I recently tweeted an article called 10 Reasons Why You Should Travel as inspiration to get people traveling. A friend responded that they didn’t have money to travel, and needed my advice on how to avoid turning tricks or “being a drug mule.”
Ok, I get the whole “I can’t travel because I don’t have any money” excuse, but I want to convince you that it isn’t true. I came to Mexico with under $3,000, and I’ve been here for nearly 6 months. Yes, I ran out of money and had to hitchhike, but hey, it worked. It really isn’t as difficult and crazy as you think.
The ultimate solution is to stop worrying so much. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, since we are all so programmed to worry. The universe really does reward those who take chances on its behalf, and the moment you trust that, a whole new world opens up.
But you want something more pragmatic for your doubting mind, so here goes.
I will briefly mention Kayak.com in case you live under a rock and don’t know about it yet. I like how you can search through multiple websites, and get email updates whenever there are flight deals.
Also, I will bring up hitchhiking because I have met several travelers (other than myself) that have been very successful at this. Although I haven’t used it, eRideShare.com has both long distance and local rides. Maybe you aren’t ready for that level of adventure, just yet. But…what about going by boat?
Have you ever wanted to learn how to sail? You don’t need any money OR any experience! These days, boats practically sail themselves. Skippers set a course and then hit autopilot. However, they still need someone to keep an eye out for other boats, that way they don’t have to be awake and on deck the entire time. That could be you!!!
- You need to be able to live in close quarters with another person, and sometimes multiple people. If someone really sucks, the skipper will usually drop that person off at the nearest port.
- You need to be able to sit on deck and keep your eyes open for a few hours. Bring your iPod.
- You need to be able to follow simple directions. There are a lot of little details involved in the proper maintenance of a boat. Like being careful what you put in the sink because it could clog the filter. If you break something because you weren’t paying attention, you’re probably getting dropped off at the next port.
Hang out with the skipper and other crew members for at least a few days before heading out to sea. If you’re new to boating, find someone who just takes day trips around the area.
Lodging & Food
If you pay the big buck$ you could go to a resort and spend all day lounging by the pool. But you don’t need to travel for that. If all you want is to relax, plan yourself a nice little staycation.
If you want an incredible experience, then you should volunteer a few hours a day. After all, Gandhi said,
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
There are many places that will exchange room and board for your valuable volunteer time. Here are some websites where you can find such fantastic opportunities:
Some of the places on these pages are hostels, which are fun because then you are always meeting new people. You can find more hostel jobs, and various other fun jobs at GoAbroad.com and JobsAbroadBulletin.co.uk. Sometimes if I can’t find a posting for a hostel job in the city where I want to go, I will just Google search for hostel jobs in that city, or I will find the contact info for that hostel and email them directly. Occasionally I find hostel jobs posted on Craigslist. This is rare, but worth a try.
Be patient and adaptable. As with anything, a good attitude will get you far. Also, use websites like Couchsurfing (more about this in a minute) to meet other people in the area to hang out with.
If you’re not interested in volunteering, but still need a place to stay, go no further than Couchsurfing! Not only will you get lodging, but also you are also likely to get a tour guide and someone to party with. In most cities there is an entire Couchsurfing community that meets weekly, and maybe more often. Although I was only in Mexico City for 6 days, I met up with the Couchsurfers 3 times. We went dancing, took a gondola ride in Xochimilco, and watched some Lucha Libre action. You shouldn’t expect your host to buy you food, but you can probably cook them a nice meal for cheap.
Read each profile thoroughly to get a better idea if you have things in common with your potential host. Also, read the reviews of that person so you know what other people have experienced with them. This will help you avoid creeps. I haven’t met a creep on Couchsurfing yet, but I also only stay with people who have complete profiles and at least a few references.
I was staying with a friend in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico who is renting a huge 3-bedroom apartment with an amazing ocean view for practically nothing. The owners only lived there a few months out of the year, and wanted to have someone living there the rest of the time. So I thought, “Man, I wish there was a website that would help me find places like this!” Lo and behold, HouseCareers.com. I have only looked over the website so far, but there are people looking for housesitters all over the world, some for only a few days, and others for 6 months. One reviewer wrote that she and her husband were traveling through Europe this way. Needless to say, I am excited to try this out!
As far as your food is concerned, you can eat super cheap in most of the really interesting places (i.e. India, Thailand, Mexico). Forget the fancy restaurants and go local. Or even better, get yourself some street food. That’s where the best food is anyway.
Ask locals where the best street food vendors are.
Travel is not something you will ever regret doing. I hope you feel empowered to start your own journey. You really can’t imagine how cool the world is until you see it for yourself.