26 Ways to Travel for Free
How would you like to take your next vacation for free? What if you could experience the world without spending thousands of dollars?
You’re in luck! It turns out that there are many ways to travel for free. Although you may not be interested (or able) to pursue every item on this list, I’m confident that at least several of these free travel hacks will work for you.
From conversations with travelers, my own experiences, and a lot of reading, I’ve compiled a list of 26 ways that you can see the world without breaking the bank.
Some of these travel hacks are entirely free, others will provide you with a substantial discount. Finally, a few don’t really offer discounted travel, but provide you with the flexibility to afford a travel lifestyle.
If you’re willing to commit to a life of full-time travel, there are many great opportunities (including a few listed here). However, I also wanted to include ways to travel for free that would benefit weekend warriors.
Regardless of your career objectives, lifestyle, and travel interests, you should be able to find many great ways to save on travel here.
So check out the list, take a free trip, and share your experiences and advice in the comments section.
Do You Want to Know How to Travel for Free? Start with These 26 Free (and Mostly Free) Ways to Travel the World
Whether you’re a college student, retiree, full-time worker, or homeless vagabond, you’ll be able to find at least a few ways to travel the world for free using the following list.
So pull up a map and start brainstorming where your next trip will take you – because you’ll be taking it for free.
1. Use credit card rewards to travel hack
If you aren’t already using credit cards to travel for free, then you’re missing out! Not only can every purchase bring you closer to your next trip, but many credit cards have a signup bonus that’s enough for a free roundtrip flight or a week of lodging at a decent hotel.
My wife and I have traveled to Europe and Costa Rica over the last two years – enjoying free flights and lodging thanks to credit card rewards!
I’ve compile a list of links to some of my favorite credit cards here. Feel free to contact me if you would like a hand finding the best travel or rewards cards for you. (Tip: if you have a small business or blog, credit card hacking becomes even easier – so consider launching your own website).
Of course, for credit card travel to be worthwhile it’s essential to pay off your credit cards every month. If you carry a balance on your cards, the benefit quickly disappears. Only pursue credit card hacking if you feel confident in your ability to pay off your cards every month.
Who’s using credit card points for free travel?
My wife and I enjoy a plethora of free and discounted trips by using credit card points – but we aren’t alone. Brad and Laura Barrett use credit cards rewards to take their family all over the place – including a Disney vacation for free! All thanks to points.
Ready to give this a shot? Find a few great credit cards that will provide you with the points you need for your dream vacation. Visit the Money Nomad credit card page and contact me directly if you’d like a hand planning out a free vacation.
2. Start a blog and become a travel blogger
Although I love writing about business, entrepreneurship, and investing – I’m a terrible travel blogger. Why? Probably because I’m a lousy photographer and spend more time talking about the price of an experience than the experience itself (even if I loved it).
However, I’ve still received free lodging, tours, and other perks in exchange for writing about my experiences (such as my blog post about traveling in Costa Rica). And you can too! If you have a decent following and the ability to connect a business with new customers, you may be able to receive a few great experiences in exchange for a blog post or two.
The key is to find a niche, invest $25 to start a website, and get to writing! You may be able to make a few bucks right away by joining affiliate programs and selling small advertisements on platforms like Fiverr.
You can start earning income right away by participating in affiliate programs (like Amazon’s). If you’re eager to make some real money, I recommend reading my review about Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, which describes how she earns over $50,000 per month from her blog.
But remember, it takes time. You’ll likely need to write 50+ articles over a year before you’ll be able to get paid sponsors and free travel from your blog.
Who’s actually making money as a travel blogger?
There are a variety of travel bloggers in different niches (budget travel, solo travel, family travel, business travel, etc) that are all successful. The key is to find a focus and get started!
Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad primarily targets female solo travel. However, she has grown a large enough following to discuss almost any type of travel. Having a knack for photography and videography goes a long way in travel blogging — as does a photogenic personality.
Ready to give this a shot? Check out my how to start a blog guide to begin the journey. With $25, a bit of creativity, and a couple of hours a day, you can become a successful travel blogger.
3. Grow a social media following that loves travel
Blogging isn’t the only way to attract the attention of travel brands – a decent social media presence works just as well.
Do you love Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or SnapChat? Grow a following of 100,000 fans and you may be able to trade tweets and pins for activities and lodging – even without a blog!
Although growing a large social media following is no easy task, it’s definitely possible. I have several novelty Twitter accounts myself – which have helped me make a few extra bucks and receive discounts in the past.
Who’s using social media for free travel?
Thanks to her YouTube channel, Nadine Sykora doesn’t only enjoy free travel, she get’s paid six figures to travel! She does a bit of blogging as well, but her primary focus has been on developing video content and growing a social media following. While a free vacation is great, how awesome would it be if people actually paid you to travel?
Ready to give it a shot? Consider starting your own YouTube channel or opening up a new social media account on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc.. Spend a few weeks reading up (and maybe taking a few paid classes) on how to dominate that platform. Then, start sharing, connecting, and growing.
4. Enter sweepstakes to win free trips
A few years back I decided to spend an hour entering sweepstakes while watching TV with family. From that hour of mindless typing I won a 3-day ski trip to Colorado worth $700 – plus a pair of $100 work boots.
Although I don’t spend much time entering sweepstakes, I have won a few fantastic prizes over the years – and I know you can too. If you spend an hour a day watching TV (the average American spends closer to 3), why not take 20-30 minutes of that time and enter 20-30 sweepstakes?
Do that for a year and you’ll be bound to win something. Although I recommend minimizing your television time in general (life’s too short to watch others live), if you are watching TV, why not make it productive?
You can find sweepstakes through Google, or by searching for hashtags on twitter (#sweepstakes, #giveaway).
Finally, if you don’t like the idea of spending your own time entering sweepstakes, you can always jump on Fiverr or some other platform and hire a virtual assistant to enter sweepstakes for you. Yes, I’ve tried this…
Who’s winning free travel with sweepstakes and giveaways?
Linsey of the 1099 Mom blog says you can use sweepstakes a full-time hobby that may actually give you a decent return on your time invested. When she wrote about her experience entering sweepstakes way back in 2011, she had won cash, a trip, a bike, and a wide range of electronics — I’m sure the list is even larger now.
Ready to give it a shot? There are literally thousands of people winning sweepstakes every year — why not you? Although they aren’t frequent, I do offer travel sweepstakes here on Money Nomad — so subscribe to my newsletter! Then, do an occasional Google and Twitter search to find the latest travel giveaways you can enter.
5. Try the “retro” method of free travel: Hitchhike and camp
Since the beginning of human history, people have slept outside. Since the first horse-drawn buggy, people have asked others for rides.
Before the rise of Uber (which is a great way to make money by driving others around), people gave strangers rides for free. Crazy right?
Grab a backpack and a tent, then go stick out your thumb. Although not for everyone, hitchhiking will definitely leave you with an epic story or two.
Who’s traveling for free by hitchhiking?
Drive down the highway and I’m sure you’ll see a few hitchhikers. It’s not just for homeless people! I’ve know multiple adventure seekers or frugal penny pinchers whose preferred method of travel is hitchhiking. Although a financially successful blogger now, Matthew from Expert Vagabond started out hitchhiking to travel on a budget (and may still do it at times for fun).
Ready to give it a shot? You really don’t need much to start hitchhiking or camping. Just grab a bag and go! Of course, you may want to do a bit of reading up on how to keep yourself safe. However, there’s no need to let a few horror stories prevent you from giving it a go!
6. Transfer vehicles for car rental agencies or people moving
A few years back I paid a moving company (and a spammy middle-man) $1000 to transfer a car across the country for me. I would have MUCH rather let someone else spend a few weeks to drive my car across the country for free. And I’m not alone.
There are many people – in addition to car rental agencies – that will allow people to drive their vehicles for free if they are willing to take the car from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time.
All you have to do is pay for gas (and maybe a nominal fee).
Of course, these trips only take you one direction – so you’ll need to find another way home. But getting one direction of your trip paid for is a great start!
Who’s transporting cars for free travel?
A good friend of mine (and occasional Money Nomad contributor), Drew Mentock, enjoyed heavily discounted road trips around New Zealand thanks to car transfer services. Meanwhile, the team over at GoNomad has an article discussing how to do a driveaway car transfer the right way.
Ready to give it a shot? Check out a few of the vehicle transfer websites and see what routes are currently available.
7. Find free places to stay using Couchsurfing
Before people charged to rent out their room on Airbnb (which is another great way to make money), they offered up their homes for free to Couchsurfers.
If you’re comfortable sleeping on someone’s couch and making new acquaintances, Couchsurfing may be your thing.
Although you can’t expect exceptional room service with your stay, most people are pretty hospitable and more than happy to tell you about places to go and things to do in the area. Plus, you literally get FREE accommodation!
Who’s using couchsurfing for free lodging?
There are many people who use couchsurfing and love it. There are other people who wouldn’t dream of giving it a shot. Charlie is a UK travel blogger who did a fantastic job of compiling a list of the best and worst couchsurfing experiences on her blog, Charlie On Travel.
Although that article might deter you from giving it a go, there are many people who love the unique (and free) lodging experiences that couchsurfing provides.
Ready to give it a shot? Just jump over to Couchsurfing.com, check out the reviews before booking a stay, and go at it! If you want to meet cool travelers while still at home, open up your couch.
8. Trade work for room and board with WorkAway or WWOOF
If you have more time than money, or simply want a cool experience, considering checking out WorkAway and WWOOF. Both of these sites allow you to receive free lodging and meals in exchange for 10-20 hours of work a week.
From taking care of sled dogs in Canada, to working on a farm in Peru, to running a hostel in Thailand, there are thousands of awesomely unique experiences that you can enjoy in exchange for a few hours of work.
While WWOOF focuses primarily on farms, WorkAway has a broader range of opportunities that include tutoring, working with dog sled teams, language teaching, babysitting, and business assistance (such as marketing, design, and social media projects).
These services are a great way to become integrated with a community, get to know locals, and have an awesome experience – all while enjoying free lodging and meals.
Between both WWOOF and WorkAway, there are many great opportunities pursued by thousands of people every year. Check out the WorkAway blog for awesome stories, and read this article sharing 8 tips for first time WWOOFers on BootsNAll by Scott Harbeck of World Wide Scott.
Ready to give it a shot? Join one of the sites listed above and start exploring! You’ll have to pay a few bucks to gain access, but then you can message any of the hosts on the site.
9. Crew a sailboat for a free vacation
I had a friend from South Africa who sailed with a couple from Johannesburg to Brazil one summer. He paid nothing.
Sailboat owners around the world are constantly looking for people to help them man their boats. From short trips to the Caribbean, to more intense trans-Pacific routes, there are opportunities to enjoy sailing for anywhere from a few days – to several months.
Learn to cook (seafood in particular), learn to sail, cut your hair, and develop a great attitude — and you’ll be a hot commodity in the sailing world.
Who’s crewing sailboats and yachts around the world?
If you love the sea and don’t mind tight quarters, then you may want to join the many adventurers crewing sailboats and yachts. Although most captains want a competent crew, it’s certainly possible to land a free trip if you’re professional. Andy shared his experience as a crew member on Transitions Abroad and Tiffany discuses crewing on DIWYY. Meanwhile, Arielle was paid to crew a yacht, and she shares her story on Nomadic Matt.
Ready to give it a shot? To start, read this article discussing how to successfully land a crewing gig, then check out a few yacht clubs in your area (or an area you plan to visit), along with popular crew listing websites like FindACrew and CrewBay.
10. Volunteer with the Red Cross to make a difference while traveling for free
If you agree to volunteer with the Red Cross, they will cover all of your expenses and needs while assisting with disaster relief. Of course, you may work 10-12 hour days, but they’ll often put you up in a hotel (if you aren’t local) and give you a debit card with $30 to cover meals everyday.
A few years back, after several tornadoes tore through the South, my brother and I drove down with the Red Cross to help out. Although they worked us hard, it was an awesome experience being able to work with people to ensure that their needs were met.
If you’re a medical professional, then the experience gets even better – as they will fly you to the location when needed! Why not lend a hand and consider volunteering with the Red Cross?
Who volunteers with the Red Cross?
The Red Cross is one of the largest volunteer organizations in the US. From the local chapters that meet on a monthly basis, to the massive groups that come together during emergencies, the Red Cross consists of thousands of members. If you’re curious about who these people are, check out the Red Cross volunteer stories and then jump on down to your local chapter.
As a member of the Red Cross you’ll have the opportunity to work with many different community leaders.
Ready to give it a shot? Sign up online or go down to your local chapter to get connected with the Red Cross and take a few of the emergency prep courses that they offer. Then, the next time there’s a disaster, you’ll be able to make a difference while traveling for free!
11. Make wealthy friends who will take you on vacation
If you have family or friends who regularly vacation in awesome areas, why not piggyback off of their next trip?
Even if they don’t pay for the entire experience, you may be able to enjoy free lodging and a few meals – just for showing up.
Of course, you’ll need to develop a long-game for this to really work, as most people won’t invite someone they just met on an all-expenses-paid trip. But, if you’re a great friend who doesn’t have a lot of cash, they may just bring you along now and again!
Who travels by mooching off of friends and family?
There’s a good chance that we’ve all enjoyed a free trip, stay, or car ride from a friend. So this isn’t always a bad thing. However, there are people who blatantly take advantage of others for free travel — you probably don’t want to become one of them.
Ready to give it a shot? If someone has offered to let you stay at there place the next time you visit, take them up on it! Give them a call and ask for an appropriate time to visit. To do this right, come bearing gifts of some sort. They’re saving you from spending money on a hotel, so make sure that you’re appreciative by offering a gift, taking them out for dinner, etc.
12. Find people to sponsor your travel by going on a mission trip
Although you certainly don’t want to take advantage of this, most churches are filled with people who will happily sponsor you to evangelize to people on the other side of the world.
Once the mission trip is lined up, send out letters to friends, family, and church members asking for donations, and you’ll be amazed at how fast those expenses get covered!.
While I have done this myself in the past, and have financially supported others as well, research suggests that short-term missionaries and humanitarians don’t necessarily provide value to the people they are intended to serve.
Therefore, before jumping on a flight to make a difference, make sure that you have a plan in place to provide long-term value to those you’re meeting.
Who travels via mission trips?
There have been millions of missionaries over the years. From high school groups to retirees. As long as you’re a member of a religious community, there’s a good chance that you could go on a mission trip and have it sponsored by local church members.
Ready to give it a shot? Start by finding a mission trip that you would like to be a part of, and then write a donation request letter. Send the letter out to family and friends, speak with your pastor, and connect with other church members. As long as your goal is to help other people on this trip, you don’t need to feel too guilty about getting others to cover your trip.
13. Work in the travel industry and enjoy the benefits
Most travel brands offer a variety of perks to their employees – from free airfare if you work for an airline, to discounted lodging if you work for a hotel chain.
Although this method of inexpensive travel will probably require a career change, it doesn’t always have to. Some businesses may give you travel benefits if you’re a part-time employee.
And the “travel industry” may be a bit broader than you think. If you’re in the right field, you may be able to take your job on the road! From a nurse on a cruise ship, to a masseuse at luxury resorts, there are many careers that can be enjoyed in exotic locations.
Who’s making money working in the travel industry?
Dave and Deb from The Planet D share a few great ways that they’ve been able to make money while traveling. From singing on cruise ships to being a tour guide, they share a lot of great ideas for making money abroad.
Ready to give it a shot? If you have an education, consider how your current degree could help you land a job traveling. There are many opportunities n cruise ships, airlines, luxury resorts, etc. — so just start searching!
14. Enjoy a free vacation by organizing a group trip for friends and family
If working in the travel industry doesn’t seem like the right move for you, you can still enjoy discounted (or even free) travel by planning group trips.
Many airlines, hotels, and cruises give a free ticket to group organizers if they meet a certain threshold.
So next time you want to take an awesome trip, consider bringing other people along with you. Not only will you all have an awesome time, but you’ll be able to keep a few extra bucks in your bank account.
Who cruises for free by planning group trips?
Needless to say, there aren’t many people willing to talk about the free trip they earned from planning a cruise for their social circle. If you mention that too loudly than all of your friends and family will start asking for a cut! However, there are many sites that talk about how to earn free cruises from planning group travel. So, if you’re wondering who enjoys discounted or free group travel, pay close attention to the next person organizing your group trip. Or, make that person you…
Ready to give it a shot? Read up on discounted group travel (grouptravel.org is a great place to start). Then, start asking people to join you on your next adventure. Find 10-20 others and your trip could be free!
15. Find a job that requires travel or attending conferences
Depending on your career choice, you may be able to enjoy free work travel to attend events, conferences, and other meetings.
Although many of these trips may require you to spend a few hours in meetings, most of them give ample time for recreational activities.
There are certain jobs that are more inclined to travel – recruiters, trainers, event planners, and (of course) executives.
However, if you work for the right company, it may be possible to enjoy work trips regardless of your specific career track. If your current role doesn’t give you many travel opportunities, consider jumping over to another company that will.
In addition to getting to travel for work, you are also able to build up airline and hotel points to use for your next leisure vacation!
Who travels for business?
The corporate world is full of people traveling for work. One of my favorite places to learn about their experiences as business travelers is the Boarding Area blog, written by dozens of business travelers. One of their bloggers, the Road Warriorette, shares 3 tips for business travelers starting out. PS, if you’re a guy, don’t just laugh at the skincare tip — if you spend a lot of time in a plane or jumping across different climates, you’ll benefit from having at least chapstick on hand.
Ready to give it a shot? Check out the policies at your current workplace to see if they cover conferences or continued education of some kind. If yes, then ask your boss if you can attend a conference somewhere. This is a great way to stay up-to-date on your industry and network.
16. Get paid to travel by becoming a performer or public speaker
Are you a skilled comedian, is your band on the up-and-up? From cruises to corporate getaways, there are always groups looking for entertainment. Not only will many of these gigs pay you, but they’ll also cover your travel to and from the location.
Not a performer? That’s okay.
Provided you’re semi-knowledgeable on a specific subject, you can get paid to travel around speaking about your niche topic. Train and motivate others at conferences – all while enjoying the benefits of free travel.
Yes, you need to have an appealing stage presence and a basic knowledge of your topic – but that’s about it to get started.
Who’s getting paid to speak?
There are paid speakers in virtually every industry; from online income guru, Pat Flynn, to Jodi of LegalNomad, to Tim Ferriss of the 4 Hour Work Week, to John Lee Dumas of EOFire, to digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas. And of course, you already know that musicians perform in all parts of the world. Although the top rated and best known speakers/performers earn the big bucks, there are many people who make $1-3k at a small weekend event.
Ready to give it a shot? You don’t have to be the best in your industry, but you do need to present yourself with confidence. Find a few local events where you can perform/speak at for free. Then, create a website to brand yourself and watch the fan base grow!
17. Find consulting projects that will pay for your travel – full or part-time
If performing or speaking isn’t your thing, you may still be able to enjoy awesome paid travel experiences by consulting. Especially if you know a tool or software that’s in high demand (or have a great knack for improving processes) people will pay you top dollar to help solve their problems.
The plus side about consulting is that it can be as busy or as relaxed as you want – you can even do it remotely if necessary.
In fact, consulting is how many bloggers make money while traveling. Whether you consult on technology, marketing, health and fitness, or travel hacking, people will pay you good money to help them succeed.
Who get’s paid to travel as a consultant?
Before finding paid speaker jobs, most people begin as consultants. Sometimes it requires travel, other times it’s all done over the phone or Skype. In fact, many successful bloggers will have some sort of consulting or coaching business that they perform. When those services are for businesses, there’s a good chance that paid travel can be involved.
From marketing consultant Neil Patel to I Will Teach You To Be Rich blogger Ramit Sethi, there are many bloggers and entrepreneurs who earn money by consulting — whether that’s in person, remotely, or through an online course.
Ready to give it a shot? What is something that you could teach others about? If it’s business related, all the better — but even personal topics may give you the opportunity to train and consult small groups. But don’t limit yourself to traditional businesses; as nonprofits, universities, and private groups are often willing to bring in experts to consult. Develop an hour long presentation, set up a website, and start marketing yourself!
18. Refer people to travel services that offer a referral bonus
Another great way to enjoy free travel is to refer people to travel services that provide a referral bonus.
I’ve written about over 100 websites that offer a referral bonus, with two of the most popular and common travel tools that provide a referral bonuses are Airbnb and Uber – both of which also provide a signup bonus when your friend joins.
By referring friends and family (or complete strangers) to the services that you enjoy, you provide additional value to them, while saving for your next trip. Win-win!
Who enjoys free travel by referring people to travel programs?
Because it’s so easy to participate, even the most amateur travel blogger will often promote Airbnb and Uber. But it doesn’t stop there. Experienced travelers and bloggers also enjoy the free travel benefits of referring readers to their favorite travel tools. Airbnb is the most popular service, with bloggers like Jema from Half The Clothes and Michelle from Making Sense of Cents both referring others to the service through their sites.
One reason that everyone enjoys Airbnb is because of the diversity of options. Sure, you could stay in a dorm room somewhere. But you can also enjoy luxury B&Bs and entire home rentals.
Ready to give it a shot? Once you sign up for Airbnb and Uber yourself, you can start by sharing these services with your friends and family. Not only do you receive a reward, but so does the person you refer! Then, if you’re more serious about it, you can start a blog to promote these programs to a wider audience.
19. Date in exchange for free travel
I must preface this by saying that I certainly don’t recommend traveling romantically with a stranger. It seems like a terrible idea! However, some people do it.
There’s actually an app that connects people who want to travel with dates who will pay for their ticket in exchange for their company. Although the app doesn’t promote itself as seedy, it seems like they’re teetering on the edge of prostitution.
I wanted to mention this, because it’s certainly a free way to travel – but I don’t encourage it and I won’t share a link to the app here.
20. Become an adjunct professor and teach classes abroad
There are many colleges and universities (in addition to some high schools) that do short-term programs abroad.
If you have a master’s degree in a given subject, you may be lucky enough to land an adjunct professor position teaching a class here and there. Propose an international course and you just might be able to get a paid trip!
Another option is to reach out to universities abroad, and offer to teach at their schools if they cover your travel expenses and a small stipend.
Of course, you’ll be teaching classes (and potentially organizing an entire group’s activities) – but it could still be fun. And, since you’re already over there, you may as well stay for a few days afterward to enjoy some alone time.
Who teaches university abroad?
Dr. Rich Huber and Dr. Jim McNab are two professors interested in lecturing and researching internationally. Realizing that other professors may want to do the same, they launched the International Professor Exchange where professors and universities from around the world can connect to discuss research and teaching opportunities. Over 1000 professors currently use the site.
Ready to give it a shot? If you want to teach abroad, you’ll at least need a masters and a fair amount of experience — but a PhD is preferable. If this sounds appealing to you, search for faculty positions in your field and see what comes up! The International Professor Exchange currently has close to 500 openings.
21. Teach English abroad and get paid to travel
I spent a year teaching in the Marshall Islands and it was awesome! Although a lot of work and not much pay, it was an incredible experience – and one that gave me many opportunities to meet great people, learn about a new culture, and explore a part of the world that few people ever see.
If you’re from the US, UK, Australia, South Africa, or Canada and have a bachelor’s degree, you can get paid to teach in many parts of the world. And, while most of these teaching gigs require a 9-12-month commitment, you may be able to find projects that last no longer than a few weeks.
Learn about a new culture while teaching others about your own – and make a few bucks in the process!
Who’s teaching English abroad?
A quick Google or social media search will provide you with a plethora of English teaching experiences and stories from Westerners in all parts of the world. Will from The Broke Backpacker recently interviewed Becky, who taught English in Japan.
Ready to give it a shot? Find a TOFL course to take (you can complete these online within a month or two) and start searching for a country you would like to visit. South Korea, China, and Thailand are some of the easiest places to teach with just a certification. Meanwhile, if you have a bachelors or masters degree, you may be able to find a higher paying job in the Middle East or Europe.
22. Travel with the US government by joining Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or the military
There are multiple ways to travel on Uncle Sam’s dollar. If you’re a US citizen with a desire to make a difference in the world, then consider spending a year or two with Peace Corps (for international travel) or AmeriCorps (for domestic experiences). The military is also an option.
These three opportunities certainly require a time commitment on your part. However, they also give you great experiences – along with a network and financial benefits that can help with future education and career growth.
Who’s traveling with Uncle Sam?
This section really doesn’t need much clarification. Odds are you’re already familiar with the military, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps. Millions of people see the world while working hard and serving their country (and the world at large).
Ready to give it a shot? Although these programs are best for younger travelers, there are times when older people can find ways to serve. To explore the option that’s right for you, check out the websites for each unique branch of the military, along with the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps sites.
23. Own rental properties and turn travel into a business expense
When my wife and spent the summer in Costa Rica, we rented out an Airbnb owned by a couple from Washington state. They owned multiple rentals across North and Central America, and would simply travel from one to the next – depending on the season. The other properties were rented out for retirement income.
Owning rental properties certainly requires a financial investment on the front end. However, because you’ll need to inspect the properties periodically, any travel to-from those locations could be written off as a business expense – reducing your travel costs by 25-50% depending on your tax bracket.
Not only that, but you’ll be able to use a business credit card for those expenses – which could result in more free travel. Plus, you get free lodging during those trips!
Who owns property and invests overseas?
Andrew Henderson of Nomad Capitalist has been living outside of the US for some time. Although primarily living in Georgia, where he owns multiple properties, he travels and invests around the world. Because Andrew is a huge believer in owning international real estate, he devotes much of his time to helping others find ways to invest internationally.
Ready to give it a shot? As long as you are legally allowed to own property in a country, there’s nothing stopping you from investing! Considering many countries have far cheaper real estate prices, even if owning a home in the US is out of the question, buying something abroad may be possible. Not only will this purchase supplement your travel, it can also help improve your overall finances.
24. Find a remote job and travel as a digital nomad
Every day, new companies pop up that offer an exclusively remote work experience. As long as you can log-on for 8 hours a day and get your job done, you can work full-time from anywhere – on any schedule.
Most of these businesses won’t pay for your travel (although some do), but they do give you the ability to make a full-time living from anywhere. If you can live in Cambodia or Eastern Europe on a westerners salary, you’ll be living high on the hog.
Who travels with a full time remote job?
While there are many individual travelers (or homebodies) who have a location independent career, there are others who decide to travel in groups. One organization that structures year long group travel for remote workers is Remote Year. Ariel Meranus recently shared 6 life lessons that she’s learned during her first six months in the program. Although not easy (as Stephanie Walden pointed out on Mashable) this type of community provides a social life that isn’t always available for perpetual travelers.
Ready to give it a shot? If you’re ready to find a remote job (full or part-time), check out our Remote Jobs Board here on Money Nomad. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to develop a profitable skillset, consider taking one of the classes on Udacity to learn how to build websites, develop apps, or create virtual reality programs.
25. Become a freelancer and travel as a digital nomad
If working for someone else doesn’t sound appealing, you can always become a freelancer. Similar to a remote job, being a freelancer doesn’t necessarily pay for your travel – but it does give you flexibility and freedom.
I’ve been able to replace a full-time job with freelancing on multiple occasions. This has given me the opportunity to travel for extended periods of time – which I wouldn’t have been able to do while working for a traditional employer.
Who freelances while traveling?
Some people find remote jobs, others decide to work for themselves by finding clients instead of employers. I just recently came across Chris the Freelancer, an Australian who travels, write, and taught himself how to code in 3 months!
Ready to give it a shot? If you’re interested in seriously pursuing a freelance career, than a great place to start is with the income calculator and free email course over at Double Your Freelancing. Once you have a solid skill set, jump on sites like Upwork and Fiverr to start seeking out potential clients. And of course, you’ll eventually want to start your own blog to connect with clients directly.
26. Start your own online business and become a digital nomad
Finally, one of the most awesome ways to travel for free is to start your own remote business. There are three ways that starting a business can give you free or inexpensive travel:
- If it’s a travel related business, you may be able to get paid to travel.
- By writing off your travel as a business expense, you can substantially reduce your tax burden.
- Because of the flexibility of a remote income, you are free to work from anywhere you want – even if you have to pay for the travel.
It doesn’t take much to launch a successful online business. Whether you start your own store on Shopify (perhaps drop shipping from AliExpress using Oberlo), create a new SaaS application, or build an online community/course/ebook – you can replace a full-time job with a remote income in very little time.
Who makes money while traveling with an online store?
In the past, Shopify has done podcasts featuring both Minaal (an awesome backpack brand) and Greenbelly Meals (a camping/outdoor packaged meal brand) — two brands run remotely by digital nomads. Of course, there are many others who make money online — selling anything from shipped goods, to digital marketing services, to ebooks and courses.
Ready to give it a shot? My recommendation is to start with a blog, a small Shopify store, basic ebook, or small digital agency (perhaps outsourcing the work on Upwork). Before spending too much time perfect your business, find at least one customer. Too many people spend their time on a product that no one wants. So make that first sale, and then perfect the business.
How do you travel for free?
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, I’m impressed! You must be desperate to find a free way to travel. 😉
Hopefully the list above provided you with at least several travel hacks that left you excited. The challenge now is figuring out which method you’ll try first. From using a rewards credit card, to referring friends to Airbnb, to launching a digital nomad career, there are a multitude of ways to enjoy a free trip.
So, what will it be? How will you take your next vacation for free? You’re welcome to share in the comments section.
Meanwhile, are you an avid travel hacker? If you know of a free way to travel that I missed here, please share it in the comments section! We would all love to learn from your wisdom.
About Author Rob
Rob blogs at Money Nomad - where he shares strategies and tips for becoming a remote entrepreneur. When not working on his own projects, Rob writes articles for businesses and thought leaders. You can find him on Twitter @rlerich.