Budget Travel Guide: 13 Creative Money Saving Tactics You Didn't Know About But Should

Useful resources and ideas to help you travel the world on a tight budget

Staying in expensive hotels or flying to popular tourist spots like Paris during the peak summer months can really put a dent in your travel budget- often restricting you to travel less or worse, never at all. Fortunately for you, just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t travel the world. You just need to get creative in how you travel. I’ve put together 13 innovative ways you didn’t know you could travel to save money.

13 budget travel ideas worth trying

Money Is Not Stopping You From Travelling. Usually when I hear someone say they can’t afford to travel, what they really mean is they can’t afford their IDEAL vacation or trip which usually entails staying at some fancy-ish hotel or travelling to some popular and expensive travel getaway during peak travel season. Or what they really mean is that they would rather spend their money on other things over travel.

In reality, anyone can afford to travel and anyone can afford to travel more often. You just need to be willing to do things a little differently and think outside the box a bit.

Some of the methods I mention below will no doubt be new to you or seem unconventional- nevertheless there are gaggles of people that do in fact use these methods to afford travel- myself included. Many of the friends I’ve encountered during my travels also use these methods to travel the world and many of them travel with kids in tow.

With that said, here are 13 methods you can try along with links to the corresponding resources website. Enjoy!

Volunteer Your Way Around The World.

volunteer your way around the worldVolunteering is a good way to travel to places you might not otherwise visit while also helping individuals and communities in need. Here are several examples of volunteer work you can find around the world.

1-Family Volunteering

I have always wanted to volunteer abroad and I still plan on volunteering but the cost can be prohibitive. Did you know it can cost several thousand dollars to volunteer, even for humanitarian purposes?

Although fulfilling and less expensive than a normal 2 week vacation if you amortize the cost over the entire length of your stay which can be anywhere from a week to several months, it’s still out of the price range of many people- especially if you want to go with a second person or as a family.

For instance, to volunteer to teach English in Ghana for an 4 weeks will cost you about $2,900 USD. It gets progressively less epxpensive the longer you stay. Volunteering in Ghana to teach English for 8 weeks will cost you about $4,080 USD and 12 weeks will cost you about $5,200 USD per person. Usually this fee covers food, lodging, insurance, emergency medical evacuation, maybe some language training but you will still responsible for your own visa and airline ticket.

Here is a link to the example I give above www.projects-abroad.org/prices/#volunteer-and-intern-abroad-by-country-ghana

Benefit of paying to volunteer- The benefit of volunteering for an organization like this is that they are usually more organized. They provide you with help or assistance in the procedures. And many organizations even allow your children as young as 4 years old to volunteer with you.  You’re not restricted to just teaching English, you can also volunteer to do other things such as farming, building, marketing etc. It just depends on the location, organization and project.

There are many organizations out there, you just have to find the right one.

If paying to volunteer is still too expensive or you want to find free volunteer opportunities, you still have many  options.

Check out the next section for a bunch of free volunteer opportunities.

2-Volunteer on organic farms worldwide.

Imagine picking grapes in France or olives in Italy. OHHH how cool would that be?

There is an organization called WWOOFing that helps people work as volunteers on organic farms internationally. Usually you work 4 to 6 hours per day helping on the farm and In exchange you get free room, board and food.

There are all kinds of things you can do all over the globe. Many accept families, others don’t.

NOTE: You have to pay for your own transportation to and from the farms and membership on the WWOOFing site costs about 20 to 50 dollars per country where you are searching for opportunities.

3- Stay With Locals For Either Work, Money Or Free

Need more options than just volunteering at organic farms?

No problem. There is a service called www.staydu.com and their motto says it all… “stay with locals for either work, money or free”.

  • Do you like horses? look for horse stables around the world looking for a farm hand.
  • Want to go to Germany and practice your German? You might find a hostel to work at in exchange for lodging.
  • Just want to hang out in Japan? See if a local in Japan will host you for free or in exchange to teach them English.

NOTE: You must provide your own transportation to and from the location and there is a small fee to join the site. It’s less then 25 U.S. Dollars which is a steal if you ask me.

Free Or Really Cheap Accommodations Around The World

After transportation, accommodation is probably going to be one of your biggest expenses for your trip.

It stands to reason that if you can find free or cheap accommodations or eliminate housing costs all together that you don’t need quite as much money as you thought.

Here are several options for you to consider.

4- Couchsurfing: Stay For Free With Awesome Locals

couch-surfingWant to stay completely free some place for a few days and have instant friends?

Try Couchsurfing.com! A web based service that connects travellers like you with people all around the world who are willing to let you stay in their house for FREE.

There are a couple of things you should know. The owners are letting you stay in their home with them in it so you could literally be sleeping on the couch or the floor or all crammed in one room on air mattresses.

The other thing to note is, you should not wear out your welcome. Don’t plan on staying in one place for more than a few days.

The idea sounded weird to me too. To be honest, I didn’t think it would work for us because we are a family of five but we gave it a try anyway and we loved it.

We got to meet local people (our hosts), hang out and get the skinny on things to do in the area.

It’s really easy to find places to stay. Once you signup and create a profile, you can search for places by location and by the number of people they can accommodate.

If Couch-surfing isn’t your thing, totally understandable, than check out the next thing on this list. Hostels, they aren’t free but they’re pretty darn cheap.

5- Hostels: Stay in dorm like rooms; even if you have a family

stay in hostels around the world

Hostel Dorm Room Accommodations

If you are not familiar with hostels, they are hotels with dorm like accommodations.

At one time, only single young people under 25 stayed in hostels but more and more older people including baby boomer’s and families are taking advantage of the low cost hostels.

Most of the time there is a communal kitchen where you can warm up some food and you’ll have to share a bathroom.

Expect to pay around 20 bucks per person per night. Maybe more, maybe less. It just depends where and what country you are in.

To find hostels, you can troll the Internet or you could visit a hostel portal like HostelWorld.comBooking.com and HostelBookers.com

HostelWorld alone has over,20,200 hostels & budget hotels and 200 camp-sites world wide.

6- House-Sit Your Way Around The World

Housesitting cornwall

Photo courtesy: TrustedHouseSitters.com


There are people with huge houses in locations you want to visit who are looking for people to watch their house  for them.

What’s the catch?

-Well, you have to buy your own tickets to and from the place.

-You don’t get paid but you get a free place to stay.

-The owners may ask you to feed their pets, water the plants or just keep an eye on things in general.

It really is a win win situation.

Anyone can do House-Sitting including families with kids.

You just need to know where to look for house-sitting gigs .

If you want to skip the learning curve on how to House-Sit your way around the world, I recommend you buy this eBook from Hecktic travels called…

 “How To Become A House-Sitter”.

I’ve read it and highly recommend it. It has literally saved me hours of research and answered every single question I could ever have about house-sitting.

It’s available in PDF format so you can read it right away on your tablet or laptop.

Use Miles & Points To Buy Airline Tickets

7-Use Miles To Buy Tickets

I won’t get into the specifics of which card to use but I will say that you could get one free ticket just signing up for one or two credit cards.

All you have to do is wait for one of those deals where they give you 50,000 miles after you spend 500 dollars or something like that. It a pretty easy way to get a free flight.

I’ve bought many tickets using miles I’ve accumulated with my cards. In fact, back in 2011 when we flew to France, I purchased 4 of our tickets using miles.

That alone saved us almost 4,000 dollars for doing nothing more than spending and buying things like I normally would. Try it and watch the points add up. Easy!

8-Borrow, Get A Loan Or Use Credit

Borrow money to travel: under certain circumstances it may be the right choiceI normally don’t advocate taking out a personal loan for a lifestyle choice like travelling however under certain circumstances, it might be appropriate.

Here are a few examples when borrowing MIGHT be appropriate.

Borrow For A Gap Year: One example of when It may be appropriate to borrow money to travel is if you want to take a few months to a year off to travel before you start college (aka take a gap year) and you come up a little short on your savings goal.  The benefit and fulfillment you get from that gap year may far outweigh the cost in the long term. Besides, you can always get a working holiday visa and work your way around the world to help offset your costs once you hit the road.

Emergency Fund: Another instance when borrowing money might be o.k. is for an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund can eliminate lots of stress and give you peace of mind while travelling in case something unforeseeable happens.

Borrow to travel so you can advance your career or future earning potential: Millions of people invest in their future by borrowing money to pay for college so why not borrow money to travel if it can potentially advance your career and or future earning potential?

Here are a few scenarios.

  • You want to write a book about Africa and you want first hand experience but need money to go their.
  • You want to become a French translator and want to spend some time in France to immerse yourself.
  • You have a research project for school.

Death or illness: Lastly, if a family member dies or is ill and you just need to see them or attend a funeral, a loan may be your only choice. I had to fly to Montreal to bury my fathers ashes in the family plot and I had to do it on credit.

Here are several ways you can go about getting a loan to travel.

Credit Cards: You could use your credit card for the bulk of your purchases but many credit cards have high interest rates which might make paying back your loan really difficult.

Personal travel loan:  Another option is to take out a personal loan for travel which usually have a lower interest rate than credit cards which makes repaying your loan a little easier. Just remember that getting a travel loan could be a little tricky to get. You need to make sure you have good credit and the ability to repay the loan before any bank will even look at lending you money.

Family: Lastly, you could hit up your family and hope they let you borrow money.

Work Your Way Around The World


Talon taught scuba diving in Central America

If you want to spend more than a couple of months travelling and money is an issue than you should consider working your way around the world.

Many people, including myself have used this method to afford world travel.

Not only is it a great way to fund your travels, it’s a great way to really get to know the local culture, language and make local friendships that will last a lifetime.

With that said, here are several ways you can work your way around the world.

9- Get A Working Holiday.

Many countries have a special visa called a working holiday visa which allows foreigners to work in that country for a short amount of time. 

Most of the jobs are going to be low level, low paying jobs that don’t require a degree or a lot of work experience.

Here are some examples of jobs you can get on a working holiday.

  • Au pair (Many people over-seas want English speaking au pairs to help their kids learn English).
  • Waitress/Waiter ( May require you to speak the language)
  • Scuba Diving instructor: This single dad taught diving in Central America to support him and his son.
  • Tour guide:
  • Bartender
  • Crew on a yacht
  • Cruise ship worker
  • Become a Travelling Webmaster and trade hostel lodging for webmaster work.

If you are interested in finding out  more about working your way around the world, start by doing a search for “working holidays” and “working holiday visas” for a specific country and don’t forget to check out that countries website to learn about visa requirements.  Here is an example on the Australian website.

10- Teach English Overseas

What better way to pay for your travels than teach something you know how to do in your sleep?

I taught English off and on while living in Japan through a program called the Jet Exchange Program and made enough money to fund my travels for several years. I worked six months on and 3 months off travelling and visiting various places around the world.

NOTE: You may need to get certified with something called the TEFL certificate which isn’t that hard to get and does not take that long to get. You may even be able to take the class online within a matter of months for less than $800.

11- Become a digital nomad: Portable Careers That Let You Freelance While Travelling

Become a digital nomad and freelance and work anywhere in the world with just your laptop.If you have some skill that you can do from anywhere in the world from your laptop than you have what is called a portable career and you can become a digital nomad.

Many digital nomads do something called Geo-arbitrage. They command western salaries but live in places where the cost of living is far below what it would cost to live in their home country.

For instance, Victoria is a British girl who decided the 9 to 5 life wasn’t for her so she moved to Bali and figured out a way to make an income online. She ended up starting a travel Blog called Pommie Travels. Now she makes a living by selling advertising on her website, freelance writing and handling the media and PR for individual clients.

Here are a few examples of freelance jobs you can do while travelling.

  • Freelance Writer or copy writer
  • Web designer
  • English Teacher ( teach English via Skype or video call).
  • Consultant: ( what skill do you have that you could use to start consulting people and businesses)
  • Transcribers: Video and medical transcriber
  • Virtual Assistant: (very popular)
  • Data Entry

Freelance Work Portals Where You Can Find Work

Become A Travel Companion

12- Become A Professional Travel Companion

I once had a neighbour who was in her late 80’s. She had money but no one to travel with and she was willing to pay for someone to accompany her on her travels. I didn’t know it at the time but what she needed was a travel companion.

Elder Travel Companion and General Travel Companion

It turns out there is a real need for travel companions for the elderly as well as disabled people, children, hearing impaired, visually-impaired or people who are just nervous about flying alone.

Just remember, you will be working and probably won’t be able to do any skydiving or climbing mount Everest but you will have some time to yourself to explore once in a while so pick and choose your jobs carefully.

To find a company that helps hook up professional travel companions with people looking for travel companions, just do a search on the Internet for professional travel companion or paid air travel escort.

Here is one such service -> 

Get Paid to travel with other people: become a travel companion

13 -Date And Travel The World: Travel Dating

If you are single, attractive, low on cash and looking to meet other travellers, try this travel dating website.

I have not tried this myself nor do I know anybody who has but found it really intriguing.

If you are curious here is the video commercial for the site and service. Let me know if you know of anyone who has tried this.


Although unconventional, if you really want to make travel a priority than budget travel may be your ticket. Good luck.

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and FOUNDER OF THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE which features travel tips, food, festivals, photography and more from France. Annie currently lives in France with her husband and three children.

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