One of the easiest ways to travel without money is right in front of you: the internet. You’re using it to see the world (hello everyone!). The tangible way is just too expensive, right? Well, if you’re secretly planning your grand escape into the world, then you should know that it’s possible to travel without any money at all.
That’s right: no money! And we’re going to tell you a few ways you can do it. However, a little bit of a disclaimer is necessary before we go on: There’s really no such thing as traveling the world without money, because someone, somewhere, is spending money so that you can travel freely. Is it justifiable? See what we have to say at the end of this article, and decide for yourself.
The Key to Traveling Without Money
First, let’s assume right now that “traveling without money” means traveling without using your money; this is entirely possible. There’s just one key factor that you need to be aware of before getting too uppity about the prospect.
In order to travel without any money, you need to be adaptable. You can’t be picky, you can’t be ashamed, and you can’t bank on routine. Traveling for free takes a dash of resilience, a pinch of unabashed gambles, and about a pound of utterly independent self-control. If you have or feel that you can develop these traits, go ahead and read on!
How to Stay for Free While Traveling
Hotels are the biggest bane to the budget traveler, so more often than not they stay in cheap hostels, which still cost a pretty penny. But did you know that you can stay in hostels for free through work exchange?
Hostels “hire” travelers as bartenders, cleaners, receptionists, and sometimes for odd jobs like dog walking and web design, all in exchange for a room (and sometimes board). Some websites, like hosteltraveljobs.com, have popped up to meet the demand for work-exchange positions.
We almost left out one of the most important attributes that you need to have if you want to travel without any money. You need to be friendly. It’s extremely important that you be likeable, and here’s why.
Hospitality exchange is where you stay for free in someone’s home.
Systematic organization of free hospitality exchanges began with Servas Open Doors at the end of the 1940s. That organization used to use fax machines to send directories of local hosts and their phone numbers to members. It still exists, but there’s a membership fee.
The modern version of hospitality exchange is entirely free, and entirely internet-based. There are services like hospitalityclub.org and bewelcome.org, and for bicyclists in particular there’s warmshowers.org. But the heavy hitter is by far the 5.5 million-strong membership base of couchsurfing.org.
The way it works is simple. You have a profile with info, pictures and references. When you want to go to, say, Paris, you search the database of Parisians with profiles, and when you find someone you think you’d click with, you send them a request to stay at their place. There’s no obligation, just help out around their home and share your life.
Here’s where that dash of resilience comes in handy, because the conditions are not always the best for a tent! But camping is free. One of the truths that long-term alternative travelers will tell you is that there is always a place to pitch your tent; it’s just that you have to develop an eye for them. You can’t be ashamed to camp where people normally don’t; you can’t hope to follow a routine; and you definitely can’t be picky.
How to use Transportation without Money
Have you heard of Dave Kunst, or Steve Newman? They both walked around the world. Rosie Swale-Pope ran around it. They probably had money, but you can be sure that they didn’t have to pay for transportation.
Cycling is another way to travel for free—that is, if you are a master of improvised jerry-rigging and never have to buy spare parts (unlikely). But we put it on the list anyway, because we’re not going to deny its possibility.
Of course! Hitchhiking is how to travel without any money at all. The idea is that trucker A is already going in your direction, he’s already paying the gas, so why not use that extra space to take you along? Sweep that shame of yours under the carpet, be unabashed on the side of the road and it’ll work for you. It’ll even work to cross the oceans on sailboats if you offer to be crew!
It’s important to overcome the stigma that is attached to hitchhiking. Have you heard of Jeremy Marie or Ludovic Hubler? Have you heard of Alyssa of opendestination.ca? They’ve all hitchhiked throughout the world, alone. What about hitchtheworld.com or velabas.com? Their authors have spent years hitchhiking throughout Latin America. Hitchhiking isn’t as bad as we’re made to believe.
How to Eat Without Any Money
Here’s where being adaptable and shameless becomes especially important. How do you plan on eating without any money? We like to talk about the “truths of the road,” and one of the very real truths is that people will not allow you to go hungry. You, however, are part of a specific demographic. You can read this, you’re navigating the internet, and you understand English. Already you have skills that in the current order of things can be traded for food anywhere in the world.
How else did you expect to eat? For free? Well, you will eat for free. In many places in the world, if you offer to work for food, and if they have no work for you, they will feel conflicted, unwilling to turn you away—instead, they will give you food freely. If they don’t, then the next place will, or the next place. That’s the truth of the matter. Understand now why you have to conquer your sense of shame? Should you feel shame at all for eating?
And then, dumpster-diving is always an option in some places!
Conclusion: Can You Do It? Would you?
Adaptability, resilience, shamelessness, independence, self-control: those with these attributes can travel the world without any money at all. Can you do it? Would you do it? How do you feel about it?
However you decide, there’s something very important to retain: if you travel the world for free, pay it back in kind.
Question of the Day:
Have you ever traveled without any money? How Did You Do It?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below