Sounds a little impossible, right?
Nope. Not at all. Just do the research. I did it. Simple, really.
It’s called: Travel Hacking.
Don’t believe me? Look it up yourself. Tons of people are doing it. Believe me, I’m not the first.
All my life since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of ‘traveling the world’, seeing exotic places, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures and lifestyles. (I mean, who doesn’t??)
If only money grew on trees.
So last year I got serious. I spent hours -no, days– devoting my time to researching all about travel, and how I could do it SOON. Long story short, I came across this awesome website called workaway.info where you can literally travel anywhere in the world for practically nothing!
And I chose Switzerland. (I have a thing for Germanic people)
Being a newbie to travel, I was a little intimidated by the whole “living with strangers” idea, but it sounded cool at the same time. I would actually get to see how people on the other side of the world lived on a day-to-day basis. I could learn so much about other cultures this way!
And so after making contact with a Swiss family, I bought my plane ticket and left. Bam! just like that. The ticket itself was less than $1’000 and the Swiss Pass (for transportation) was under $500. I cut corners and would buy food from Kiosks (convenient stores) or food markets, rather than hitting an expensive restaurant when I felt my appetite growing. Other than buying a few souvenirs while I was over there, that was pretty much all the money I spent for the whole month during my visit.
Accommodation and food was completely free for me. I joined the family I stayed with for mealtimes, helped their children with English, helped with homework, did a little house-cleaning, fixed a few meals – nothing that I’m not already used to doing. This was the ‘work’ I was to do in exchange for having the time of my life traveling around in Switzerland! (Who knew, right?)
And I met so many amazing people, too! They enjoyed meeting an American and told me they liked having the chance to practice their English. A lot them would ask if I was an exchange student or something.
“Nope,” I’d answer. “I’m a workawayer.”
“A what?” They’d ask, immediately intrigued. And from there, the conversation took off as I shared my story about how I came to travel. I even met some other Americans and we’d exchange travel stories. When I told them I was to be staying for a month, they were always surprised. “How?” When I told them, I could see the interest growing on their faces. None had heard of Workaway.
“Sounds amazing,” they’d say.
“You should check it out,” I’d reply. “You won’t regret it.”
However, I’ve also read several books and checked out several useful sites that have helped me along the way, steering me to become a better, smarter traveler. I highly recommend Nomadic Matt’s “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day” book (and site) as well as “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts. Awesome books. If you’re interested in travel, you need to read these books. No questions asked.
Find them. Buy them. Read them. Use them. No regrets.
During the long train rides, I’d find someone to converse with and people were always surprised to hear this was my first travel experience. And they were always further surprised when I mentioned being alone. But they were also impressed.
“It must be something you really want to do,” they’d say.
“It is. But I don’t do this to impress other people, just to brag and say “Yes, I’ve been there!” I’m doing this for me. It’s something I feel I have to do. I want to do this, and that’s all.”
I’m glad I’m discovering all this while I’m young. I’m hoping to spread the word to other, especially to other young people who want to do the same. Life is short, and there will never be a ‘right time’ to do something.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Til then, I remain,