with (and have met more than once)!
Couchsurfing and Couchers.org are platforms for hosts and travelers to connect to meet, mostly by offering (free) accommodations to travelers. No money is exchanged — only culture and camaraderie. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, see a place through the eyes of a local, and of course, save on lodging, which is one of the most costly parts of traveling.
“By engaging with people from different cultures and backgrounds, we push people to grow into being more open, empathetic, and tolerant and to build safe, inclusive community,” says Couchers.org.
Guests and hosts have photos and profiles, can send and receive messages, and have the opportunity to review each other. Just like any service, I recommend proper vetting and having a conversation to ensure alignment.
Couchsurfing costs approximately $15/year; Couchers is free.
The wild card
Crewbay.com is for those sun, surf, and sail fanatics (myself included)! Whether you have some sailing experience or none at all, you can create a profile and select skills and interests: from novice crew, to stewardess, to boat sitter, to chef, to nanny… and experienced sailing positions, as well! You can also offer up “friendship” to skippers looking for company on long routes, as well as “mile-building,” which is kind of like practice hours.
Compensation (if any) varies for the type of position, as well as the expenses onboard. Still, it’s much more affordable than it would cost to charter a boat and hire a captain yourself!
I haven’t used Crewbay yet, but I’ll definitely be giving it a try! A basic membership is free; a premium membership is about $10/month.
Well, there you have it, folks: my top picks for saving money on travel — and this is just the tip of the iceberg! Drop a comment if you have other suggestions for my readers, and hopefully — this information is enough to get started. If you joined any of the above and booked a trip, drop me a line and let me know your plan!