9 Ways to travel when you're broke

Richard Mellor

If you’re savvy, it’s possible to explore the world for little to zilch—or even to make money as you tour the world

Credit card rewards

This one obviously takes some pre-planning, but the sooner you start… Basically, certain credit cards offer a travel-rewards scheme, with you earning points that can be redeemed on air miles or hotel stays. 

Examples include American Express’s Preferred Rewards Gold and—especially good for air miles—the HSBC Premier World Elite.

 

Drive for dosh

Available for Brits, but currently only in the US, the company Auto Driveaway connects motorists with vehicles which require transporting somewhere else, offering a free set of wheels in exchange for delivery to the destination. 

Petrol is usually included, and you’re paid a negotiated rate for the effort of taking the car or van from A to B—and that could be a cross-country epic of the sort you’ve long dreamt about.

Toronto Driveaway uses the same model but also covers Canada.

 

Earn a living

If you’re willing to bend your back to fund your trip, there are lots of paid gigs out there. WWOOF places temporary labourers on organic farms in exchange for board and room—only a small subscription fee is charged—while HelpX does similarly but also covers lodges, hostels and horse stables. For work on boats, check out Crewbay.

On Workaway schemes, volunteers perform tasks such as administration or babysitting for five hours a day, Monday to Friday, and receive free meals and accommodation as payment. 

On Workaway schemes, volunteers perform tasks such as administration or babysitting for five hours a day, Monday to Friday, and receive free meals and accommodation as payment. 

 

Teach English

Or there’s the most classic way of them all to raise some dosh: teach English. We’re in the enviable position of being fluent at one of the world’s most in-demand languages. In most cases, tutoring others doesn’t require educational experience, just willingness and patience.

It helps if you’re certified by dint of having taken a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course—not least because then you can apply for the trusted provider’s many online postings.

 

Be an instructor

Running along similar principles, the firm Adventure Work lists sporting instructor jobs—including surfing, bouldering, mountain biking and, yes, skiing—around the world. Again, qualifications aren’t always essential; speaking extra languages can boost your chances.

 

House swapping – or sitting

One way to support gratis travel is by leveraging your own home as payment. House-swapping sites like Home Exchange and HomeLink—though they levy an annual membership charge – can facilitate this.

If subletting’s simply not an option, there are also house-sitting placements out there, although references are generally required so you might want to start at home in advance. Try Trusted Housesitters.

 

Ask for gift cards

Instead of a new iPhone case or unwanted scarves, ask for an Airbnb or Mr & Mrs Smith gift voucher for your next birthday or Christmas present. Accumulate enough, and you’ll be looking at free accommodation.

 

Couch surf

Another means to a complimentary bed—or perhaps sofa—is the legendary Couchsurfing website, in which hosts around the world offer up nights for free to needy travellers. You’ll get to meet genuine locals into the bargain, too.

 

Sell your photos

Travel photos needn’t just be Instagram jealousy-inducers. Via the app Foap, your best snaps are made available to big business brands and you make $5 (about £4) whenever one is purchased – and the same one can be purchased multiple times.

Foap also curates ‘Missions’, i.e. com-missions by brands for specific photos. Winners of these can earn $100 (£80).