Resources I have used to travel on a budget (or get paid!)

There are countless ways to travel: luxury vacations, backpacking, or somewhere in between. I’ve done most of them, but as I am a writer, I am typically on a pretty tight budget. After being asked time and time again how I am able to afford travel, I have compiled a list below of different opportunities to look into once travel is safe once again! The key thing to remember is that everyone has a different comfort zone, and different priorities to make sure they are safe while traveling. This is only my approach to planning a trip.

Lets start by talking about budgeting; for me, the largest expenses are typically: the airline ticket, eating/ activities out, and an emergency fund. Accommodations honestly usually falls pretty low on my priority list for a couple reasons, one of them is because of the opportunities to find free or very cheap housing. Also, I am not too picky about my living situation- so if you know you wouldn’t want to stay in co-ed dorms or on a stranger’s couch, it’s a good idea to factor a few extra dollars into your accommodation budget. Finding your comfort zone while traveling is key to being prepared and content on a trip abroad.

Leisure Travel Ideas:

One summer I took a trip with my then boyfriend to Thailand. Because accommodations in this country are so cheap, we decided to book air bnb’s and hotels to “treat ourselves”. Halfway through the trip we ditched the bookings (still paying) and checked ourselves into the best rated hostels in the city. We so because we wanted to meet new people, and learn more about the hot spots and fun activities available in the city. Hostels are built for budget travel. They offer the cheapest deals, group discounts and a fun environment to truly get to know a city. And we did not regret it for a moment. We still had privacy and time to ourselves, but at night I felt safer exploring the city in a big group where my new friends always kept an eye out for my safety, we ended up finding out the most ethical way to meet elephants, and we had a fun activity to join nightly. I have probably stayed in over 100 hostels around the world at this point and I cannot speak higher or have a bigger recommendation for first time, solo, or even couples traveling together. I understand hostels have a bad reputation, but as long as you are being hyper aware (which you should be anyways) and trusting your gut instincts, I have never felt safer than in a hostel. There are always other travels around who get it, and form a sense of community that allows you to really get to know a city.

As far as choosing a hostel, read the comments. Although the pictures may seem beautiful, what really tells the story of the atmosphere is what other backpackers have reported. If a place is filthy and you’re paranoid about cleanliness, or if a place does not party and you went to a new place to have some fun, these details will be expressed through the comment section more than anything.

In Ragland New Zealand, an eco lodging hostel. Our rooms were cozy, old and refurbished train caboose

I have only truly couch surfed once, but it was a kind and and sweet experience and I will definitely be using this again. The basics: it is almost like a community of really down to earth travelers, or ex travelers who are willing to open their homes to fellow travelers. You will create a profile with information about why you’re traveling, what you will be doing and your living style. Those hosting will do the same, but add what they can offer. This resource is not for the nervous or unsure backpackers. This option is best for experienced travelers, those who know how to keep themselves safe. You also need to be really open minded but also hyper vigilant in your search. I always tend to look for females or families with an extra bed room, also the one time I did used couchsurfers, I had a companion. The host ended up a being beyond generous single mom whose son had just moved out and she had the space. It was an incredibly lucky find! My other piece of advice is to plan ahead if you are going this route. People can be slow at responding or only available for certain times so it’s best to set this up before you. leave vs. while you are on the road. I also always like to cook dinner or leave a gift for my hosts to sow gratitude (even if you are not using this app, couch surfing in general works best when you can offer something in return).

Work resources

There are honestly so many ways to work abroad, so I am limiting this list to ways I have tried and have worked for me in the past.

So I’ve used workaway a few times and it is really my go-to. When I was in Israel, I found a placement 24 hours before I was homeless. If you are young and like being social, working in a hostel is the perfect way to visit a city. You don’t need a work visa because they typically pay in food and accommodations. In my experience there are other travelers working there to meet and learn from as well as staff and guests. Plus, for the one I worked in Israel, my job was to lead bar crawls most of the time. We got days off to explore the country, and the best part was I could stay for free in partnering hostels anywhere. The only requirement is being over 18 and knowing english. Overall this is my highest recommendation if you are social and enjoy working with others. If you are more of a introvert but a hard worker, I would try WWOOFing (details below).

Workaway can be literally anything. You could be catering to childcare, or working at a cafe etc. Some hosts even offer payment (look for the money sign on their listing).

WWOOFing is similar to Workaway in that one is trading their labor for a place to stay and food, but this organization focuses strictly on farming. Any kind of farming including; animals, wine or vegan farms can put their farm on wwooffing and there may be a few families looking for child care or language exchange as well as farm work. This option is not for one who hs never donne physical labor or who likes to go out and explore the city. WWOOFing is typically a lot of work, but also a lot of positive payback. Forming a relationship with the land you are visiting and the ecology is a graceful and unique way to travel. Also, these posting are typically long term, really giving you an opportunity to connect with the family and the area you are living.

When choosing a WWOOFing location, my advice will vary person to person. For me, I always looked for a location that has my own space, other volunteers, and a way to get to town (some will offer a car, or note there is a bus stop nearby). When I interview with the host, I make sure to ask a lot of questions so I can understand their expectations before I step foot onto their land.

WWOOFing may seem like a tricky option, but when you find the right fit it is a beautiful way to contribute to the community you are visiting as well as a budget friendly option to live and explore a place you may have not found yourself otherwise.

Photos from an organic farm inn New Zealand I worked for a few weeks in 2015

I know I talked all about this above, but something I have done in the past is looked up the hostels in an area I want to visit, and then called to see if they have any openings for work. A lot changes in hostels, as everyone is traveling in and out and most jobs are temporary, so often hostels could use the extra hands. Offer a few hours of work a day for a room/ bunk.

CoolWorks is a resource for those open to a seasonal job. This is mostly United States based, and you can find some neat opportunities here. However, these are long term options (typically 3 months or more) but the work is normally located in a community based setting, meaning you will meet others in your job and will probably be offered employee housing. This is one of my favorite sites to check out when I’m bored in class and need inspiration for a run-away day dream. This winter I am working at a ski school I found on cool works and I am living on site for cheap as well. This is different from WorkAway because these organizations are bigger and normally offer seasonal work for a lot of workers ever year, whereas WorkAway is a smaller scale and more temporary, individual positions.

Lastly: How to join a cult

Am I kidding? Yes. Have I accidentally done this? Also yes. But, that is a story for another time. Until then, happy travels (or day dreams)