Updated: Oct 6
Are you ready to kick-start your budget travels and save money? Yes? Then, read on....
I recently asked our subscribers about the number one thing that holds them back from traveling. The near-universal answer?
This is something I hear from everyone I talk to: “Bri, I simply don’t have enough money to travel.”
This problem — and how to overcome it — is my most asked question. I have answered this question in a plethora of emails, Instagram, and Facebook posts. Long-term readers might even be getting sick of me discussing this subject because it is one I talk about very often. But I know no matter how often I address this question, it will come up again.
Since this question comes up so often, I like to constantly remind people of this fact:
"You do not need to be rich to travel."
Let’s repeat that.
You do not need to be rich to travel nor travel cheaply.
Traveling the world on a budget sounds like a distant dream, an impossible dream. But it is possible, and you can do it responsibly without breaking the bank. It should be said that there are some expenses you shouldn’t compromise on (like travel insurance) but there are tons of ways you can travel the world with little money — including plenty of ways you can actually travel for free, if you're willing to be creative.
1. Use the Sharing Economy
Use the sharing economy to find cheaper accommodation, quirky tour guides, rideshare options, and home-cooked meals with local chefs. You can bypass the traditional travel industry with sharing economy websites like Jurnee and gain access to locals using their own assets and skills to become small tourism companies with cheaper prices. Due to our extensive network of local connections, we know where to find deals. We know which supermarket is cheapest, which stores offer the best sales, and where to find the hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars with the tastiest food at the lowest prices. Planning your next trip with Jurnee gives you access to that knowledge.
These websites have changed the travel game and made travel more accessible for everyone.
Here are some of my favorite websites:
Jurnee (Custom travel itineraries, Group Travel, Medical Tourism, Travel Guides)
2. Cook Your Own Meals
The best way to save money on the road is to cook your own meals. I recently spent $70 USD for a week’s worth of groceries in New York instead of an average of $35 USD per meal eating out! That’s a saving of $250 USD! If you are Couchsurfing, your host will probably have a kitchen, as do many hostels, campsites, and guesthouses. No kitchen? Pack your own container and silverware and make some sandwiches and salads on the go. Not every meal requires a stove, right?
Just because you are traveling, it doesn’t mean you need to eat out every meal. You won’t ruin your trip to Paris if you decide not to eat out one or two day! There’s simply no reason to be spending excessive amounts of money on food on your trip!
3. Teach English Overseas
One of the best ways to make money for travel is to teach English overseas. You can make a lot of money teaching — I have had friends leave Thailand and South Korea with tens of thousands of dollars in the bank. All you need is the ability to speak English fluently and maybe a TEFL degree, depending on the country you work in. The world is yearning for teachers, and this is a job in high demand; many companies in Asia will even pay for your flight over.
Additionally, there are many websites and services out there that allow you to teach virtually. As long as you have a great wi-fi connection, you can help people learn English from anywhere in the world!
4. Use Student and Other Discount Cards
Are you a student, teacher, or under 26? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a plethora of discounts. Get a student/teacher/youth card and save big! Even if you’ve recently graduated, chances are you can still get by with your expired ID card (as long as it doesn’t have an expiry date). Always ask if there are discounts available for students or youth as this is an easy way to save tons of cash as you travel around!
5. Travel Hack and Get Free Flights!
I hate when people tell me they can’t afford to fly. There are so many ways to earn free flights these days. Sign up for a few travel credit cards, collect miles, and then fly for free. Most cards offer sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points — and if you sign up for both an airline card (e.g., a United Airlines card) and a general rewards card like the Chase Sapphire or AMEX card, you can combine the two point balances and get a cheap flight faster.
By collecting points and miles through credit card bonuses, smart everyday spending, online surveys, bonuses, and other methods, you’ll accrue a ton of miles even before you’ve left for your trip. You can go a lot further in the world when you take away the cost of flights and some accommodation.
6. Take Free Walking Tours
Want to learn about the city, get your bearings, and see the major sights? Take a free walking tour. You can find them in 90% of the major cities in Europe, and there are also a few in large Asian cities, South America, New York, Australia, and New Zealand. To find these tours, ask the local tourist office, your accommodation staff, or Google “free walking tour (city name).” Just be sure to tip at the end!
7. House sitting
Can’t afford your vacation? Watch someone’s house while they go on theirs! You can sign up for one of the sites below and watch people’s homes (and often their pets) for free, allowing you to stay in one destination for a while without having to pay for accommodation. Everyone’s account is verified so you know you won’t get cheated. This is a great platform for long-term travel with an important added bonus: you get a kitchen to cook your food (which saves you even more money!).
Here are the best house-sitting websites to check out:
8. Use your social network
Does your colleague have a relative in Spain? Or maybe you have a distant cousin who lives in New Zealand. Or maybe a childhood friend of yours is working down in Brazil. These days, we have a vast social network of friends and family that stretches across the globe. Don’t hesitate to use that! Ask your co-workers and friends if they know anyone where you’re going. Get your mom to ask her co-workers and friends, too!
Not only is this an opportunity to find free accommodation but you’ll get to interact with a local and pick their brain about the destination, giving you a more in-depth experience. Then, once you start traveling and meeting people you’ll have your own network of friends across the globe who can help you as you travel onward. Of course, you’ll want to re-pay the favors as you go, but this is a great way to build closer relationships while saving you some more.
9. Get Rail Passes
Rail passes (like Eurail) are a great way to save money when it comes to train travel. If you’re traveling around the region for a while, rail passes will likely be much cheaper than just booking individual trips. If you are booking individual trips, booking ahead of time can usually save you about 50% of the cost of a train ticket. However, that fixes you to a set timeline. If you don’t want to be tied into a fixed schedule, rail passes can save you a lot of money while giving you the flexibility you need. I’ve saved loads of dollars in Europe doing this!
With a little creativity, sacrifice, patience, and practice, you can travel the world for free (or at least very cheap). It’s possible if you follow these travel tips!