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The World On A Shoestring: Your Ultimate Guide To Traveling Long-Term On The Cheap

piggy bank

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2012

“If I win the lottery, I will travel the world” is a common thought. Many dream of traveling but put it off as they don’t think they have enough money. The truth is, if you really have the will to travel, at least when living in the developed world, there is always a way. With this post I want to share some opportunities with you pertaining to how you can travel long-term without having won the lottery. The post is divided into two parts: the first part is about jobs you can do on the go to finance your long-term travel dream and the second one about some adaptations you should carry out to make your money last longer.

Quick Tip: Make sure to also understand how to prepare for long-term international travel!

Jobs On The Road

Working Holiday/Seasonal Jobs

You may know Australia as the number one destination for a working holiday. If your home country has a bi-lateral agreement with Australia, you can simply apply for the working holiday visa online. With the visa you can live and work there for one year and can even extend it for another year if you do farm work.

Australia is not the only country offering this visa. New Zealand, Canada and the EU are popular countries for working holidays as well.

If countries do not offer those visa, you can still work seasonal jobs in hotels, bars or diving schools for example. Here are some websites, you can use to find a seasonal job which suits your skills:

Relaxing at Serendipity Beach

Teach English

If you are a native English speaker, all doors are open for you to teach English abroad. Simply do an online TEFL course in which you learn some basic teaching principles as well as repeat English grammar. With this certificate, you can find jobs almost everywhere. Make use of the following job boards to find one:

Workaway/WWOOF

If you are willing to work for a couple of hours a day in order to have a free accommodation and sometimes even food, I recommend you to do either WWOOFing or Workaway.

The abbreviation WWOOF means World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You have to register for each country or group of countries separately and pay a small fee in order to get access to the WWOOF host database. You then contact farms and apply for a job in exchange of accommodation and board.

You can also find all kinds of different jobs on Workaway. Again, you pay a small fee (currently 23.00 €/about $30 USD for two years) to be able to apply for the jobs. The fee includes access to the the database of all their hosts in 135 countries. The job advertisement displays the tasks you need to fulfill, how many hours you have to work, what you are going to get as an exchange and possibly some photos of the location as well as reviews by former workers.

Work Location Independent

There are many jobs you can do location independent. You don’t need to have that one big business idea. There are a lot of freelance opportunities out there, where you find your customers and collaborate for one or several projects together. Even though the most common jobs include web design, programming jobs or technical support, there are jobs you can do without an IT background like writing, blogging and translating jobs or virtual assistance. Register on Elance and Odesk and start working location independent while exploring the world. You can also try pitching some of your favorite blogs and magazines and offering to write a story.

Adapt Your Travel Style

Apart from jobs you can do on the road, to make your money last longer, you should adapt your travel style. You cannot stay in all inclusive resorts and be a total tourist all the time. The more local you travel, the less you spend and the longer you are able to travel.

Travel slowly

The majority of your costs are for transportation and accommodation. If you stay longer in one place and travel more intensively instead of seeing as much as you can, you will spend less money. You do not only save money for getting from A to B every day, there are also a lot of deals for accommodation you can make use of. Ask your hostel beforehand for long stay deals or book an apartment for a month with the help of Airbnb. And the best thing about traveling slowly apart from saving money: You make better friends when you have more time, are traveling in a more eco-friendly manner, become less tired and stressed and have a better chance of truly immersing yourself in local culture.

train

Photo courtesy of Nana B. Agyei.

Overland

You have to get from A to B at some point, of course. You should always try to travel by bus instead of by plane when traveling on a budget (or when trying to lower your carbon footprint). Flights are typically more expensive than buses and trains as they are more comfortable and faster. With overland travel there are likely to be times you’ll have an exhausting journey; however, you’ll save money and will see more of the country.

Couchsurfing

If you’re not on Couchsurfing you should register today. It’s a great community of fellow travelers who offer their couch for you at no cost at all. Often, they’ll also take you sightseeing, cook you some typical dishes and show you the local side of the destination. Note: It’s also a nice gesture to bring a gift in order to say “thank you” or to pay for dinner or cook a meal from your home country.

You can decide whether to look for someone where you can stay and crash on a couch, simply to meet for drinks or do a trip with another Couchsurfer. You do not have to offer your own couch in order to be able to use other couches.
Another unwritten law of Couchsurfing is to not stay too long in one place. Two to three nights is a usual time frame for most Couchsurfers.

Housesitting

If you want to stay longer in one city, housesitting might be the right thing for you. Housesitting is where you take care of the house and often the pets of the owner while he is traveling and not at home. You can live there for free and might have some tasks to fulfill like feeding animals or watering plants. Websites to find housesits are:

Live Like A Local, Not Like A Tourist

The best tip I can provide for saving money during your trip is to avoid being a tourist. Sound weird? That’s what you have to do to avoid high costs. Don’t eat out at the main tourist spots and don’t catch tourist buses. Instead: eat street food or cook yourself, take public transportation, travel off the beaten path or go to your destination outside of the high-season.

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What do you do to save money on your trips? Please share in the comments below. 

About The Author

Stef is the face behind http://foodandphotosrtw.com, a blog that shares practical budget travel tips, photos and food ideas from around the world. She just quit her job and is currently on the way from a 9-5 employee to a long-term traveler. You can also follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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5 Comments

  1. Stef on September 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for letting me contribute a guest post for you Jess!

    • jess2716 on September 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      @Stef: Thank YOU 🙂 Loved your post!

  2. Serhat on July 7, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Informative and inspiring post for travelling on a bugdet. I enjoyed reading thank you.

  3. Jean Morrison on November 7, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Thank you so much for your website. I’m enjoying it greatly.

    We’ve travelled in some interesting places on a fairly low budget, including Russia and through the Himalayas . We, for the most part, enjoyed Couch Surfing. Lots of experiences to be had there.

    • Jessie Festa on November 14, 2016 at 7:56 am

      @Jean: I’m a big fan of CouchSurfing. I feel like instead of currency, culture is what’s exchanged.

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