Working like crazy to save up for a trip and then quickly burning through your hard-earned cash isn’t the only way to travel, and isn’t realistic for those looking to do longer, more ‘round-the-world style trips. Luckily, there are a number of options for seeing the world from a more local viewpoint without spending much money — or any at all. In fact, some of the opportunities below offer free travel and the chance to earn money, allowing you to stretch that dollar — and your trip — farther.
There are many great websites offering house and pet sitting gigs, like TrustedHousesitters.com, MindMyHouse.com, and housecarers.com. After you pay a membership fee, typically about $20 to $60, you’ll have access to homes all over the world asking for people -- like you -- to watch their home and animals with no money exchanged. Often, you’ll have more space and amenities than you would at a pricey hotel, and anything you can’t get can typically be supplemented with an app or sharing economy service, like Uber for private car service, Table8 for hard-to-score restaurant reservations, Touchnote for sending postcards, Waze for directions, and Utrip for activity suggestions.
There are a few reasons CouchSurfing rocks. First of all, it's completely free, from membership to the actual stay. Second, it's a true community, with message boards, local city forums, and calendars that allow you to plan and attend happenings in the places you visit. For example, when traveling solo in Mendoza on my birthday I had 10 CouchSurfers take me out for a delicious steak dinner. It's culturally immersive, allows you to meet locals, and can really stretch your dollar so you can travel longer.
For travelers wanting to get their hands dirty and experience local terroir first hand, WWOOFing, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, means you'll exchange labor helping out on a farm for room and board. Remember that organic farming can mean anything from cranberry harvesting in Massachusetts to working on a vineyard in Argentina to crafting artisan cheeses in France. Moreover, the food tends to be an experience in itself, made from the very fruits of your labor.
Blogging or freelance writing is a great way to live a vacation independent lifestyle, make your own hours, and see the world. Along with pitching magazines and blogs of interest - check their websites for submissions or contribution page - resources that list freelance writing gigs include Freelance Writing Jobs, BloggingPro, Journalism Jobs, Mediabistro, and the Morning Coffee newsletter.
If you're good with time management, have some business savvy, and are willing to invest time and money into building your own brand, starting a travel blog can be lucrative, though note - it can take a few years before you start earning a solid income.
For wellness professionals looking to explore the globe, Yoga Tradehas a job board listing opportunities for yoga teaching jobs and work exchanges around the world. Often room and board will be included, and you may even make money on top of that (not to mention locations range from Latin American beaches to African deserts and beyond. Note that to connect with yoga job and volunteer opportunities you’ll need a Yoga Trade Passport (their name for their membership), $18 for one year or $30 for two years.
Another way to secure a place to stay for free is hostel work, as hostel workers are often travelers working onsite in exchange for room and sometimes board. A few resources for finding hiring hostels: HostelJobs.net, HostelManagement.com, and HelpX (though HelpX also lists jobs for farm stays, bed and breakfasts, and other types of accommodation, as well). Another option: print out a few copies of your resume and inquire at the hostels you stay at. Or, narrow down which city you’d like to work in and head to HostelBookers.com or Hostelworldto peruse potential hostel employers in that city, sending them your resume.
While cruise ship workers do work long hours, they also get free time to explore the various ports of call, enjoy special crew activities, and get paid — often quite well, especially as living expenses are covered — for their work. Additionally, there are a number of positions that need to be filled on the ship, from bartenders to spa practitioners to social hosts and beyond. If you have a special talent or class you can teach, you might also try pitching your expertise to be part of the onboard entertainment. A few sites that help you find cruise jobs: cruiselinesjobs.com and cruiseshipjob.net as well as by searching the job board of specific cruise lines.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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