6 Ways to Travel Endlessly

by STEVE BLOOM

6 Ways to Travel Endlessly

Traveling the way most people do it isn’t enough. Saving all year long at a job for just two weeks a year won’t let you see the world the way you want to see it.

So you find someone to take care of your stuff while you travel the world. You’re all set to see everything you ever wanted for as long as you want. Then you realize something: you don’t have enough money to do it. So what should you do? Here are six ways to see the world long term on the cheap.

1. Couchsurfing (Hospitality Exchange)

Couch surfers are a huge network of hospitable people who open up their home to fellow travelers and let them stay on their couches (or floor) for free. This saves people lots of money and gives many chances to meet local people who can tell you about things to do in the area.

In turn, the site lets you open up your home to travelers who want to use your couch.

Most programs take safety seriously. Referrals and references are encouraged and a system of verification is also available. However, a healthy amount of caution should be used.

Sites include:

Couchsurfing, Servas, Hospitality Club, BeWelcome

2. House Sitting

All over the world there are amazing houses that people want you to take care of and live in for free. These sites connect you with them. By joining one of these services, you take care of general house sitting duties such as looking after the pets, the garden, keeping trespassers off the property and readdressing mail. Occasionally other opportunities ask for other duties, but in general it is just looking after the house. Both sites have a small annual fee, but it is a great opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a short period of time.

Sites include:

Caretaker’s Gazette, Mind My House, House Carers

3. Wwoofing (Work Exchange)

WWOOF is short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is an international organization of gardens, ranches, farms where you can exchange work for food and shelter. It is a great way to save money on accommodations and food expenses. The work is generally manual labor such as gardening or farming. The duration of the work is several days to even years. The workday is generally about 5 hours long so there is plenty of time to see the area you are visiting. There are also plenty of opportunities to meet fellow WWOOFers from other countries.

WWOOF is the most well known work exchange program in the world, but there are plenty of other options available. All these places charge a small annual fee, but this fee makes up for all the money you save in the long run.

Sites include:

Help Exchange, Workaway

4. Elance (Freelance Work)

There is a community of businesses out there that need to hire people on a contractual basis. Elance helps you connect with these businesses. The beauty of this work is that it can be done anywhere in the world. This is ideal for anyone who wants to be location independent, but also maintain their career.

The variety of work is diverse from web programming, administrative support, sales and marketing, legal work and engineering. The flexibility and variety of work means that many people can find something. As long as you do the project that you are assigned, you are free to go anywhere and live anywhere you want. It is like having a full time job with the ability to travel as you do it.

Elance is the most popular site for people looking for freelance work while traveling, but there are many other freelance websites.

Sites include:

Freelancer.com, ifreelance.com, guru.com, list of other freelance websites

5. Teaching English

This is a popular way to travel if you want to get to know one place really well. This is something that almost every native English speaker can do. You don’t even need to know the language of the host country before you go. Your experience depends entirely on the program and location you go to so you should know what you should know what you are looking for before you look around. South Korea and Japan are popular destinations for Americans, but you probably can find something in any part of the world. Make sure you are ok with the destination since contracts are generally for about a year.

Make sure to get a licensing certificate in ELT/TEFL/EFL since most places will require this. The places that don’t often pay less and are questionable in reputation.

Sites include:

Goabroad.com, Council on International Educational Exchange

6. Tripping

Tripping is similar to Couchsurfing. However, tripping doesn’t stop at providing a place to stay; it is a cultural exchange site. The focus is on meeting new people while you are traveling through the country. That person would introduce their city and culture to you so that you get a deeper and more meaningful insight into the place you’re visiting.

These friends that you make will give you many travel tips and introduce you to cool local places that you might never have found on your own. The best part about this is that you can do this all over a cup of coffee or in their home.

Their goal is to connect people all over the world. The more connections you make, the more people and places you’ll have access to. According to their site, it is “about creating an entirely new way of seeing and experiencing the world”
photo credit: Moyan Brenn

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Comments

  1. I knew about the couchsurfing, but as a woman, I’d be afraid of staying in a stranger’s home, as well as inviting a stranger into MY home. I think I’d do better as a house sitter-will definitely look into that! I’ve been on elance for more than a year and have never been awarded a job yet. Of course, my talents (grants writing) may not be a marketable as others, so I don’t want to scare anyone off of it.

    • @ Jessica-
      Couchsurfing accomodates to everyone and you don’t have to worry! I have couchsurfed and hosted as a solo woman many times, I am just very picky about who I meet. I surf with people who have a track record of many positive reviews and I always be sure to leave a review when done as well. I started out just being able to meet for coffee and show people around the town to get some good references. Now I host, but females only, that also have rave reviews. Your local community might have a meet up group too! I highly encourage you to check it out a bit more! Happy surfing :)

    • As a woman I am excited about breaking down society’s conditioning, learning to trust my instinct and traveling for months and even years at a time without a plan – trusting strangers and staying in their homes. I have never regretted doing so, on the contrary, life becomes more beautiful every time it happens.

      • I’ve been raped 3 times while travelling and I’m only 20. Seems I come in contact with disgusting people everywhere I go. Sure as heck wasn’t beautiful.

  2. I think I would probably try most of these. In fact, I was thinking of teaching English abroad next summer.

    • Hi Lauren,

      I’ve been teaching abroad for 2 years now and have worked in China and Cambodia. It’s a great way to see a country as you get plenty of time off to travel and see everything you want to. Teaching started off as a way to travel but has turned into a way of life. Definitely try it as it is a wonderful experience.

      • Mike Coward says:

        Ness
        Will be visiting Vietnam and Cambodia in October and November this year. Am considering doing a TEFL course and changing careers (from Engineering) to teach in East Asia permanently. Would be grateful to hear from you about your experience.
        Mike Coward

  3. I did WOOFing for about a month in Australia and would recommend it to anyone! A lot of travelling inevitably involves wandering through cities, sitting on long journeys and not doing much physical exercise! WOOFing was a great way to stop and be productive, and we gained so much local knowledge from the people we worked and stayed with! Added to that, there wasn’t a bunkbed in sight. Perfect! Great post, Steve! I think getting your TEFL is one of the best things you can do for long term travel. K

  4. I just found out about WWOOFing and CouchSurfing this year and am totally psyched to try them out.

    One of the keys to endless travel is to make your business/way of making money location independent or flexible enough to get numerous contracts in different countries. Great list of resources to get people started!

  5. We have just hosted our first couch surfers, and the experience was awesome.

    @Jessica many women do both hosting and surfing. There are a whole lot of ways to make sure you are not going to end up in trouble, start by hosting ladies only. You can be picky.

  6. Excellent round up here, gave it the old thumbs up!
    WOOFing and TEFL are good options, less sure about elance though, freelance writing, paid blogging etc is better in my view.

  7. these are many ways to travel the world freely, my best has to be house sitting

  8. I’m not traveling (yet!) but I recently read about Elance on another blog and thought I’d give it a shot as a way to make some extra money. I would definitely recommend checking it out. You create a profile and, for a free membership, can select on specific area to bid on jobs in (i.e., administrative, writing, legal, etc.) and bid on up to 10 per month. I bid on 5 or 6 before getting “hired” for a project that was right up my alley. I just finished it and the client has offered me additional projects! So far, so good :)

    As for couchsurfing, I haven’t yet “surfed” but I have hosted and, as one of the others posters mentioned, you can be as picky as you want. As a woman, I think I would definitely feel more comfortable staying only with other women or with families (there are some on there!). The system of feedback is really helpful too – you can seek out people who have really good reviews.

  9. My first time here, I just heard the WWOOFing term recently but it’s only now that I was able to understand it fully. Thanks for this list. It’s nice to get a lot of tips especially when I’m planning to get out of the corporate industry this year.

  10. Very good suggetions. Most of them will help you stay on the road indefinetly…without many luxuries. But the trade of is superb!

  11. I’m female and have been traveling throughout Latin America and have used Couchsuring and I’ve never encountered any problems.

    You choose to request who you stay with, it’s not just men who host, but also women and families.

    It is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it.

  12. Great post. We are currently on our 3rd house-sit assignment right now in Honduras, and definitely want to keep going. It’s a great way to dive into the culture and community, and you pay nothing for rent. Can’t get much better. If you have some time to sit still housesitting in our mind is the way to go… Cheers!

  13. I was familiar with couchsurfing, woofing and teaching. Elance and Tripping however are new to me, thanks! In the future you might add a 7th one: travel to trade, combining the promotion of local talented artist with initiating fair trade. For me that’s the best way of travelling so far!

  14. I have been a host on CouchSurfing for a few years. I am still trying to organise my first surfing experience. It’s quite difficult for me to find a couch.

    I’d never heard of Tripping though, I will look into it.

    I believe meeting locals wherever you go is the best way to expose yourself to a new culture. Tour groups can show you sites and teach you history, but they don’t really show you the people.

  15. Hi,

    Got interest on couchsurfing because of this post. I already registered and gave my donation. Waiting for the post card to arrive. Am so excited to host community members who want to visit Bucas Grande- my island home dubbed as the Philippine’s all-in-one tourist destination. Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Really interested to travel more often… Thank you for the great suggestions, I’ll try some of them for sure.

  17. I have known about Couchsurfing for a very long time, but have yet to try it. I use international job sites to find contracts.

  18. I try couchsurfing very often, was a really good idea all the thing.

  19. What a comprehensive list. Makes you want to be in your 20’s again. So many programs in place now to connect people to whatever they are interested in giving a go. Great reference for anyone looking for ideas

  20. Good post–I knew about most of them, but not about the house sitting sites. Awesome, since I already have some references for that! 😀 I must emphasize, though, that Tripping is EXACTLY like Couchsurfing–the idea of CS is for it to be a CULTURAL exchange, not just free acommodation. It drives me a little crazy seeing how some ppl have made it seem (or used the site improperly) as if it is simply a way to get free stuff and nothing else. It ISNT. CS was supposed to be exactly like Tripping and I would like to think it still is, minus some (pardon my language) clowns and ppl with no respect for the CS community and what it stands for. Just my 2 cents, if those from a veteran CSer count! 😉

  21. I never knew that these were options. There are actually people out there that let you stay at their place when you travel. I don’t think that I would trust people to stay in my house if I wasn’t there. Will have to look a little deeper into this. Great article.

  22. I am looking fwd to trying couch surfing one day!

  23. I have thought about couchsurfing – seeing a lot more noise about it. Maybe a great way to see more with the more personal feel! Will have to sign up one of these days.

  24. Excellent post and just shows that there are many ways to see and explore the world if you don’t have stashes of cash laying around!

  25. I love the idea of WWOOFing — it is a wonderful way to visit a place on the cheap while having an authentic cultural experience.

  26. Hello,

    Great list and I love the Tripping website! I guess lots of travel enthusiasts are willing to show their hometown.
    I have never done couch surfing or house sitting, but in 2012 we have planned a house swap! Kind of house sitting, but this is a real exchange. Thanks!
    Emiel

  27. Really fancy the WWOOFig and Tripping options! We would like to work in Argentina for WWOOF, so will use the tripping website for other places! Thanks for sharing, less than 4 months until we leave now and this type of post is priceless for our planning!

  28. GREAT post! I would’ve never though about the house sitting tip. I think I’ll give that a shot.

  29. If you like wwoof then try workaway.info. I’m workawaying in Spain at the moment and lovin it.. Works like wwoof but more options and sign up is for the whole world not just one country…..

  30. This post was my sign. And I would just like to thank you for helping me make the change I’ve always really wanted with my life.

  31. I’ve been traveling for the past nine years and have been supporting myself mainly through teaching English. In a few countries you can actually make quite a bit of money that way, but in most you just make enough to get by. Still, it’s basically like having a free vacation and when you live somewhere you gain an insight into a place that you could never get from a quick, two-week visit.

  32. Great post! I’d definitely give all of them a try!

  33. Knew about all of these possibilities except WWOOF. Sounds like a great idea.

  34. Great list. I knew and used couchsurfing and hospitalityclub (www.hospitalityclub.org)but didn’t know the others for travel. Thank you very much for the post.

  35. I’ve seen this way to travel the world for cheap. 70-80% off in hotel stays, sport events, car rental and more.
    A member can get 80% in hotel stays and invite up to 9 people for his vacations.
    To become a member and get unlimited discounts : http://about.me/YoungLeaders

  36. You guys should double check your sources, because Couch Surfing certainly doesn’t stop at providing a place to stay. In fact, posts like this one make the community a target for those looking for a free couch only, while the CS spirit is about sharing experiences, which also includes meetups with locals / travelers, events organized by and for the community, etc. CS is certainly not for people looking for a free couch and not willing to give anything back!

  37. Amazing post with great info and list of tips.

  38. Thanks for the nice informative post!

  39. This list seems to be staying relevant. I especially like #6 resource for integrating into local cultures.

  40. Two years ago I house sat my way around Australia for 4 months – the trip would have been unaffordable if I’d had to pay for accommodation.
    I stayed in some lovely properties, although one family left the kitchen in such a state before their departure that I had to spend an hour cleaning it before I could prepare my meal!
    Next month I will do my first house sit in Mexico – one cat, three dogs and a beach – heaven!

  41. What a great post, so many people don’t know about Elance and Couchsurfing- great programs

  42. Joining the Peace Corps is another option that should be on this list. It’s truly a life-changing experience. xx

  43. Great list, the one thing I would add is to get a job in the travel industry like a pilot, flight attendant or on a cruise ship. These can be a great way to get paid to do what you love!

  44. I’ve had some amazing Couchsurfing experiences! As a woman though, I prefer to Couchsurf with a friend or, if I am solo, I aim for female hosts. Just a precautionary measure. I want to check Elancing out for sure :)

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