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How to Travel the World on a Shoestring Budget

Two Young People By The Ocean 

Prepare a Nest Egg

Move home or move in with friends. Pack lunch. Make your own coffee. Buy clothes at thrift stores. Sell some of your possessions. Ask for AirBnB or Visa gift cards as birthday and holiday presents. Little things add up.

Depending on how thrifty and creative you travel, your operating fund can be as little as $200 a month. We were able to travel to five countries in six months on this travel budget.

List Curiosities and Pinpoint Travel Passions

You don't want to go off gallivanting the world without a cause or reason, or you might just end up more “lost” than when you started. Choose what you love or what you are interested in learning and travel for it: be it bicycling, organic farming, horses, photography, food, permaculture, aquaponics, or painting.

You can’t imagine what a world is out there waiting for you to jump right in. Before we embarked on our journey, we made a list of the activities we wanted to participate in from foraging for wild mushrooms to picking organic olives for oil to harvesting cabbage and making kimchi. When we took a step back and looked at our list, everything had to do with learning how to farm and how to make traditional foods. From then on, this became our dream list which helped us navigate our journey.

Volunteer for Room and Board

Set up a Workaway.info, WWOOF, or Worldpackers account to cover your accommodations and help you enrichen your cultural experiences.

What is workaway? Workaway is an international online database of people around the world who need help with various projects from painting a mural on an elementary school wall to helping build a greenhouse on a family farm.

How it works: You register for a yearly membership ($29), create a profile, and search for a host. In exchange for room and board you agree to help out with projects for about 25 hours a week. You can search by activity, country, continent, language, and more to find the perfect opportunity.

WWOOF is a similar concept to workaway except that it is limited to organic farming and there is a separate website/registration fee for each country. Worldpackers is the up-and-coming combo of WWOOF and Workaway with an intuitive modern search and a focus on reliable volunteers, hosts, and opportunities based on your skill sets. Through these three resources, we were able to hand pick the experiences we wanted to have based upon our interests. Most importantly, these resources allow you to experience the lives of locals, apprentice professionals in their specialties, practice new languages, and save a ton of money by living and eating with families.

Be Your Own Travel Agent

Use online travel resources to help you find the cheapest way to travel. We use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. Did you know that by using Skyscanner, you can search by month to find when the cheapest travel dates are? Want to be more spontaneous? Through choosing “everywhere” as a destination on Skyscanner or DoHop, you can receive a list of the cheapest destinations from your departure city.

Want to know all your travel options to go from point A to Z? Use Rome2Rio, which compares the times and costs of all modes of transportation from local buses, to ferries, to booking a seat in someone else’s car using BlaBlaCar.

Practice the Local Language

Write down key phrases. Download free language-learning applications, such as Duolingo or Memrise. Using these applications, practice for an hour a day, so that when you arrive to the country you will know the basics and be able to communicate with locals for essentials.

In our experience, speaking the local language has helped us deepen our connection and trust with locals.

Scope Out a City or Region

Combine travel resources to make your own list. Rough Guides is a great online resource of local information mixed with some fun reads like “20 places to travel if you like a challenge.”

Triposo is an awesome application that provides a “hand-held travel guides.” It includes information like the top sites to see, the top restaurants, key phrases, and maps. Triposo is organized by city, region, and country, so you can download the most applicable version. Once downloaded, you don’t have to worry about crazy data charges or spotty service, because you can access the information offline, including their maps. Triposo works by gathering all of its information from open sources like Wikipedia, Facebook and OpenStreetMaps.

Pack Light

We cannot express this enough. No blow dryer, no makeup, no dress shoes. Pack essentials. Pack durable, quick-dry, and multi-purpose clothing. For example, Leila wears her lululemon pants to yoga, to work in the garden, to dinner, and as long underwear when it’s cold outside.

Underwear! We recommend quick-dry comfortable underwear like Exofficio! If it ends up getting uber cold or hot, you can always find a flea market or affordable clothing store abroad.

Shoes! Make sure your shoes are comfortable and versatile. We always bring one pair of hiking boots and one pair of lightweight sneakers.

Time to Yourself

Perhaps you want a few days in your own space, to check out a new city, or to indulge a little bit. No need to break the bank when searching for places to stay. Pay to stay at a local person’s home through AirBnB or Wimdu. You can either have the place to yourself or you can share the apartment with a local family or other guests.

If you’d rather do a more traditional hotel, we recommend Booking.com, a search engine that typically has the best prices for hotels or the app Hotel Tonight, which provides you with a list of highly discounted prices for last minute hotel accommodations (*this is an app you must download).

Tap into Your Personal Network

Reach out to extended family, friends of friends, and alumni for support and love when traveling.

Leila and Anthony are The Recipe Hunters. They travel the world in search for age-old, traditional recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. On their travels, they volunteer on organic farms, small homesteads, and family farms, where they learn about sustainable agriculture. In May 2015, Leila and Anthony cofounded Culinary Heritage Corporation, a nonprofit with the mission to promote culture through food. Follow The Recipe Hunters of Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.


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