Live an adventurous life by combining work + travel

How to travel the world even when you’re broke

How to travel the world even when you’re broke

Did you know it’s completely possible to travel the world even when you’re broke?

In fact, travelling can be cheaper than living in one place! If you’re smart about it, you can use the following methods of travel that cost almost nothing, and actually save money by travelling.

Think about it. You’re paying rent. You’re paying bills. You might be paying off loans. You’ve probably got a car that’s draining thousands of dollars per year in upkeep and depreciation. Your weekly expenses are pretty high.

So imagine if you converted all that money you’re spending on staying in one place, into money for travel?

Here are my tips on how to travel the world, even when you’re broke.


Mt Cook, New Zealand

The road to Mt Cook, New Zealand

Before you travel

Give up your lease / Sell your house. You don’t want to be paying rent or a mortgage while you’re away. That’s basically dead money as you’ll be paying for something you’re not using! Give up your lease, sell your house, move in with your parents for a few months if you have to!

If you want to keep your place as an investment, you can also rent it out on Air BnB. I’ve known of a few people that do this, and they make a fair bit of moolah!

Sell all your stuff. Car, mattress, beanbag… everything. You don’t need it. All you need to live off is a few items of clothing, money for food, and a few toiletries. If you’re worried about giving up your stuff in case you need it when you get back, just remember – you can always buy new stuff later.

Pay off loans. With the money you’ve just made from selling all your shit, pay off your loans. Debt makes it hard to do anything. Live financially stress free by getting rid of any loans you have first.

Flights and travel hacking

Transport

Do a road trip using relocation rentals. Search for cars or campers that will give you days or weeks to get to a certain place for next to nothing!

Hitchhike your way across the country. I’ve never done this but I know plenty of people who have. Make a cardboard sign with your destination scribbled with permanent marker, and stick out your thumb for some free transport.

Travel hack your way to cheap flights. I’m wary about adding this in as Australians don’t get the same benefits on frequent flyer programs as our friends in the US, but many travel bloggers swear by it. Check out this list of resources on travel hacking by Chris Guillebeau for more info.

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria

Accommodation

Couchsurf. I’ve been a couchsurfing host before, and it’s great fun to have someone to show around your city. As a couchsurfer you can crash at someone’s place for free. Just search for the location you’re after and send through a few enquiries.

Stay with people you know. Distant family members, people you previously met while travelling, friends of friends… you’ll be surprised at who says yes to crashing at their place, even if you only know them through the girlfriend of your second cousin.

Volunteer. Many people offer board in return for a few hours of work per day. You’ll still get plenty of time to see a new city, and have free accommodation while you’re visiting! Check out WWOOF (which stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms) or Help Exchange to find opportunities.

Housesit. You can spend weeks or months housesitting other people’s places for free! I’ve never tried it, but I know people who swear by it.

Stay in hostels. As long as you don’t mind bunking with a few other people, then hostel dorm rooms can be cheap as chips.

Krakow, Poland

Street food in Krakow, Poland

Food

Dumpster diving, otherwise known as ‘urban foraging’. I’ve never tried this but I’m quite tempted. I know it sounds kind of gross, but grocery stores and restaurants dispose of perfectly good food every day and many people fish it out of bins to use in their cooking at home. If you don’t want to feel weird rifling through someone’s dumpster like a lonely hobo, you can find dumpster diving groups on websites such as meetup.com.

Street food is super cheap in many countries in South East Asia, South America, and Europe. Support the locals while taking advantage of paying .50c for a pretzel or barbecued corn cob.

Buying groceries to make your own meals is probably going to be the cheapest option for eating. If you’re a former uni student or backpacker, you’ll know how far a packet of rice or pasta can go for sustenance! Check out my practical guide to hostel cooking over at Global Goose for some easy cooking tips.

Work

There are so many ways you can earn a few extra dollars while you’re travelling! And no, you don’t have to be a bartender or barista. Teaching English, working on a Cruise Ship, or being an Au Pair are all great options.

See how to make travel your career to get a good idea of ways you can make money while you’re exploring a new country.

It’s totally possible to travel the work on very little to no money. So give up the lease on your house/apartment. Sell all of your possessions. Use that money you would have spent on bills creating some kind of crazy amazing experience! And don’t wait – there’s no time like the present. I guarantee you won’t regret it.


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

32 Responses to “How to travel the world even when you’re broke”

  1. MissLilly

    Excellent tips! I would say there’s the mid term which is to try to find every opportunity to travel without giving up your job. If it makes sense, and if it’s really your dream go for it. But I would start step by step with the tips above. Simple things such as plan and buy in advance, check out for discount websites

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh absolutely, there are plenty of ways to travel without giving up your job – it’s just that if you want to travel long-term and are also paying for things to keep going back home, you probably won’t get very far!

      Reply
  2. Rebekah

    I completely agree that you don’t need to have a lot of money too travel. I decided to teach abroad so that I could travel in one country for a year and save money for future travels. Its a pretty sweet deal if you ask me 🙂

    Reply
  3. Chalsie

    Great tips! I actually find paying rent while overseas isn’t so bad. It gives me that relaxing peace-of-mind that I have a home to go back to. I don’t think full-time travel is for me, I’d miss my boyfriend, my friends, my home comforts, my bed (!), far too much. But I do put majority of my savings into travel, and explore the world as much as possible. So, I guess travel is a priority for me, and I make it work :).

    Chalsie | The Workshop Co. x

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      If it’s a short trip (as in only a few weeks) then paying rent is absolutely acceptable. It’s more that it would be a money waster if you’re planning on a few months away! It’s great that you prioritise travel Chalsie, I really don’t see enough people treating it the way you do. Keep it up! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker

    So many great tips here! I’ve bookmarked the Relocation Deals page (such a bargain!) and will start checking that on the reg 🙂 I can definitely vouch for HelpX – still pinching myself after scoring a gig on Bondi Beach (is this really my life right now?!). And we do dumpster diving back in NYC, but more for clothes, books, and household items than food. I’m not above it!

    Really though, if only people knew how little money they needed to travel or even get by in life!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I know, right! We all need much less than we think we do. If only we could put aside a few unnecessary luxuries, we could live off so much less and save so much more! Can’t believe you scored that gig with HelpX, what an opportunity in such an amazing location 😀

      Reply
  5. Nico Vermeulen

    Ashlea, this is a great article and certainly a bold move. I’ve been in South Korea for 3 years almost and will go home soon, but I know the feeling of getting rid of all your stuff. Have you done this personally? Got rid of everything to live the nomadic lifestyle?

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Nico! Before I spent three months in Europe last winter, I sold most of what I owned. I knew I was coming back to Australia for another year afterwards so we stored a few household items that we knew might come in handy. That year has passed so I’m currently in the process of doing it for the second time, but this time we’re going all out and selling everything! My only possessions will be what’s in my backpack, plus a few sentimental items that I’ll keep at my parents house 🙂

      Reply
  6. Mariel

    Yes, yes, and YES to travel “hacking” your way to cheap (or free) flights! Oh my goodness, is that not something that Australians are able to do? Accumulating credit card bonus signups and points towards free travel has changed my life. I only wish I had started sooner! It’s stupid-easy if you have good credit, self-restraint, and the patience to do in-depth research. I would also highly recommend The Points Guy and Frugal Travel Guy, for anyone wanting to look into it further. 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      We do have some opportunities for travel hacking, but not nearly as many as you do 🙁 Unfortunately there are many more restrictions with opening credit cards and gathering points here, so it’s much less easy to do. But I know it can be very beneficial for you guys in the US so I’m glad you’re taking full advantage of it Mariel!

      Reply
  7. Petra @ The Global Couple

    Great tips Ashlea! It’s pretty scary getting rid of everything you own, but totally agree that it can be cheaper to travel than to stay at home. Unless you buy a car overseas that ends up being a money trap (whoops!). P.S. the ad looks great! 😀

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It is scary, but I’m finding that once I began selling all my things, I started wanting to get rid of more and more until it’s all gone! I’m really looking forward to having no stuff and being free of the emotional weight of all my possessions.

      I’m sure buying a car overseas would counter that money you save, but it could be useful too! Thanks Petra 😀

      Reply
  8. Kristen Bor

    Great article with tons of helpful tips. Totally agree on travel hacking. I’ve scored tons of free Southwest flights and it’s totally worth the hassle. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  9. Karin

    House sitting is another free accommodation option. There are web sites that provide access to houses all over the world. I have heard of people doing this for several years (lots of moves between houses of course).

    Reply
  10. Jake Ryan

    Great post.

    Saving for travel really isn’t difficult, it’s just a lifestyle change, and as you have stated once you get out on the road it’s extremely easy now thanks to couch surfing and house sitting. (among many others…although dumpster diving is a big no no lol)

    Jake
    http://www.travelfoodfilm.com

    Reply
  11. Duke Stewart

    You’re so right-on with this post, Ashlea! I’m there with you on not trying dumpster diving but hey, that’s an option. I like how you’ve really made it impossible for anyone to throw out those old faithful excuses of travel being too expensive. Definitely going to pass this onto my friends who need a boost. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Duke! There are so many excuses that people use, but travel is absolutely possible if you put your mind to it! I hope your friends find something useful in here 😀

      Reply
  12. Ray

    One trick that I personally use to save money towards future trips is to set up an automatic savings program with my bank. Any time I get paid by my employer or use my debit card to pay for items, a certain percentage (1 – 10%) from my Chequing account is automatically transferred to a higher earning Online Savings Account.

    There is no way for me to touch the money in this Account aside from online banking transfers, so there is no possible way I am physically able to spend the money that I accumulate in this Account. This trick has helped me save for my previous few weekend getaways. Might be worth looking into with your local financial institution!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your tip, Ray! There are so many little financial tricks that we can use to save money. I’m glad that you’ve been able to take a few weekend getaways using this method!

      Reply

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