If all those Instagram travel photos are making you want to leave your living room and hop on a plane, but your bank account doesn’t look very promising, there’s good news. There are ways you can travel for free.
The main trick to make it work is to be creative and social.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how to travel for free.
It’s no secret that you can use your credit card to accumulate miles, but you have to use the right cards and apply for multiple ones. This isn’t really free like winning the lottery, but you can turn your day-to-day spending into rewards in the forms of flights.
Depending on where you want to go, you can apply for the frequent flyer program of that specific airline that serves the route you’re interested in. They mostly use co-branded credit cards and many of them have a sign-up bonus. A nice trick is that every so often you can cancel your card and sign up again, every time being eligible for the sign-up bonus.
Keep in mind that in order to use those initial bonus points you’ll have to spend a minimum amount using that card. You must read all you can about a card before applying for it, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to join a Facebook group related to tips and tricks for frequent fliers, where the members help and advise each other.
Jobs that pay to travel
1. Teach English Abroad
Many cheap countries all over the world look for native or bilingual English speakers to teach in schools, organizations, even households. Not all of these programs cover your flights, but if you scored a free flight with your miles and you’re not in a rush to get back, you might as well look for a similar job. Some of them even pay for your accommodations aside from the salary.
2. House/Pet Sitting
People all over the world are looking for pet sitters, house sitters, or both so that they can go on vacation themselves. Many of them will pay you to do it while providing free accommodations. Of course, you’re expected to maintain the home, clean it, and take good care of the animals, but you get to cook your own food in a nice kitchen, sleep in a real bed and explore a new city and culture.
There are websites and apps just for this, such as Trusted Housesitters and Mind My House. Their goal is to match travelers with homeowners in need of services. Home Exchange is another website good for when you’re looking for free accommodations, as they match homeowners who are looking for vacations in your city.
If you find yourself in a foreign country and want to visit different areas, many locals are willing to help out by giving you a ride. Don’t worry, the thumbs-up works in every country across the Globe. If you want to learn the hitchhiking regulations for a specific country, visit Hitchwiki.
4. Work on an organic farm
WWOOF is a program that promotes organic farming, volunteering, and cultural exchange all over the world. If you love the outdoors, love farm animals and have a green thumb, or want to learn how farming works, join the program and find the right hosts for you. Among the places you can visit as part of this program are Japan, Korea, Philippines, Norway, Chile, South Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and many others.
You will get to work, but also enjoy real organic meals, receive accommodations, and you also get to live like a local, which is the best way of experiencing a different culture. However, you would have to pay for the plane ticket.
5. Get paid to travel abroad
There’s no better way to earn money and travel for free than working on a cruise ship. Most contracts are lengthy, and they might require you to work for 9-12 months straight, but depending on what you do, the salary varies between $2000 and $8000 a month.
As a crew member, you’ll have access to public amenities and private ones for staff only. If you’re married, you can request to work with your spouse on the same ship, even receive accommodations together.
However, working on a cruise ship is not exactly a vacation, as you’re expected to work long hours, but you do get to travel for free.
6. Be a travel influencer
Everyone loves to hate influencers, but if your passion is traveling, one of the best ways to travel for free is by sharing your experiences with the world. This takes hard work, but as you accumulate knowledge and experience, you’ll start to earn money from it.
The world of influencers works by promoting products and services in exchange for money and various trips. Don’t expect it to happen right away. First, you must earn a reputation and catch the eyes of the right people. Never ask for free vacations, but wait for them to be offered to you.
7. Heritage Programs
Americans that are descended from certain cultures, such as Greek, Armenian, Hungarian, or Chinese can join a heritage program that will allow them to live for a period of time in their country of origin, learn the culture and language and reconnect to their roots.
Some of them include internships and volunteering, field trips to various locations, and language courses, as well as the chance to live with a local family that will teach you how day to day life is in their country.
Nothing can be completely free from start to finish. Unless you use your travel points and then use a combination of most of these tricks and slowly travel from place to place.
Working for something and exchanging services however is better than spending real money and traveling for free it’s indeed doable with creativity even though your wallet is mostly empty.
Looking for more ways to save money while traveling? Check out my resource articles for other tricks I use when I travel.