Friday, February 15, 2019

Want To Travel the World?

A lot of people would love to see the world or at least would love to travel more – if they only had the time…or the money… if there would be no family, can’t quit the job…  or it might be dangerous…it will be lonely or what will I do after? Even the “but I have young children” has been countered by families like the seven+ year family-travel veterans at SoulTravelers3.

Travel is easy, even on a tight budget.
Changing our mind is what’s difficult. 
It’s the attitude, not your bank account!

Others find it amazing: Seniors, youngsters, expats, hippies and millionaires of every race, gender, and nationality. These people tend to connect with the spirit of travel: freedom, camaraderie, personal growth, and creative expression.
Whether it’s celebrating Deepavali, the Indian festival of lights with a group of friends, or camping in the backwoods of north-western Russia with about 25 new comrades, there is always a connection to be made, a story to be shared, and a bond to be formed.
And then there’s the other kind.
Free - or Almost Free
Not all of the strategies and tactics here are free, but you’ll notice that in each section there are free options – with which you could go on a trip costing a total of precisely ZERO.
When it comes to money-less travel, we need to answer: Is it possible?  And if so, is it desirable?
The image we have regarding travel is one that’s all glory and fun and magic. Reality is different. Unlike a week-long vacation, where a large percentage of the population is relaxing and carefree while destroying their bank balance, perma-travel is real life, lived somewhere else.

Living all over planet earth will have our share of boring days, stressful days, and annoyances, but also happy and life-changing experiences.  This is not conventional travel where local contact is limited to “tourist traps.”  It’s not burning 20% of our yearly earnings in a week. The essence of a traveling lifestyle is to find creative ways to use the resources we have available - and not burn all our earnings.

Without Spending a Dime?
All our basic needs: food, water, shelter – can be had for free through various techniques, and travel-specific needs, such as transportation, can be done for free as well.

If we’re not spending money, we’re going to have to trade our time for a lot of things.  That might mean waiting for a car to pick us up while hitchhiking, walking instead of using public transport, or working in exchange for food or shelter.

No more priority boarding, taxis, or other premium conveniences. Creative solutions to travel problems that don’t cost anything tend to take longer and be less “fun” than exchanging cash for instant solutions.

There are ways to end up staying in luxurious locations for free (e.g. house sitting), but usually, comfort is going to be sacrificed if we’re not spending money.

If we’re not spending our money, we’re going to be relying on other people a lot more for transportation and shelter, and with that comes increased risk.  Most places are safe, but the risk is nevertheless higher than with luxury travel.

Visas often cost money, and depending on the passport you hold, it might be a requirement that you have a certain amount of funds before entering certain countries.

Why Try Moneyless Travel?
The goal is not to travel for free. The goal is to experience the world, to not feel restricted by the size of our wallets, to exercise our creative and communicative powers to create the lifestyle we want.
Most people would think that traveling for $1,000 a month is crazy. No way could it be done. No way could it be fun. Well, imagine how you would travel if you had no money and weren’t going to earn any.  You don’t need to have money to make the experience meaningful.
Minimalist Travel
Minimalism can be thought of as valuing doing as little as necessary to achieve an outcome, rather than our extremist view of doing/being/having as much as possible.
We’ve all heard about study after study showing that this consumerist model of living isn’t good for the individual or planet, and recently there’s evidence that the average American lifestyle is actually a recipe for mental illness.

Minimalism means letting go of all these things that are weighing us down, stressing us out, and actively preventing us from feeling as happy and fulfilled as we could be.
It means not buying anything you don’t need, won’t use often, or can’t borrow.  It means that you can stop being a manager of your life (to-do lists, organizing, upgrading) and start living it.

The rules for minimalist travel money-management are rather simple:
  • Never do anything that feels unsafe (because of money).
  • Never go hungry or compromise your health.
  • Spending as little as possible is not the goal, empowering yourself to do what you want, regardless of your inherited beliefs about price tags – is.
Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it safe? Wars, hazardous weather patterns, diseases are rampant etc.
  • Climate – what will I need to wear, will I be comfortable?
  • Pollution – for example incredibly toxic smog during the winter months.
  • Visa Info – How long can I stay? 

Detailed information about every country and most major cities, as well as its fair share of smaller gems as well. You can find visa info, tips for staying safe, what to see and do, and much more.

Has a huge library of user reviews for hotels, sightseeing opportunities, restaurants, and more.

The world’s leading travel website for good reason. You can find almost anything, plus the Thorn Tree forum is the hunting ground for many veteran and newbie travelers alike.

Contains a nice forum where expats (or travelers) can discuss their destinations, exchange tips, plan meetups. Also contains articles relating to expat lifestyle.

The fastest way to find out visa information is through Wikipedia, which for each nationality, has an article about the visa requirements for travel, as well as a handy map for visualizing potential routes (or visa runs).  Just Google “Wikipedia visa requirements for [your nationality] citizens”.  Double check with the embassies themselves to ensure that the information you find is accurate and up to date.  But Wiki usually helps here too, sourcing their information from the embassy websites, linked to in the resources section at the bottom.

Travel Insurance:
One of the operative questions about world travel: What type of insurance should I get? Health insurance. Screw that up, and there’s no 2nd chance. There is one, clear, stand-out option: WorldNomads. They’re also the sole recommendation of Lonely Planet, so probably a good starting point.  

Why is WorldNomads the best? First and foremost – they are one of the only providers who let you extend your insurance (or purchase some for the first time) while outside your country of residence.
Travel insurance for $3.54/day?  Generally, the longer you purchase the insurance for, the lower the cost.  It’s easy to do.  And for something as boring and annoying as insurance, this is wonderful.

Travel as a lifestyle is much different than a weekend in Vegas or spring break in Cancun. On a short vacation, it’s no problem bringing along two large suitcases bursting with all the comforts of home: clothing, toiletries, a hairdryer, books, snorkels, and whatever else “might” come in handy.
But when the road is your home, we have to eliminate everything that’s unnecessary.
This, for a lot of people, can be a big roadblock. “How could I possibly live with only 6 shirts?” “Travel without my winter coat? But what if there’s a blizzard in Ecuador?” “I never go anywhere without my lucky bricks.”  Some people would rather accumulate possessions than experiences, and that’s their problem...

What Travel Bag/Backpack Should I Use?
In general, we are going to fill the amount of space we have, especially if this is our first trip – it’s just human nature.  Even 10lbs becomes a lot when it’s habitual.  Professional "vagabonder" Rolf Potts traveled for 6 weeks with no backpack or other bags – just to prove the point that we don’t need a lot in order to travel.  We don’t need to be quite so extreme, but he makes a good example to remember.
2 short-sleeve shirts
1 long-sleeve shirt
1 pair of convertible pants
1 pair of shorts (optional)
3 pairs of underwear (some people say 2, but by my account 3 is fine)
3 pairs of socks (gotta have a back-up pair for rain or other emergencies)
1 pair of shoes
Extra suggestion: lightweight towel
Optional: Belt, light jacket.
For colder climates, you might consider borrowing (or buying) a jacket and other winter wear at your destination, saving you bag-space and weight while on the move).

Leave the make up kit at home and take just the essentials.
Toothbrush & floss
Soap (doubles as shampoo)
Hygiene products, if applicable
Necessary medicals
Things like razors, nail clippers, toothpaste, shampoo, bath salts, eucalyptus oil, and anything extravagant can usually be found or borrowed on-site.

Other Items
Passport, drivers license, insurance, other important documents
Money, wallet, bank cards
Phone, books (electronic or physical), computer

Tim Ferris has shared his light-weight packing list, complete with the “necessary” survival electronics at less than 10lbs (4.55 kg).

Cheap Flights:
The plane ticket is generally the biggest kid on the travel-budget block. A single flight has the ability to rip through hundreds, if not thousands of dollars that could be put towards some good, local fun in the form of food, excursions – or even just saving the money and traveling longer.
Naturally, flying as little as possible is ideal, and crossing over the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as infrequently as possible is a wise move.
However, when our plans dictate that we should fly, we can do a lot to reduce our costs.
There are three distinct factors that go into any flight search, and they’re not necessarily harmoniously correlated. Depending on your own situation and priorities, your flight searches might be biased towards any one of the three:

The lowest priced airfare usually has crappy connections, obscene flight times, or routes to obscure airports that are costly to get to and from.

And the best routing will practically deliver you from door to door, but at what cost (and are the connections reasonable)?  The days of last minute, bargain-basement deals on flights are pretty much gone.  Due to the nature of modern air travel, it’s much more lucrative for airlines to keep their tickets at their regular price right until the plane leaves, profiting from last-minute desperation more than they would from a couple of folks looking for a freebie.

When should we buy tickets?
According to the analysis of a CheapAir database of over 1.3 billion fares, 54 days in advance came out as being the best time to buy.

What Day Should I Purchase Tickets?
In general, mid-week has long been considered as a general rule for better rates.  Tuesday afternoons are often the best time.

Where Should I Look For Tickets?
There are a lot of good ways to look for flights.  Always check out promising-looking tickets on the website of the specific carrier. – Search for flights across a whole week, month, or year!
Kayak Explore – Nice world map interface lets you see prices to any destination around the globe (though it only uses data from searches performed by actual Kayak users within the last 48hrs.)
WhichBudget – search many budget airlines simultaneously
Rome2Rio – Comes up with interesting route combinations you probably wouldn’t think of yourself.
TravelSuperMarket – A British flight aggregator which is worth testing out.
And the best of the rest, which are worth checking if you have more patience than money: CheapOAir, Momondo, HipMunk, Kelkoo,, Dohop, Mobissimo andTravelSpec.

For long-haul flights, also check the flight brokers  – most importantly Travelocity,
OneWorld & StarAlliance - Homes of the legendary “round-the-world” ticket.  Not cheap, but cool to check out.

Big League Fare-Hacking With Travel Points
If you want to get serious and look at free flights, you need to look at using travel points through credit cards and frequent flyer cards for specific airlines.  Lots of cards offer a truckload of miles for signing up, and often, simply by putting your normal living expenses on the card you can rack up enough miles for free flights without much sweat.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card. 10,000 points on first purchase, 15,000 points when you spend $5000 in six months. These points are great for hotels, or you can convert them to many different airlines with a 20% bonus (convert 20,000 points to AA, get 25,0000 AA points, for example.)
The Chase Sapphire Card – 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in three months. These points also convert to various airline and hotel programs, or you can pay for flights and hotels directly with your points.  Free alternatives that are really useful if you don’t mind doing a bit more legwork include One Mile at a Time and FrugelTravelGuy.

Pro Tip:
Before booking any flight, clear your cookies. Some airlines will track your searches and may inflate the price on you if they determine you’re interested in a particular route.
Additional Resource: 23 Ways to Reduce Your Flying Costs byTheMoneySavingExpert

Other Transportation by Ground, Rail, and Vessel
There are a ton of ways other than flying to get around – by car, bus, train, bicycle, boat, on foot. Of course, if we’re doing travel as a way of life, then we ought to follow Tim Ferriss’s recommendation from the Four Hour Work Week: stay in 1 place for at least 3 months, get to know the culture and learn a new skill.

This has the added benefit of lightening the monetary strain on our transportation budget – as no transportation is the cheapest transportation.  In order to find routes for busses, trains, and other non-air travel options, start with, a search engine that will find routes based on all available transportation options.  Rome2Rio has often covered the carriers the local populations use too.

There’s something incredibly liberating and empowering about this particular mode of transportation.  There is enough progress to experience many things and many places, without going so fast as to miss the world’s beauty.  Cyclists have flexibility in terms of route, timelines, speed, and breaks.

On a tight budget of $0?  Then choose the moneyless transportation option: Hitchhiking.
Is it riskier than other options?  Of course.  Is it riskier for women than men?  Yes.
But there are tons of successful, solo-female hitchhikers out there.  There’s no doubt that it’s riskier than staying home and doing nothing, but on the other hand, lots of us take risks in life: having unprotected sex, gambling, not saving for retirement – hell, even taking showers is a risk, having one of the highest instances of personal injury and death of any normal, daily activity.

I can’t tell you if hitchhiking is right for you.  Get The Hitchhikers Handbook for more insight, and deciding whether hitchhiking is a calculated risk worth taking.  For increased safety, let someone know when you’re leaving and where you’re going, as well as the number/place to contact if you don’t check in by an agreed upon time.  Travel with a friend, or with a fellow traveler you met along the way.  Bring plenty of water and be patient.

Stay For Free 
Hospitality exchange is where you are the guest in somebody’s home free of charge. Typically, these arrangements last a couple of days.  Often, the type of people you’ll find to be hosts are those who are interested in traveling (and travelers) themselves.

Couch Surfing
Arguably the most well-known service, it provides the opportunity to browse online listings, learn about your prospective hosts/guests, and make arrangements. They have a solid system of safety checks in place to help keep out troublemakers, though that in no way means you can skip doing your own due-diligence.

Hospitality Club
It might be unfair to say “basically like CouchSurfing”, but the Hospitality Club is a reputable alternative to Couchsurfing.

Global Freeloaders
One interesting twist: They require guests to reciprocate within six months. If you’re not going to be up for that, pass on them.

The UN-recognized Servas has a strict registration process that includes an interview. The higher barrier to entry likely makes it slightly safer than the alternatives, but the lack of convenience might hurt more than the security helps.
A cycling-specific version of the above.  Many world travelers make their mode of transportation cycling, and this is a great way to find a place to stay with a fellow enthusiast.

Stay For Free – Volunteering
To a lot of people, the idea of working for a good cause in exchange for the opportunity to live in another country sounds wonderful.  Unfortunately, when looking for volunteering opportunities abroad, one quickly encounters frustration concerning expenses you are required to pay.

Continental Divide Trail Alliance – North American company with a small membership fee, but unlimited volunteering opportunities after that.
Conservation Connect – Perfect for Australia or New Zealand. Day trips are free, longer ones have fees up to $200. But remember what part of the world this is. Not bad.
Personal Overseas Development – A global not-for-profit.
Compathos – More international volunteering opportunities.
Voluntourism – lots of resources and educational materials here.
Idealist – has a search engine to help you find the volunteer opportunity you want.
Transitions Abroad – Another top-notch resource.

Stay For Free – House & Pet Sitting
As it turns out, there are rich (and financially average) people all over the world that want to have their homes and pets looked after.  Which means staying for free in posh manor houses most of us can’t even envision owning – to look after a dog!  It's an opportunity where it clearly pays to be of a more mature age group.  A big benefit – these house sitting arrangements are usually for longer time periods than the CS variety, from weeks to several months is common.  Here are the best of the bunch:
Trusted House Sitters
Mind My House

Stay For Cheap
If you can’t find a free option that is convenient or desirable, then there are a lot of budget options available. Top of the bunch: Hostels.
My favorite hostel booking website has listings for over 27000 hostels around the globe.
The main competition of HostelWorld will sometimes have better prices.  A cool alternative is Airbnb, where people can list their home, apartment, or spare room. It’s generally a bit more expensive than a hostel, but there’s the benefit of often having private space, as you’ll have the place to yourself or be sharing the space with the owner. Airbnb also provides convenient maps so you can see where exactly the listing is located.

The best bang for our bucks is renting out an apartment the way locals do.  In order to find a great location at a great price, we’ve gotta do the legwork: Explore the territory, talk to locals, and enquire at different places about vacancies.
It’s best if you can find a local on CouchSurfing to make the first contact and discuss the rates before you come in and sign the deal – because as a foreigner you will almost certainly be told a higher price than locals would.  This is by far the most comfortable and enjoyable way to live in a new region and explore the culture for several months.

Free Food
Depending on the destination, food can be ridiculously expensive (think Norway or Switzerland).  The low-cost solution is to have living arrangements that include food.  The most simple option is to eat food fresh from markets/supermarkets – buy what the locals do, and pay what they pay.
In addition to this, often times religious buildings will serve free meals. If you’re planning on looking for free food this way, the least you can do is take part in the ceremonies, be curious and respectful, and take a genuine interest in people.

Earning Money on the Road
The best way to earn money on the road for most English speakers will be to teach the language.  We have the interesting distinction that, even if we have no experience or qualifications, someone somewhere wants to hire us simply because we speak English.

Dave’s ESL Cafe has a great bulletin board where companies make requests. For example, you can find an opportunity to work remotely with a Japanese company teaching Skype lessons there. Most listings are for Asia, with some Central/South America and Middle Eastern opportunities as well.

Another option is doing some sort of freelance work such as teaching, programming, translating, writing, graphic design, editing, marketing, or customer support through sites such as oDesk, Elance, or even Fiverr if you have some weird niche skill.
Also, if you’re a writer, TextBroker is a great place to find writing jobs.
And for graphic designers, try

What you will want to do is check the local laws. Some countries, such as Thailand, may consider freelance work online while in the country illegal – unless you have the appropriate work visa. There is no magic trick to this, we just have to check the website (and phone or email) of the particular government/embassy and verify the working and taxation regulations.  It’s not fun, but it is important!  Find out well ahead of time what the laws are.

As you can see, all of the techniques are easy. Interact with the world and be the catalyst for some amazing personal growth.  Are we willing to do what’s necessary to get what we want?  Or do we just like the idea – the daydream.  That’s okay too.  After all, not everything is as good in reality as it is in our imagination.



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