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5 Musts for Cheap World Travel: See the World for Free (Almost!)

By Edited Oct 22, 2016 0 0

Top Money-Saving Travel Tips (That give you lots of other benefits!):

Once you have realized that cheap round the world travel is easier than you think, you probably want to know how to start!
Here are my top 5 Money-Saving travel tips:
  • Couchsurf [Save $10-$100 a day]
  • Understand Transport [Save thousands on your trip!]
  • Skip the Booze [Save $0 (if you don't drink anyway) to $50 a day]
  • Live and Eat like/with the Locals [Save $5-$50 a day]
  • Travel Light [Save hundreds on your trip]

Couchsurfing:
Couchsurfing(72847)
Credit: http://www.eurotravelblog.co.uk/

 

If you don't know about CouchSurf.org, that's probably why you aren't reading this from a homestead in the australian outback! The ultimate money-saver in Couchsurfing is a website that has become a social movement. Basically, you put up a profile and describe yourself a little bit and list if you are looking for a place to stay or if you can offer a house to stay in. It is entirely free and there is a system for members to request a "couch" which is just as often a bed!  This will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on your low-cost round the world trip! If the prospect of staying with a total stranger (or having a stranger stay with you, remember to give back!) is a bit scary, fear not! The site has a "Reference" system where both host and guest (or surfer, in the lingo) write a reference on each others pages. These references cannot be deleted, so people who are unsuitable are immediately weeded out. Even without this system the vast majority of the members, who hail from round the world almost every country, are overwhelmingly a bunch of nice, interesting, helpful, and educated people.

Extra Benefits:
Part of the CouchSurfing philosophy is that when you find a host, it is not just a free place to stay, but a cultural exchange. When you arrive, your host will most likely tell you the best places to visit, the secret local spots to get cheep food, and share their life with you. You will find yourself discovering things about your destination that you never would have found if you stayed in a hotel, or even in a local hostel. In exchange, you should be willing to talk about your own culture or maybe share some skills. After all, meeting people from around the world can be the best part of traveling!

Understand Transport:
Before I started traveling the world, I had very specific ideas about what different kinds of transport cost. Planes were expensive, trains in the middle and buses were cheep and probably smelly.  Now, in certain places this is very true, however make sure you do your research before you end up overpaying based on this misconception! For example, flights in Europe (particularly if you book in advance) can be a fraction of what you would pay on a train. I recently flew from Italy to Spain for less than $25 dollars! Use discount airlines such as Easyjet.com or Ryanair.com that offer incredibly low cost flights within Europe.  Not only will you save money, but you will save time and have more left over for adventuring all around the world!

The other major thing in understanding transport is researching any discounts or benefits you might be able to receive. For example, Spain has a great bus system with the major carrier being ALSA. If you are under 25 you can sign up for a free card that entitles you to discounts on the tickets up to 55% Many countries round the world have similar bargins. Since often these offers are in the native language, maybe you should ask your CouchSurfing host to help you find the best option!
HitchHiking
Credit: Michał Sacharewicz

 

Hitchhiking is also a great option. While uncommon in the United States, hitchhiking is common in other countries in Europe and around the world. It is often called autostopping, and the signs signaling you need a ride are different (In Israel you point down at the ground) but it will save you bundles and make extra friends in the bargain! Don't be scared, but use your head about who you get in the car with!)

Extra Benefits:
 Sometimes your research will turn up unusual transport options! On occasion it is cheaper to take a wooden ferry across a river than to catch the bus over and around it. Hitchhiking stories will impress your friends and make you new ones! All of this will make for great travel stories and save money on your round the world adventure!

Travel Light:
Travel light
Credit: Hanumann [Flickr]

 

On the subject of transportation, you should remember that you are not just transporting yourself, but all the stuff you have with you. You can save a lot of money (particularly on those discount airlines!) if you can fit all your belongings into one backpack. If you have never taken a trip of this length before it can be intimidating. Just remember, everywhere you go you will be able to wash clothes and buy soap. Take a few sets of clothes and your other essentials and you will be set! You will also save money traveling when hitchhiking. If everything you have is on your back, you are much more likely to get rides than if you have three suitcases!

Extra Benefits:
Not only will you save money on your trip, but you will be able to take advantage of many more spur of the moment opportunities! I can't count the number of times that I have been invited to someone's house for a meal that I wouldn't have been able to accept if I had had lots of extra bags to look after. It will also be easier to protect your stuff from being stolen while traveling. Travel light, Travel cheep, Travel well!

Skip the Booze:
No Booze
Credit: insert_user_name [Flickr]

 

While some will find this easy and other harder, giving up alcohol during your travels is one of the best decisions you can make. Alcohol is quite expensive in some countries (some Scandinavian countries average $7 for a beer!) and a drunken night out can put quite a dent in your wallet. If you are serious about traveling cheep, giving up a few drinks will go a long way!

Extra Bonus:
  In addition to saving money, the time that you would have spent drunk is now open to doing all sorts of other things. Clubs and bars are essentially the same all over the world. Why waste your world traveling adventure doing something you could do back home. Learn about the local dances, parties, traditions and festivals! Whether you take a tango class, learn how to cook indonesian cuisine, go swimming in a waterfall under the stars or simply talk with some local friends, you will have more stories to tell, your trip will be much more memorable, and you will save money!

Live and Eat like/with the Locals:
Eating with Family
Credit: -AX- [flckr]

 

All of this comes back to the fact that if you want to spend a few months traveling the world cheaply, you are going to have to stop thinking like a tourist. Find out what the people around you are doing for fun and try it out! Walk to the beach instead of hiring a cab, who knows who you might meet on the way! Instead of going to a Western style restaurant, eat at the street vender or buy some ingredients you can't pronounce and give it a try yourself! The ultimate experience is getting invited home with a local family. Not only can you get some delicious local food and a place to stay, but you will become immersed in the culture in a much more meaningful way! All of these tips will save you money and make your traveling more fun!
Arch
Credit: koalie [flickr]

 

I hope that these tips inspire you to go on your own life-changing world travels for cheap! If you still need some convincing that this is possible, you shoud check out the Reasons Cheap World Travel is Possible! The more money you save when traveling, the longer you can wander the globe! See you on the road!
PS: If you are in college and want to travel afterwards, you have no excuse not to check out my guide on  how to apply for the Watson Fellowship Travel Grant,  $25,000 to travel and pursue your passion! 
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