I fell madly in love with Couch Surfing, which can save you some money and give you some real cultural lessons. In Brussels, we spoke to Ian, a New Zealander who had taken to hitchhiking - which can get one of your biggest expenses, transportation.
There are about a million and five ways to travel cheaply. Sometimes it’s a mentality. Sometimes it’s knowing a local. But, more often, it’s meeting a local with the right mentality.
Here are a handful of the best ways to travel for cheap - or free - that we didn’t even get to on this trip.
Why not start with a helluva quote from Kurt Vonnegut, which I stole from a righteous post on changing one’s mentality to cut travel costs.
As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”
- Travel jobs - Well, silly billy, if traveling is the most important thing in your life - (and make sure it is, because it doesn’t have to be; it isn’t, for instance, at the top of my priorities, and you could be miserable if you miss that) - then get a job that requires you to travel. Get a gig with a big company or a sales job, or, easier than that, check for travel and adventure jobs around the world.
- Teach English as a second language - For a shorter term spot up in one foreign place - three years or less often - thank your lucky stars that you speak English. Much of the world clamors for English-speakers to teach their kids the language - so they can take on the world of competitive markets and likely usurp our country’s business hold. Eek. Hey, but you get to travel, right? I know three people at this very moment doing this: one in small town Japan, one in rural Ukraine and another in Argentina. Be an English language teacher abroad!
- Travel Writing - Establish a fine freelancing career in which you travel, write interesting and compelling copy and magazines, newspapers and other media pay you for your product. …Figure this out and then tell me how. There are oodles of blogs catering to folks who wanna break into this genre - like the Written Road - but, believe me, this is a tough go. Hire me to travel write, folks.
- Service Work - A lot of international jobs are competitive. Indeed, most are - particularly less commitment, high reward, like service work abroad. Programs like Peace Corps, work with Earthwatch and volunteering with groups like Panya Project involve a huge investment of time, energy and commitment - if not money. Still, they offer powerful opportunities to see a part of the world and see it well.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms - Very cool organization that lets you Couchsurf, essentially, on organic farms in exchange for volunteer work. It can be hard, grueling but is almost always rewarding. I only know of one chap who has done this, and it’s certainly something I’d like to give a go. Travel to a foreign organic farm, work and lodge and eat for free.
You’ll notice the theme that the cheapest ways to travel well involve longer stays in one location. On your jetsetting trip, you can cut into costs couchsurfing, hitchhiking or finding cheap eating tricks while traveling but the faster you move the more it’s going to be. Better figure out what kind of traveler you are and decide whether quality of stay or quantity of stops is more important.