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How to Travel on the Cheap

Updated on November 11, 2012
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Photo by Author

So You Want to See the World

Keen to see the world but don't have a fat bank balance? While there are plenty of ways to spend a whole lot of money travelling, there are also some inexpensive alternatives, even some where you get paid. Some options require effort and work and some don't. Some options only offer food and board. Here's a few ideas on how to wander the earth without breaking the budget.

1. Use Your Competitive Streak

There are several kinds of competitions that can see you leaving on a jet plane...

The first is where you are involved in a sport or other activity where there are opportunities to compete either within the country or overseas. Depending on the situation, you may have the whole trip funded or you may need to pay for part of it.

Some workplaces offer free travel and holidays as a reward for high achievement, for example in sales.

There are always numerous competitions on offer where you can win a free holiday. Google "free holidays", "free trips" or "travel competitions" for a sample. Airlines, travel agents, tour companies and even your local school run competitions where the prizes are travel. You might have to buy a ticket, submit a photo, answer a question or write a paragraph on why you would like to win. Why not give it a shot?

2. Mystery Shopping

Mystery Shopping has at times had a bad name due to some less than honorable operators. Some companies are not legitimate and if they are talking about a fee to join up, then be very, very skeptical. Having said that there are legitimate opportunities to travel as a Mystery Shopper and report on your experience. If Mystery Shopping is a mystery to you, this article gives a good explanation of what it is and what to look for in a mystery shopping company. I have personally done some mystery shopping and have been offered flights (where I bought the ticket and was then reimbursed) - the downside is that you have to take the flights when they are available (and you might not be).

Mysterious Shopping...

3. Flying, at Less Than Full Price

Lots of options here. You can of course work with an airline, which will definitely offer you a cheaper way to fly via staff discounts. You can use frequent flyer points (otherwise known as advantage miles, or whatever the particular terms various airlines use, which basically come down to if you fly with them for while, you will get some free, or discounted, flights). There are also benefits to be had in booking early, last minute deals, "happy hour" promotions and belonging to websites which offer "deals of the day", sometimes the "deal" is air travel. There are also some logical approaches such as travelling outside of peak times (including the national holidays of the particular area or country) and being flexible about which airport you will land in - after all does it really matter if you land 50km away from the capital city? Possibly not, depending on the costs of land transport to the capital and really, whether you need to be in the capital or were just landing there prior to starting your trip to somewhere else.


4. Deliver Something

Such as a car or a boat. Lots of rental cars need to go back to their base city. Here is an example of free rentals in NZ and one for Australia, USA and NZ to give you an idea of how it works. Basically you get the use of the car (or trailer/caravan/campervan) either free or for minimal cost. The downside is that you will have a set destination and a schedule to meet, however if you were going in that direction anyway, this can be a cheap option to get there whilst getting to see the places of interest along the way.

Lots of yacht owners want their yachts relocated somewhere else but don't have the time or possibly the expertise to take them there. There are professional, paid positions available however there are also ones where you help running the yacht for your board or you might be expected to contribute to expenses. To be part of a crew, some skills in sailing are obviously advantageous, however they are not always required and other skills such as the ability to cook or fix an engine are also needed. This site and this site have more information on the opportunities available as a crew member on a yacht.

Photo by Author
Photo by Author

5. Accommodation

When you travel you can stay in a hotel. Or you can choose an alternative. You can house sit, which means you will go and stay in someone's house and look after their plants, pets and whatever else needs minding while they are away. You can couchsurf, exchange your home, be a willing worker on an organic farm or offer various kinds of labour in exchange for your board with organisations such as Workaway. Any of these options helps you develop a much greater appreciation of the local communities and their way of life than you are likely to get staying at a hotel. And you can make friends as well.


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    • Modern Lady profile image

      Modern Lady 5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      These are really interesting, creative ideas - certainly not your run-of-the-mill travel tips. I think a lot of these would create great adventures and wonderfully unique stories.

    • JanHeath profile image

      JanHeath 5 years ago from Australia

      Thankyou Modern Lady, your feedback made my day!

    • kellythewriter profile image

      kellythewriter 5 years ago from The Land of Steady Habits

      You have some really good ideas there. I wrote a similar hub just a little bit ago that offers some different things you could try as well. Thanks for the info! :)

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 4 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      I traveled seventeen months, living on less than 2$ a day. Most of the time I worked as a volunteer for free food and accommodation, and I hitchhiked more than 12.000km. It was a great experience, to learn more, you can read some of my hubs. Thanks for these useful informations!

    • JanHeath profile image

      JanHeath 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks kellythewriter, appreciate your comments. Will stop by your hub as well.

    • JanHeath profile image

      JanHeath 4 years ago from Australia

      nextstopjupiter, thanks for your comments, wow $2 per day, maybe you should write a book!

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hey, these are great ideas! I love to travel but the funds to tend to limit me. I am going to check into several of your recommendations. Thanks for sharing them. I am so excited now! Take care.

    • JanHeath profile image

      JanHeath 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi yoginijoy, glad you found it useful information, I'd like to try Workaway sometime it looks great. Happy travelling!

    • gmmurgirl profile image

      Geisha M 4 years ago from Pilipinas

      Wow! These are truly great ideas, I wish I could travel to Australia in any of these ways. :) thanks much!

    • JanHeath profile image

      JanHeath 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi gmmurgirl, of course I have to recommend Australia as a great place to travel, and it is! Thanks for your comment and I hope you get to travel to wherever you would like to.

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