10 Unusual Ways to Travel for FREE

We all want to travel, well presumably you do that's why you're reading this travel blog, but most of us are limited by our funds.

So are there really ways to travel for free? Of course! This list will tell you 10 unusual ways to travel for free

1. Start a Vlog 

Ever wondered how famous YouTubers like Fun For Louis, Mr Ben Brown and Devin Super Tramp pay for their never-ending travels? Well the fact of the matter is, they often don’t

By having such a large and engaged audience sponsors are lining up to work with them. Sponsorship can mean anything from a free hotel stay, activity or flight all the way up to a free press trip (everything included). 

Our personal experience: Having only had a travel vlog for eight months, we're hardly at the point where we can say we travel for free through YouTube.

However, even in this short time, we've already had some free hotel stays and free products! So whilst we're no way near becoming official 'big YouTubers', we have had a small insight into their world and our ultimate goal is to travel the world full-time through our vlog. 

AND, as a side note, out of all the ways we've travelled for free, travelling through a vlog has been the most rewarding, the most exciting and the most fun!

2. Have a travel blog 

A similar concept, though undoubtably less famous is travel blogging. Just like the YouTubers, travel bloggers are invited to trial travel related businesses, in exchange for writing honest reviews on their website and promoting it to their (often extensive) audiences. 

It’s a win-win for all: travel bloggers can see the world for free, specific brands and companies can be endorsed and readers get entertaining, inspirational reading material. 

Our personal experience: Having had a travel blog for the past two years, we feel a lot more confident telling you about it. Yes it is true you can travel the world for free through a travel blog! Though it did take us a whole year of blogging to be able to say that. Blogs don't happen overnight, and there is sooo much competition nowadays! 

Saying that, travel blogging is the best job we've ever had. No it's not all free hotel stays and lounging around on the beach (like some people think), but it's also not really, really, really hard work (like some bloggers say). It is hard work, sure, but there's such a difference between working hard at something you hate, and working hard at something you love... 

TL;DR - if you love writing, taking photos and travelling so much you'd do them for free, then become a travel blogger. Right NOW!

3. Try Couchsurfing 

Couchsurfing: where stranger-danger and the desire for a free night’s sleep clash. Couchsurfing is a bizarre concept whereby strangers offer up their couch (or if you’re lucky their spare room) in the hope that they will one day be able to travel to your country and stay on your couch / they're good people and like meeting / helping out others. 

This can be a great way to meet locals or even just meet travellers in your own home town. However, everyone is different and some hosts expect a little bit more than a promise of a couch in the future - some will ask for a meal or a bottle of wine, or perhaps that you share their bed for the night. 

Couchsurfing can be the perfect way to travel for free, as long as those doing it are clear with their host on what they will and will not offer. 

Our personal experience: Our personal experience has taught us that, unfortunately, couchsurfing is hard to do nowadays, especially as a couple. We've met couple travellers who used to find a different bed every night through couchsurfing, but it was about five years ago. We've met solo travellers who still find a bed every night, mostly even without the offer of any 'extras'. But for us, for every 100 messages we'd send out, we'd only hear back from about ten and only one would say yes. Too much effort!

We've only managed to couchsurf three times. Two of those times stand out as some of the BEST travel memories we have, one stands out as one of the WORST - but could have been avoided by reading between the lines on reviews.... (50 reviews, all from young hot single German men, all very complimentary of the free 'massage'.)

4. Tinder for meals (or more)

Dating apps like Tinder are proving to have a whole range of abstract uses, including travelling the world for free. Instead of going on a date for a free meal in their home town, users are expanding and finding those complimentary dinners when they travel abroad. 

But it doesn’t stop there, you probably read about the lady in China who was offering sex in return for a free night’s stay. This turned out to be a hoax but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there willing to exchange sex for travel. Some might view it as a risky business, others would say it’s a win-win for all. 

Our personal experience: yea, we've never used Tinder because we started going out way before it was invented (member Myspace?!) but Mashable has some cool stories about it.  

5. House sit for luxury, free accommodation

House sitting is a great way to travel the world for free. Home owners going on holiday don’t want to leave their homes to the dangers of robbers, burst pipes and overflowing mail boxes and thus leave their homes in the hands of the sitters. The house sitters get free accommodation all over the world and don’t have to pay bills for rent, electricity, gas, wifi or council tax.

House sitters also enjoy travel with comforts. This isn’t like backpacking, sitters will have a washing machine, a fully equipped kitchen and, more often than not, a luxurious house just for them. And if the sitters travel with a partner, a family or even a pet, house sitting is still a viable option. 

Just like people have homes all around the world, there are opportunities to house sit in almost every country around the world. Though the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are most popular; expat-rich countries like France, Thailand, Costa Rica, Italy, Greece and Singapore have lots of opportunities too. 

[Related: Limited time offer: 10% discount off the top house sitting website

Our personal experience: we could write a book on this subject. Oh wait we already did and you can see it here: House Sitting in Australia, a Guide for First Time House Sitters. House Sitting was the only reason we were able to put a year of non-profit work into travel blogging, and the reason we can live off our travel blog today. In terms of numbers we've had nine months back-to-back free accommodation in Australia and just under two years of free accommodation across Western Europe (and Greece and Finland).

We enjoy house sitting for so many different reasons. Although free accommodation is what attracted us initially,  other advantages like getting to know the locals, actually living in a country, being able to travel slowly and consciously, having a washing machine  and more are the reasons we come back to house sitting again and again

6. Pet Sit for free accommodation and home comforts

Following on from house sitting comes pet sitting. Exactly like house sitting but with the added responsibility of a pet or two (or maybe even more). Mostly pet owners will want a pet sitter because the pet is much happier in its own home (not to mention, the price of kennels can be extortionate). 

However, there will also be pet sitting gigs for animals who aren’t allowed in kennels, be that because they are not good around other animals, because they are too large (farm animals) or because they are too exotic (reptiles). All in all, pet sitting is the perfect way for pet-loving travellers to travel for free. 

Our personal experience: We love pets, we love travelling in style and comfort and so for us pet sitting is the best. The only downside is the tie of having a dog (just like it is when you own them). Pet owners almost always say we're welcome to leave the dogs alone and go out and explore the country, but because we always fall in love with the dogs, we feel mean leaving them alone and don't enjoy exploring that much whilst house/pet sitting. 

What we've decided is house and pet sitting is perfect for us, as long as we mix it up and work with hotels/ stay in an Airbnb for other months of the year. 

We also love returning to houses that we've really enjoyed, and got along well with the owners. 

7. Volunteer for food and accommodation

Voluntourism often has a bad reputation because although people doing it have very good intentions, it often turns out that they are doing more harm than good (e.g. volunteering in orphanages for a couple of week is believed to be linked to an increase in separation anxiety in orphans). 

Furthermore, as voluntourism almost always comes with a contribution fee, it can hardly be described as free travel. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t options for exchanging labour for accommodation and food around the world. Sites like Workaway and Wwoofing connect travellers with people in need of work. 

Travellers can do anything and everything from picking saffron to building a longboat, in exchange for a roof over their head and three meals a day.

Our personal experience: We've never volunteered in exchange for food and accommodation. Partly because we have too many commitments of our own; partly because it's a lot more work for far fewer benefits than it is to just house sit; but mostly because we are really bad at doing manual labour (and we hate it). Personally, we've never seen a wwoofing/workaway advert where we think the exchange is a fair one. 

We have friends who've done it though and liked it a lot. Most say if you combine it with a skill you'd like to learn anyway (like bee-keeping, organic farming etc), then in exchange for manual labour you're not just getting food and accommodation, you're also gaining a skill too.

8. Au Pairing 

For those that love children, au pairing is a possible option. Au pairing requires looking after the children, and sometimes house, in return for food, accommodation and often money too. Au pairing can be done all over the world, and those with English as a first language will often be sought out to teach the children English too. 

Our personal experience: Like volunteering, this isn't something we've ever done personally. Partly because it's hard (actually, as far as we can tell, impossible) to get an au-pairing job as a couple; and partly because I don't really like children (they always have snotty noses, it's gross). 

9. Home-swap 

Home-swapping pretty much does what it says on the tin, those who own their own home can swap with others around the world who also own a home. 

Perhaps it will be a neat swap, the people in house A head over to house B, whilst house B stays in house A. Or perhaps, like couch surfing, it will be arranged for the future - people A head to house B right now, whilst the owners of house B go on holiday to dream destination 1. Then later in the year, or perhaps a few years down the line, the people of house B get to finally have a holiday at house A. 

Our personal experience: having not had a house since 2013 (and that was a rented one at any rate, and a flat not a house) we've never home swapped. Our friends did though and did the second 'don't swap straight away' trick, in order to line themselves up a whole load of houses which they could visit. Seemed to work. 

10. Cruise ship work 

An option for those who don’t easily get seasick is working on a cruise ship. In exchange for cleaning, cooking or entertaining, cruise ship workers get free accommodation and food. And of course the opportunity to not just see the world for free, but get paid too. The length of cruise ship work can vary between one weekend and a whole year - and there’s always the option of getting off at a certain point and working your way home from there.

So there you have it, lots of different ways to travel the world for free, four of which are working out well for us.

Have you tried any of these? Which would you like to try? Let us know in the comments below :) 

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Travelling through the kyriarchy and weaselling our way out of the rat race - a female travel blogger writing about socially and politically conscious travelling.


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