Last Updated 04/01/2022.
How to travel for free? Travel doesn’t have to be expensive and it is possible to travel for free, or partially free. This post is on how to travel the world for free, in many ways! We all know the old mantra, travel is cheaper than staying at home, and it’s absolutely true, but who doesn’t want to minimise travel expenses to get maximum mileage from their dollar? We’ve been doing just that for years, supporting our travels on very little cash. These days there are many ways to travel the world for free or at least ultra-cheap. We give you several ideas and opportunities on how to travel the world for free in this post. Some you’ll know about, some you won’t. Let’s take a look tips, tricks, companies and hacks, working your way around the world, and more, for free, cheap, or super budget.
Free here means, cash-free, of course, you’re likely going to have to exchange something for your free travel and that usually means time, expertise, or work. You also need travel insurance, never skip that.
Travel The World for Free
You can travel the world for free by getting smart. It’s not easy, or everyone would do it, but if you know these tips or are prepared to work or exchange time for free travel, it can be done. The companies below give us opportunities to travel for free or super cheap. They may not make your whole travel experience free, but parts of it can be free. Employ tricks like Couchsurfing, volunteering, crewing, cleaning, farm work, hosting, and you can make a large part of your world travel free, or very cheap.
We made a little video to give you some ideas on how to travel for free. Watch it, then have a look at the ideas below.
Free Travel Video
Just save this post to Pinterest for your future reference. Please double check all information for yourself, particularly visa regulations. We try to keep this page up to date but things change constantly.
Work For Your Bed and Board, Maybe Even Get Paid. Work Your Way Around the World
There are many ways to work your way around the world, some old, some new. Helpex and Workaway are established companies that have been around a long time and are trusted by many. The Working Traveller website stands out as being a genius idea but has cumbersome sign-ups. Some, most, have sign up fees.
Various websites exist to allow you to work as you travel. Check out Workaway, Helpx, CultureGoGo and Working Traveller. The links are on our resources page.
The Working Traveller website maps hundreds if not thousands of employment opportunities around the world. Good workers will gain a good reputation on the site and will build up an online resumé to impress future employers. These future employers can either be through the site or in the real world.
This model could help you get a better job when your travels come to an end. Obviously you need to check working visa requirements for yourself.
I’m hoping my own kids will use this to get valuable work experience and, guess what, we, a family, even got a one-week placement at a hotel in Romania many years ago. Admittedly, we know the owner of this site, just for full transparency.
Where to look: Workingtraveller., similar such as Workaway, also Culturegogo and Helpx. Other sites may exist.
Travel the World For Free With Couchsurfing
Joining Couchsurfers gives you access to a global network of people, happy to open their homes to you for a night or two, just because they’re nice and like to chat.
What goes around comes around, of course, members maybe do better if they also have a couch or spare room to offer and can build up a strong profile, but it works on good reviews of hosts and Couchsurfers.
Couchsurfers could cook dinner of help around the house or garden to say thanks. We take in Couchsurfers whenever we can. I feel like we have enough money to allow young backpackers to take a shower or wash their clothes at our place.
We’ve met some wonderful people this way and sharing makes the world a nicer place. I love this platform and they don’t pay me 1 cent to say that. Where to look: Couchsurfing.com
Become a House Sitter and Have a Home, for Free
When homeowners go away, they sometimes like to have somebody move in to look after their dog, cat, goldfish and garden, or maybe just be there to keep an eye on everything and be a deterrent for thieves.
These gigs are sweet if free accommodation is at the top of your list of travel priorities.
Finding a house sit can take a lot of effort, the market is highly competitive and professional house sitters with a string of references get first dibs.
Improve your chances of scoring a house sit by producing a slick video introducing yourselves to prospective homeowners and loading it onto the house sitting website.
Where to look: housecarers, also mindmyhouse.com, housesitworld.com.au, happyhousesitters.com.au, trusted housesitters or aussiehousesitters.com.au. We’ve also scored house sits through word of mouth.
If You Have a Home, House Swap.
Agencies exist to bring homeowners together for mutual benefit through house swapping. You normally have to pay a fee for annual membership of the house swapping site, but after that expense, you could stay in somebody else’s home, for an agreed period, for free.
This obviously works best if your home is in a desirable vacation spot or big city and you will normally have to book your stay well in advance. It’s unusual to find last-minute house swapping opportunities.
Where to look: Home Exchange (this is the site we will be using for our Romania house), homexchangevacation.com, People Like Us also homebase-hols.com
If working outdoors, on the land, is your thing, the World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms offer opportunities for volunteers to help out in exchange for room and board.
Where to look: Visit wwoof.org. to find contact details of the WWOOF office in your destination country. You needed to register and pay a small fee before accessing lists of member farms.
Fly for Free
Budget airlines have been known to offer flights for $0. OK, you will usually still have to pay taxes, but it’s a sweet deal.
The trick here is to receive notification of upcoming airline sales and be ready to pounce on a bargain the moment the sale goes live. These offers sell out fast.
Where to look: Sign up with the budget airlines relevant to your area of travel, Air Asia have amazing sales, but you could also try ryanair.com, easyjet.com or flymonarch.com, virginaustralia.com (watch for happy hour rates) and jetstar.com. Email notifications of sales and special offers put you in a good position to score the best deals.
Ski for Free
Seasonal jobs in ski resorts give you easy access to the slopes on your days off. Apply early, places fill up fast.
Where to look: Adventure Work or NZSki.com
Teach English Abroad
You don’t have to go the whole hog and get a TEFL qualification, sometimes you can just be a live-in conversational language improver.
If you are TEFL certified (a course to become an English Second Language instructor, no teaching experience needed), you can receive a salary proportional to the cost of living in your placement country.
The Middle East and Far East pays particularly well according to friends of ours who do this. Sometimes free accommodation comes with the job.
Alternatively, fluent English speakers can receive free room and board during a period of conversational volunteering. Diverbo (see below) accepted English-speaking volunteers for their sites in Germany and Spain and provided some volunteers with full room, board, and transport.
Where to look: Diverbo. Read up on what it’s like to teach English as a foreign language here, young couple Andrew and Amy spent the last year teaching in Vietnam. Or check out Let’s TEFL for TEFL courses.
Take To The Seas For Free
If you’ve got your sea-legs, opportunities exist to crew on yachts or cruise ships. What an amazing way to see the world for free! You’ll have to work hard but plenty of job opportunities exist for chefs, entertainers, cleaners, and more.
Where to look: For cruise ship opportunities, go direct to the cruise line’s website, try carnival.com or royalcaribbean.com. To find crew posts on yachts try Crewseekers International, there was a joining fee, or crewseekers.net. Find a Crew is another site to try. Sailing skills are not always required. Skippers sometimes just need company, an extra pair of hands, someone to take turns on watch, and so on. Alternatively, head down to the port, find the yachties and ask around.
In some parts of the world hitchhiking is common, normal and considered safe. For example in Romania locals in rural areas regularly hitch a ride and offer the driver a little petrol money.
Stay safe, use your common sense and trust your gut instinct. I regularly picked up hitchhikers back in Australia, often because I was worried for their safety.
Where to look: Check out Hitchwiki to find general rules of hitchhiking in each country.
Vehicle Returns and Relocations
Certain vehicle rental companies need cars, motor homes and camper vans moving to particular depots. This can be seasonal with specific destinations having a higher demand for vehicles at certain times of year.
This is rather like how relocation cruises work. Alternatively, the vehicle will have to be returned after a previous customer’s lease. You can often score these vehicles along with a fuel allowance from companies like those we mention below.
The catch is usually your time allowance. Unfortunately, you will have limited drive time to get your new home to its destination.
Where to look: transfercar and imoova are 2 examples of vehicle relocation companies.
Food for Free
Dumpster diving and Freeganism are two of the buzz words here. I’ve seen city workers in suits picking up sandwiches, usually well wrapped, from the supermarket bins here in London.
So much food is wasted because it’s 5 minutes past its sell-by date and it’s a terrible shame.
Another alternative is gleaning. See the Falling Fruit website, below for information on trees in public places currently producing food.
The Food is Free movement is also taking off around the world. As people return to gardening and growing their own food they are gladly sharing their abundance with neighbours. It’s good for the planet and good for us.
Where to look: Read more about Freeganism at Jamie’s site, Great Big Scary World, or check out this website for free food opportunities in your area. For the Falling Fruit world map, look at the Falling Fruit website. Is free travel starting to sound possible?
Camp For Free
Free camping is possible in some countries and locations, it’s illegal in others. If you have a self-contained camping set-up, ie. you can deal with your own waste and not pollute the environment, you’re more likely to find a spot.
If you’d like to camp but cheaper than the big sites, try HipCamp. For free camping information look at Wikicamp.
Become a Travel Blogger
Most of the ideas above involve exchanging work for travel, so it’s never totally free, there is a trade of services. Travel bloggers and influencers do the same.
I am a travel blogger but we rarely take “free” or sponsored stays. Some bloggers and influencers do a lot of “free” travel.
If you want to find out more just visit our blogging section. But remember, it only looks free to outsiders, we work very hard at what we do.
If you’re still looking for “free” stays your influence maybe isn’t great enough to be of use to the business hosting you. By the time you’re earning good money through travel blogging, you’ll likely prefer to pay your own way or be paid well to visit these places.
Can you travel for free?
In all honesty, none of these methods of travelling the world for free are truly free. Whichever way you choose there must always be some sort of exchange of work, time, company, or swapping something you already own. However, many of these methods and companies will help you travel at a very budget level and have some incredible experiences along the way. This is a very smart way to travel and it’s often far more eco-friendly than mass tourism and fancy hotel stays. We hope you find your way to travel the world spending the minimum cash and don’t let anyone ever call you a freeloader. They’ll simply be jealous that you’re clever enough to figure life and travel out.