Alternatives to Traditional Travel
Traveling can be expensive, it is difficult to get around that. There are locations that are cheaper to travel to, of course, but if you are looking to visit more expensive countries like Norway, Switzerland, or Denmark, it can be tough to cut costs. There are alternatives to hotels that can save huge chunks of change on your trip.
These have become more and more popular throughout the years. The idea is that people with a spare bedroom or a couch can put their listing on a website, often Couchsurfing, and you can stay there for free! This way, you not only get to live like a local but meet other locals too that you can go out with or that can teach you about the town.
I haven't personally heard any horror stories from this, but if you arrive and feel uncomfortable then get out, no questions asked. The website tries to ensure the safety of the people and homes that are available but if it still worries you, there are plenty of other similar sites that have a screening process before someone can become a host.
Short Term Room Rentals
This can be in the form of AirB&B, Homestay, or one of the many sites that offers this service. Someone puts that they will have a room/apartment/house that is available certain dates and you can stay there at a discounted price as opposed to a hotel. Of course, there are things that can go right and wrong here, so be sure to look up reviews of someone before you jump right in.
Typically known as youth hostels, these are cheap dorm-style hotels that are a fraction of the cost of a regular hotel. You can easily book one for just $5 a night. They are of varying quality...meaning that some may be worse for wear. They definitely aren't known for luxury, but it is a great alternative.
Be sure to look up and contact the hostel you will be staying in. It is a good idea to see reviews of it in case it is known to be dirty or theft is rampant. Either way, I reccommend bringing along an extra sheet and a padlock for your belongings.
To be honest, I had no idea that this existed. Some churches, temples, synagogues...whatever the name may be, offer free lodging for travelers. The accommodations are basic and very simple, but you didn't travel all this way for the hotel room, right? Be sure to mind any curfew or noise rules, or you could get kicked out. This isn't the place to stay if you are looking to stay up all night and party, but it is a great idea (and one that I plan on using ASAP!)
I have used this several times. When university dorm rooms are empty for breaks, many schools rent out the rooms like a hotel. The rooms are quite basic and simple, but clean! These are pretty common in Iceland-the farther away you get from the bigger towns, the fewer hotels there are. Boarding schools often provide this as well.
Long Term Stays
Are you hoping to one day be able to abandon your typical 9-5 job to be a world traveler or even an expat? Me too, nice to meet you. You have to find some other ways of raking in some serious money to be able to do this long term. Some people (like me!) get telecommute jobs as a freelance writer, editor, virtual assistant, graphic designer...the list goes on. You can also make money on your travel (or any other topic) blog! If you're not quite at that point yet, there are options for those who would like a longer stay.
This is one of my personal favorites. I use TrustedHousesitters but I do know there are other options out there as well. People from around the world can post their need for someone to house sit and watch their pets (occasionally, just to house sit). Your lodging is completely free! It is a great way to live like a local and comforting to have a place you can go back to at the end of the day. There is an annual fee of around $100 but even after just my first housesit, it has already paid for itself. You will be saving a lot of money on hotels so I definitely consider it worth it!
Some house sits are only for the weekend, others for the standard 2 weeks, and I have seen some that lasted up to a year! This is a great way to live like an expat for a certain amount of time, even if your wallet can't quite afford it ;)
Teach English (or another language)
The requirements to teach languages are much more broad and flexible as compared to becoming a teacher at a university. For some countries, you can become an ESL teacher with little or no training. Some are teacher assistants, if managing your own class seems tough. You can even start your training online. This is a paid opportunity, so this will help pay for your life as an expat! Often, some of your expenses are covered as well. Conditions and requirements vary from country to country.
Become an Au Pair
Sounds fancy, right? I have known about this for a while but only recently looked into it as a serious option. Being an Au Pair means that you will live with a family in another country and teach their children a language (usually English, but there are others!). You will also often do some house chores, babysitting, and running the kids to and from school. But most Au Pairs work around 20-35 hours a week and weekends are generally free, so you have that time to explore and do whatever you would like! Many of these are paid! I just got signed up on AuPairWorld (free for Au Pairs!)
Farmstays are similar to homestays in that, well you stay at a farm. Farmers and ranchers can provide free lodging and some free meals in exchange for work. It is a great way to truly experience a country and also help out while traveling. Many people say that they could never top the experience they had while on a farmstay! They usually hire groups, so there is safety in numbers ;) These can last weeks, or a whole season.
Do you have any other ideas for alternatives to traditional travel? What do you do to fund your travels?
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