Traveling removes you from the daily grind and renews your spirit. You’ll explore new destinations, meet new people, try new foods and even learn things about yourself you never knew. For many though, traveling the world is a pipedream. That’s because travel is so darn expensive… or is it?
To travel for free requires an open mind and open spirit. You’ll need to seize opportunities as they surface and then go with the flow. So, pack your bags and get ready. It’s time to explore the world — for free!
Most people have heard of Airbnb — experiencing foreign cities like locals through local home rentals. Now imagine the same experience, except for free! Just like Airbnb, you’ll stay in a local’s home. But instead of house-renting, you’d be housesitting. Housesitting allows you the opportunity to live in some awesome residential properties that you might normally not be able to afford.
In exchange for free accommodation, homeowners hand over their keys to people willing to take care of their house and maybe pets while they’re away. So, what exactly will your job as housesitter entail? You’ll be expected to keep the house safe from intruders, and keep it tidy and in a good condition until the owner returns. You may also be asked to look after pets and water plants when necessary. Some homeowners may request other tasks as well, such as gardening. But this should all be discussed in advance of your arrival.
There are various sites you can check out that match homeowners with housesitters like housecarers.com. Word of advice: It’s okay to ask for references from anyone else who has house-sat for the homeowner previously. In addition, make sure to always get the homeowners cell number and email address in case anything goes wrong or you need their home/pet-related advice.
Work in the travel industry
Working as a travel agent has its perks. Most travel agents are offered discounts from hotels, vacation resorts, cruise lines and tour companies. Some travel agents are even offered all-expense paid trips to vacation destinations around the world. Also known as familiarization trips, these perks are offered to those in travel careers. Vacation companies want to build relationships with travel agents in hopes that the agents will then promote and recommend their services to clients. If you live and breathe travel, then you may just want to start a career in the travel industry.
Become a travel vlogger
You don’t necessarily need to be a travel agent to vacation for free. Travel vloggers (those who video and blog about their travel adventures) are often wooed by airlines and hotels in hopes of having great written reviews. But it takes a lot of hard work to get to that level. You may want to set aside some decent savings, because you’ll most-likely be funding your own travels in the beginning. Or perhaps you could incorporate some of the other free suggestions to help build your vlog portfolio. Either way, with enough followers and your ability to sell yourself to large corporations you could just make a living at vlogging and vacation for free.
Frequent flyer points
Frequent flyer points may not exactly be a new concept, but it’s surprising how many travel buffs don’t take advantage of racking up travel points. Travel credit cards come in various forms. Some are generic, while others are branded with specific hotel chains or airlines and their affiliates. Regardless, the concept is the same. Each time you swipe your credit card, you rack up rewards points to use towards flights, hotel stays and car rentals.
In fact, if you’re dedicated to vacationing for free, forego paying with cash wherever you can, and pay with plastic instead. Just make sure you’re vigilant about paying your credit card bill on time. Some travel credit cards even have their own shopping portal that allow you to shop and rack up additional rewards.
Car rental return
If you’re looking for a free road trip around North America, then becoming a car courier might be the gig for you. According to The Guardian, drive-a-way companies connect drivers with vehicles that need transporting around the country. They’ll offer a free set of wheels — and sometimes a tank full of gas — in exchange for delivery of a vehicle to a certain location. For the flexible traveler looking for a cheap ride, this may be a good way to explore America and Canada for next to nothing. But to become a car jockey you’ll need to be at least 23 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Foreign travelers to the U.S. may also need a passport with a valid exit visa and a copy of your driver’s record.
Work on a cruise ship
If you don’t mind sleeping in sparse conditions, and of course, working for your keep, then perhaps working on a cruise ship might satisfy your urge to travel the world for free. But make no mistake about it, cruise ships are for paying guests, not the staff. The good news: the food onboard is included in your wage, which means you’ll spend little to nothing if you choose, while traveling from port to port. So, whatever you earn can be tucked away in savings — ready for another adventure.
So, how exactly do you find work on a cruise ship? Just go to a cruise ship website (Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney) and look for the careers link. Then choose shipboard careers rather than corporate positions.
There you have it: six ways to travel for free. Stay safe and stay adventurous!
— Katherine Marko