At least once a week, somebody tells me “I wish I could travel too, but I don’t have the money.” Well, guess what? It’s a lie. Stop telling yourself this convenient story and get out there and start exploring the world.
As I write this, I’m cozied up at a hip cafe in Canggu, Bali eating divine vegan food. I drove here on a motorbike I got for free, five minutes from the surf/yoga camp I’m staying at (also for free). This afternoon, I’ll drop in at a discounted yoga class before meeting friends for sunset at the beach. All together, my awesome day will cost less than $15…and it could even be free, if I chose to take advantage of the restaurant back at the camp (but I have a weakness for trendy eateries, which Canggu is overflowing with).
So, without further ado, here are seven resources to help you stretch even a small amount of cash into months or even years abroad:
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFing)
Browse hundreds of listings from organic farms around the world. From olive farms to vineyards, permaculture and Old MacDonald-style animal farms, there’s an awesome part-time work trade opportunity waiting for you to dig in (literally). WWOOFing is one of the most popular long term travel solutions for budget travelers.
Accommodations vary widely (from a tent or hammock to guesthouse with a pool), as does the length of time commitment required. You’ll need to narrow your search to a particular global region, and sign up as a paying member before applying to any opportunities. Annual regional membership costs vary but are typically around US $25. Start your WWOOF search at wwoofinginternational.org.
Workaway is a broad list of work-trade opportunities ranging from hospitality to teaching to farm work and skilled labor, but the concept is similar to WWOOFing. Work is limited to 5hrs/5 days per week, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore your surroundings. Plus, the $29 membership fee covers worldwide listings, so there’s no need to limit your search to just one region. Get started at Workaway.info, where you’re sure to find an opportunity that fits your unique interests and skills.
Psst! This is how I’m currently staying at an awesome surf/yoga camp in Bali in exchange for helping with digital marketing and social media.
Feel like spending a week at a hip apartment in a beautiful foreign land while a local shows you around the city’s best kept secrets? Try Couchsurfing, a global network of hosts who welcome travelers into their homes. Many hosts are passionate travelers themselves, or just want to learn a new language.
Couchsurfing sleeping arrangements definitely vary, but range from basic to downright luxurious. Always check out the reviews and arrange to chat with a potential host (or better yet, meet in person) before accepting.
The many couchsurfers I have met while traveling always rave about the perks of having a local tour guide and receiving invitations to weddings and other cultural events that a tourist would miss out on. Browse accommodations and meet hosts at Couchsurfing.com.
But wait, there’s more…
I am consistently amazed by how many travelers I meet who have never heard of WOOFing, Workaway or Couchsurfing. And in addition to the big three listed above, there’s a zillion other websites and apps for niche interests that can take you around the world:
Love animals? Sign up for Trustedhousesitters.com and house and pet-sit your way around the world while staying in amazing private homes.
Always wanted to travel by boat? Try Crewbay.com. Browse hundreds of listings from boat owners around the world. With needs as diverse as skipper, cook, nanny, masseuse, deckhand and companion, chances are there’s something you could lend a hand with (as long as you don’t get seasick). Options range from commercial yachts to small private sailboats and everything in between. The best part? No experience necessary.
Nannying? There’s, like, ten websites and five apps for that. Try greataupair.com to start your search.
Own a house? Swap homes with homeowners around the world using Homeexchange.com.
Have another random talent, skill or passion you could trade for room and board? Just try googling “work trade [your thing] world travel” and see what comes up.
Is it safe? Most work/trade opportunities are completely safe, but just like anything, do your homework beforehand. Read reviews of your prospective employer or trade partner, or ask to be put in touch with a former volunteer. Set up a Skype interview or phone call. And remember, if it doesn’t work out, you’re free to travel onwards to your next opportunity.
Why work trade?
Sure, you could book an expensive, all-inclusive vacation to Sandals Resort and spend years of savings in a week, totally checked out by the pool. And for some people, this type of vacation is just right. But before you book that next vacation to Hawaii and submit your time off request, remember, you could choose to travel for months or years at a time, living in awesome places and getting to experience other cultures from a locals’ perspective.
Most of these opportunities come with responsibilities —caring for someone else’s home, pets, children, or helping to staff their business or even just being a respectful houseguest. But in return, you’ll gain a much deeper understanding of the places that you travel to and make lasting connections with people all over the world.
Trust me, lounging by the pool or partying at the hostel bar gets old after awhile. After several months of hedonism on the road, you’ll be craving a way to contribute meaningfully.
Do you have a work/travel resource or experience with one of the services listed above? Please share in the comments below!