Travel for Less: How to Travel for Cheap or Free



Have you been bitten by the travel bug? If you haven’t, maybe you’re looking to be bitten. Either way, we believe that seeing the world and having some amazing experiences along the way is one of the best things you can do to live an exciting and fulfilling lifestyle. But unfortunately there are two big anti-travel monsters that will often rear their ugly heads: One is Time and the other is Money.

Travel for less will show you how to cut travel expenses by so much, that in some cases you literally won’t be able to afford not to go. We’re serious. In some cases you can travel for so ultra cheap or even free, that it actually costs more money to stay at home.

As far as time goes, rule number 1 is to use your vacation days! Most people don’t. Don’t let them expire. If you’ve run out of vacay time, try negotiating with your manager to get some time off with pay, or without. Maybe you’ll be able to take an even longer break, or an early retirement if you plan it out right. Time can always be found for those who prioritise travelling highly.

But our focus here is on saving money. So here’s the first big consideration for attacking the money monster: For whatever your travel cost is, be sure to subtract how much it would cost you to live for that day, week month or year, at home.

From here, we will show you the top 11 strategies how to travel for cheap or for free.

How to Travel for Cheap.

  • Set travel goals. What do you want to see? Where do you want to go? Want more beach relaxation, or cultural experience? Or both? As you’re setting your goals, try not stretching the areas you visit too thin. The more you travel within a continent, the more it will cost you. Focusing on 1-3 cities will save you travel costs, and help you get a better taste and feel of the areas you are visiting.
  • Look for the lowest cost time to travel. There is usually a high season Vs. low season, where it costs more to travel in the high season. But not always. Check out the ‘Hopper’ app in your app store. It’s free and will highlight the cheapest days to fly – the price will vary widely depending on day. Cross reference with your favourite booking site.
  • Lower your cost of nightly stay. Couch surfing is the cheapest, just be sure to find a compatible and trustworthy place to stay. There are also some pretty nice hostels out there that cater to both young and older. For a few dollars per night, it can be worth sleeping in a bunk if you are outside exploring all day anyway. Maybe it makes sense to mix some budget hotels and cheaper hostels.
  • Use Local Transportation. Skip the expensive cars, trains and planes. Taking a bus with locals in many countries can get you to your destination for just a few dollars, and will give you an authentic taste and perspective of the country you’re in.
  • Find All Inclusive steals. If you look hard enough, you’ll find some all inclusive beach resorts that cost a few hundred dollars for a flight and all you can eat, and if its your thing, all you can party. For many, the cost of eating and entertainment at home can far surpass the cost of flying south and living for the week.
  • Use deal finder travel sites. See below for a list of blogs and resources that will help you find the most amazing travel deals, at a fraction of the cost.

Travel for Cheap Top Resources:

  • YYZ Deals. An amazing blog in Canada. Be open minded to snag unreal travel deals.
  • Travel Zoo. One of the largest and best maintained travel steal deal sites operating.
  • Kayak. The best site for comparing top travel booking web sites.
  • Spirit Air. One of the lowest cost airlines on earth. Just be sure to pick the cheap flight days travel very light!
  • Hopper. Top travel app for flight costs. Pick the lowest cost days to fly. Cross reference online.
  • Groupon. A great place to search for low cost travel adventures in the areas you are staying.
  • Trip Advisor. A whole bunch of places to visit, pretty much anywhere. Many of the destinations including parks, museums, natural wonders and attractions are free or nearly free.

How to Travel for Free.

Travelling for free is going to take some more creativity, but it can be done no problem for those open minded to it.

  • Integrate travel with your regular work. Does your job send you places for conferences, meetings, or any other purpose? If not, it may be time to look for or create a job that does this. Travel is available in every area of employment, from Academics, to health care. If you have a small business, necessary travelling for work may be a tax deduction. The idea is to piggy back your vacation onto your work duties – an extra week or two for yourself, for example. For the record, visit a tax accountant to discuss related tax rules here.
  • Work overseas. Although you might not even call it work… One of the most fun and rewarding ways to earn money overseas is to teach English. At Altrua, we have several friends that are having a blast doing this. Although the pay is not a ton, often the flight is paid for along with accommodations. The money you earn from the teaching gig can be used for more travelling in your area, or saved for when you return home. Other popular jobs include working at a restaurant/ bar or hotel/hostel. It certainly helps to learn the local language, which can be a fun adventure in and of itself.
  • Start a business that can get your hotel rooms free and flights paid for. One of the better examples is How to Travel for Free by Taylor Jackson. He has plenty of tips for using your camera to get free stays at hotels.
  • Use Air Miles cards. At Altrua, we are not a fan of promoting credit cards. However if you have excellent credit management skills, it can make sense to use an Air Plan credit card. You may find that you are able to get a return flight per year for free. Alternatively Air Miles can be used exclusively without a credit card. Focus on spending at places that accept air miles to get your trip for free.
  • Join an international community. Organisations such as Rotary and other house swapping organisations serve as an excellent way to live with another family in a different country for free.