No money is no excuse. It’s essentially a mantra for me (i built my business while I was broke and travel the world on a budget constantly), but still I keep running into people who say they’d like to travel more, but can’t because BROKE. Bullshhhh*. If you really want to you’ll find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse. And to prove to you that you can travel with ZERO dollar, I wrote this post: how to travel for free (the £0 travel guide).
(* this is tough love, I really do love you, you know).
Let’s be pretty clear about this: free travel is not for everyone. It’s not exactly a luxury holiday. It means compromising on privacy, hygiene, and any schedule. For most people travel is flying in a fancy plane, snoozing in a comfy bed, going for a second serving at the breakfast buffet, marveling at the coolest art museums and eating at ALL the local restaurants. And if you’re committed to traveling for free, wave your hand goodbye to that, girl. Beggars can’t be choosers.
But for some people travel really just is about freedom. The experience of being away. The adventure of travel. And you can do that for £0, is all I’m saying. So this guide really is for the bravest (and brokest?) amongst the broke babes.
News flash: I won’t promote illegal things. I won’t tell you to not pay for public transport, steal or do any other illegal things. Doing illegal stuff is for losers.
This isn’t actually anywhere near as deadly as many people think: hitchhiking. I’ve never done it myself, but I know many many people who have hitchhiked, and I’d love to do it myself once. The concept is simple: all you need is cardboard, a pen and a thumb. Position yourself in a handy location (near the highway entry or exit) and wait until someone stops to pick you up. Only get in if you feel safe. Other safety tips, and tips on good locations you’ll find at Hitchwiki.org.
Simples. Walking is free. You can also opt to ride a bike, but you’ll need to buy one (and most people are born with free legs), and repairs may cost money.
I’ve even heard you can hitchhike boats, but I haven’t heard the same for trains and planes.
The holy grail of budget travellers. The quick explanation: you create a profile and ask locals that live in the location you’re visiting if they can ‘host’ you. This can be in many ways, from a space on the floor where you can put your head, to an actual bank or bed. For free. It is however nice to spend an evening cooking for your host, or bringing them something nice from your country (cookies always work). And in return you can open up your home to people visiting your town. Couchsurfing is more of a way to meet people than to browse for free accommodation though. A certain interest and time spent on your host is usually appreciated.
Ok so it’s not totally free. You do have to pay a membership fee. But usage of the houses on there is free. If you have your own flat or house, it’s easy to set up an exchange with other travelers where they stay in your house, and you in theirs. This is safe, because everyone has reviews on their profile, plus you’re staying in each others house, so you treat it as you wish your house would be treated. It’s based on mutual trust. You can arrange this at homeexchange.com. I stayed in a flat in Barcelona for ten days for free. Membership I think is less than £10 a month.
Yes, it’s real. Lots of supermarkets throw out packages of food when it’s just past due date, when a package is damaged, or simply can’t be sold the next day (veggies or bread). Occasionally you’ll find this food unopened in dumpsters near the supermarket. Other times you can even ask store owners if they have any food left over. Not every supermarket does this, and if it’s ethical or hygienic is for you to decide. I’ve never done this.
Free Walking Tour
Free, free… yeah, technically a free walking tour is what its name claims: free. But considering these guides aren’t paid for their time showing you around the city, it’s only fair to tip them a few quid after the tour. If you’re too broke to swing this, befriend your couch surf host, and ask them to show you around the city. I usually tip about £2 an hour, per person. But you should give what you think is appropriate and what you can miss.
I’m a city girl at heart. I thrive at the hustle and bustle. And most cities actually pay attention to the cultural development of the less financially fortunate too: London has many free museums, and cities like Paris and Barcelona have free days or moments to visit museums for free. Definitely check before you go!
Most cities also hold free festivals, usually in summer. Whether film festivals, music or art: there is always something free on. London has free movie nights at the Scoop in september for example.
As a young, healthy traveler you have a lot to offer. Life shouldn’t always have to give you everything for free, why not work for it? Many long term travelers work in exchange for a free stay and food. Popular jobs are (night) receptionist at a hostel, handyman, volunteer work or farming work. You can also opt to work on a cruise ship. You’ll work insanely hard, but you’ll spend your days off in the most exotic locations. Food and a bed are included and because you only spend money on days you’re on land, you’re able to save loads. The list of jobs is endless, check this site for farm work, or this one for other jobs.
This one is pretty simple: join in give aways and you may win a free trip. In contrast to the above options this one may turn out to be VERY comfortable, however… it’s also the least guaranteed way of travel.
When traveling for free you need to be a bit flexible. With your time, your destination and your comfort levels. But that allows you to travel for £0. Please don’t do anything illegal, and don’t cause any harm to other people. Always try and give back when someone does something for you. It’s good karma <3