8 Brilliant Ways to Travel Cheaply (Even long-term!)
That travel bug came and bit ya in the ass, didn’t it? Yep, I know the feeling. And damn, can the cost of travel sure dump a bucket of luke-warm water on that passion. $100/night or more for hotels, thousand dollar flights, and don’t get me started on food. Those costs add up, making traveling cheaply seem impossible.
But keep your head up my dear! There are ways to make travel completely affordable. How else are all these young “kids” traveling? They found ways. And today, it’s easier than EVER to travel cheaply and make travel a possibility.
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So without further ado, my fucking mega list on ways to cut your travel costs big time.
Long- Term Travel
When it comes to traveling for longer than the usual week, you need something that will REALLY save you some dough. Most trips are week-long vacations because they are crazy expensive. With the flights, hotels, food, and excursions, who can afford longer than a week?
Those who slow-travel using these clever ways, that’s who. It might shock you (it did me) to learn that it can actually be cheaper to travel for a longer time, than a shorter time. Yes, you heard me right. You can stay longer, for less $$. IF you know how to do it right.
What the fuck is this? Well, this my love, is an amazing little development in the traveling world. Say you’re in France and need help restoring a house, but you have beds to share. You hop onto a workexchange site and offer a bed in exchange for…you guessed it, work! There are a few out there – workaway, xhelp, woof, hippohelp, and more entrants into the game every year it seems. I use Workaway as they have great reviews, tons of hosts, and their site is really easy to use.
No, they aren’t all restoring houses. Many are helping on farms, eco-resorts, self-sustained communities, resorts/B&B’s and most of all, hostels. You can find the occasional different experience to match your skills/interests if you take the time. Say you’re good at marketing, maybe you find a company who’s looking for help promoting their business. Another is looking for someone to teach Yoga at their resort. Someone else wants help with the cooking classes they’re teaching. Another needs volunteers to teach English to their community.
While it seems like most are farms, eco sites, and restoration work, if you look hard enough, you can find the perfect work exchange for you. And I can testify. I had to find work that I could do with my knees= no squatting, kneeling, etc. And I did it!
In exchange for a MAX of 5hr/day, you get a free bed and sometimes meals too! This cuts out a HUGE portion of your travel costs making this method completely feasible for long-term travel.
If you’ve looked at all into how to travel cheaply long-term, you’ve surely come across the recommendation to teach English. This is particularly beneficial to those born in America or the UK as native speakers are preferred. But many will take you if you’re fluent, even if it isn’t your native tongue.
The requirements vary between countries, but to ensure you have the best chance no matter where you want to go, you’ll need a few simple things. A bachelor’s degree (even better if it’s in ESL, language, teaching, education, etc.), a TEFL degree (200hr is best), and some experience if possible. I went with International TEFL Academy because it had an online component, a practicum requirement, and had all the fancy endorsements I wanted. Plus it came with a Business and Young Learners free module for extra training. Win!
If you’re interested, you can sign up here and get a discount on your tuition! I’ll also get a little referral bonus to help keep this site going. Trust me, I researched them all. This one is tops for coming out with a certificate that’s an equivalent to the CELTA exam. If you want the best cert without leaving the house, this is where to go.
These courses usually take about 6 mo to complete, usually less. Then you can find TONS of jobs overseas. Most have year-long contracts, so if you want really long-term, this can be the perfect solution.
While more difficult to nab, if you’re lucky enough to get called back for a cruise ship job, the benefits can be great! Cruises are leaving all the time and travel all around the world. Why can’t you be on deck?
Workers are usually on contract and are away for 6mo-14mo. It’s one big dorm room below decks, so it’s not exactly the method of travel if you’re eager for culture. But if you’re looking to EARN money as well as SAVE money while you hop from port to port around the world, working on a cruise ship could be the answer!
I applied and never heard, so it wasn’t in the stars. But if you stuck to it (unlike me–I sent one email), then your odds increase. With food and board, plus laundry and other necessities all FREE, and your paycheck going directly into savings, it’s no wonder this job is in high demand. You’re saving while traveling, which is quite the feat!
This has a few different options.
- Remote work with your current job. First, read the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris if you want to know how to stealthily move your current work into a remote position with your boss’s blessing. He’s got some great tips. You do the same work, but from your computer several thousand miles away. It’s a great offer, if you’re lucky enough to have a job where it works.
- Freelance work means doing remote odd jobs for clients. This can be writing posts, books, organizing travel, editing, website design, coding, etc. There is usually a freelance job for everyone. But be warned –because of cheap labor abroad, freelancers must work longer hours for less money. Some make it work, some hate it. May as well give it a try and see.
- Entrepreneurial work is the last option. This requires starting a business, selling something. It could be a blog you earn money from, a product you sell, etc. You work for yourself, and that’s the key. This option takes the MOST work, but will have the fucking best payoff. It’s the route I’m pursuing now!
You don’t need to have dreadlocks to be a backpacker. Being a backpacker means you’re moving quite often. It means staying in cheap hostels or camping, doing odd jobs to earn a meal, and making a shit ton of friends along the way. This method requires you starting off with a chunk of change first and you make it last as long as possible. This isn’t for everyone, but it works for soooo many people. If you’re jealous of those “kids” traveling, do as they do and be jealous no more!
Wtf? Yeah, it’s a thing. It’s French I think. But it’s a nanny, feel better? Yes, for the small/monstrous responsibility of looking after someone else’s rugrats, you can afford to move abroad and stay there indefinitely. It usually requires no extra training and you can bump families if you’re unhappy with one. If I didn’t dislike kids and could squat down to their level like a normal human, I might have considered this option. But I do, and I can’t, soooo….I don’t! But you can!
If month-long stints aren’t your thing, but you want to still save money, these options are for you. You still keep your job at home, but your next vacation will cost a lot less. Affordable travel isn’t just for long-term visits.
Credit Card Miles
This is simply the best idea. Seriously. You’ve heard of points. Well instead of spending points on statement credits or giftcards that’ll be forgotten in your wallet, get points for travel instead! The best card, and the one I have, is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Not only are their no foreign transaction points, and you get 2x on travel and dining plus 1x on everything else, but these points transfer in so many ways!
You can apply as a statement credit, apply to a bunch of miles partnership programs 1-to-1 (which is HUGE), or even purchase through travel the site for an extra 25%. The biggest feature is the 1-to-1 transfer to airline partners. Say you book with Delta. Do you have some points with your Sapphire card? Boom. Instantly transferred to Delta points/miles. It’s kind of amazing.
Plus, if you already have a Chase card like I did, (I had the Freedom card) then all the points can be pooled! Anyway, this will seriously save you dough. And if you use my link below, you’ll get 50k points if you spend $4k in the first 3 months. Which is cake, if you just use the card for every purchase and just pay it off immediately. That’s what I do! And my trip to Asia this winter will be free!
Homestay or AirBnB
The difference between the two is one is for those who want to be immersed in culture (Homestay), and the other for those who want more freedom but more culture than a hotel could offer (AirBnB). Both options are cheaper than a hotel, but with Homestay you get to live with a family/individual and live life in their shoes. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be part of an Indian family, Homestay is for you. If you want to get away from the hotels and save some money, AirBnB is for you.
Last, but so fucking not least, is Couchsurfing. This one blows my mind a bit. Purely for the cultural exchange, people will let you crash for FREE at their house. Talk about saving money while traveling. Now I wouldn’t extend my visit past a few days since I’d feel guilty about not providing anything in return, but TONS of people use this method for travel, namely backpackers who are passing through. It can be a fantastic door for meeting new people and saving a ton of cash. You will need to be a bit braver for this method, but that’s what traveling is all about right?
So there you have it. All the ways to travel while saving a bunch of money. There are even more jobs out there that allow you to travel, like a flight attendant, but I kept this list available to anyone immediately that doesn’t require a whole career change and years of study first. Travel doesn’t have to cost a fortune, or last only a week.
Wanna know which long-term travel option is best for YOU? Take my handy quiz!
No more excuses. Get out there and see the world. It might not be around forever.