How to travel for free… (or cheap)

 

Here I am in my apartment in Montreal, sitting on my big-fat couch, just started writing again, after a whole month.

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On the previous post about Traveling in Asia, I promised that I will make a post about travelling with less money, or even for free. I always try to keep my promises  😉  In the next lines, I will demonstrate a complete guide, on how to minimize your trip’s cost when you’re traveling, with information, tips and facts. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy or pleasant and this way of travel, definitely doesn’t fit to everyone. But if you’re on a low budget, with a strong will to travel the world and not just “saying that you want”, then I can guarantee that it’s worth all the efforts. So here we go!

The most important thing, is that you have to understand this simple equation – Time Vs Money. It means that the more time you have, the less money you need to spend and vice versa. i will try to explain that in detail, through an example.

In order for you to arrive at your next destination as you travel, you have 2 options. A very slow train, that needs one day to take you there and an expensive flight that will only last two hours. Let’s suppose that the train costs 40$ and the flight 400$. You need to work(on minimum wage) for 4 hours to make the money for the train, while you need to work for 40 hours to make the money for the flight. Now, if you add the time that you need to work for it, plus the time of the travel itself, then you need (24+4)28 hours for the train and (40+2)42 hours for the flight. As it appears, the flight wasn’t so “short” after all  😉  I know that, it may sound a bit complicated…

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You don’t need to understand the math though. Just the simple fact that by picking the train, you do not only save money, but more importantly you save time. You can stay more time on the road with this mindset and you can work for less time, before your next travel. Your time is the most valuable asset. Treat it with the proper respect.

The next thing you need to know, are the major expenses that every traveler has. They are divided into 3 categories. If you minimize them as much as you can, then you can travel for really cheap and even for free…! Let’s see them one by one and how you can do it.

The first one of those, is transportation.

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As you can see here

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Transportation was my biggest expense while i was traveling throughout Asia, but still it’s not that expensive if you consider that i had 4 flights, more than 50 buses, more than 10 trains 5 taxis, 3 boats and metro inside the cities.

So in order to minimize transportation costs, first you have to fly as less as possible. Flights are very expensive, bad for the environment, bad for your health and you miss all these wonderful places in between. But if you really need to fly at some point, I found out that momondo.com and skyscanner.com are the best, most reliable and cheapest flight websites. They both have android and IOS apps, that you can download on your mobile as well. You can find better deals if you’re searching for a flight on a Tuesday, late at night. Midweek flights are always cheaper than weekend flights. Try also to avoid flying on major holidays like Christmas, Easter or local ones, as the prices are higher.

Apart from flights, there are other means of transportation that won’t get you bankrupt… Like the train and the bus. Search for the ones that local people are using, cause they are always your cheapest option. Try to avoid fancy, VIP, comfortable, A/C or whatever else will make the price higher. Just a simple ticket will do the job just fine, to get you to your next destination. Sometimes it can be like that

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but those are the experiences that will stay with you forever!

And if you want to go for free, then you can definitely hitchhike everywhere. You can go on hitchwiki.org and check about hitchhiking in every single country in the world. There are tons of information, that you can use in this website, so that you can get free rides easier and safer. General tips about hitchhiking are : Try to look descent – Always make eye contact with the driver – Hold a carton paper, with your destination written on it – Do not hitchhike at night – Pick a nice spot outside of the city – Never hitchhike at night – Smile  😀  – Raise this thumb of yours, high up in the air!

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Sometimes you will have to wait more, but in the end the right ride will always come for you. Seriously  😉

The next big expense is accommodation. A general rule to begin with, is to stay away from big, luxurious, fancy hotels. They will only rip your wallet, you will not meet interesting people and there is no adventure to it… Your next option is airbnb, that you can stay in real people’s houses and of course you have to pay for it. In my opinion, it’s very expensive as well. Instead search for affordable hostels or guesthouses. In my experience, every hostel is different, with unique features. Another cool aspect, is that in hostels you get to meet the most interesting people, that they’re mostly travelers but even the staff, most of the times are very interesting. You will also find lots of information about the place you’re into and for other places around, or places that others have visited. Hostels are really cool and anything can happen! Be prepared to sleep in 8 bed dormitories, with smelly socks and people snoring though…

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Now let’s see the free edition for accommodation. The best way to stay in a place for free, get into the culture and go to underground/hidden places that tourists never go, is through couchsurfing.com. For the people who don’t know, couchsurfing is a website that millions of people all around the world are offering free hospitality to others in their house. You have to create a profile and then you can start using it for free as well. As you host or being hosted, you give and collect references from others. The more positive references you have, the more are your chances of people to host you in their house. Have in mind, that it’s not a hotel that you just go there to sleep. Try to be kind, respectful, wash some dishes, share your stories, laugh, cook and spend some time with your hosts. That’s why they’re hosting you in the first place. If you are a good guest, you will be well rewarded, as they will make your stay in their city/town/village/countryside an unforgettable experience! You will learn their culture firsthand, see places that you wouldn’t see otherwise and you will meet people that they will be your friends forever. Couchsurfing is free, safe and awesome  😀

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If you want to stay in a place for longer periods of time, mostly outside of big cities, then you can use workaway.info, helpx.net and wwoof.net. Through these platforms, you can stay in organic farms, communities and other places for free in exchange for some work in the fields, or wherever it’s necessary. 

If you want to stay for longer into cities, then you can volunteer into hostels or guesthouses, in exchange for food and accommodation for free. You will not get paid in any of these situations, but you will have no expenses as well. Expect to work 3 to 5 days per week, for 4 to 6 hours. It’s different than “normal work” though and you’re doing it more happily!

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The last way for free accommodation, is the million star hotel! And by that I mean camping. You will need a tent, or just a sleeping bag if you want to go hardcore. In my case, I always carry my tent, sleeping bag and a yoga mattress to sleep on. Your tent will always be your last measure, if you can’t find anywhere else to sleep, or if you just want to sleep in nature, without too many people around you. The most important thing when you’re camping, is the place that you will decide to pitch your tent. You must select it wisely, depending on the circumstances around you. There are lots of factors to have in mind when you do that, depending on your experience. So if you aren’t that experienced, just ask the people around where can you camp.

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The last big expense when you’re traveling, is your food. If you choose to eat in fancy restaurants, it’s guaranteed that you will kill your budget… Again, try to eat where the local people are eating. If you see a place full with local people, that means 3 things. First it’s cheap, second it’s safe and third it’s good. So go for it!

The best and more efficient way though, is buying from the super-market or local stores and cook your own food. It can’t get any cheaper and it’s healthier, regardless the country you’re into. You can carry a gas stove with you so that you can cook everywhere, or you can make one by yourself like this.

It is possible to eat for free, but lots of times this can be tricky and you have to expect that some days you will not eat at all… The way to do it, is by going to restaurants and ask either for free meals or leftovers and you can feed yourself with that. I met these 2 guys on the road who were doing it.

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They started from Spain on foot, heading to India, with zero money in their pockets. They were walking 30 km every day, with their heavy backpacks on their shoulders… Truly hardcore stuff!

Or you can do dumpster diving. This means that you must go outside of food stores and you must actually dive into the garbage bin, in order to find your food. Check this video to learn how to do it.

I have never done dumpster diving, i don’t intend to and I do not suggest it. The reason is that I want to have a choice on what I would eat every day. But there are lots of people out there doing it and I’m experiecesaying that it’s an option.

All these tips and tricks are very general and shouldn’t be treated as the Holy Bible… They are just a guide, to help you go through. As you move on, you will understand more about them and you will be able to distinguish how you should act in any case, or how to combine all these techniques to your benefit! Just remember, that you can never learn everything… A new lesson awaits for you every day. 

More or less, that’s all you need to know. So here you are, with a complete guide on how to travel for cheap or even for free! Now you have no excuses for not starting this epic journey of yours  🙂  

Before i close this, I would like to say that sometimes it won’t be easy, won’t be comfortable and expect to use lots of effort in order to make these things reality. Yes, it’s difficult to find couchsurfers in specific places, or find a place that you can actually pitch your tent, or you have to wait for more than 2 hours for a free ride, or you will have to bargain for the price of your food. Yes, all these things WILL happen, with even more hilarious stuff as you go on… When you are into these situations, you’ll feel uncomfortable but when you get out of them, you will be wiser and a better human being in general. It’s not only cheaper, but also mind blowing, life changing and an opportunity for everyone to evolve and improve himself/herself. 

Now get your ass out there and dance  😛  

  

 

To Be Continued…