Travelling means a weekend vacation to some, a luxury escape to some, and a lifestyle to some others. When I decided to travel long term, I had very little funds in my account and months of travel plans. It was about to become a lifestyle for me and I had realised if I were going to travel full time I must have a plan to sort my finances! I was able to backpack across many beautiful states in India, for free and I'm finally ready to share my secret with you!
The easiest way to stay and eat for free is to volunteer. I have volunteered at many hostels, helped set them up, painted walls and pots and had so much fun while at it. You can also volunteer as a school teacher, cook, yoga instructor, photographer, painter, tour guide, etc. and you might as well earn some extra cash while at it!
Workaway is one of the most credible and amazing platforms to ease your travel worldwide, via volunteer work. It encourages sustainable travel and cultural exchange globally. All you have to do is register yourself with a one-time fee, enlist your skills and your date and place of travel, and they will connect you with a hostel/organisation that could use your skills. And voila! your stay is for free!
I started writing long ago only as a hobby but soon realised how it was a thriving market waiting to be tapped. Thus, I began writing travel articles and blogs for various travel websites, and made money out of it. I would carry my laptop everywhere with me and write about the places that I travelled to. This way I was simply making money on the go and meeting my daily expenses.
Review and earn
I was introduced to Hostelz.com by an Austrian friend who had travelled extensively in Europe by earning money from reviews. This website pays you up to Rs 700 per review, when you stay at a hostel anywhere in the world. You can also simply walk in a hostel, take a few pictures and write a genuine review about your experience there. If it gets approved you get paid!
Once my blog took off I started getting sponsors and collaborative arrangements. It is a barter where you get to travel/stay for free in return of which you have to promote their business. This is a win-win for both parties, and it is a great way to meet new people and see difficult-to-travel places with low effort!
Lead a trip
When you have mastered the tricks of collaborations and volunteer work, you'd realise how lucrative the travel business is, with a plethora of opportunities waiting to be explored. There are many travel startups and tour companies that organise group trips and treks across India. These companies are always looking for freelance employees who can lead a tour and manage a group of people. I took a group of 50 foreign students on a South India trip this March, and other than a free luxury trip, I got to have so much fun too!
Once I began travelling long term, I realised there was no point in paying rent for months without living at a place. So I vacated my place, carried most of my stuff with me or dumped it at my sister's place (yes I did, because I own very little, an important lesson learnt from travelling), and I was saving so much money. Not even half of the rent money saved was used on my trips, so I used it on souvenirs!
Most of these tricks are for people who have a travel lifestyle or who are willing to travel long-term. Although, you can still volunteer on your weekend trip and get the experience. It is an exciting learning experience and it gets you free stuff, so go for it, or maybe write travel blogs and get published. Start today!
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