My friend Dave and I have been all over the World for almost no money at all. We’ve been from one corner of the globe to another, from Antarctica to the Middle East, from Argentina to South Africa. You name it and more than likely one of us have laid foot there. But the biggest surprise isn’t where we’ve been, but how we got there on as little as $10 a day. That’s right we spent on average only $10 bucks and we’re going to teach you how to do it, too.
Change your thinking
Traveling is extremely inexpensive. First off you have to realize that traveling is a business, and to protect their industry they want you to think you have to spend money to travel. The industry wants you to buy vacation packages because they want you to think you’re saving money on hotels, car rentals and plane tickets, when in reality you’re paying for many things you can get way cheaper or even free.
There is a lost skill in the Westernize world that’s a necessity for everyday living outside of the United States; negotiation. You would be surprised just how many restaurants and little eateries would love to give you a free meal through a little bartering. Simply offering a funny story for some food or doing a little bit a work for a meal is something that happens out in the world. When you realize that you’re not the only person who barters for food it makes it a lot easier to negotiate.
The trick is to stay away from big chain restaurants and talk with smaller restaurant owners. These people have been working their butts off and the last thing they want to do at the end of the day is wash all of their tables, or sweep the floors. These people would gladly give a free meal to take a load off their feet for 15 minutes.
The Small Things Make all the Difference
The most exciting thing to me about traveling is the experience of something new literally around every corner. You’ve finally managed to get a vacation from your daily routines, and now you get to do something new every minute of the day. You need to embrace newness of your day, find joy in it, and go looking for it instead of spending money on all the touristy things to do.
Go find a hill looking over the city. Get lost in the city. Go help some locals pick fruit. Take a swim in the ocean, or go watch a sunset on a rooftop. There is a ton of free fun stuff you can do and you’ll find that your experiences are more memorable than standing in lines to do the typical tourist thing.
Get in trouble, find a church.
Churches offer bedding, food, and shelter for homeless people all the time. Now I’m not saying take away a bed from someone who actually needs it, but if you run into a bind you usually get a free phone call or shower. Plus if you’re really screwed churches can sometime introduce you to their network of local support and help you along your way back home.
If this is your first time trying to vacation on little dime; start small and don’t do too much at once. The common saying is, “Time is money” and your job is to prove that saying wrong. Try and go spend some time in your own city without spending your money. If you can’t make it through the day without going insane from boredom, or spending money, you might not be ready to spend 2 weeks in Africa.
Lay Your Head
Get a profile on www.couchsurfing.org and find a free couch you can sleep on. One tip though is to do a little free work around the home. You can do some cleaning, some yard work, plant some veggies, just do something and you’re reputation will skyrocket. Once your profile gets a good enough reputation don’t be surprised when you start staying in mansions for days or even weeks. The best part is it’s all free!
Offer your skills
If you start thinking of traveling as a “Win-Win” for you and everyone else you’ll recognize that your skills are your currency. So the more skills you have to offer, the easier traveling will become. The skills I’ve found to be the most useful in my travels have been cooking, cleaning, teaching English, animal husbandry, massage, carpentry, and entertainment (music, comedy, etc). Some of my favorite travels have included me playing the piano for locals.
Get a bike & tent
Something about a person on a bike is really unthreatening to locals. It just looks less suspicious and I’ve found that my bartering skills have more sway because I’m not rolling up in some super nice rental car. Plus you’re going to have a great time site-seeing and you might loss a few pounds doing it.
The other thing you need is a tent. Don’t get something large and crazy, you need to be able to carry it around without getting a back ache. The best thing you can do is setup a tent on a beach and wake up to the ocean. A tent can be a nice if someone is willing to let you sleep on their land but they don’t have a room. You’ll have a safe place to stay and you won’t get wet at night.
One key to traveling on little to no dime is to recognize an opportunity and going for it. Quit worrying about every little detail and just get out and do it. As you grow in your traveling experience you’ll understand that some of the best adventures come from you’re willingness to be spontaneous. Does a farm in Asia need some extra help? Go for it!
Cruise on the Ocean
There are a ton of opportunities to make your way across the ocean if you know what you’re looking for. If you’re willing to work the ship’s engine you can find your way almost anywhere in the world, and you’ll get a few extra bucks in your pocket. If you’re having a hard time finding a paying gig, offer them your services for free. Seriously offer your work for free. Usually you’ll get a cake job that allows you to relax more than you would think.
Plus you can have a great time offering your services if you get a free trip on a luxury cruise ship. I know one guy who even made it down to Antarctica on a luxury cruise for free by offering to work for free as an assistant to the tour guide. All he did was help people cross the ice and search for penguins.
So here is the one thing I do before I go on lengthy trips, and this is where most of my money gets spent on vacations. Head over to a place like Trip Insurance and look at their adventure sports insurance package. Be up front and honest about your plans and they’ll hook you up with the best protection. I know a lot of people who do what I do, and they don’t have insurance. The last thing you want to have happen is have an injury and get stuck in the middle of Africa with no help.
License: Creative Commons
Austin Faux and Dave Barud have travelled all over the wolrd. Working for Trip Insurance Plans they’ve been to the Middle east, Africa, South America, Antartica and more. When not travelling the childhood friends enjoy talking TV and movies on their podcast, “I Am A Super Nerd.”