Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be rich to travel. In fact, you don't even have to have a lot of money to travel at all. I've wrote about the cheapest destinations, and I've wrote about how to save money on European travel, and how to actually make a savings while traveling, but I haven't wrote exactly how you can travel the world for free. Especially if you're a young nomad like me, you're probably broke AF, paying off student loans, crying on the inside day after day because you don't think you'll ever have a house/family/kids/designer bag. False! There are ways to travel the world for free.
If you're young, the best time of your life to do this is in the 6 months after your graduation from college, particularly if you have student loans. After 6 months, your loans kick in and you're suddenly a slave to the government. You want to get out there for free while you still can!
1.) Teach English abroad.
This is probably the most profitable and easy way to travel for almost free. Most non-English speaking countries allow native English speakers to come teach English for decent salaries, and you don't even have to have much teaching experience. When I taught in Madrid through Canterbury , I had to take a short course, and then I was on my way.
2.) Working holiday.
Many countries offer a particular "working holiday" visa, where you can come and stay in the country doing cheap labor such as bartending. This will pay off much of your travels, and allow you to meet fun people along the way, as well as learn what it's like to live in a foreign country!
People actually do this. You can stay in someones house (for free) and watch over their pets. Check out trustedhousesitters.com, which is currently the most popular site on the internet for those looking for housesitters. They're most popular in Europe and the UK, however more and more people are flocking to the website each year. Most houses allow access to kitchens, so you don't have to worry about eating out all the time. What could be better?
I've written about Couchsurfing before, and it's a fantastic way to get to know the local culture, as well as get free accommodation. Couchsurfing is a backpackers paradise, and it's completely free, with the understanding that if your host ever visits your hometown, you may open your home to them as well.
5.) Travel credit cards.
While I don't recommend opening up random credit cards, you can earn LOTS of free air miles by opening credit cards with particular airline deals. You can use your points at partner businesses to earn points for some airlines, and end up flying completely for free. Nomadic Matt wrote an excellent piece on choosing a travel credit card. Check it out here.
6.) Study scholarships.
Study scholarships are great. If you can get enough to attend University abroad, do it. Countries like German, Sweden, and Norway offer completely free college (!) so if you can speak German, Swedish, or Norwegian (good luck), you may want to check into completing your studies there.
7.) Travel blogging.
This one is probably the most difficult. Most travel bloggers work for years before they can generate income from their blogs. However, get started travel blogging early, so by the time a few years pass by, you've got a great build up of spot-on articles that will make companies want to partner with you.
8.) Volunteer work in exchange for free accommodation.
While I've never done this one myself, I've met tons of people throughout my travels who do WorkAway to fund their adventures. You can work at a yoga center in Quebec, a hostel in Budapest, a nanny in Slovenia, or picking grapes in France. The options are literally endless. Usually, you'll work some hours per week in exchange for free accommodation, and meet cool people along the way.
9.) Escape Normal.
Escape Normal is a travel community of people who have ditched their traditional 9-5 for atypical adventure jobs. Some offer stipends, while others offer just free accommodation.
10.) Become an Au Pair.
Some of my close friends have done Au Pair work and couldn't recommend it enough. Depending on the family, some work for free in exchange for accommodation. Some get a small amount of pay in addition, and if you're lucky, sometimes you'll even get to travel with the family you're working for! Check out AuPairWorld to find your perfect match!
11.) Work at a summer camp in the US (if you're not American).
Camp America offers overseas placements for foreign young people who want to work abroad in the USA. You'll spend the summer working at an American summer camp, which doesn't allow for very much travel, and the pay is pretty crappy though.
12.) Work on a cruise line.
This is something that is for sure on my Wanderlist and I would love to do sometime in my life. You literally get to sail around the world and get paid for it. While your days off on your stops aren't always free, you get paid for the in between time. Like come on. This is perfect.
13.) Be a tour guide.
If you've got a strange, unique knowledge of European, Asian, or South American history, you can become a tour guide! While it does involve some training, you'll be able to break even on your abroad bills from your income from being a tour guide. If you're super good, you'll make hella tips too!