VACATION IDEAS

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.

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Swap houses

Anyone who has seen the movie The Holiday, a delightful chick flick that features Kate Winslet swapping her cozy English cottage for Cameron Diaz's Hollywood mansion (and leading to respective love affairs with Jude Law and Jack Black) has probably had this idea on the brain ever since. According to an article by USA Today, home swapping is becoming more and more popular thanks to websites like Knok, Love Home Swap, Intervac, HomeLink, and HomeExchange, all of which allow you to create an account, browse open houses and apartments in whatever destination you're interested in visiting, and connect you with potential home swappers. And you don't have to be a homeowner to participate either. Renters are welcome, and some people even go as far as swapping their places of residence and cars, but the important thing is to set limits if necessary and keep the lines of communication open, as you will be honored guests in each other's homes for the length of your stay.

How to get started: You will have to subscribe for the service, and prices vary depending on the website and however many months you'd like to use it—a full year on HomeExchange, for instance, will cost you $9.95 a month, while an annual subscription to Intervac costs $99.

Volunteer Abroad

Donating your time to a noble cause, whether it's taking care of children at a local orphanage or helping to improve the environment, can be a great way to see the world for less, if not for free. Really do your homework on this one, folks, as there are literally thousands of opportunities and companies to choose from and all the important details, like where you'll stay and how long you'll be there for, vary. Look for free or low-cost volunteer companies that offer an experience you're interested in—you will most likely need to pay for yourself to get to and from your post, and some companies may require you to pay for your accommodations while others may offer to have you stay with a local family while you work.

How to get started: Search for voluteer opportunities on websites like idealist.org and workaway.info, or in Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others, available on Amazon from $13 or on Kindle from $9.99.Every travel guide by Go! Girl Guides lists opportunities to choose from, offering listings for Thailand, Argentina, and Mexico, respectively. VolunteerSouthAmerica.net is also a great resource for free and low cost volunteer options, with their enormous list broken down into two main categories: programs that are free to participate in, and affordable options where you live in and pay for your own accommodations.

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Work at a summer camp in a different state or country

What better way to explore a new place than to spend a season working with children at summer camp, then taking the money you earned and using it to travel? A friend of mine from Australia did exactly that, working a stint at a summer camp in Maine for three months before using her earnings to fund a cross-country U.S. road trip. If you have any experience with children or specialize in a certain sport or skill (like photography), the options are endless and you'll make anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 for a few months of your time and energy, easy money to fund that long-awaited vacation. Working with kids is usually a great addition to any resumé, plus, if you play your cards right, you can work for a camp abroad or at least in another state to keep things interesting during your time off.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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