10 Tips for Traveling the World When You Have No Money
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So you want to travel the world, but you’re broke AF. Luckily, the force of your wanderlust is stronger than the emptiness of your bank account.
To grow your travel fund fast, you need strategies to earn more and spend less. Here are 10 effective ways to do both.
“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” ― Oscar Wilde
Earn more money so you can travel the world
When it comes to budgeting, there’s one simple golden rule: Spend less than you earn. If you spend more than you earn, you’ll end up in debt. If you spend less than you earn, you’ll have money left to buy a plane ticket to Buenos Aires.
To save money for travel, you can tip the balance by making more, spending less, or both. One of these approaches alone will be good for your finances. But if you accomplish both, you’ll be well on your way to crossing off every destination on your travel wish list.
Let’s start with some tips for making money as you travel the world.
1. Get one or more online jobs
Working online allows you to make money and travel long-term. There are more opportunities than ever to work online, and you can find a remote job in just about any field.
Check out this guide to making money online for ideas, as well as this list of digital nomad jobs. If you’d like the security of a steady job, look for openings from these 26 fully remote companies, and peruse these job boards that feature location-independent work.
The only drawback with this approach is you might not be able to live long-term in one place, since visas run out eventually. But you can stay for up to 90 days in several countries, and sometimes extending your stay is as simple as a border run to a neighboring country.
Plus, Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia offer a one-year visa to qualifying young people who want to live and work in their countries.
2. Earn money from your English language skills
Teaching English abroad is another great way to earn money while traveling the world. Not only will you get to experience a new culture and way of life, but you’ll also have time to explore your surroundings on the weekends and time off.
When I taught English in Seville for a year, I traveled all around Europe and visited Morocco twice. Along with exploring Spain, I also visited Portugal, Ireland, England, Belgium, and more. The salary wasn’t huge by any means, but I lived with roommates and kept expenses down.
If you don’t have teaching experience, you could start as a teacher or classroom assistant through a government program that hires English speakers. Some of these programs are especially well-suited to frequent travel, since they only require part-time work.
Alternatively, you could earn your TEFL and get a full-time position in a private school. Some employers will even provide free accommodation and flights. If you’d rather work remotely, you can give English lessons online through companies such as CafeTalk, Skimatalk, teachlingo, VerbalPlanet, and italki.
Whatever approach you choose, you can earn money while living and traveling internationally.
3. Work for a foreign employer
Teaching English isn’t the only way to make money abroad. You could also work in a different position for a foreign employer. Companies such as Greenheart Travel, Transitions Abroad, and GoAbroad help Americans find employment and volunteer opportunities abroad.
If you’re particularly adventurous, you could show up in your destination and look for a job in-person. You might end up as a bartender or restaurant server or lead tours for tourists. Become an au pair for a family or work the desk at a hostel. Get dive-certified and teach courses in Australia or Thailand, or head to resorts to teach skiing lessons.
As mentioned above, Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia make it easy for young people from certain countries to get a work visa for a year. Note that some visas say you can’t stay in the same place for more than six months — but if your feet are itching to travel, that condition won’t be a problem!
4. Turn your skills or talents into income
If you’ve got a particular skill or area of expertise, you could turn that strength into extra money. As described above, expert skiiers or certified divers might look for seasonal work to teach others.
You could also give private lessons, whether teaching people how to play guitar or dance the tango. Maybe you speak another language and can offer translation services, or perhaps you’re willing to pick up odd jobs through a site like TaskRabbit or GumTree.
If you’re drawn to online work, you could also set up your own website to advertise your services. You could offer marketing, SEO, or business consulting, for example. Or create a blog and use ads and affiliate marketing to make money.
Everyone has their own interests and skills, so think about what you could bring to the table that people might pay for.
5. Sublet or Airbnb your apartment while you’re away
Whether you own property or don’t want to give up your apartment lease, find a sublettor or tenant to stay in your home while you’re away. A sublettor can cover rent and utilities so you don’t have to shell out money for those expenses.
And if you rent your place out on Airbnb, you could earn a good amount of money from your home. Of course, you might have a landlord or homeowner’s association that doesn’t allow you to rent via Airbnb, so make sure to check so you don’t get kicked out of your place.
If you have a dedicated parking space or a car, you could also earn passive income from those assets while you’re away. The Spot app lets you rent out your parking space, and Turo makes it easy to list your car.
Consider what assets you’re leaving behind, since they might offer another opportunity to make some passive income.
How to travel cheaply: 5 tips for spending less
There’s a tricky force that tries to sneak in and take over when you start earning more money: lifestyle inflation. You’re making more, so you start spending more. Then you wonder why you’re still broke, even though you’re making twice the income you were the last time you were sitting around thinking about how broke you were.
To prevent lifestyle inflation from undermining your travel goals, be as intentional about your spending as you were about boosting your income. Set a budget, and stick to it. Here are five ways to save lots of money while exploring the globe.
1. Stay for free by WWOOFing, house-sitting, or couch-surfing
One of the priciest expenses you’ll encounter while traveling is accommodation. Hotels can cost hundreds of dollars per night, and it seems like the prices of Airbnbs are increasing by the minute.
But did you know there are lodging options that are 100% free? Couchsurfing.com, for instance, is used by more than 14 million people who share their homes with fellow travelers. You can also use Servas, an international non-profit network, or Global Freeloaders to find free places to stay.
Of course, it’s important to read reviews and make sure you’re comfortable with a situation. You might not get much privacy going this route, or worst case scenario, you could feel unsafe.
Another option is to sign up for a house-sitting site such as Trusted Housesitters or Housesitters America. You could get hired to stay in someone’s house for a week or several months, looking after the home and sometimes some plants or pets.
And if you’re interested in farming, you could travel via the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. This worldwide site connects volunteers with organic farmers and growers. In exchange for your help, the farmer will provide free accommodation.
Finally, hostels are an inexpensive option, though not totally free. If you’re cool with sleeping in a dorm room, you can often find rates of $30 per night or less. Plus, hostels are often well-located in the center of a town or city, and you can meet people and sign up for fun events.
At a certain point, you’ll probably grow out of the hostel experience. But if you’re open to it, staying in a hostel is an easy way to save money on accommodations and make friends as you travel.
2. Use ride shares to get from place to place
If you’ve used Uber Pool, you know ride sharing is an easy way to save money on transportation. There are a number of ride-sharing apps to hook you up with a cheap ride; some will even score you rides for free.
Couchsurfing, for instance, doesn’t just show you free places to stay, but it can also connect you with someone who’s driving in the direction you want to go. Other ride-sharing platforms to check out include BlaBlaCar, LiftShare, and Rideshare.
Of course, sharing a ride means you won’t always travel a direct route, but will have to deal with some extra, out-of-the-way stops as you go. But hey, traveling’s about the journey, not just the destination, right?
3. Look for free walking tours and other activities
Once you reach your destination, you don’t have to break the bank on expensive activities. Lots of cities offer free walking tours, so you can see incredible landmarks and learn about the history of a place.
You can also search for other free activities to make the most of your time. Some museums and other points of interest offer free admission on certain days of the week.
Once you’ve exhausted your options for free activities, take advantage of discount sites such as Groupon to save more on activities, restaurants, and other experiences.
4. Cook your own food from the market or grocery store
After accommodations and transportation, food can be one of the priciest parts of traveling. But you don’t have to spend much to eat well, particularly if you opt for a market or grocery store over restaurants and get creative with cooking.
Besides, shopping at markets and haggling over prices is an amazing way to experience a place like the locals do. You can load up on delicious fruits, veggies, bread, and cheeses and take them back to whip something up in your kitchen — or enjoy a picnic outside.
Although you might want to splurge every once in a while on a nice restaurant, you don’t have to eat out for every meal of the day, as those costs could add up quickly.
5. Choose an inexpensive destination
When it comes to how to travel cheaply, one foolproof strategy is heading somewhere with low prices. If you’re scraping pennies together to fund your travels, consider heading somewhere where your dollar will go far, like central America or Southeast Asia.
When I was traveling around Thailand and Vietnam, for instance, I only had to work 10 to 20 hours per week to get by. I flew and took trains around the country, ate amazing food, and hung out with elephants, but somehow my bank account balance kept going up. Prices were so low that I didn’t have to budget at all and still saved money without meaning to.
Although you might have to spend extra on a plane ticket to fly halfway across the world, you’ll save big once you arrive. A travel fund that would only last you a few weeks in western Europe could potentially stretch into a few months somewhere with lower prices.
How to travel cheaply, earn more, and fill your passport up with stamps
One major reason people don’t travel more is money. The costs of traveling can certainly add up, but there are lots of ways to adjust your travel plans to your budget.
And if your heart is set on traveling the world, you can make it happen by learning how to travel cheaply and earn more money. Working remotely or for a foreign employer is a great way to earn a steady income while exploring other countries.
At the same time, try your best to save some money into an emergency fund, just in case something unexpected comes along. If you’re looking to take control of your personal finances, check out these seven tips for managing your money on the road.