Budget travel tends to be a pretty generic catchphrase these days. Budgets vary widely from one person to the next, and one traveler’s concept of frugality can be quite higher than others’. There are ways around that pesky money issue though, and there are experiences traveling with no costs that money couldn’t buy. Even if you had it.
Couchsurfing has long been known and used among travelers and spring getaway planners alike. The site has millions of users at this point and will continue to grow as more and more people look for a cheaper alternative to the tried and true use of hostels. It’s more than just a free place to stay(although, that is a huge perk), it’s an exchange of values and ideas. I have surfed multiple times in different countries and have yet to find an unpleasant experience. You often meet wonderful new friends or absolutely bizarre characters that are always good for a night out. The best part is knowing that since they are the locals, they know all the hot spots and sights that you just can’t find among the backpacker crowd. It’s absolutely brilliant for a quick weekend out.
The dreaded word. Feared by so many Americans with they implications of mutilation or perhaps having your skin fashioned and worn as a dashing hat for a tobacco chewing truck driver. The few dangers that do exist in hitchhiking(mostly getting stuck in the rain) are easily eclipsed by the adventure entailed the whole ordeal. Lauren did a great write-up on our experiences in Ireland. Hitching is simply more efficient than bus and train transit in many parts of the world. You simply never know what kind of person you will be conversing with, but on the plus side, you will be holding interesting conversations. Unlike on a bus, where people are rather content to not so much as make eye contact with one another.
3. Working for accommodation
The three essential costs to all backpackers are food,shelter,and transportation. You can easily subtract the food and shelter portion out of your budget plans with work exchange programs such as Wwoofing, Helpx, and Workaway. The plan is simple. You meet and live with a host, do a few hours a work a day in whatever they need, and they feed you. Sounds simple. That’s because it is. I personally travel with Helpx and have only had one bad experience. The work can be varied widely, as can the quality of food. But there is simply no way to experience many of the events that you will encounter through these websites. You engage with a real local family, and how they live their life. Whether you are taking out bicycles you’ve been lent to the beach, or wondering how you ended up drinking 20 year old Scotch in an Irish manor during a 60th birthday party. The work is nothing compared to the memories and friendships that arise from this style of travel. The stays are often longer(up to a few months) so you get to really become isaturated by the surrounding culture. You don’t have to rush to see all the sights you want to fit in, you just plan weekend trips and take your leisure. Travel slow, see more.
Traveling free is possible.I have done it personally. The satisfaction that comes from the chance encounters is just as satisfying as seeing your bank account remain at it’s current balance. The less money you spend, the longer you can travel. Or perhaps you can justify that dream scuba trip in Greece by not wasting all your money on questionable beds that smell of goat cheese.