7 Ways to Travel for Free (or Even Get Paid to Do It!)


by Michael Catford January 14, 2017

It’s the dream of many a traveler – is there a way of doing this forever? If you had unlimited funds then certainly, but for those of us without the last name of Gates, Jobs or Zuckerberg, the realities of the almighty dollar will eventually bring our wanderings to a close. 

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If you’re open to new experiences and willing to give anything a go, there may be a few ways that you can keep your globetrotting going for far longer that your bank account seems to allow. Here are just 7 strategies for stretching that wanderlust out for as long as you possibly can.

1)      Become a Tour Guide

Tour guiding is the perfect job for those with an insatiable thirst for travel. Showing a group of tourists a city’s most beautiful spots is an incredible way to make a living, although it can be an unreliable one. Freelance tour guides will rely on day-to-day takings, and a few quiet or rainy days can quickly revert your diet to one of baked beans and bread. Full-time gigs are far more reliable in a money sense, but can be super exhausting – certainly not for the faint-hearted!

2)      Surf Some Couches

CouchSurfing is an online community of travelers who offer up their spare beds or couches entirely for free to other travelers who are passing through their town. It’s an incredibly generous and supportive community, and the rating system that each member is beholden to ensures that sleeping on a stranger’s couch has never been safer.

3)      Work for Room and Board

Websites like WWOOFing, HelpX and Workaway link locals who need work done with travelers who are open to working for room and board. The work is often unskilled, and could include manning a hostel reception area, performing manual labour or teaching English to locals. Because you aren’t actually getting paid for your work you’re generally only asked to complete a few hours a day.

4)      Blog Your Travels

A few lucky (and talented) souls have managed to fund their travels by doing nothing more than telling their stories on the World Wide Web. The travel blogger market is a relatively saturated one, but if you succeed in it then the world is very much your oyster. Bloggers make money through advertisements on their site, and can also get free accommodation, tour and travel deals in return for a bit of sponsored content on their blog.

5)      Become an Au Pair

Children and travel don’t often go together that well, but if you’re an au pair children could prove to be your ticket to the world. Au pairs are live-in nannies who come in from overseas and help to care for a family’s children in exchange for room, board and a little pocket money.

6)      Capitalize on Credit Card Bonuses

America has perhaps the most generous credit card sign-up bonuses in the world, and by playing the card game cleverly you could cut out a huge amount of travel costs simply by signing up for and cancelling generously endowed credit cards. Just be sure that you hit whatever the minimum spend is and collect the miles before you cancel the card.

7)      Sit in Some Houses

Imagine waking up in the morning and gazing out from the balcony of a French chateau, surveying an endless sea of grapevines. While this may be painting a little bit of an unrealistic picture of what house sitting actually is, it is nonetheless a brilliant way to stay in beautiful places for free. Usually there is a reason that a house will need to be occupied – often there are pets to take care of or a garden to attend to – but as long as you’re willing to undertake a small amount of work, that French chateau (or more likely a small Parisian apartment) could be all yours.


Michael Catford
Michael Catford

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