Almost on a daily basis I get the opened mouthed shocked look when I explain to travellers how much I spent in the one month in South America.
Yup, you saw that right. That's including food, accommodation, beers and transport in the amazing South American country of Ecuador. I even managed to buy some new clothes within that too.
This is what I'm going to explain to you all now. So read careful, a world of cheap travel is out there waiting to you.
There we go, I've let the secret out straight away. This website is how I have managed to spend less than £2000 travelling for 5 months, (apart from the one way flight I got to Argentina that £2000 includes EVERYTHING else). In my opinion this should be every travellers number one resource.
So what is workaway.info?
This website is a community of people from all over the world looking for help. In a nut shell it is Volunteering; From farm work, baby sitting, to working in luxury yoga resorts in Hawaii. In exchange for travellers help hosts offer free accommodation and anything up to 3 meals a day (there are some exceptions to this rule, but about 80% include food and accommodation). Workaways (that's us) work for an average of 4 hours a day about 5-6 days a week and are rewarded with a lot more than just free accommodation. You get the chance to emerge yourself into local life, language and experiences.
Did I mention this is a free (minus the 22 Euros Workaway registration fee for 2 years) no hefty volunteer charges or hidden fees. Let me give you some examples (and the reason I only spent £80 in that one month).
I contacted an Ecuadorian family who had just posted on Workaway. Within an hour I had set up to arrive at their house the next morning. They wanted help learning English and setting up their business. In exchange I got 3 meals a day, a private cabin with a lake view and free transportation into the local town. Not to mention the parties, free Spanish lessons, friends and knowledge.
Still not sold?
Listen to this one.. My favourite Workaway experience:
Chile, the Atacama desert, being an English teacher. Private HOUSE, meals in restaurants, parties every weekend, friends for life and a second home. This experience changed my life, the head teacher, the pupils, the town. I spent a month here, honestly I would of spent my whole years budget here, but the kindness and generosity of the amazing people of Taltal would have nothing of it. We went kayaking, to BBQ's, to private beaches all while teaching English.
Workaway has given me opportunities of a lifetime and new family, the fact that you get free accommodation is no longer a factor for me. I volunteered through Workaway to experience real travel and real people. I can not praise it enough. It has changed the way I travel forever.
There is another site which offers exactly the same services called HelpX.com. I used this a few years ago, but since Workaway has come out it has become out dated. However I still check it every few months to see if any new hosts have joined, and it is still a brilliant resource.
You also have WWOF.com if you just want to work on farms, again another great website.
You've all heard of it right? Never tried it? Think it's dangerous? There's only one way to find out..
And NO it is not dangerous.
What's the crack?
Simply and honestly free accommodation in people's homes all over the world and a chance to experience their culture. I have Couch-surfed the whole of South America, and behind Workaway it has provided me my best travel experiences.
The generosity of complete strangers is mind blowing, again free accommodation is way down on the list of why I do it. To meet incredible people and be given inside knowledge is my provocative.
One of the best paid jobs you can get as a traveller is teaching English. Especially if you are a native English speaker. In order to Teach English Abroad you need to complete a 'TEFL' course either online or in a classroom. For us nomands the online option is much easier. With Global TEFL you can chose the level of course you want to take( different hours=different qualification) and complete the course online in your own time. When you pass they email you a certificate and you are ready to delve into the world of paid English teaching.
You can find out more about TEFL qualifications in my article here also Global TEFL are offering 30% off all their courses just for my readers!
Find out more on what jobs you can get abroad here:
Cook when possible. Hostels usually have kitchens and Couch surfers almost always do. This will save you so much money. Restaurants are nice as a treat but do not make it a habit, buy food locally, support market sellers, cook your own food and make an extra plate for a hungry traveller you meet in the hostel. I cannot believe the amount of travellers that eat in restaurants everyday and then wonder why they have spent so much money. Food can be a massive budget maker or breaker.
Another cheap and exciting way to dine is through closed door restaurants. These are restaurants created in locals homes and host visitors through reservations.They are, in effect, paying dinner parties. They are usually advertised by word of mouth on Facebook, and may require references to make a reservation. An underground restaurant is also known as a "guestaurant", which is a hybrid between being a guest in a dinner party and a restaurant. These are still very secretive in a lot of cities but Buenos Aires has the best example of closed door dining.
Easy... go local.
Take the local bus, it will usually be 5 times cheaper. It may be longer with less space,but it will get you there. Controversial tip here. Do not book in advance. Why? Well firstly if you miss it you've lost your money and secondly you usually find the price is lower is you book directly at the station rather than in a shop.Many a time I have booked a ticket with an agent and then arrived at the terminal to a big sign advertising the ticket I just bought at $10 cheaper.
There is also a Website called Lyft, it connects you with locals who are prepared to take you where you want to go for a fee, this is usually about 30% cheaper than taxis, and you get to meet a friend.
If you do feel safer in private transport I'd recommend Blacklane, especially for when you are landing in cities for which airport scams are an issue. Great for airport transfers as your driver will wait at arrivals with a branded pickup sign, so there is no confusion as to who you are supposed to be traveling with. Especially good for female or solo travellers who are arriving late at night or early in the morning. While they may be a tad more expensive than some local taxi drivers, the peace of mind and convenience is worth the extra pennys!
The concept of this is like Workaway and Couchsurfing rolled into one. You look after someone's house while they are away on business or holiday and keep up with the daily housework, while living there full time. This can be a period of anything between 1 week and a few years, with locations all over the world some of the properties are luxury accommodation and even offer a salary.
Is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information,and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink. Oh, and if you've got a problem with your bike a website I LOVE is www.bikebandit.com the web's largest source for bike parts and accessories.
Talk to people
Talk to everyone. Learn the local language. People are the connections of the world. Through talking you will find recommendations, money saving tips, and advice. Someone would of been where you are going next and you would have been where they are heading too. Be generous with your knowledge, share it, we can only find out if someone is prepared to tell.
Don't forget to get covered
This one might not spring to mind when you think of cheap travel, but sorting out a decent travel insurance policy before you go could save you hundreds and keep you on the road longer. I once has to fork out £1000 in Guatemala when I had to go to hospital - lucky my insurance covered it, but can you imagine if I didn't have any. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!
Is the only online garden camping community in the world. It was launched in April 2011 with an open invitation to all. As a member of this community you can advertise your own garden as a campsite and/or book accommodation in other community members' gardens. You pay a small fee for camping and have to provide your own equipment.
All in all there are hundreds of websites out there offering free and cheap food and accommodation. Hostels are a dying breed, think outside the box and remember planning is the key to travelling cheap!