8 Ways to Travel the World for Free in 2024

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

Let’s be real: the biggest downside to travel is how expensive it can be. All things considered, flight tickets, accommodation, general expenses, and money for fun can turn into a giant bill at the end of a trip. 

But what if I told you that there’s a way to travel for free? And even if it’s not entirely free, then extremely cheap. All it takes is a little bit of gut and some sacrifice, but let me just tell you, it’s totally worth it when you end up in places you’ve only dreamed of.

I’ve personally used many of these methods to save money while on the road! And since I’ve been able to save so much, especially when it comes to accommodation, I have that much more freedom to travel for longer and splurge on the things I want to do most. 

So without further ado, here are our top tips for how to travel for free around the world. 

House Sit or Pet Sit Around the World 

woman sitting on couch feeding small white dog

Hands down, one of the best ways to travel for free is to house sit or pet sit. 

No matter where you travel to, typically accommodation is going to be your largest expense. Even hostels can end up being super pricey if you’re traveling in a Western country or looking for a long-term stay. House sitting is the best way to get around without paying an arm and leg for somewhere to stay — and let’s be real, someone’s house is probably much nicer than a dorm bed anyways.

Most people don’t necessarily need a house sitter but they’re much more likely to opt for one while they travel if they have a fur baby at home that needs to be taken care of. So if you love animals, this is a double win for you because you can end up with a home to stay in and a pet to take care of.

Check out platforms that can help connect you with people looking for house sitters. A good option is TrustedHousesitters which offers travelers the ability to exchange pet care for a place to stay. With an annual TrustedHousesitters membership, you could end up paying next to nothing for accommodation while you’re on the road!

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Couch Surf

If you don’t mind sharing a space with others, couch surfing is a great way to stay with locals for literally nothing. Just create a Couchsurfing account and look for a couch in your desired location — there are couches almost everywhere in the world!

I’ve personally met some amazing people through couch surfing who have provided me with a comfortable and safe place to stay and shown me around a new country. I’ve always had to share the space with others, but in my opinion, it’s definitely a step up from hostels — and it’s completely FREE!

Teach English Abroad

room full of students being taught by teacher in front of room

If you’re looking to make some money while traveling, teaching English is the way to go, and lots of jobs include accommodation and a stipend. Many of my friends teaching in Thailand were set up with comfortable apartments that came with the job, so they didn’t have to worry about looking for a place to stay or paying for it on their own.

Becoming an English teacher abroad is surprisingly easy, especially if you’re a native English speaker. Oftentimes all you need is a TEFL certification, which is accepted all over the world. Teaching is also an amazing opportunity for cultural exchange and offers the chance to connect with local people on a deeper level. 

So brush up on those grammar skills… Foreign schools are calling!

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Become an Au Pair

If you like kids but teaching isn’t really your thing, becoming an au pair is an ideal job for you. Basically an au pair is a fancy term for a live-in nanny who is there to help out with childcare and things around the house. 

Each family is different when it comes to what they require of their au pair. But generally, housing and food is included, and sometimes even a little stipend, too! This means you can live and eat for free, and then explore the country you’re in during your time off. 

People look for au pairs all over the world, so take your pick from places like New Zealand, China, France, Switzerland, Spain and beyond!

Work on a Farm or Volunteer

person feeding small animals from his hand

Love getting your hands dirty? Then WWOOFing is perfect for you!

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (aka WWOOF) gives travelers the chance to trade labor for room and board all over the world. This means that if you’re traveling and are low on cash, you can sign up to work on an organic farm, stay for free, and venture on when you’re ready. 

Plus, since you’re working on an organic farm, the food’s bound to be good, huh?

If working in the dirt isn’t really your cup of tea, there are also plenty of volunteer opportunities that will grant you free accommodation and meals in exchange for your time. For example, I’ve had several friends who worked at orphanages across the world and were given a free place to stay, delicious food to eat, and sweet kiddos to look after during their stay. Workaway is a great place to look for opportunities of this kind!

Become a Flight Attendant 

If the high costs of flights are your main concern, you can always work to become a flight attendant. It’s not as easy or quick as the other methods on this list, but once you become one, you’ll be zipping all over the world in no time. 

Plus, flight attendants tend to get free stays wherever they’re traveling too (even if it’s just overnight), money for meals, and flights that they can cash in whenever they want! And on top of that, you’ll be earning a pretty good salary as well. 

If you’re truly looking for a life on the road (or in the sky, rather), this is the best way to travel for free — and you don’t even need a university degree. 

Work on a Cruise Ship

people dining at golden hour on a cruise ship with water outside of the window

Another way to travel the world is by the sea, and those working on cruise ships have it good when it comes to the destinations they reach. 

While it may not always be glamorous to be working on board a cruise ship, you’ll get a place to sleep, food to eat, and a salary as well. When the ship stops in different ports, you’re able to get off and explore a new place before setting sail for the next one. Not bad, huh?

Since cruise ships are basically small cities on the sea, there are jobs for pretty much everyone: bartenders, servers, cleaning crew, entertainers, personal trainers, babysitters, cleaners and more! 

Rack up Miles and Points in Exchange for Free Travel

Finally, if the price of flights is really what’s holding back your travels, start racking up your air miles. 

It may take a little while to gain enough, but eventually you’ll be able to fly for free. Sign up for a frequent flyer program and try to fly primarily with that airline to gain as many miles as possible. Yes, it will cost you some money upfront but it will be totally worth it when you’re kicking back on your free flight or business class upgrade.

It’s also a great idea to sign up for a credit card that allows you to easily accrue points that can be cashed in for travel and hotels. What’s more, many frequent flyer programs and credit card companies have hotels that you can stay in to earn points as well. 

If you’re going to be spending the money anyway, you may as well be rewarded for it. With a combination of these methods, you can end up with free flights, free hotel stays, and a variety of other benefits as well. What more can you ask for?

So now do you believe me when I say that yes, it is possible to travel for free? It’s not always easy and not always fun, but it’s completely worth it when you’re seeing more of the world than you imagined possible.

One of the greatest benefits of traveling on the cheap is getting to connect with locals in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise. Whether you’re staying in someone’s home or on their couch, working in a local school or on a farm, or taking care of children internationally, you’ll have the opportunity to have a unique and intimate look into local life and get new experiences around the world. 

Give these methods a go, and see which work best for you. 

Have a way to travel for free that we didn’t mention? Spread the love and drop a comment below! Happy trails!

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How to Travel for FREE! | Avid traveler but running short on funds? Here are the best ways to travel the world for free!

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