The ability to travel the world is a dream for many people. However, they get hung up on the cost.
But what if you could travel for free? If there was a way to travel the world without spending a fortune, would you take it?
You might be surprised at how many ways there are to score free travel. Here’s a look at your options.
1. Work programs
Various work programs allow you to provide a valuable service to someone else in exchange for help covering your travel costs — especially lodging.
Work programs like Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and Search Associates can help you find places to work abroad, with your costs paid for. Additionally, websites like Workaway can connect you with overseas jobs, work exchanges and other opportunities to travel for free while using your skills.
2. Volunteer programs
Another option is to join a volunteer program that covers your costs. Depending on the program, you might be able to travel to another country for two years (or more) or manage a getaway for a shorter period of time.
The Peace Corps is one of the oldest ways to volunteer your way to free travel. It requires a two-year commitment but comes with travel costs, living arrangements and health benefits covered. Plus, you receive a small stipend.
For shorter stays, a site like Go Overseas can connect you with volunteer opportunities to help teach English, build infrastructure or provide health care services. The United Nations also has a volunteer program you can access for free travel.
3. Other people’s homes
These days, there are numerous sites designed to help you get some of your travel for free if you’re comfortable staying in other people’s homes.
Rather than paying for a hotel, you can use Couchsurfing International to stay with a local. If you’re comfortable letting someone stay in your place, you can use HomeExchange to swap lodgings with someone else. There’s an annual fee, but it might be worth it to save on lodging.
There are also several websites that help you connect with people who want their homes and pets taken care of while they travel — and are willing to let you stay for free. Start with Trusted Housesitters or MindMyHouse.
4. Learn about your heritage
Want to learn about your roots? Some countries offer to pay for trips or a portion of your travel expenses in order to help you find out more about your heritage and the culture of your ancestors.
There are Birthright programs for Israel, Macedonia and Armenia. Additionally, Hungary, Greece and Cuba offer opportunities for their spread-out descendants to travel to their countries. Look for programs that focus on providing you with lodging, cultural experiences and even airfare.
5. Drive someone’s car cross-country
If you want a free trip closer to home, consider driving someone’s car across the country. You might be able to get them to cover your gas, lodging and other expenses.
Up to 24% of moves from one county to another are at least 500 miles in distance, according to HireAHelper, so there’s potential to find someone who needs help transporting their vehicle. That could result in opportunities for free road trips.
6. Ask others to help
Celebrating a big milestone? Ask for travel help instead of gifts.
From graduation to marriage to any other celebration, ask your friends and family to give to your GoFundMe or provide you with travel gift cards. Rather than setting up a gift registry for more stuff, let your loved ones know that you would rather have an experience.
Depending on the loyalty program, they might even be able to send you airline or hotel points. You might be surprised at what’s available to you when you reach out to your network.
7. Use credit card points and loyalty programs
Don’t forget that you can earn free travel through programs when you make regular purchases.
Various travel credit cards can help you rack up points quickly and redeem them for free travel. On top of that, if you sign up for a new credit card, you might be able to get a hefty signing bonus that you can apply to airfare, resulting in a free trip. Offers are constantly changing, so be sure to regularly check for the best travel rewards credit cards.
Loyalty programs can also give you free travel. Many hotel chains offer you the chance to earn points for free hotel stays. You can also earn points and cash back by using programs like Swagbucks. Even travel sites like Orbitz have loyalty programs you can use to save money on travel. With the right strategy, you can use your credit card and loyalty programs to plan a free trip.