We’ve all been there – sat scrolling on social media or daydreaming at work wishing we were somewhere else. Somewhere sunnier, somewhere more exciting, somewhere with tastier food or friendlier people.
What if I told you how to visit those dream destinations for free?
Growing up, I always believed travel was reserved for the rich. Once I discovered Workaway, I discovered a whole new way of travelling – an affordable, accessible and achievable way to see the world regardless of my background or budget
If, like me, you’ve ever wondered how to travel for free, consider this guide as your magic wand that will make all your travelling dreams come true. From flights to food, these tips will prove that your budget shouldn’t hold you back and that travelling for free is possible.
Whether you’re a broke student or a family travelling on a shoestring, we hope thanks to these tips your adventure fund will last as long as possible. All while ensuring priceless memories and authentic experiences that quite simply, money can’t buy.
Before we get into the details however we need to preface this by saying that hopping on a plane with literally no travel budget will never end well. While it’s fun to challenge yourself and test your comfort zone by travelling without life’s luxuries, we’re not here to encourage exploitation or handouts.
Travel doesn’t always go to plan and sometimes it even goes too well and you want to keep going. Either way, you need some dollar in the bank to make the dream happen. It’s not only unsafe, but it’s unethical to expect to genuinely travel without spending a penny. These tips will show you how to travel for free, but as a means to make your existing funds last a little longer – they are not a way of life.
How to travel for free?
Starting with the basics – transport. Once you leave your hometown, the world truly is your oyster, but affording that first step can often seem impossible. That’s where these tips might help. While some of these ways to travel for free are obvious there are a few you’ve maybe never heard of and are guaranteed to help save you splashing the cash.
I’d bet money that when asked for ways to travel for free, hitchhiking was the first one you thought of. Yet, hitchhiking often gets a bad reputation for being unsafe (we’ve all seen the horror films!) When you use common sense, trust your gut, and avoid hitchhiking alone or at night it’s actually one of the best ways to travel for free.
While in some countries it’s illegal or frowned upon, in others it’s embraced and part of the culture. Some people travel entire countries this way, like these Workawayers who hitchhiked around Southeast Asia
. If you’re unsure whether to try hitchhiking in your next location, a great resource for safety tips and guidance is Hitchwiki.org
As well as one of the best ways to save money while travelling
, hitchhiking is also very rewarding. Not only does it epitomise the kindness of humanity but thanks to the diverse conversations you will have and the patience you will learn, it will prove to be unlike any other experience you’ll have on the road.
Hitchhiking is ideal if you thrive on the unpredictable as you often have no control over your journey. There is no predicting who will pick you up, how far they can take you, or when you’ll arrive. For some travellers, leaving it in the hands of fate is the dream way to travel, if you prefer a plan however, hitchhiking might sound like a nightmare so skip to my next suggestion.
If you’re wondering how to travel for free, but leaving your journey in the hands of strangers sounds like your idea of hell (!) this might be the solution you’ve been searching for. If you prefer deadlines, routes and plans, look into relocating vehicles.
Whether it’s cars, campervans, motorhomes or even motorbikes, there are companies all over the world that need people like you to get these vehicles from A to B. Some companies such as transfer car
are free, others charge a small fee (for example imoova
who charge from $1 per day) to relocate their vehicles from one part of the country to the other. The catch is that you usually have a strict time allowance to complete the journey, but who can complain when it means a free road trip?
Some companies need rental vehicles returned, others are for people who are moving house and need their car transported to the new location. Relocating motorhomes is also ideal for those wondering how to travel for free (or to sample vanlife
), as you sleep in the van along the way so you won’t need to pay for accommodation either!
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Yes, hiking is slow, you can’t carry many possessions and you need to be pretty fit but trust me there are some major advantages to exploring a country on foot.
My partner, for example, hiked across Scotland. It took nearly two weeks and over 200 miles but it allowed him to embrace scenery, people and places he’d never otherwise have access to using traditional transport. He also camped along the way as wild camping is completely legal there. This meant he travelled the width of Scotland from the East Coast to the West for free.
With the right equipment, mindset and plan, hiking can be one of the best ways to travel for free. It’s also a more sustainable way to travel
as you won’t burn any fuel, just calories! If you REALLY love walking, did you know you can actually walk from Cape Town in South Africa, to Magadan in Russia? At over 22,000km (14,000 miles) it’s the longest walkable distance on the planet and no human is yet to complete it!
Flights for Free
While free road trips and hiking are great, it can get a little tricky when you need to cross oceans. Fear not, it is still possible to travel for free when flying is involved. Some require upfront expenses (such as air miles), while others simply require you to be social media savvy.
Here’s how to travel for free by plane:
Credit card offers – There are two ways to leverage credit cards for free travel. Firstly, many credit cards offer sign up deals for new customers where if you spend a certain amount by a certain deadline you receive bonus air miles. The second way is that, some also allow you to collect air miles for every transaction. This means you will be earning free flights thanks to the everyday items you need to buy anyway. Before you try this, note applying for new credit cards can affect your credit score.
Frequent flyer programs – If you’re wondering how to travel for free, frequent flyer programs are your best friend. You earn miles every time you fly, and you can then redeem the miles on flights, baggage, seat upgrades and even hotels. You can also transfer points, so if you have a birthday coming up, why not ask a relative or parent who flies often for them to transfer their frequent flyer points to your account instead of buying you a gift?
Dining rewards programs – If you’re more likely to be spending your money on food than flights consider joining dining rewards programs. Similar to frequent flyer programs, except airlines let you earn air miles when you dine out at participating restaurants. It’s also possible to earn more miles by leaving restaurant reviews.
– If you’re one of those people who waste hours each night scrolling social media, why not use that screen time to help you travel for free? There are survey sites such as e-rewards
, miles for opinions
and rewards for thoughts
that let you earn air miles for doing online market research and sharing your opinion about products and services.
– Whilst you’re online filling out those surveys, why not follow your favourite airlines on social media (especially Twitter)? Many offer bonus air miles through competitions or simply for signing up for newsletters, referring friends
We did promise this guide was your magic wand to travelling for free, so now we’ve covered free transport it’s time for free accommodation. By interlacing these options with volunteering and paid accommodation, you’ll find you are able to travel slower, cheaper and more sustainably.
There are so many ways to save money while travelling thanks to the sharing economy
, and one of those ways also happens to be an epic way to travel for free – house sitting! As the name describes you essentially babysit someone's home. You care for their house and/or pets for free while they are out of town. It allows you a more authentic travel experience as you can stay in a local’s home instead of paying for a hotel or hostel.
As you explore all these ways to travel for free, your home might sit empty for quite some time. This is why you should give home swapping a try. It allows another traveller to enjoy your home while you live like a local in there’s. Again, there is a small membership fee with platforms such as Home Exchange
or Love Home Swap
proving the most popular.
Stay with locals for free
Travelling can get lonely at times, especially if you’re travelling solo and on a budget. When you can’t afford expensive group tours, or to party the night away at hostels, staying with locals is a great way to meet people
. It’s also ideal for those who want to practise a new language, or simply head off the beaten track – all while saving money!
As one of the original ways to travel for free, Couchsurfing
offers travellers a free place to stay with locals all over the world. Nowadays, there are so many similar sites such as BeWelcome
(available in over 225 countries) and Trustroots
which sells itself as a hospitality website for specifically hitchhikers.
Travel For Free By Volunteering
If you’re travelling on a budget, accommodation can be the biggest expense. That’s where we come in. Thankfully, instead of charging expensive agency fees, it’s possible to volunteer for free. With platforms like Workaway, instead of exchanging money, you offer your time in exchange for free accommodation and food.
Volunteering is not only one of the best ways to travel for free, it is one of the best ways to travel for those seeking an authentic experience and genuine connection with communities around the world.
Tip: While many volunteering platforms charge fees per trip these platforms have only a nominal membership fee for the year. While technically, this means they are not free, the cost for a year’s membership is usually cheaper than one night’s accommodation elsewhere, so you make your money back almost instantly.
If you are interested in travelling the world for free by volunteering, here are some of the best platforms to use:
Well, it just makes sense we’re top of the list. We offer over 50,000 opportunities in over 170 countries and when you join Workaway
you have access to every single one. From hostels to homestays, yachts to yurts the options are endless for those hoping to travel for free.
As well as offering accommodation and food for your time, many hosts offer paid Workaway experiences so you won’t just save, you can make money too. During two of my own Workaway experiences my hosts even gave us a loan of their car, which meant free road trips too!
Volunteer Farm Work
If you love the outdoors or want to up your agricultural A-game then WWOOF
is the volunteer platform for you. It is exclusively for those who want to give their time to organic farming in exchange for bed and board.
The Peace Corps
If you want to travel for free long term while volunteering, then the Peace Corps
offers rewarding opportunities worldwide. It requires a lengthy commitment, usually with the first few months as training, then you are given a 2 year assignment in the field. Assignments can be in some of the poorest communities in the world, at times with no access to phone signal, electricity or internet.
They provide a stipend which is used for your food, basic living expenses and accommodation (if a place to stay isn’t provided.) If you want to travel for free while transforming the lives of struggling communities and at times, literally saving lives then joining the Peace Corps is for you.
Jobs That Let You Travel For Free Around The World
Who says you can’t have your cake AND eat it? Not only is it possible to travel for free thanks to the suggestions so far, it is actually possible to get paid to travel. Thanks to the jobs below, not only will you be travelling for free but making money along the way.
To become a digital nomad
you need two things – a laptop and a love of travel. Digital nomads make money online while travelling the world and best of all, pretty much anyone can do it!
From admin to accounts, social media to customer service, there are so many remote ways to make money. Read our top tips on how to be a successful digital nomad
to begin making money on the road ASAP. As a tip, many Workaway hosts are happy to accept digital nomads, simply filter using the accommodation info button.
As English teachers are in demand around the world, there are companies that offer you free bed and board in exchange for your teaching time. There are also companies that pay relocation fees for you to join their schools and courses teaching English.
Some opportunities require a TEFL certificate, others require you to have a degree or simply for English to be your first language. Teaching abroad as a volunteer
is an excellent way to gain experience for these paid roles that will allow you to travel for free.
Why simply travel for free when you can also travel in style? Luxury yachts around the world need huge teams of stewards and deckhands to help transport their owners to exotic locations.
Best of all, these roles are usually entry-level positions that pay reasonably well and offer amazing tips. To help your CV stand out or to test the water (literally!) before applying, why not try one of the many sailing opportunities on Workaway
Instead of the seas, head for the sky! A flight attendant is probably the most obvious job that lets you travel for free. If you can survive the tough training, long hours and jet lag then you will be rewarded with free flights, discounted hotels and the opportunity to travel the world without spending a penny!
Work on a Cruise Ship
Instead of working as a deckhand or stewardess on a yacht, cruise ships are amazing ways to travel for free while earning money. Your food, accommodation, transport and training are usually all covered and positions involve entertainment, engineers, housekeeping, chefs and more. Check out cruise ship jobs
for everything you need to start your career at sea!
Before travel agents can sell and organise trips, they need first-hand experience of the destinations. This means travel agencies often send their agents to the locations they are “selling” known as FAM tips (familiarisation trips.) If you want to know how to travel for free, look into travel agent roles.
If you want to travel for free all year round and love snow sports then becoming a ski instructor is a dream come true. With the North and Southern hemispheres offering alternating seasons you can ski all year round from Japan to Argentina, New Zealand to Switzerland.
Depending on your certifications, resorts will pay for you to relocate and teach first timers. Most positions are seasonal so only last a few months, but you’ll get to live in beautiful resorts and use the facilities for free on your days off.
As a tip to brush up on your skills on the slopes, why not volunteer as a ski instructor first? Use the keyword box when using our 'Find a host
' option to help find your dream role in the snow, before earning the big bucks.
Hopefully now you have a few ideas on how to travel for free and feel inspired to escape your comfort zone for an adventure you’ll never forget. Using these ways to travel for free will restore your faith in humanity as you’ll discover just how kind people can be, and how rewarding it is to pay it forward with your time and skills. You’ll soon realise the joy in the little things and that saving money is simply a bonus!