You don’t have to be rich to travel. In fact, if you’re extremely savvy in your approach, you can travel with no money at all. If you’re lacking bucks in the bank but you want to hit the road, then this article will help you hack your way into a life of travel, without having to save a ton of money beforehand.
While I have personally never hit the road with a $0 bank balance, there are ways that you can start traveling with very little or no money in your account.
If you were to combine all of these hacks, then you could take off on a world trip, while eating, sleeping and going on tours all for free. These days, you really don’t need money to travel…
Earn Rewards Points
The first thing you’re going to need if you want to travel abroad is a flight ticket. This is a huge expense and one that you’ll have a hard time getting if you have no money. What you need to do is choose the best rewards credit card (or a few of them) and start putting all of your purchases on the right card.
When you’re filling up your gas tank or buying groceries at home, use an airmiles card and get cash back with all other purchases using your rewards credit card. Over an extended period of time, these points can easily add up to enough rewards to pay for a flight overseas.
Want to save those rewards points for a later date? Try to get bumped. These days, there are so many people flying that airlines have started to over book flights. They bank on the fact that some people won’t show up on time to check-in (or at all), but if everyone shows up and the flight actually is overbooked, they’re forced to ask for volunteers to bump their seat in exchange for a free flight voucher.
If you are bumped, then you’ll be flown (for free) on the next flight out. Plus, you’ll be rewarded with a flight voucher for the amount of your ticket. This is your free ticket to air travel around the world!
This is not a foolproof way to get free flights, but it will work sometimes and can save you thousands of dollars (or rewards points).
1. Choose a popular flight: If you want to get bumped, then you want to choose a flight on a day that is busy and is a popular destination. Book your flight to a major airport at either the beginning or the end of the week when more people are flying.
2. Pack Light: On the day of your flight, don’t check any baggage. Try to have only carry-on luggage. The airline will look for passengers who are the best candidates for bumping and if they have to go fetch your bag, you’re less likely to be picked.
3. Check in Early & Volunteer: Head to the check-in counter extra early and have a big smile on your face. Politely mention to the agent that if they’re “looking for volunteers” then you are willing to help out. Airline staff will know exactly what you’re talking about and will likely move you to the top of the bump list.
Now that you’ve landed a flight without spending any money, it’s time to get free accommodation. It’s really not that difficult to find places to stay for free, you just have to know where to look!
House Sitting: You can find house sitting jobs without paying a membership fee by just looking around the web, but in our experience, it’s worth the $8 / month to get a sit through a reputable site. There are a few sites such as MindMyHouse.com and TrustedHouseSitters.com that have a ton of options with a low membership fee.
There are often postings for vineyards in Italy, homes on Italy’s islands, mansions in France and castles in the UK. Free luxury accommodation like this is worth the cheap monthly fee and it’s not hard to land a job!
Couch Surfing: This is probably the single best way to stay for free and meet cool people around the world. People around the world offer up their spare room or couch, and you are able to stay with them for free for a few nights.
Couch Surfing is a great network of people who all love to travel and be social. Couch surfing is free to join and it offers more than just accommodation. There are often couch surfer meet ups around the world where you can connect with like-minded travellers and have a good time.
Accommodation Exchange: Next time you check into a hostel, ask them if they’re looking for any help in exchange for free accommodation. You’d be surprised at how many places are willing to give you a free bed in exchange for some bartending or reception work.
Camping: Bring a tent along with you and you can have free accommodation all around the world. In some countries, it is illegal to pitch a tent without paying a fee, but in most countries you can post up on a beach or in the jungle without having to pay a cent. In Mexico for example, you can camp on almost any beach for free.
It won’t be as easy to find free tours as it is to find accommodation, food and transportation, but it’s still possible.
Reviews: Keep your eyes out for companies offering a “New Tour”. Oftentimes these companies will be willing to give you a free (or discounted) tour in exchange for your honest feedback.
Social Media Share Exchange: If you have quite a few friends / fans on your social media accounts, consider offering tour companies a few social shares and pictures in exchange for a free excursion.
If you want to travel for free, then all you have to do is ask. Ask airlines to bump your ticket, ask hotels and hostels if they need help, ask restaurants if they need a waiter and ask tour companies if they want to be reviewed. You just have to have the courage to ask.