5 Great Ways to Travel for Free!
One of the greatest benefits of world travel is getting to see how different people around the world live their lives. This article gives you some of the best ways to travel for free, and see everything you’ve ever dreamed of without breaking the bank.
No matter where you are from, if you are interested in the greater metaphysical questions (What’s the point of Life? Why are we here?), or even just interested in whether your neighbouring country deserves its reputation, you have probably travelled abroad at some point and experienced a different culture.
The most inquisitive among us travel to far flung places all over the globe, to see, taste, and try to understand other cultures. But do you have to travel long distances to really feel cultural divides?
The answer is No. Sure, you can go a long way and drop yourself in the middle of a country where everything they do will seem strange and exciting. But culture has many layers, and is much deeper than just superficial differences like clothing and eating habits.
The alternative to travelling long distances in a short space of time, is travelling slowly, or not really travelling at all, but living abroad for varying periods. The longer you loiter in one location, the more you start to experience their true culture, beyond those obvious differences that jump out at you as soon as you arrive. And this is true even if you don’t move very far from home, or just to a different part of your own country.
So how can you travel somewhere new, and stay long enough to start getting under the skin of a place? Obviously, you could save up enough money to go abroad for a long trip by working hard at home first, or you could even try to find a job in the country you choose before you get there. These are two perfectly good options, but they take a lot of time and effort before you can even think about travel.
Instead, here are five organisations that help you find a place to stay where it won’t cost you a penny, and they each cater for short and long-term travellers on the go. It is usually fairly simple to arrange a stay for yourself in any country you want!
WWOOF.org – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
This organisation has been going for many years and many a WWOOFER has gone round the world, living and working with people that live off the land to experience their food and way of life, and often to learn farming methods they can use later themselves. Take a look at the host examples for any country you are interested in, you can WWOOF anywhere in the world! Each country has its own WWOOF list, each with hundreds of potential hosts. Would you help sign post new walking trails in Argentinian forests, learn how to grow a vineyard in Europe, or work at a martial arts academy in China?
Staydu – ‘stay with locals for work, money, or free’
Staydu is the new kid on the block. Offering hosts who need your help, people who want to offer you a sofa, and sub $20 accomodation, it is rapidly becoming popular with backpackers and hosts around the globe. They also have an interesting Travel Companion feature, allowing you to search for other travellers going your way – be they on the road already or planning a trip for next year. Signing up here, you might even find… me! :D
WorkAway – ‘the site for travel, language and work exchange’
WorkAwayers also stay with a host in the country of their choice and there are opportunities working in local schools, at tourist resorts, in eco-development projects and more.
HelpX – ‘an online list of hosts who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation’
Another alternative to WWOOFing of WorkAwaying, HelpX list their opportunities as organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats.
CouchSurf – ‘explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places you encounter’
CouchSurfing is an old favourite of many an experienced traveller. You rely on the good will of hosts to offer you a place to stay in their home, completely free. As a traveller, you get a rich experience of the place you visit with good advice from someone who lives locally. As a host, you get to meet interesting people and enjoy sharing your knowledge of the place you live. Good CouchSurfers will treat their host to a thank you meal, and the CouchSurf community is a growing movement of like-minded people (as their new branding tells us :P ).
Each of these organisations asks for a small fee (except for CouchSurfing). They vary as to how much it is, what the fee entitles you to and, how long it is effective for. For example, the cost to join a WWOOF list is per country and annual, but provides you with some basic insurance (very important) and support. WorkAway’s fee gives you access to all of their hosts globally for one year, but doesn’t provide insurance, it is a smaller fee just to help keep the organisation running. Staydu’s fee is also just to support the effort they put into the site, but is for two years instead of one. Make sure you know what you are getting for your fee, and once you are happy, get stuck in!
Whatever you decide to do, remember to always go to new places with an open mind, and enjoy. :D