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5 Ways to Travel Long Term On the Cheap

Updated on August 5, 2010

What comes to mind when you think of "affordable travel"? Staying in hostels, cooking your own food, traveling by bus?

Envision this lifestyle for 5-6 months and travelling begins to lose its appeal. If money is your primary concern, you won't be sampling the food or soaking up the culture-- you'll be spending most of your time in the hostel, pulling your hair out as you attempt to balance your Excel spreadsheet!

We've been trained to think enjoyable travel is only possible if we have unlimited amounts of cash. However, there are several volunteer/work opportunities available for those searching for an affordable (and enriching) way to travel long-term.

WWOOFing in New Zealand
WWOOFing in New Zealand



WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) organizations exist in almost every country in the world. Each WWOOF organization is independently run, and composed of thousands of farmers who are looking for a free hand to assist in the daily operations of their farm. Daily jobs can involve anything from picking weeds, painting a shed, milking a cow, fruit picking, tending to the chickens, etc. Typically, you'll work 3-5 hours per day in exchange for meals and a bed, and most places are flexible and will allow you to work longer days in exchange for two days off.

WWOOFing allows you to become "one of the family" as you'll spend mealtimes around the dinner table with the host family and chat about the day's events. This also enables you to get an in-depth look at the culture of the particular country you're staying in.

WWOOFing is pretty flexible and the length of your stay depends on the host, but most WOOFer/host arrangements are for at least a week and can last as long as a season.

Cost: Annual fee from $15-$30 per country.


WorkAway is similar to WWOOFing, in the sense that you'll be volunteering in exchange for accommodation and meals. The difference is, WorkAway offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities all over the globe, from teaching English to painting to babysitting.

Cost: 18 Euros for 2 years

Couchsurfing in Australia
Couchsurfing in Australia

3. Couchsurfing


Couchsurfing is a community of passionate people willing to offer their advice (or couch) to travellers passing through their city. It's more than having a free place to stay-- the greatest part of Couchsurfing is finding new friends from across the planet.

If you're leery of sleeping on a stranger's couch, most cities will have CS meet-ups posted on the Couchsurfing website where you can meet an array of "hosts" from that city and forge friendships.

Also, hosting couchsurfers once you're at home is a great way to "travel without traveling".

Cost: $0

4. Teaching English


If you really want to travel slowly and embrace the culture, one of the more lucrative ways to travel and earn a living is to teach English. You'll sign a six month or year long contract with a school, earn a salary, and have the potential to teach private lessons to earn additional income. Some schools will reimburse you for your airfare, and some may provide housing.

Currently, the best paying countries are South Korea and Japan. It is beneficial to have a TESL (Teaching English as a Secong Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) degree, which can run anywhere from $800-$1500 USD. However, some countries are desperate for native English speakers and will hire based on nationality, but expect the pay to be less than if you have a TESL/TESOL degree.

Cost: $0 - $1500 USD

5. Working Holiday


If you're between the ages of 20-30, there are several countries that offer a year-long work visa, enabling visitors to find short-term work as they travel around the country. Unfortunately, the only countries that have this arrangement with the US are Australia and New Zealand, unless you're a student -- and then you can also consider Canada or the UK.

With the WHV, you can also work for 10-15 hours a week at a hostel in exchange for free accommodation. This can ease the stress of finding a job immediately when you're settling into a new city.

Cost: Cost of Visa, around $150


In summary, there are several ways to see the world without spending a fortune. The most enriching trip can be accomplished through a combination of the above. For example, couchsurf the weekend to see the city before heading to the country to WWOOF for a week can provide a nice balance. Also, if you're able to make some funds by working, you can spend the occasional night in the hostel to "regroup" before heading out on your next adventure.


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