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Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Articles, Inspirational | 50 comments

Learn how to travel the world for free!

Learn how to travel the world for free!

Do you dream of traveling long term, but your budget is really tight? Here’s all you need to know to travel longer and better on a budget!

Ok guys, you asked me for it – I wrote it!

A super comprehensive guide of my tricks and tips for long term travel on a super limited budget.

 

best budget destinations

 

I get daily doses of emails and messages from people asking me: “But how do you manage to travel for so long?”, “where is your money coming from?”, “I would like to travel like you, but I have no money, can you help me?”.

Well, sit tight and grab a coffee, because this is a long article filled with insights, long term traveling on a budget is an art!!

First of all, I live lightly, ALWAYS! I don’t spend money on things I don’t need and whenever I’m tempted to buy something I always ask myself first: “Do I prefer to have this or do I prefer to add this money to my savings for my next trip?”, depending on the priorities, I know if I need that thing or I don’t.

 

I always ride my bike and save hundreds of $$

 

I WORK WHILE I TRAVEL

 

As you might know from previous posts, I’ve been an Au-pair and this is how I started traveling long term. I was 18, just finished senior high and had absolutely no money. I didn’t even have a bank account. Here’s my complete guide to becoming an au-pair.

So I worked my way around and moved to London, one of the most expensive European cities. I got paid to live there and I worked part time doing childcare. When things went sour with my horrible host family, I signed in for another Au-pair gig in the USA, where I lived for a whole year and earned around 6.000 dollars, back in the year 2000. That money lasted for years.

 

best places to travel budget

My luxurious en-suite bedroom in Zurich!

This year, I decided to spend the winter somewhere new, so I headed to Switzerland.

I was an Au-pair in Switzerland and managed to live at one of the world’s most expensive cities and get fully paid to do so. I earned 400€ a month, absolutely all expenses covered, including my airplane ticket.

Although my time as an Au-pair is over, I strongly advise you to give it a try. You won’t just travel for free, but you’re going to get paid for it! For me personally, this is the best trick to travel long term on a budget.

 

YOU CAN TEACH ENGLISH AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

 

Teach English as a second language

Teach English and save thousands of $$

 

The most profitable way to travel long term, is by teaching English as a foreign language. If you speak perfect English or you’re a native speaker (lucky you!) you can easily find jobs and make seriously good money. For all the info you need, check out my friends Nick and Dariece’s amazing guide to teach English as a foreign language.

 

WORK AT SUMMER CAMPS AND TRAVEL THE WORLD

Summer camps can be a great opportunity for you to travel to the States and have all your expenses met. Every summer hundreds of American summer camps fill up with children wanting to have a great time. Summer camps are quite popular in the States and some of them hire young foreigners, who want to have a taste of America, meet people from all walks of life in exchange for daily activities with kids. You won’t make a fortune and you might not be able to save much, but you’ll be paid and have zero expenses.

After the summer camps are over,, you have the opportunity to travel all over the United States with the money you made. You’ll probably team up with other people you’ve met at the camp so You won’t be on your own.

I wanted to do summer camps after my Au-pair experience, but my expenses wouldn’t be all covered from Portugal, where I was living at the time, so I ended up not going for it, but I truly think this could be a wonderful experience.

 

WORK IN CRUISE SHIPS AND SAIL THE WORLD

This is hard work and you’ll be living with the people you work with, chich is not always easy, specially if you don’t like or don’t get along with someone. But it’s a great opportunity to travel and making good money at the same time. Your ability to have time off when the ship arrives at a certain port, depdents on your type of job and duties. If you’re in the cleaning department, you might have to work, but if you’re working with other departments like entertainment, massage, hairdresser, etc, you might have time off.

 

 

Every year many cruise lines around the world recruit people from all walks of life. If you want to sail across the world, get a CV ready and check for hiring dates.

Make a google search and check which cruise lines fit you better, which routes you’d like to do and who’s recruiting. There are also forums where you can ask questions to people who work or have worked aboard cruises. Good Luck!

 

BECOME A TOUR GUIDE OR TOUR LEADER

Are you extrovert, communicative and have patience to deal with people all day long?
Well, I believe being a tour guide or tour leader can be one of the best ways of exploring the world, get paid and have no expenses. You might get to experience things you wouldn’t otherwise. You’ll meet people from all over the world and live a wonderful adventure.
Some tour companies specialize in adventure travel, budget travel, spring break type of travel…. you’ll find something that relates to you if you search for it.

Contracts usually last for a year or more, so you’ll have to be a very available person with to attachments, no pets, no wife/husband (unless you don’t want to see them more than once a year! hehe). This is easy for the early 20’s, but more complicated for the older folks. I think it’s a chance you could grab if you’re totally free.
Some tour companies who are always hiring:

Contiki
Tucan tours
G adventures

WORK AT HOSTELS AROUND THE WORLD

This is nothing new, right? Lots of young travelers work on youth hostels in exchange for accommodation, so they save some money while they’re on the road. You have to see if this is a good deal for you or not. I have strong mix feelings about it.

I believe people should be compensated for their work, ALWAYS! In this scenario, we have a business that is profiting on a daily basis, while saving money with their work force. In a way, I see this as slavery. You’ll be working and sometimes, full time, which can be quite frustrating as you see other travelers having fun.

If a hostel can have unlimited free workers, they won’t be providing jobs for the locals, and if this is happening in a country with a high unemployment rate, like Greece or Spain, it feels quite unethical to me.

You have to see what is best for you and the situations as a whole. Maybe you’ll make more money if you work back on your home country for a bit, and then have total freedom to enjoy your destination.

 

 

FIND TEMPORARY AGRICULTURAL JOBS

I’ve done this one as well. I’ve picked up grapes in France for 3 weeks and then I had money to travel for a year (on a super low budget, not luxury traveling for sure!). Besides the usual payment, bosses are required LEGALLY to give you a free daily quota of good quality wine :)

Usually the money is great and the work is temporary. The pay per hour in France is over 8.5€, not bad!  You’ll meet other people from all over the world, usually travelers who are also gathering some cash together and you usually get a free place to stay and wine.  Everyone I know and who did grape picking in France said the job was super easy, relaxed and fun. I must have been a very unlucky person, because I  really struggled and the bosses were assholes, who tried to fool us with money and the wine quota they are legally required to ofer.

I haven’t repeated this experience, but many friends go to France every year specially for this. Australia and New Zealand usually need temporary workers in these fields, check out info about work holidays in Australia and New Zealand.

Check out for forums online, you might get contacts. I just drove around the country side of France and asked the farmers, if they needed workers.

Washington_Farms_Strawberries_3

WORK AT TULIP FARMS IN HOLLAND

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any info about this one online, but I know every year, people go to Holland to pick up tulip flowers and get really great money for it. Do a few google searches, talk to people and try to find out about it!

 

EUROPEAN VOLUNTEER WORK

Have you ever heard about the EVS program? EVS stands for European Volunteer Support and this program sends young people aged between 18-30 years old to participate in all sorts of volunteer work across Europe. The costs of the flights are covered, as well as all expenses. You can chose a wide variety of projects in different countries. Check out the official website for more info: www.europeanvoluntaryservice.com/

YOU CAN WORK EXCHANGE WHILE TRAVELING

 

Another strategy I’ve used to keep my long term travel adventures, was doing work-exchange. This however, is not my favorite way of traveling because of how much time consuming it is, in most times for very little in return.

 

Volunteering in Thailand

 

I was a volunteer in Thailand for 17 days. I didn’t do it for the money, but as a cultural experience. What I found out is that most hosts are actually making a business out of it, charging for money (which is 100% against the rules) or refusing to offer food. Do I really want to work for free and have nothing in exchange other than a bunk bed? Hmmmm, not me, unless the experience would be absolutely out of this world.

 

backpacking in Thailand

My home in Thailand while I volunteered

 

Volunteers have to value their time and work. By accepting anything, they’re lowering the value of our work, making it impossible to find a good deal.

There is a free new website called Volunteer Base where you can find hosts and projects around the world. In case things go wrong with your hosts, as it went with mine, you have nothing to lose.

But I have to be really honest, I prefer not working and have lots of free time when I’m traveling, so after seeing a couple of friends living for free around the world, I’m now becoming a house & petsitter too and Travel the world with no accommodation costs. But more about that in detail later on…

 

SHARING TRAVEL COSTS IS THE BEST WAY TO CUT TRAVEL EXPENSES

 

Carpooling is the best way to save money!

 

Many people I know hitchhike in order to save money, have a great adventure and meet new people. I did a bit of hitchhiking back in the day, but I confess waiting for rides is not my cup of tea!  Carpooling or ride-share can be a great option, specially for solo female travelers and for people who hate flying. If you have a car, just post an add searching for people to share the expenses with. If you need a ride, scoop through the ads and write whoever is doing your route. Bla Bla car is a good one.

 

TEAM UP WITH TRAVEL BUDDIES

 

My travel buddy for Nepal and India

 

Other option is to check out the Couchsurfing webpage and see if someone wants to team up as a travel buddy. Although traveling alone is (in my opinion) the most empowering experience in the world, traveling with a buddy or a group it’s generally cheaper, since you can share both transportation and accommodation expenses. If you pay for a hotel room (not per person) it gets 50% cheaper.

 

TRAVEL OFF SEASON – THE BEST BUDGET VACATIONS TRICK

 

best budget vacations

Prices of hostels and hotels can fall 50% during off season

 

A good old one and always high on my list. I only travel off season – you can check my 6 month trip to India where I spent 600€ only –  that’s it!Prices for accommodation and flights can drop as much as 50%. In most cases you’ll be avoiding the crowds and you can have the beach for yourself!  I search for a cool destination within my budget limits off season only.

If you are a long term traveler who likes to settle in one place for a long period of time, you can negotiate hotel rates and drop them even lower.

 

BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL ON A BUDGET

 

What is your budget limit? What are you searching for – exotic. relaxing or adventure?

budget travel best places

My paradise on earth, India for about 2$ a day!

 

Make sure you know what you want to experience first and then start searching for your destination, be flexible! South East Asia, as well as India and Nepal are some of the cheapest place in the world for long term traveling. If you want to explore Europe, head to Eastern Europe and if you’re after something exotic but not too far from Europe, go to Morocco. Once you’re there, your money will last forever!

If you can’t fly there, then be really adventurous and check out all flying companies in search for the best deals, no matter what the destination is. Choose the cheapest destination and go for the adventure of unpredictability!

 

AVOID DIRECT FLIGHTS!

 

This is one of my favorite tricks! I rarely fly directly to my destination. Usually, direct flights are more expensive and you might be missing the chance to visit another country for free on the way there.

 

best budget vacations Turkey

Istanbul off season and for free as a 2 day layover!

 

Yes, that’s what I did when flying to Thailand, I had a 24 hour layover in Istanbul on my way there and a 48 hour on the way back. I never even thought about visiting Turkey, but the cheapest flight had a layover there, so I extended my stay for free! I payed nothing to fly to Turkey, a perk that saved me a few hundred $$ if I would have decided to visit it another time.

A couple of months ago, I flew to Greece with a 3 day layover in Rome – Italy! Now, i’m heading to the Philippine, the cheapest  route I found, had 2 layover; 1 in Bulgaria and 1 in Dubai. Great! I’m staying 5 days in Bulgaria and 1 night in Dubai! I get to explore these 2 destinations for free, because I’d have to pass by anyways, so why not extend the visit in a couple of days?!

 

USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION ONLY

 

Buses, trains, trams and other forms of public transportation, will always be cheaper than renting a car or taking a taxi. It’s also a great way to experience the culture and meet people.

 

budget travel India

Local bus in Kolkata – India

 

Travel the world with no accommodation costs

 

The very best option to travel the world without having to pay for hostels or hotels is to become a housesitter or petsitter.  I love animals and have been a foster family for many years, so being a pettsitter is actually a pleasure for me. There are houses and apartments worldwide waiting for a sitter: from the most expensive European cities, to the most exotic places like the Caribbean Islands. Since I don’t like to spend money while traveling, I just signed up with Trusted Housesitters, the biggest housesitting and petssitting website. It cost me €65.88 for a year membership (the price of a hotel night) and I can sign as many housesitting gigs as I want, wherever I want. I signed with them HERE

Couchsurfing is also a wonderful option, with the down side that you can usually stay with a host for 3 days only. So Cs is great for very short stays whereas Trusted Housesitters have longer term opportunities.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO GET FREE FOOD

 

There are several ways in which you can get free food. Trust me, it’s not hard, I spent years without buying much food.

 

vegan and vegetarian food Thailand

Local fruit market in Thailand

 

  • Visit the local markets before they close and ask the vendors for fruits and veggies they’re about to throw away. They’re usually very generous and will give you lots, of free food!
  • Most bakeries, pizzerias will throw away everything they couldn’t sell that day Ask them for the left overs. This strategy won’t work with big food chains, but with small family business.
  • Exchange favors!  I had a neighbor in Spain who owned a take-away business. One day she approached me and asked if I’d like free food in exchange for window cleaning once in a while.  This was a wonderful deal! She saved lot’s of fresh food for me on a daily basis and I cleaned her window 1 every 15 days or so. It took me about 15 minutes to do the windows and it was a great way to live without paying for food.

 

When I travel I only eat local foods.

 

The Grand Bazaar in Turkey

 

And I’m vegan which means, my food will always be cheaper than if I’d eat meat dishes. Maybe you should consider trying to go vegan!

 

vegan and vegetarian food Thailand

Vegan food – cheaper and healthier

 

EXPLORE FREE ATTRACTIONS FIRST

Why spending tons of money on museums or certain monuments right away? First try to explore everything there is on offer for free. You might be surprised!  Also, many European countries offer free museum visits for free on Sunday morning, so make a good google search before paying for tickets.

 

backpacking Nepal

Nepal 2009

 

BUDGET EUROPE TRAVEL

 

In Europe, I basically only travel by van.  Ok, you might say: but I don’t have a van like you do!

 

Budget travel Europe

My mobile home

 

Well, I also didn’t have my van before I bought it!

Now seriously, this was the BEST financial investment I’ve ever done throughout my traveling life. It was not easy, I worked 12 hour shifts, 2 jobs simultaneously, from Sunday to Sunday, no day off for 4 months. I lived at a friends living room, so I didn’t pay rent and cut seriously on food expenses. It was a bit crazy, but I managed to buy my second hand van really fast and later transformed into a mobile home. I’ve lived in my van for extended periods of time and loved it.

Budget travel Europe

The view from my window is never boring

 

I can tell you I never paid for a hotel or a restaurant in Europe. I can cook in my van, sleep in the van and wake up wherever I want at my own pace. I can share fuel expenses and gather free food from the bakeries and stores along the way. How much money have I been saving so far? Thousands of $$$! Seriously, thousands of $$!

 

Are SQUATTS free hotels?

 

Squatts are NOT free hotels

 

Please, don’t go around searching for squatts, like some ignorant people advise on travel forums. Squatts are HOMES, NOT free hotels! It’s not only disrespectful but seriously annoying. Be mindful that squatts are NOT free accommodation and people living in Squatts don’t usually live for free. Most people pay for the bills in order to gain rights, spend hundreds of Euros in Lawyers to protect them and don’t want to be disturbed by strangers passing by or find their addresses in Travel forums.

If you don’t go around knocking on random people’s doors asking for a free bed, why the heck should you do that on squatts?

 

Wow, if you made it to the end of this article! Hope these tips were helpful!

 

** WANT MORE INFO? JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK FOR DAILY UPDATES! **

 

 

 

50 Comments

    • It’s my favorite way to travel :) Wake up at a different place, every time.

  1. I travel pretty cheaply but I’ve never tried asking for free food haha When I spent almost 3 months in Europe for example, I would always “splurge” on my first day in a new city, which means eating a full meal, usually around 10-15 eu. After that, it would be sandwiches or soups (less than 2 eu). I used CS extensively too, but since I work online, it was never a problem for me to have money for daily expenses. Great post!

    • Well Aleah, know you know! In Italy for example, it’s a great way of getting free pizzas and bread. I remember a couple of times I couldn’t carry half of the pizzas I got, so I was rolling them inside a plastic bag, trying to fit at least half of them, haha

  2. I loved this, you’re a great writer. The van really inspired me… I’d love to buy a mobile home someday. Makes me think of road trips and getting up early to see the sunrise… mmmmm yes please!

    • Sarah, thank you so much for your message and the compliments :) Yes, road trips are the best, the absolute best! I hate flying, even though I never mention it, hahaha

  3. Thank you for sharing all of this information! I want to travel so badly but my excuse is always that I can’t afford it. I went to Australia once and would love to go back, but it was a *very* expensive trip staying in hotels and renting a car. I’m going to start thinking about trips differently after reading this!

    • My pleasure! Well, traveling can either be expensive or cheap. If we’re flexible however, exploring the world can be extremely affordable.

  4. I totally love your van idea Yara and I am currently doing it myself. Although my van seems to be a bit smaller than yours, the freedom is the same and I actually really enjoy the fact that I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. Let’s see if we manage to bump into each other at some point… :)

    • Having a van to travel and explore is the cheapest and best possible way to travel in Europe. I’ve heard it’s the same thing in Australia. Yes, it would be cool to bump into each other :)

  5. Also good to note that if you’re staying in a hostel or Couchsurfing you can always buy groceries and cook with other people to keep things cheap. I’ve also found that it’s pretty cheap to rent a car or scooter some places in Europe. If you’re going to a remote destination you can round up a few people in your hostel to split the cost of a car and go somewhere really cool that is normally expensive via public transport.

  6. I like the idea of having a mobile “home” with me whilst travelling where I can sleep, cook, eat and live basically whilst travelling. One day! :)

    • It’s awesome, specially as a vegan :) No more starving!

  7. Great tips! Although I think I would feel bad trying to get free food in poorer countries, but I suppose one can judge when it is appropriate or not. Cheers :)

  8. Hey Yara, I love this post! So many useful tips, a great guide for those who don’t believe travelling can be affordable. I’ll definitely share it around! I love the idea of having a van, shame I don’t like driving!

    • Hi Margherita, I love driving, but I hate doing it in big cities. Italy was sometimes nerve wrecking for me as well as Barcelona. Fortunately I had a travel buddy who loved traveling inside the city, whereas hate traveling on the country side or smaller areas (he said it was too boring), it was the perfect combination!

  9. Awesome tips here Yara! Thanks for including us :) Cheers and happy travels to you.

    • Thank you guys! You know I love you, so I will always refer your blog and amazing work whenever I can :)

  10. Wow! This is really funny! I had read this article before, and you posted it again.
    I have a look and realize “I know that face”! We’ve never talked but I know that you used to often go to Cs meeting in lisbon! Good vibes!

    • Hey Amy, yes I go to the Lisbon CS meetings all the time. I was actually hosting the vegan weekly dinner for a year now. I love the Lisbon CS community.
      Hmmm, you read another post I wrote about 11 creative ways to get paid to travel, this is a bran new post I just wrote it a couple of weeks ago :)

  11. You should also include a section on what to do with underutilized property, like a spare room – I have a house, and I rent our rooms through Airbnb – and the money goes straight into my travel fund. I’ve even gone as far as renting out my Master Bedroom when I’m gone – thank God for good neighbours who can help manage all of this!

  12. Kudos to you for figuring out how to make your travel dream a reality!

  13. Awesome tips!! We try really hard to travel on a budget but food is always our Achilles heel. We like to buy local but usually we buy a LOT haha so that doesn’t always work for sticking to a budget. We love taking public transportation, we try to always avoid taxis and private shuttles. Plus it’s a great way to get insight into the local life!

  14. Do you have a trick to search for long layovers? And do you couch surf or get a hostel?

  15. Great tips! I’m a big fan of shoulder-season travel to cut costs :)

  16. Nice article with some handy tips. Cheers

    • Happy to know it was helpful and inspiring!

  17. Great tips- I would have LOVED to be an au pair. Now I am thinking about hiring one 😉

  18. I think your first paragraph sums it up perfectly, “I live lightly”. I often tire of people saying “you are so lucky” and questioning how I can afford to travel so often. But it’s not just luck, it’s making sacrifices and making choices. Great post!

    • I totally agree with you Kellie, it’s NOT luck, it’s giving up a lot of commodity and comfort to be able to sustain traveling. I have less money than basically everyone I know. Officially, I live below poverty line, so when people who make a few thousand Euros a month tell me how lucky I am to afford traveling, I get really annoyed. People make choices according to their priorities, and for most people having a car, a great house and nice clothes are their priority. If they would rather travel, they could afford it as well. Thank you for your message :)

  19. This is full of great info! I hadn’t heard of Trusted Housesitters before but I’m going to register right now!! Thanks for sharing your tips, we can all stand to save a little more money here and there.

    • Absolutely! I didn’t know about Trusted Housesitters till recently, when a couple of friends of mine moved to the Caribbean to care for a cute little dog! I think it’s the best way to save, since accommodation can be so expensive. If you register through this site, you’ll help my blog running at no extra cost :) So i can share more tips with everyone!

    • If your American, you’ll save a fortune on health care as well! Seriously :)

  20. Great tips! Yeah, we just did 12 months for under $100/day…for a family of 4! You learn things about yourself, like I hate self catering, I’d rather spend more and eat out that try to save by cooking, it ruins the experience for me. House sitting was a big turn off for us, partly the cooking, partly the cleaning, I ran screaming to a cheap hotel ( I have a housesitting friend who hires a cleaner during her stay). Anyway, yes, it’s all about priorities and we all have a different set, you’ve got to do what makes you happy!

    • You’re totally right! We all have different priorities, different mindsets and different styles of traveling. Housesitting is just like being at home, cooking and cleaning, regular daily duties, doesn’t bother me much. I love cooking :)

      $100/day for 4 people is really good!

  21. There’s some great advice here but I just want to clarify one thing incase some people get the wrong idea. You mentioned that people can usually only stay with CouchSurfing hosts for three days, except that’s not accurate. Surfers can stay as long as the host is willing to have them. I’ve hosted and stayed with people for up to a week. Other hosts will have guests for only one night. It all depends. Just wanted to clear that up in case people who are new to CS start thinking there’s a three-day rule or something :)

    • HI Megan, of course there’s no 3 day rule, but 3 days is usually the max. most hosts are willing to have someone over. I had people staying for 1 week. I have friends who have hosted for 1 night only, but 3 days is the average.

  22. This a great list of ways to save some serious cash when travelling! I’m going to be travelling for 4 months to SEA and I was told by a friend to rent a bike when you travel as it will save a ton on transportation! Thanks!

  23. Good tips! I´ve been travelling on a budget the last years and doing all or them, and saving a lot while exploring the world :) Never tried Aupair before but might try it, specially in Switzerland It could be a good idea, it´s so expensive everything there!
    Bom saber que tem mais portuguesas a viajar livremente pelo mundo, com a mesma mentalidade e maneiras de ver o mundo! Estou fã do teu blog Yara!

    • Oi Rita, brigada pelas palavras :) Ser Au-pair facilitou-me imenso a vida, poder viver noutro pais e ter casa, comida, roupa lavada e uma mesada, sem ter que me preocupar com nada, e’ realmente muito bom. Hoje em dia ja’ nao tenho paciencia para viver com uma familia, ja passei da idade, tornei-me demasiado independente, mas aconselho muito!

      Por onde andas, vives em Portugal?

      • Ola Yara! Só agora é que vi a notificação que tinhas respondido ao meu comentário!! Inspirada pelo teu post, decidi vir para França trabalhar como aupair desde Abril! Tive sorte, calhou-me uma boa família, eles são mt flexíveis e porreiros, e pagam-me acima da média, mas começo a achar que estou já demasiado velha para viver com uma família, estou habituada à minha indepêndencia! Assim que vou aproveitar a oportunidade para aprender francês durante estes 3 meses e depois continuar a viajar! Em Julho vou para Portugal, de boleia claro, para o FMM em Sines, vais estar em Portugal?
        Gostava muito de conhecer-te!

        • Oi Rita, que bom! Sim, ser Au-pair é fantastico quando somos muito mais jovens, depois a sensação de falta de privacidade é um problema. Eu passei por isso tambem. Agora acho que nao conseguiria ser Au-pair e viver na casa de outras pessoas.

          O que é o FMM?

  24. These are amazing tips! I particularly enjoyed the section about getting free food– I had never considered many of these ideas before! I think that often, as travelers, we believe spending lots of money on food is part of the cultural experience. However, you make a great point– by eating local foods and engaging with the people around you, you can save a significant amount of cash. (And enjoy yourself in the process!) Great post!

  25. Hi , and thanks!
    How did you extend you layover in turkey for free? I assume you bought through one of the online cheap flight websites and through and agent who took care of things…

  26. Great tips and totally agree! I’ve been traveling for the last 17 years of my life and most of the times really on a budget and I know it’s possible, only a matter of priorities and as you said: traveling light. It’s possible to enjoy and travel almost everywhere if you cut some of that not so necessary shoppings! Happy travels!

  27. I’ve also traveled on a meager budget like you and I can add some… let’s say UNCONVENTIONAL-TO-TOTTALY-ILLEGAL tips.

    1) In most public museums and generally cultural attractions in the EU, teachers of EU nations get in for free, so if you manage to get a Teacher’s ID (I got my father’s and changed the photo) you’ll probably get in for free at the most important attractions.

    2) Get a student ID for discounts at other places

    3) Try to arrive at night/dawn and leave at night/dawn, you could save 2 day’s hotel accomodation by spending the night at the airport.

    4)Sleep at an airport or train station (train station is harder). I sometimes slept 2 days in a row at an airport and then one at a hotel…It’s not easy to get a good sleep, but alcohol (or other stuff) helps but nonetheless you can’t do it for too many days in a row, it’s too tiring.
    Sleeping at the beach is also possible, just leave you stuff at a locker and sleep at the beach (Greek islands is probably the best place to do it)

    5)Find a part-time job, foreign language speakers are sought out at popular destinations + you meet other workers and business owners and you get good deals and info.

    6)Depending on the country and the venue you can probably conceal some alcohol on you when you go in clubs or concerts. Check the security first though, because in a lot of countries it’s not uncommon for bouncers to do a quick body check. They are looking for guns mostly but they’ll take your drinks if they find them.

    I’ve also mastered the ninja art of sneaking in at festivals and concerts…
    …One time we got in a stadium through the water drainage system… Jumping over fences is obviously the most common.

    Sometimes the security can be so poor that you can just walk in and nobody gives a damn:
    example: I just walked in at Sea World in Australia (ticket was about 40 AUD). If they stop you, you just play the dumb tourist routine “I no hablo Francais”

    7)

    a. Check what’s cheap were you travel, arrange to buy and send it to people to sell it back home, in most cases you won’t have to deal with customs although you must be careful with the weight, it might not be worth it if the stuff is bulky and/or heavy. You could also carry some stuff in your luggage when you come back. You can go at local shops and ask if they are interested in some cheap merchandise.
    i.e Clothes and Ethno-Jewelery/deco from India to Europe

    b. Buy duty free alcohol and tobacco and carry it back home(I think 10 liters per person is the limit in the EU for alcohol and 500 grams of tobacco), you can also make friends with people before flight and have them carry it for you (obviously you will be paying it)
    example: 1 ltr of Bacardi costs about 10-12 Eur in some countries where is in the UK it costs about 22 GBP (more than 100% profit).
    The same applies for other products, but alcohol and tobacco is the easiest choice, rather than electronics or perfume which is much more difficult to sell unless someone has requested it.

    c. If you have friends that are business owners (this applies in the EU) you can give them your receipts and they can put it in their expenses + reclaim VAT. So you could win ~30% for a lot of stuff.

    8) Sometimes, cab drivers/hoteliers/mini-marker owners give the best exchange rates, especially in poor countries with rapidly depreciation currencies like India or China 20 years ago. Avoid airports and touristy places for currency exchange and check prices.
    The worst rip-off I’ve seen is at Italian train stations, the margins were astronomical.

    9) Barter and offer to pay cash with no receipt. You’d think that this works only in the 3rd world BUT when the GBP vs EUR was at it’s lowest 1.1 ( around 2008-2009) in market stalls in London I said “Don’t give me a receipt but I pay you in EUR 1/1” most accepted since VAT is higher than the 10% they lost from the exchange rate.

    There’s lots more… but just giving you some ideas.

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES: Don’t deal with illegal things (drugs, prostitution, money laundering etc) it’s lucrative but the local mobsters/mules will eat you alive… You don’t have the knowledge or the connections.

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