Travel free - Is it joke or reality?

Travel free - Is it joke or reality?

No, I don’t think anybody can travel freely. It is simply not possible. I have searched lots of forums, blogs, etc., and found people lying about the topic. Nobody really travels free. I feel amused when seeing headings like “Travel the World when you have absolutely no money”, “Ultimate Guide to Travel when you have no money”, and so on. They work, and they do all sorts of austerity to maintain a slim lifestyle during travel, slow living, and other stuff, but never free. I travel solo and have traveled to many places including overland traveling. I have seen lots of backpackers who lived a very austere life for their traveling passion. In a good way, I don’t have any issue with that, but many bloggers show a far-fetched dream of traveling without money.

That being said, I also don’t like the idea of luxury traveling. It may be good for people who do not really enjoy traveling but try to escape from the monotony of the daily situation. Virtually they do exactly or expect to do the same thing in a different setting. That’s the idea of traveling for them. I am not here to do any critical analysis of the traveling agendas of people. 

There are two primary expenses: getting somewhere and living there. Here I suggest certain budgetary plans, and work plans on this topic and hope it will help people who are practical in their approach. These tips are not exclusive to backpackers but for people who love to travel and at the same time engage in job, family, and other things. Needless to say, these are not for luxury tourists, honeymooners, and 4-5 day tourist trips. Lastly, these tips are for single people because I am not a family man and I don’t want to complicate the subject matter with my naivety.

Before Traveling

Travel free - Is it joke or reality?

Start your planning early

We have lots of obligations, even certain obligations, which are more of a burden than desirable duties. I generally plan my travel plans early in the year; destinations, travel budgets, days, and job leaves.  Many people do cubicle jobs, and some stay outside of their hometowns, so they need to manage time to visit their homes as well as fulfill their traveling ambitions. So, the trick is, to take your traveling seriously like any other job, and plan early.

Start a monthly saving scheme

Many travelers and backpackers suggest this method of saving a separate account for traveling. What I do, is open three recurring deposit accounts of 2000, 3000, and 2000 at different periods of the year. In a year I get three good lump sum amounts to travel. If you have to travel by air and don’t want to empty your bank balance on airfare, I can also suggest you book tickets on your credit card and ask your bank to convert them into monthly EMI. 

Book early

It comes to the first point which is to plan early. If you have a clear idea where to go and when then it is better to book early your flight tickets.

Don’t book hotels

If you are not traveling to some exotic destination, you always find hotels no matter what the season. Most of the cheap hotels or homestays do not advertise on the Internet, but if you explore well around the place, even in the most remote places of the Himalayas, you can find accommodation.

During Traveling

Engage in money making process

This is for people who have left regular jobs for travel. If you don’t have a definite objective for travel, I suggest don’t just leave your money-making process. No matter how romantic it sounds, at the end of the day, you will regret that you don’t have any money left. The situation of Indians and Westerners is entirely different in terms of finance, social, cultural, and personal will. If you write relatively okay, you can try your hand at different freelancing websites. Again, it is not an easy way to do it. Apparently, it seems very rosy to do freelance writing, earn, and travel, but trust me, I have been in this field for 6 years, and it is not. 

If you have the facility to do work from home, you can give it a try in your office. Small companies generally don’t mind cutting your salary and give you work from home for a definite period, so you can try that option.

If you have some special skills that can fetch you some money, you can do it.

Travel free - Is it joke or reality?

a) Open a shop on eBay – It sounds ludicrous but people earn through it. Several people are interested in postage stamps, coins, comics, old books, etc. If you have something, you can start a shop, selling that stuff. Needless to say, if you are a hobbyist, this selling thing is not for you.

b) Day trading – If you have a relatively good idea about the equity market, you can earn some money through day trading. The fun part is you can earn lots of money both when the market is up and market is down. There is a risk factor involved in day trading, so if you are not experienced, don’t do it.

c) Use your professional skillsIf you are good in finance, you can search for an auditing firm CA firm, or similar business and ask for a freelance financial analysis job for you. I know it is extremely difficult in terms of credibility, but if you have a good resume, it might possible you would land up with a good job. If you have a skill in photography, you can ask for freelance projects from small companies.

d) Learn a new languageFor a long-term travel plan, you need to be very specialized in your profession. For example, if you plan to leave your job after two years and travel itinerantly, learning an extensive language course would be a great idea. You find lots of opportunities like a translator, tour guide, interpreter, language instructor, etc. Money is good and it gives you lots of flexibility.

Travel free - Is it joke or reality?

Walk more, use public transport

In almost every place, public transport is the cheapest way to travel. If you are not traveling in the scorching summer, you can walk. I walked in Bangkok every day; in fact, I walked almost 25 km the whole day and then returned back by ferry. So, walking gives you a certain amount of joy, knowing the place more, exploring things better and it’s free.

Free Food

Well, I never tried it because I never had to. However, you can if you think living such an austere life is an adventure to sleep on rugs and eat free lunch. There are many mosquesashrams, churches, and of course, Gurudwaras where you can look for free food. 

Make lots of networking, be an extrovert

Networking helps to find free accommodation, at least for a couple of days. Find all friends from schools, colleges, universities, and even offices and start connecting them through Facebook, Whatsapp, and all possible ways. To have a good public relation is a great way to do lots of work. You can engage in travel groups, both locally and internationally, and start interacting with people more often. The only thing one should remember, people are not stupid, so don’t try to push things in groups, be honest and be what you are. Ironically, humans are fond of honest people.

FAM trips

I am not a big fan of FAM or Familiarization Trips that are offered by travel agents to give information and content for definite destinations. The reason for not being a big fan is these tour agents look for established players who already have earned good reputations in the blogging world. I got twice these types of trip offers but when I thought about it, I denied it because I didn’t want to stay in a resort and do some stupid activities and write about it. Which traveler wants to be dictated on terms of travel agents?!?! Honestly, if I get something that blends with my traveling agenda, well, free trips are always welcome.

Staying in camps

I do it always when I travel in the Himalayas. Northern Himalayas and villages are quite hospitable towards backpackers, and though there are rules not to camp anywhere in India, you can always do it. However, this point won’t go with the very first one to engage in freelance work while traveling. You can’t camp in the middle of a village or town, you have to go outside or stay in the forest where in all possible ways,  you won’t find any internet.

Travel free - Is it joke or reality?


Traveling free is not possible, but yes you can do a lot more shoestring than you anticipate, the only thing is the courage and inclination to do that.  If you leave everything and dedicate a period for traveling, I think you must have the courage to ask hotels, hostels, restaurants, and all odd places to ask for free things in exchange for work.  If you have a rich parent who's for some bizarre reason ready to sponsor your travel, then it is entirely a different thing.