How to Travel for Free
You want to know the secret for how to travel for free?
You want to know the secret to traveling the world for as long as you want?
Here it is….
There is none.
I’m not saying it’s impossible. Contrary. It’s easy!
It’s just not a secret.
There are numerous ways to learn how to travel for free. There are tens of thousands of people traveling not as a luxury, but as a lifestyle. I’m one of them. In the past five years I’ve lived and worked in three countries (USA, Portugal and Hong Kong) and traveled to thirty-ish more.
No trust fund secretly funding my journey. No competitive edge in life. I’m just a regular dude who got the travel bug. I got it so bad that I’ve learned everything I could to live my life on my own terms pursuing my passion. Traveling when I want. Stopping when I want. Repeat. I want to teach you to do the same.
I’ve combined everything that I’ve learned via travel blogs with my own travel experiences, just like the countless other people who are doing the exact same thing. I dub this – The Two Nomad Commandments.
What are the Two Nomad Commandments?
The Two Nomad Commandments are an attempt to simplify exactly how perpetual travel works.
These aren’t rules. These aren’t laws to abide by. This isn’t the start of a goat-sacrificing cult. The Two Nomad Commandments exist so you can understand exactly how long term travel is attainable. This is for the newbie traveler who wants to wander the world, but is overwhelmed by all the information out there. This is for the dreamer who wants to experience life, but is told it’s too expensive. Because at the end of the day, the reason we don’t travel is because of one thing…
Money is the great antithesis to generations of aspiring travelers.
Money is the devil.
Money is the enemy.
But – do you know how to defeat your enemy? Know your enemy.
(Cue Rage Against the Machine)
You want to travel. But fear the money aspect. I say to thee – have no fear! Sustainable travel is cake!
But while I encourage travelers to let go of their financial-fears, I certainly acknowledge that it can come across as overwhelming. Sometimes when I explain budget travel to people, I notice they can seem… confused. I want to eradicate the confusion. So I took everything that budget travelers held sacred, and applied them into one digestible list.
The Two Nomad Commandments – The Formula for Perpetual Travel and Being a Full Nomad
Ladies and gentlemen. This is it. It breaks down budget travel to it’s two most simplest elements.
On the left are the proven, actionable ways to save money while traveling (First Commandment).
On the right are the proven, actionable ways to make money while traveling (Second Commandment).
Because please hear me when I say this – if you want to travel perpetually, you need to do both.
Because if you do both, you will accomplish the most important feat. You will not run out of money. Not running out of money = you traveling as long as you’d like. This is how to travel for free. Let me explain.
Let’s say you are a hardcore-budget-travel-extraordinaire. You can cruise the planet dumpster diving, hitchhiking, not drinking alcohol, and spending $3.25 a day. You have mastered the First Commandment! You are a prodigy of lowering the cost of travel! You’re awesome! But you are going to run out of money.
And on the other side. You can make a bit of money travel blogging, and teach a bit of English to create income, that’s gravy! You are an income creating wizard! You have mastered the Second Commandment! But you’re staying in 4 star hotels, buying pricey flights, and eating and drinking quality wine at snazzy restaurants a few times a week. Sounds like fun! But you are going to run out of money.
This is the key component of perpetual travel. The goal is so f**king simple. Save money where you can. Make money where you can. If you do this, you won’t run out of money. If you don’t run out of money you don’t have to stop traveling. 1 + 1 = 2
WWOOFing. Hitchhiking. Teaching English. Hostels. Travel Blogging. Travel Hacking. The list goes on!
You have to understand. If you want to learn how to travel for free, you have to learn how to travel long term.
Long term travel isn’t achieved with WWOOF’ing. Long term travel isn’t achieved with hitchhiking. Long term travel isn’t achieved with teaching English. Long term travel isn’t achieved by staying in hostels. Long term travel isn’t achieved with travel blogging. Long term travel isn’t achieved with Travel Hacking.
Long term travel is achieved with the combination of ALL of these varying elements. These entities may seem separate, but are directly linked to each other. This is the formula! This is the recipe! Look at the Two Commandments! The points on either side of the list are your weapons for free travel. Consider it your arsenal of travel sustainability.
I’ve traveled the world for five years. I’ve taught English in Hong Kong. AirBnb’ed in Paris. Hacked flights to Peru. WWOOF’ed in Portugal. Ate street food in The Philippines. Hacked hotels in London. Worked in bars in Denver. Took buses in Columbia. Stayed in hostels on four separate continents.
Some of these things enabled me to save money on travel. Some of these things enabled me to create income to sustain my travels. Some of things have had small financial impacts. Some of these have had large financial impacts. But! Because of their combination, perpetual travel has been attainable for me, and it can be for you too.
I’ve hopped around the globe a few times, and am only getting better at it. You can too. Let’s start with The First Commandment.
The First Commandment – Lower the Cost of Travel
This Commandment is the first portion of how to travel for free, has been the bread and butter of budget travelers since basically the dawn of time. This stuff is very well documented. Hostels. Street food. Cheap bus fares. The list goes on. These are staples of affordable travel.
But now, with technology and a more globalized world, we are seeing new developments with the First Commandment. Lowering the cost of travel has never been easier. AirBnb’s, work exchanges, couchsurfing, and others are adding additional layers to the beauty that is saving-money-while-traveling. The arsenal is expanding, and as long as people continue to look to travel on a budget, these developments will continue.
While some of these things might be newer on the budget travel scene (Airbnb), the information is out there. For every point on the left of The Commandments there exist 12,000 blog posts covering it (mine included). But for good reason. These things f**king work.
Accommodation/Work Exchange Programs
Budget travelers know the drill. While hotels can be a luxurious experience – they break budgets. Nomads must seek refuge elsewhere.
Work exchange programs like HelpX, WWOOF and Workaway are completely free, and will typically provide travelers with meals as well (hence the asterisks on the list). But they will require around 30 hours of work per week, which can be a commitment depending on your goals. If they do fit in your goals, work exchanges are one of the best tools in the war to learn how to travel for free.
If you are interested in WWOOFing (and you should be) check out my Ultimate Guide. I go over the basics and explain what to look for on a farm. It’s based off a s**t ton of research and my two month experience in South Portugal. I assess the global WWOOFing scene, and evaluate which areas of the world have the most developed programs.
Couchsurfing is completely and 100% free.
Camping will only cost you the materials needed and maybe a camping pass for certain parts of the world.
Hostels are cheap, but also relative to the area of the world you are in. A hostel in Denmark will cost you at least five times as much as a hostel in Delhi. But regardless, they are always more affordable.
Airbnb’s are the last-cheapest option, but still provide incredible value, especially for couples.
As mentioned, work exchanges are a phenomenal way to lower the cost of food as they typically provide three square meals a day. The food provided to me in South Portugal was insanely good, and most of the travelers I’ve encountered also found their food-experiences to be on the positive side.
Aside from that, when on the road, look for street food and high-volume restaurants that are populated with locals (ie – if you are in Asia and see a bunch of white people eating somewhere, the food likely won’t be cheap or authentic.)
My guide on all things food while traveling will help answer any of your questions.
In the battle to learn how to travel for free, one thing will always be a problem – transport!
Knowing how to find cheap flights is crucial, but often budget travelers need to find cheap ways to travel not involved being in an airplane (flights are highlighted in the next section). The process is simple.
Example. You need to get from Madrid to Barcelona. Flights are too expensive. So let’s go down the line.
Trains (probably too expensive) -> Rental car (less expensive but a bi**h) -> Buses (less expensive, a Nomad staple) -> shared car ride (usually pretty cheap, but not always convenient) -> Hitchhiking (free if you don’t pitch in for gas and available in many parts of the world) ->Walk (obviously not viable for this example, but many a Nomad will pinch a penny and walk for two hours to get somewhere and avoid the $3 bus).
If not flying, most Nomads are split into two camps. Bus or Hitchhike. And which side of the planet you are traveling through will also have a lot of say.
I saved the best for last. While the other bullet points of the first commandment are staples of budget travel, Hacking is what can take your travel savings to the next level, really enabling you to learn how to travel for free.
I consider myself a semi-professional travel hacker. Travel Hacking has helped me save a good $10,000 on flights and hotels, but there are people who have saved hundreds of thousands.
Still, I know I know the benefits of Travel Hacking, and how crucial it has been to me and my sustainable travels.
It starts with understanding the world of points and miles, and then learning exactly how you can start racking them up. From there you can check out one of my favorite articles, where I show you how using credit cards for travel promotions actually helps your credit score (hint – mines in the 700’s).
Concluding the First Commandment
The info is out there, you just gotta apply it. Take the time to research everything out. The First Commandment of how to travel for free can be implemented daily – in every turn you make! The more ingrained in your memory it is, the easier it will be… or you could just carry The Two Commandments with you I guess, but that might be a bit much.
The Second Commandment – Create Income while Traveling
While the first Nomad commandment is f**king crucial in learning how to travel for free, I personally think it pales in comparison to the second commandment.
A bold opinion? Possibly. But it makes sense.
You can learn to cut down the cost of travel like a pro. You can implement any and every tactic ever known to budget travelers, maybe even innovate some new ones! But. At the end of the day, you are going to run out of money. It’s inevitable. You can slow the pace of your spending, but without income, you’ll eventually hit empty. Basic math.
Now consider the other end. If you can make good money while traveling, you might not need to worry about implementing the first commandment… as much. Of course you certainly should save money where you can, but if you’re teaching English in, let’s say, South Korea, living comfortably AND saving $1,000 USD a month… you might not have to hitch hike to get to your next destination. Get what I mean?
Now consider this! What if you spent a few years creating your online empire and after a 24-ish months of blood sweat and tears, you begin making great money online. Your business is run from your computer, meaning you have the ability to work wherever there is a wifi connection. Let’s say that income was $3,000 a month.
Online income is the ultimate goal for myself and many aspiring traveling-entrepreneurs. And it is of my humble personal opinion, that if you’re still here, reading along… it probably should be your ultimate goal as well. I’ll be writing a lot more on Digital Nomads, Location Independence, and online entrepreneurship in the month to come… stay posted.
Nomad Income Hacks
I have an idea. Before I get going with the proven means of income, let me tell you more about it.
As stated, if you want to learn how to travel for free, I believe that making money while traveling is more important than saving money. Sometimes saving money is more important. But making money is usually more more important. And I think there is still a ton of room for innovation in this field.
When it comes to making money while traveling, I believe there is enormous room for experimentation and growth. I think travel bloggers have barely scratched the surface of the potential that is making money while traveling, and I plan to reinvent the game with my Nomad Income Hacks.
I can’t say too much. I’ve got ideas and about fifty pages of notes and plans that will become my experiments with income. But I plan to do something very, very different. If this interests you, signup with the lead form below. Whoever does will be sent information and updates about the progress of my Nomad Income Hacks before anyone else. If not, read on Nomad!
As stated, I’ll be publishing a crap ton more content on Digital Nomadism quite soon, but in the mean time I’ll just throw some s**t your way. See if it sticks. Humor me.
If you notice with The Two Nomad Commandments, “Online Income” is highlighted in a tasteful gray outline. Why might you ask?
If you want to travel more – whether more means eight weeks out of the year or creating a lifestyle of travel. If you want freedom. Your ultimate goal should be to create money online.
Blogging. Affiliate Marketing. Dropshipping. Web design. Graphic design. Coding. SEO. Virtual assistant. Freelancing. Day trading. Every f**king day the list of legitimate income options online grows.
They all take time. They all take a stupid amount of work. None of them are guarantees. But hundreds of thousands of people are doing it and achieving freedom and travel as their lifestyle. With that information now lit on fire, and burning a hole in your brain, how could anything less be OK?
So I preach to you now. We are living in the midst of a revolution. The internet is redefining how our world works, and today is the easiest day in the history of humanity to achieve your goals and the lifestyle of your dreams.
You need to start thinking about your online business. It will be your second chapter. You might have to teach yourself an entire new set of skills to succeed in a completely new industry (like me!). You will have to train yourself in an entirel new field. Something completely foreign and novel.
But if you put your mind to it, it will work, and when it works, you will complete the process, shedding the former you who hated their job and restrictions on their life into someone who lives freely and on their own terms.
Excluding online income, teaching English is far and away the most proven and lucrative way to make money while traveling. It’s not even a competition. At NomadsNation I even go as far as saying that “Teaching English is the greatest way to travel” – and I full heartedly believe it.
Specifically in Asia -> China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and South Korea <- Why?
These are high paying jobs that are in demand, and that require around 35 hours of work of a week. The cost of living is typically low, allowing you to save decent money. Add in amazing cultures and thriving expat communities… you literally cannot beat it. It’s slow travel at it’s best… you just also get paid very well.
Many of the worlds top travel bloggers started teaching English. Nomadic Matt in Thailand. Drew Binsky in South Korea. Nick and Dariece from Goats on the Road in China. Travis Sherry from EPOP in Japan. Me in Hong Kong. The list goes on.
The combination of these things is why teaching English is my personally dubbed “greatest way to travel.” If you are interested more in ESL (English as a Second Language) check out my ultimate guide.
In the commandments I listed cruise ships, tour directors, tour guides, hostels and hotels. Travel industry work can overlap with seasonal work (next) and hospitality work (merged with seasonal), but it deserves it’s own unique category.
If you are interested in cruise ship work, stop and go to Wandering Earl’s site. He is one of the world’s most respected travel bloggers, who worked on cruise ships for years. He then wrote an ebook that has since set himself up as an authority on the topic.
A lot of these categories semi-overlap. For instance, bar work could be a part of the aforementioned “travel work” or they could both be included in the “seasonal work” category, but I’m gunna give bartending a shoutout on it’s own.
Reason being that it’s a staple job for travelers and an industry that pays anywhere from OK to holy shit!
Many people I know (myself included) have traveled with bartending. I’ve met bartenders from all over the world. Israeli’s in Peru, Aussie’s in Portugal, American’s in Cambodia – I could literally go on and on!
Some of these travelers were hired to bartend in seasonal areas (Lagos Portugal). Some were hired by hostels year round (anywhere). This work is one of the easiest to find while on the road, and is very important in the fragile backpacker-job ecosystem.
So what now…?
It’s all on you. The information is there, the question is whether or not you’ll use it. The Two Nomad Commandments are a proven blueprint for how to travel for free and it breaks travel down to it’s simplest of terms. The ways you can make money, and the ways you can save money. If you want to perfect how to travel for free, you need to master both commandments. Everything you need is at your fingertips, and if you want to travel, The Two Nomad Commandments provide you with everything you need to know.
If I may quote Morpheus from The Matrix… The Two Nomad Commandments can only show you the door… you’re the one who has to open it.