Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Travel for Free --X Posted from My So-Called Chaos

When people realize I have lived in 5 different countries (before the age of 30), they remark that I, or my parents, must be extremely wealthy. While I won't negate that I did grow up more privileged than many people, my parents haven't paid for much in regards to my travels since my first study abroad adventure in 2006. You can also finance your own travels relatively easily--although it does take a bit of know how. 

The title of this post, however, may be a bit of a misnomer as with many of my experiences, you still had to pay for a flight and/or a visa. 

Tip #1 Get a Job
If English is your native language, this is likely the asset you're going to be able to sell the most when it comes to working abroad. In 2009, I taught English to about 100 Hungarian kids to finance a year in Budapest. Other alternatives include au pairing, interning, working at summer camps and working holidays (depending on your nationality--this isn't super easy for Americans, however). Companies like Jobs Abroad and BUNAC. are great resources to begin your search.
As far as teaching English goes, a country like Hungary (I went with the Central European Teaching Program) won't pay you shedloads, but it will cover your time there (and you'll get a free apartment and utilities). Likewise, the CIEP Foreign Language Teaching Assistants Program in France is pretty well known, but will also only cover your time in France (without an apartment or utilities, which you will have to pay for). Although I have not taught in Asia or the Middle East, those are supposedly amongst the most lucrative and you may even get your flight paid for. 
Tip #2 Study
Consider going to university or getting a Masters degree abroad. They are typically cheaper than in America and you may be able to get funding from outside institutions, or your own school, to attend. My Masters degree at the University of Amsterdam was completely paid for, thanks to the fact that I was given a University of Amsterdam Merit Scholarship. If you do decide to study abroad, consult your school or department about funding, as they can help you find scholarships and studentships that past students have successfully secured. 
Tip #3 Take Subsidized Trips
Certain countries or programs will subsidize trips for specific groups of people. One of the most notable subsidized trips is Birthright Israel, which takes Jewish young people ages 18-26 on a free trip to Israel. Obviously now isn't the best time to go, but it is something to consider if you fall into that category. The recent trip I went on to Poland was subsidized by a museum. You can read about it here if you are interested. My parents also went on a trip subsidized by the Chinese government in 2008, which you can read a bit more about here. Bear in mind that subsidized trips, however, are typically not holidays and will have an itinerary for you that you must follow as a condition. 
Tip #4 Apply for a Travel Grant
Many places will offer you a travel grant to travel, especially if it is for a specific purpose. has a great list of travel grants that you can peruse and see if one fits you.
Tip #5 Volunteer
Working, or volunteering, in the Peace Corps can change lives and allow you to live abroad for two years. This is an ideal job for those who are service oriented--however there are some drawbacks. In order to participate, you must sign on to two years of work and cannot return home permanently (visits are allowed). You must also be willing to live in conditions that may be below your normal standard and must be in good health. You must also be an American citizen. However, many people have found this extremely rewarding and a great way to touch people outside of the US.
You can also do service trips through places like Habitat for Humanity  which you can pay for outright or invite friends and family to help you fundraise in a good old fashioned crowd funding scheme.
Lifehacker has a fabulous article entitled "How to Book a $1700 Vacation for $700 by Volunteering," which will appeal to anyone's favorite causes from education to human rights to animals welfare. I hope these tips have gotten your gears turning when it comes to travel. If you have any further questions or would like me to do a blog post on any of the programs I have participated in, please let me know and I will be more than happy to do so. 

This post was originally run on My So-Called Chaos by the fabulous Miss Angie!

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  1. Taria-ann VerburgtSeptember 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    I've recently discovered your blog and I really like it! I'm following you now
    Hope you'll like mine too!


    1. Glad you like it! x

  • Great ideas! I never thought about traveling to volunteer helping animals, but that's something I'd love to do. Thanks for the eye-opener :D

    1. So glad you liked the post. There is so much you can do, it's just almost a matter of someone guiding you to it!

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