Mastering the Art of Traveling on a Shoestring

There is a rising trend among millennials these days of quitting their uninspiring jobs and grabbing a backpack to travel the world. While the idea sounds radically alluring, there’s one major hurdle hindering people from going on an adventure like this: money.

Traveling is not cheap.

Frequent eating out or shopping are activities that make your wallet thinner, and traveling requires some considerable amount of money and meticulous budgeting. Having said that, there are strategies available to travel the world without draining your savings account.

Get the cheapest ticket

Have you ever noticed that flight prices increase a few times after searching flights in your browser? That’s because the cookies send data to those air travel sites, cueing them to increase the prices to “encourage” you to book the flight before it gets even higher. Always search flights in incognito browsing or change the IP address to get the lowest prices. Compare prices on different flight search engines such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Google Flights, Cheapoair and then compare prices again directly on the airline’s website. Some of the promotions can be only found on the airline websites.

Another good tip is trying to find the cheapest place to fly to and to be flexible with the traveling dates. You can take advantage of tools like Kayak Explore that allows you to find the cheapest month to travel and can calculate the approximate costs of traveling to hundreds of countries from your departure point. Once you’re in the desired region, don’t forget to maximize the use of regional low-cost airlines, trains and public buses to get to places.

Skip pricey hotels and go for cheaper accommodation

No doubt that staying in youth hostels, Airbnb rooms, or even on a stranger’s couch can save you a ton of money compared to staying in regular hotels. For the complete hostel experience, consider Hosteling International; a not-for-profit membership organization that aims to help global youth to develop an understanding of people and cultures from around the world through quality and affordable accommodation.

By now, almost everyone should know about the accessibility and affordability of staying at Airbnb’s listed accommodations. Besides its value for money, Airbnb users can have a unique experience staying in places that range from a tree house to a castle. For those who are not afraid of making new friends, Couchsurfing is an excellent option for budget travelers.

Couchsurfing enables travelers to stay with locals in every country on earth for free. Depending on the cities, you can even join Couchsurfer communities that have weekly activities like language exchanges, dance classes, hikes and dinners. Another option is Booking.com, which selects “secret offers” and “smart choices” of all type of accommodations every week for you to stay in all over the world. You can find detailed information of the place, pictures of the rooms and rates from other customers. There are so many affordable possibilities with the option to cancel for free.

Sweat a little in exchange for room and board

It’s funny to do things differently sometimes. If you’re absolutely low on cash that you can’t even afford staying at a hostel or you are reluctant to spend more money on eating out, consider volunteering in exchange for free accommodation and food. Oddly enough, a lot of volunteering programs charges money to participate. However, organizations like Workaway or HelpX enable fair exchange for budget travelers to stay with families, individuals or organizations that are looking for an extra hand with a range of unique activities.

In most cases, travelers can stay and eat with the host for free in exchange for a previously agreed amount of time and work with the host. You might not sweat from being an au pair (it’s basically babysitting), but it’s definitely one way to live a new adventure and experience without having to spend any money. An au pair mostly lives with a local family, helps to take care of the children and is considered a member of the family. In exchange, an au pair is given food, accommodation and even pocket money to use for weekend trips or activities.

Do you speak English? Teach it while traveling

If English is your first language, that itself opens the door to a myriad of English teaching jobs around the world. It’s totally possible to teach English in exotic countries like Thailand, Morocco or Costa Rica with no teaching degree, just experience. All you need is the willingness to learn, the openness to discover new cultures and ultimately be confident in your English skills.

You can pick and choose different options through websites like Dave’s ESL café that provide job listings to English teaching jobs around the world. A lot of these teaching jobs come with a decent salary, accommodation and flights included and even in-country assistance — enabling you to explore your new country comfortably.

If you’re a non-native English speaker, it can be a little challenging but not impossible to get an English teaching job. You can boost your profile by getting an English teaching certificate like TEFL or CELTA, which are quite affordable and usually come with a teaching placement at the end.


Originally published at stenivan.com on January 26, 2016.