Traveling for free is sort of a myth – but traveling without spending much money isn’t. Here a few tricks that will allow you to eliminate some of the biggest travel costs, making your travel basically as cheap as staying home. Read on to learn how to travel for free (almost!)
Paying for Plane Tickets
Strangely enough, I have grown to think of paying for things in cash as a waste of money. Why? Because when I’m paying in cash, I’m not making any points off of the money I’m spending. If you organize yourself properly, every dollar you spend can actually be earning you free travel. Here’s How:
Step One: Points Rule
It’s time to get a Credit Card – specifically one that gives you points on everything you spend. A great one for travel if you’re USA based is the Chase Sapphire Card, for example (my personal travel card.) You’ll get a points bonus for signing up, and from then on every dollar you spend and pay off on the card will be returned to you in the form of points. These points can be exchanged for airline miles, which you will use to get free flights – aka free travel!
Yes, I understand that this means having some self control, but just imagine that it’s really a debit card, and never buy anything that you can’t pay off immediately. If you really don’t think you can manage credit, than do some research and try to find a bank account or debit card that will offer you points. You can still be earning on everything that you spend!
Step Two: Become a Member
Sign up for an Airline mileage program. Use one that is from your home region, but that is part of a global alliance that will send points to the bank account or credit card you just signed up for. The two biggest ones are OneWorld or StarAlliance. Try to choose one and go with it so that you’re compiling points in the same place – which means free travel faster!
Step Three: Be Flexible!
While you’re watching your points pile up, keep an eye on inexpensive fares. Traveling outside of major holidays, having flexible travel dates or flexible destinations will help you find less expensive fares. There are several good flight tracking softwares out there, but its best to use the one that comes from your chosen mileage program. Less expensive fares can be bought with a fraction of the points, meaning that you will can travel for free more quickly than if your travel dates or destinations are quite rigid.
Step Four: Redeem!
Once you’ve got enough points, it’s time to redeem your miles for a free flight! Who ever thought that paying your bills and buying groceries could get you free travel. Eliminating the flight cost (one of the biggest costs in travel) is one step closer to traveling for free. Read on to find out how to stay for free once you’ve arrived.
Getting a Free Stay
Well, nothing is ever really free. However you can exchange your services for accommodations in places you might never be able to afford, or for experiences you might never have otherwise had! Here are some examples of how.
Idealist is a listing service for non-for profit organizations to offer job or volunteer opportunities, as well as promote events worldwide. You can search for full time jobs, part time positions, volunteer programs or simply scan for cool organizations in your area. If you have any interest in the non-profit sector, or are up looking for new and exciting challenges, like heading up a water treatment project in Africa, then Idealist is your game. Non profits don’t usually pay quite as competitively as your traditional nine to five, but beyond being intrinsically fulfilling, some of the more remote jobs offer perks like plane tickets, housing and a food stipend, so it can be a great way to get to know a new culture and have incredible experiences without spending a dime.
If you’ve got a helpful bone in your body, WorkAway is for you. WorkAway lists hosts such as small business or families from around the world who are looking for help with an range of projects- everything from website, social media and tech stuff, to receptionist work, painting, farming, cooking, construction, childcare and pretty much any other helpful task you can think of. The trade is usually 4-5 hours of work a day for free accommodations and sometimes meals. There’s no pay, but you’ll be offsetting your accommodations expenses which is great for longer term stays. It’s also a great way to get in with locals or immediately become part of a community. Similar Websites: Worldpackers.com
Housesitting is another amazing way to see the world without spending a fortune. By joining one of these networks of trusted house sitters, you can find gigs worldwide petsitting, caring for plants and taking care of house maintenance in exchange for free accommodating and the opportunity to get to know an area like a local. This is a great option for couples, families or individuals who don’t mind staying further away from the central areas- most house sitting gigs are suburban or rural. Getting started can be a little tricky – you’ll need to convince someone on the other side of the world to trust you with their worldly possessions and children with four legs. Get reference together from friends, family, previous rental properties, anything that can show you’re a responsible house sitter. Exchange lots of communication before going, and get to know the homeowner so you are sure you can deliver on their expectations for the property while they’re away. Remember, one good gig can lead to repeat sittings, or to some great recommendations to enhance your reputation for the next one.