Chances are that if you’ve ever read a Kerouac novel, watched an Attenborough documentary or have a beating heart, you live to travel indiscriminately. From the bright lights of NYC, to the bustling night markets of Kowloon and ancient customs still practised in Peru, we travel addicts long for adventures that await under foreign stars miles away from home.
The problem is, that despite the fact that university affords months of holidays to be enjoyed, debts and lack of funds often mean that our good ol’ loans can’t get us to our dream destinations. However, if you’re bold and brave and willing to think outside of the box, a few methods reward those with intrepid spirits.
Here are five ways to discover the world when you’re a broke student.
If nothing else, Home Alone should have taught you that if you’re going away and Macaulay Culkin isn’t there to defend your home, you WILL be robbed. FACT! That’s why some people decide to open out their homes to house-sitters when they go away on holiday.
It’s one of the simplest and easiest ways to eliminate the cost of your accommodation if you’re looking to explore a particular city and its nearby attractions, and all you need to do is keep the house safe, tidy and well maintained while the owners are out. You may be required to do the gardening or combine the house sit with pet sitting, but who cares? You’ve just bagged yourself free nights in a far off city – give yourself a pat on the back! While it’s unlikely that you’ll get paid for the chores you undertake, it’s not totally unheard of. Just make sure you settle everything with the owners beforehand.
“Where do I sign up?” do I hear you ask? Well, there are many resources to be found on the Internet, but for starters, give MindMyHouse, TrustedHouseSitters or HouseCarers a try.
Fancy plucking pineapples in Costa Rica or spending your evenings under the sun in a Tuscan vineyard? Try WWOOF. Don’t look so puzzled, it’s called WWOOFing and it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The organisation exists to connect volunteers with organic farmers and growers looking for an extra pair of hands on the fields.
Through WWOOF – much easier to say – hosts provide their lodgers with food, accommodation and an opportunity to learn more about organic lifestyle in exchange for four to six hours of work a day. That’s it! Shorter than a school day and it costs you nothing but a ticket out there.
Need I write more?
Another way to scrimp out on the cost of accommodation is to try couch surfing. A lot less intensive than actual surfing but just as fun, couch surfing requires no core body strength and is the newest wave to ride in the sharing economy sea. Through websites like Couchsurfing.com, hosts open their couches or sometimes an extra bed to travellers in need of a roof over their head in a new city.
While typical stays range from a few nights up to a week, there are scores of people who solely sleep their way through the world without ever having paid to rest their weary heads. The coolest thing about couch surfing is that it gives you an authentic insight into how locals live, because, well, you’re living with a local. It’s a great way to meet people too, as hosts will often invite you on their social outings or offer to be your free city tour guide.
With access to a kitchen, shower and bed, it’s a bit of a no brainer – just make sure that if you’re able to, you repay the favour when you get back home, as couch surfing relies on the availability of global hosts. However, if you feel uncomfortable doing so, there’s no obligation to open up your couch to anyone.
4. Work at a hostel
If you prefer to stay in a hostel over someone’s home then do not fear dear reader, here’s one for you. Read the instructions and follow what is said on the tin: – work at a hostel. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people, will certainly make new friends and will have your accommodation and sometimes your food and laundry paid for.
The best part is that there are thousands of hostels around the world – even in the Galapagos – so you’re not restricted location-wise.
Two sites worth checking are Hosteljobs.net and Hosteltraveljobs.com and while competition is tough, remember, you’re an undergrad. You have lots of sought-after transferable skills to offer that will make you stand out against the competition. Don’t fret friend, you’ve got this.
5. Work on a boat
If you live near a port and are looking for transportation, why even buy a ticket from your nearest airport when you can hitch a ride on a vessel?
You don’t need to know your port from your starboard, but any culinary skills or house-keeping abilities you have will come to your aid.
Crewseekers.net and Findacrew.net are great stops to evaluate all opportunities available -they even have paid ones!
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you could always venture to your nearest marina and start speaking with the captain and his crew, because face to face is invaluable in this game. People hire people and not CVs. While not highly recommended though, this method has been quite effective in securing passage from Havana to Cancun in a time of need.
So there you have it, five ways to travel around the world when you’re a broke student. In the time that it took you to read that, you could have started WWOOFing, signed ups to Couchsurfers or looked up some hostels jobs, so what’s keeping you? It certainly isn’t lack of money. Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
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