Thats me, in Montepío, MX, jumping off a waterfall, having the time of my life, after I had taken a horse across two rivers, along the Gulf of Mexico, and through lush farmlands. If you have been to the Tuxtla Zone in Mexico, you would know that such a trip only takes about 1 hour (lol), and that the two rivers I’m speaking of meet the ocean and are about 2 feet deep at that point. But, it was awesome regardless, and my friend and I got to do it for about the equivalent of $7 USD each!!!
I share this story to suggest that even someone who does not have much money can still travel the world; I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to India and Mexico within a two year period and stayed for 3 months at a time.
I have also been fortunate enough to have friends invite me to their home-countries and take care of me while I was there; regardless, there are several money-saving strategies that I have come across for traveling the world that I wish to share in this article.
Tips for Traveling the World on a Budget
Typically, when traveling, there is a concern about housing, transportation expenses, food, and the cost of site-seeing.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may be able to find a hotel, motel, or a house for very cheap. For instance, I stayed on the beach in Mamallapuram, India for $12 a night and split the cost with my friend. I also rented a house in Jalcomulco, MX for $70 a month and split it with my friend.
A good sourse to find cheap hostels is Hostelling International. You can find a free place to stay virtually anywhere in the world on the Couch Surfing website; they have a rating and feedback system to ensure the safety of travelers.
Housing/Food in Exchange for Service
There are a number of places in which you can work or volunteer in exchange for housing and food. The most common is to ask the appropriate office at your university about teaching or volunteering abroad. Another option is to volunteer on an organic farm through WWOOF; most farms will provide organic food and a place to sleep for 20 or so hours of work a week. Helpexchange is another similar resource, although the opportunities are more varied than just organic farms; further, not all hosts provide housing & food, it may be one or the other. WWOOF and HelpX require a minimal deposit to use their site, something like $30, but it gives you access to thousands of hosts. If you would like to learn to meditate,Vipassana meditation centers provide virtually anybody the opportunity to learn a useful meditation technique for 10 days and then volunteer or sit again for extended periods of time. Although I have never done this, there is the option of traveling the world by boat as a crew member; apparently, little to no experience is required. As I have never tried it, I cannot recommend it, but I’m sure its an adventure!
For more conventional, paid positions, Coolworks, Backdoor Jobs, and Beginning Farmers are great resources. There is typically a standard compensation rate and some employers provide food/housing as well. There are really neat jobs near national parks all over the United States!
Zimride is a site in which users can post rides and catch rides with people traveling all over the United States, and perhaps abroad! I am sure that other sites exist for other countries, although I have never used them. For bus travel in the United States, Megabus provides a very affordable option. I got from Chattanooga, TN to Orlando, FL for about $30 a few years back. For flights, Allegiant Airlines is a great resource, and is great for those traveling lightly. Megabus, Allegiant, and I’m sure other similar companies charge little because their seats tend to be cramped and you cannot travel with much luggage; but, there are times when they are not crowded at all, and even so, you get to meet some interesting people, as you have no choice haha!
If you have ever been a student, save your ID! I’ve gotten in free to museums in the U.S. and Mexico for simply having a student ID, I’ve probably saved about $500 doing this. I also was very fortunate to have a job for many years that I could do from a computer; all I needed was internet to submit my work. Further, hitchhiking, although somewhat taboo, can save you a lot of money in traveling. In some areas of Mexico, my friend and I hopped in the back of trucks and sat for many miles, saving many pesos in the process. There are also a number of transportation options depending on the region you are in; for instance, in the Tuxtlas Zone, there was a little shuttle that took people 30+miles for about $3 a person.
Traveling is one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done; although there have been times I have become very ill doing it, in the end, the experience was definitely worth it. I believe its healthy in the sense that you get a whole new perspective on life; you don’t necessarily have to travel 1,000+ miles away from your home to do this, even another state a few hours away can do the trick. I lived in Tampa, FL for some time and even taking a trip through Georgia and Tennessee, seeing different foliage and flowers, raised my spirits and gave me a deeper appreciation for life.
When you are accepting of others, have a lot to share, and listen, the world is yours! Having scant financial resources will not stop you from traveling, but only make you more creative in your approach. I cannot lie and say that I traveled the world without have a penny, but some people have! Give it a shot!
This is not an all inclusive article, I am sure there are 100000 other ways to travel on a budget. In the comments, feel free to add links or suggestions that may help me and others in future travels!
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*Originally posted on my old website which no longer exists, riverbearfitness.com.