Roughing it, how to travel on a budget:
A short guide to surviving on the road after the money has run out.
This article was written at Transylvania Hostel by guest author Andrew Revel
In my time spent on the road I’ve met many people who are on short term trips, but would love to continue to travel rather than returning home to work. For the majority of these people the only thing keeping them from a life on the road is the age old enemy of many a traveller. Money. How to travel on a budget?
They say money makes the world go round, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we need money to go around the world.
A few months ago I found myself nibbling away at the remains of the savings I had when I first set off traveling over a year ago. I certainly wasn’t ready to go home, there was still so much left to do and see and the idea of going home then was inconceivable. I had to find a way to prolong the trip.
Volunteering was something I had looked into before I even set off on my trip, but I remember sitting at home and only ever finding volunteer projects that I would have to pay for, often thousands of pounds. On my travels however, I happened to meet a guy volunteering at a hostel who let me into a great secret, that amazingly a lot of people still seem unaware of.
Workaway (www.workaway.info) is a website that allows everyday people, NGO’s, hostels etc, who are in need of a helping hand to advertise for volunteers, all around the world. Potential volunteers can browse through the thousands of hosts and opportunities, and read information on the projects without even signing up. Projects vary from baby sitting jobs to long term eco projects, and almost everything else in between. Most hosts will offer food and accommodation for the duration of your stay, all you need to do is get there. To contact a host you do need to sign up to the website and create a profile, there is a cost, but only around twenty Euro’s for two years membership. Volunteering in this way can allow you to really get to know a new culture or country as you will often be living in the local community with normal everyday members of the human race. I’ve stayed with a family in a tiny Ukrainian village in this way, and have to say it was a great way to connect with the community and see many things I would have missed if I had just passed through as I had been doing in the past.
There are other ways to volunteer if you prefer a bit more structure and stability. For Europeans, EVS – European Voluntary Service – provides fantastic opportunities to travel to and live in a new country. This EU funded programme will fly you out to the country you decide to volunteer in and back home again at the end. You will be provided with free accommodation and food and pocket money monthly. There are projects all around Europe, and apparently some even further a field. There are short term projects from two weeks to two months, and long term projects from three months, up to a year. Often you will be working with an NGO, doing anything from social work to organising your own projects, depending on the type of project you join. The process of finding a project that you want to join and being accepted can be difficult, as sometimes projects fill up quickly, or don’t get funding and are cancelled at the last minute. Not to worry though. All volunteers must sign up with a sending organisation in their home country, generally an NGO, who will aid them throughout the process of finding a project, and will normally email vacancies and new projects.
As an EVS volunteer you’re likely to find yourself living and working with several people from various different backgrounds and cultures, in a destination of your choice, from vibrant, multi cultural cities in Eastern Europe, to tiny villages in Turkey or the UK.
For more information on EVS, and how to apply, check their website, and the European database of accredited EVS organisations:
Other free volunteer opportunities include HelpX and WWOOFing. HelpX is a similar to workaway, whereas WWOOFing (world wide opportunities on organic farms) focuses more on organic farming projects. Both work in a similar way to workaway, and offer opportunities all over the world. I haven’t used either of these websites yet, so for more information it’s better to visit their websites:
Yet another possibility to work/volunteer and travel is teaching. Native speakers of English have it easiest, and can find work, or at least volunteering opportunities around the world. Often you need a degree, or a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) qualification to find paid work. It is possible to do it without however, with schemes such as Teach and Learn with Georgia – a programme that recruits not only native speakers of English, but also EU citizens with a good level of English. No previous qualifications or experience is necessary. They will pay to fly you out to Georgia and back home again at the end of the semester, as well as provide basic training, a monthly stipend and a host family to live with. Often, TLG volunteers find themselves in remote villages or towns in the middle of the stunningly beautiful and uniquely brilliant country of Georgia. The community of volunteers is a strong one and you’re never too far from another TLGer. At the time of writing there are currently about 250 TLG volunteers living and working in Georgia. There are also possibilities to teach French, German or Italian (possibly more) through this scheme. Visit the website for more details; www.tlg.gov.ge/ . With this experience (and what an experience!) under your belt, finding more teaching work around the world is slightly easier!
Many travellers have spent a fair few nights in hostels, and I imagine many of them consider working in a hostel as a dream job, travelling without travelling so to speak. Working in a hostel really is a great way to keep travelling whilst staying in one place for a while. Ask around, you might be lucky enough to end up in a hostel that you love, who are recruiting. Several hostels will also offer free food and accommodation, in exchange for a few hours work a day, maybe cleaning, making beds, or even taking guests out and showing them a good time – nothing too strenuous!
To make it easier for both parties, there is a website dedicated to advertising vacancies in hostels and potential hostel workers for hostels looking for staff – professional and volunteer – around the world, check it out, www.hosteljobs.net, the jobs available on www.hostelmanagement.com or www.hosteltraveljobs.com/!
Perhaps you’re not quite ready to settle anywhere for too long, and just want to keep moving. In which case finding work or volunteering isn’t ideal. If this is the case, and you still want to keep travelling, without paying for accommodation if possible, don’t despair!
Couch Surfing (www.couchsurfing.com) is a fantastic way to travel the world on a budget. Their website has members from all around the world, offering a free place to stay. It allows you to search for hosts pretty much anywhere in the world. All members (hosts and surfers) must provide information about themselves. As a surfer you are free to browse all the hosts’ profiles so you can get an idea of who you’ll be staying with.
Alternatively, when the weather is good, and the stars are blazing above you as a cool wind blows, why stay indoors?! Camping, and in particular wild camping for those on a tight budget, is a lot of fun, as well as a very relaxing experience. You can really become one with the world you are travelling, and cut yourself off from the chaos of the modern world.
If you’re crafty enough you can easily find a decent camp in the woods, in a farmer’s field or by a river side. Of course, if you don’t want to risk trespassing, you can always ask the farmer if you could camp in his field, more often then not he’ll say yes, and might even offer you the use of his facilities. If wild camping, just be careful where you pitch your tent, I packed up my tent one morning after a fairly nice nights sleep, only to see a sign warning me of wild boars in the area 100 metres down the path..
It might not always be 100% legal everywhere you go, but what’s the worst that can happen? You spend a night in a cell? Not always a bad thing if the weather takes a turn for the worst!
More details can be found in this article;
So I’ve talked of various opportunities to work, volunteer and stay around the world for free. But in many cases you still need to get to these places yourself. These can be very long distances, so walking might not always be favourable for you. Of course, walking is the ultimate way to travel for free. Not only does it not cost anything, but you have the ultimate freedom to go wherever you please. I have a friend who walked home, in Scotland, from the Czech Republic. He wrote a short blog during his trip, and seemed to have many an adventure along the way. And he’s not the only one. There seem to be more and more people walking around the world these days. Generally, it takes at least four years, 20 million steps and some 15,000 miles to walk around the world; www.matadornetwork.com/bnt/seriously-slow-6-travelers-who-walked-around-the-world/.
However, if walking is not quite your thing, then perhaps hitch-hiking might be. Considered by many in the West to be a perilous and stupid thing to do, if you take a few simple precautions it can be a very rewarding and exciting way to travel. You’ll be sure to hear a few great stories along the way, and will no doubt have some of your own to tell eventually! It’s as simple as finding a suitable bit of road and sticking your thumb out! It’s perhaps better to travel with a travel buddy rather than alone, and a sign can help speed up the process. In my experience, the further East you go, the easier it seems to get a ride, in many Eastern European countries hitch-hiking is a fairly normal way to get around, just beware as in some countries, it is normal to pay a little for a ride, but if you agree on a price, or whether it will be free, before you accept, it will help you avoid uncomfortable situations later on!
If you’re taking your first tentative steps into the world of hitch-hiking, there are several websites full of advice, such as www.hitchwiki.org/. This website is great, as it provides maps with the best places to get a ride depending on where you’re going to and where you’re leaving from. It is also packed full of articles, handy hints and forums where you can arrange a ride.
Organised hitch-hiking is another alternative, if you’re not quite ready to jump into the wild yet. There are a great many websites in which drivers advertise their free seats.
- – www.hitchhikers.org/
- – www.pickuppal.com/pup/intro.html
- – www.freewheelers.com
- – http://www.autostoponline.ro/
More websites can be found by doing a quick Google search on organised hitch-hiking, and the name of the country you’re travelling from. To list them all here would take a long time; Germany and Italy alone have around twenty websites!
So there it is, in a nutshell. How to survive on the road for as little as possible. Hopefully this has uncovered some new ideas and provided a bit of inspiration for those of you who are looking for ways to travel without breaking the bank.