How To Travel The World For Free
You'll be amazed at these smart, effective ways to cut travel costs you thought were unavoidable—whether you're planning to WWOOF your way around the world or embrace the brave new world of travel hacking.
Crash on someone's couch
Websites like GlobalFreeloaders.com and Couchsurfing.org aim to bring together like-minded travel-worshippers and promote a more authentic, cultural exchange between them. The other perk of course is that free accommodations are more than likely part of the equation, with hosts offering an extra bed, couch, futon, or other temporary place to crash while you're visiting a new city. Participants get in contact with each other and can interact as much or as little as they want: if you'd rather just meet a host for coffee or lunch, that's fine. If you decide to host someone in your home (or are hosted at someone else's home) and want to cook for each other, even better. The whole point is to leave your comfort zone behind and get to know someone new from a different environment than your own, so take this free opportunity to make a new friend and embrace a new culture.
How to get started: Both sites require you to create a free profile—GlobalFreeloaders only lets you do so if you're able to host someone in your own home within six months of signing up, as there are two sides to this travel coin, visiting and hosting. Couchsurfing, however, is more flexible and gives you the option to create an account so you can participate, and lets you list "Not Right Now (but I can still hang out)" if you're not ready to host someone in your own home but are still open to the idea of meeting new travelers, whether for a quick drink or to show them around town.
Embrace the art of travel hacking
The idea behind travel hacking is simple: work the system to score enough free rewards points on hotel and airline loyalty programs to earn free accommodations and transportation. Sign up for any credit card that offers ridiculous amounts of miles just for joining, enter contests that give away free miles or points, and basically jump at anything that offers free travel benefits. Keep up with special promotions and always be on the lookout for more point-earning opportunities, whatever they may be. With a little time (okay, more than a little time) and creativity, Matt Kepnes of NomadicMatt.com explains how it's possible to hack anything from airline costs and accommodations, to transportation, restaurants, and even attractions—he even has a new e-book about it, on sale now for $37 through his website with a money-back guarantee if you don't earn enough miles for at least one free flight within six months!
How to get started: Register to receive emails from The Points Guy, a website founded by road warrior Brian Kelly that is dedicated to tracking and sharing the best ways to make the most of your travel rewards points. Either purchase the book mentioned above or sign up with the Travel Hacking Cartel to learn more about this gutsy new travel frontier. (Try a $1 14-day trial subscription to the Travel Hacking Cartel, or opt for more in depth packages starting at $15 a month).
Teach English in a foreign country
This has always been a really popular way to see the world and make a little money in the process—several of my college friends actually went on to teach English in Japan, China, South Korea, and in one case, Romania. While you will receive a steady paycheck and a place to stay, it's important to remember that you will basically be expected to work the equivalent of a full-time job, teaching students of varying ages the art of the English language at least five days a week with a full level of excitement and enthusiasm. Prepare to be exhausted, yet fulfilled, if teaching is your passion, and try to do a little exploring on weekends and holidays when you and your class have some free time. Or better yet, try to save up a little money for day trips or other regional travel from your new location if you can.
How to get started: First, you'll need to work on getting TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification—basically you pay for and take a course online or in person (options vary), and learn everything you'll need to get started in your new classroom. Once you're certified, decide which country you want to live and work in and how long you're willing to sign a contract for. CIEE Teach Abroad offers options for teaching assignments in Chile, China, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic. Apply through programs like JourneyEast.org for teaching opportunities in China, The Jet Programme or AEON for options in Japan, or search for teaching job openings around the world via ESLcafe.com.