Do you dream of international travel, but worry about the high costs of globetrotting? Take heart: There are many ways to see the world for free.
Some of these opportunities require only an adventurous spirit and a little advance planning. Others demand you do a little work — for periods ranging from a couple of weeks to several years — in exchange for your room and board.
Regardless of which opportunity you choose, you will have a chance to tap into the life-changing experiences that only travel can provide.
Following are five ways you can cut out most or all of your expenses when traveling.
Couchsurfing has created a network of hosts that allows you to stay for free in someone’s home “in every country on earth.” More than 10 million people in 200,000 cities make up the Couchsurfing community. In some cities, you will have access to fun activities such as dance classes, hikes and dinners.
GlobalFreeloaders.com is an organization that offers similar opportunities. However, unlike Couchsurfing, you need to agree to host guests in your own home to join.
2. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
WWOOF pairs volunteers with organic farms across the globe. In exchange for providing your services, you get free room and board, and the opportunity to learn more about organic lifestyles.
Typically, you will work four to six hours each day. According to the website:
You may be asked to help with a variety of tasks like sowing seed, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread making.
Most visits are for one to two weeks, although stints can range up to six months. Domestic and international opportunities are available, so what are you waiting for?
HomeExchange allows you to swap your abode with someone else’s. In essence, they stay at your place while you crash at theirs.
At the organization’s website, you can browse available homes. When you find one you like, use the site’s messaging system to contact the owner and arrange the exchange.
HomeExchange offers more than 65,000 homes in 150 countries. A member of a family from Norway that has been involved in nine exchanges says:
I think one of the best things about swapping houses, in addition to being economical, is that it provides many opportunities to stay in real neighborhoods. We meet everyday people who live in the area and not just tourists, and have life experiences we would not have had otherwise.
4. United Nations volunteers
The United Nations is looking for people to volunteer in many of the 130 countries it serves. According to the U.N. website:
Assignments can involve contributing to technical cooperation with governments, community-based initiatives, humanitarian relief, rehabilitation and electoral and peace-building processes.
Many assignments are for 12 months or longer, but others are for three months or less. Anyone can volunteer, but the U.N. is especially interested in volunteers with specific professional backgrounds.
5. Peace Corps
One of the oldest and best-known ways to travel for free, the Peace Corps is for folks who are interested in a lot more than a mere vacation. Sign up for this program, and you’ll be committing to a two-year stint in one of 60 developing nations.
While the work is challenging, it also can be immensely rewarding. Bettie Anderson left her home in Virginia to join the Peace Corps — at age 73. The volunteer in the African nation of Botswana writes:
When we are blessed to have some longevity and our health, I believe that we are to use these gifts to be of service to others. The Peace Corps is a great option for those who have a little adventure in their heart.
Do you know of other ways to travel internationally for free? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.