Globetrotting on a Shoestring: 18 Savvy Techniques to Travel Without Breaking the Bank

The desire to explore the world and immerse yourself in new cultures is a feeling that never fades, regardless of age.

As a 50+ nomad embarking on a full-time travel lifestyle, I understand the importance of making travel affordable and accessible.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or planning your first adventure, the cost of flights, accommodations, and activities can sometimes seem daunting. But what if I told you that it’s possible to travel the world for free or at a significantly reduced cost?

In this post, I’ll share 18 savvy techniques to help you globetrot without breaking the bank. These strategies are designed to cater to a wide range of travel styles and preferences, ensuring that there’s something for everyone.

So, whether you’re a digital nomad aiming to optimise your travel costs or a 50+ adventurer seeking affordable ways to explore the world, this guide has something for you. Prepare to discover the insider tips and tricks of globetrotting on a shoestring and embark on the journey of a lifetime!

1. House Sitting

House sitting is a fantastic way to secure free accommodation while travelling. By signing up for house sitting websites like TrustedHousesitters, MindMyHouse, or HouseCarers, you can connect with homeowners who are looking for someone to take care of their home and pets while they’re away.

screenshot of trustedhousesitters landing page

How it works:

  • Create a profile on house sitting websites, highlighting your experience and trustworthiness
  • Apply for house sitting assignments that match your travel dates and destinations
  • If selected, you’ll be responsible for maintaining the home and caring for any pets during your stay


  • Free accommodation in various locations worldwide
  • Opportunity to live like a local and experience a destination from a unique perspective
  • Potential for long-term stays, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in a new place


  • Build a strong profile with references and a detailed description of your skills and experience
  • Be flexible with your travel dates to increase your chances of finding a suitable assignment
  • Communicate clearly with the homeowner to understand their expectations and ensure a smooth experience

2. Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a global community that connects travellers with locals who are willing to offer free accommodation in their homes.

screenshot of couchsurfing landing page

How it works:

  • Create a profile on, including your interests, travel plans, and references
  • Browse and connect with potential hosts in your desired destination
  • Send a personalised request to stay with a host, explaining why you’d be a good fit


  • Free accommodation in a local’s home
  • Opportunity to connect with locals and learn about their culture and way of life
  • Access to insider tips and recommendations for exploring the destination


  • Be respectful and communicative with your host, treating their home as you would your own
  • Offer to help with household chores or cook a meal as a gesture of appreciation
  • Participate in Couchsurfing events and meetups to expand your network and meet fellow travellers

3. Work Exchange Programs

Work exchange programs allow you to trade your skills and time for free room and board in various locations worldwide.

screenshot of helpx landing page

How it works:

  • Join websites like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms),, or HelpX
  • Browse and apply for work exchange opportunities that match your skills and interests
  • Work a few hours a day in exchange for free accommodation and meals


  • Free room and board, reducing your travel expenses significantly
  • Opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable work experience
  • Immerse yourself in a local community and experience a different way of life


  • Choose work exchange opportunities that align with your interests and skills
  • Read reviews and communicate with hosts to ensure a good fit before committing
  • Be open-minded and willing to adapt to different work and living situations

4. Travel Hacking with Credit Card Points

Travel hacking involves strategically using credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards to earn free flights, hotel stays, and other travel perks.

credit cards on top of passport and map of the world

How it works:

  • Sign up for travel rewards credit cards that offer lucrative sign-up bonuses and earning potential
  • Earn points on everyday purchases and by meeting minimum spending requirements
  • Redeem accumulated points for free flights, hotel stays, or other travel expenses


  • Significant savings on airfare and accommodations
  • Ability to travel in business or first class using points
  • Access to additional travel perks like airport lounge access and travel insurance


  • Choose credit cards that align with your spending habits and travel goals
  • Pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges
  • Stay organized and keep track of your points and redemption options

5. Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is a free way to get around by catching rides with locals heading in the same direction.

man in the road trying to stop a car signing for Hitchhiking

How it works:

  • Research the safety and legality of hitchhiking in your desired destination
  • Find a safe spot along a road or highway with good visibility and traffic flow
  • Use a clear and legible sign indicating your destination, and wait for a ride


  • Free transportation between destinations
  • Opportunity to meet and connect with locals
  • Flexibility to change plans and routes as needed


  • Exercise caution and trust your instincts when accepting rides
  • Carry a map, water, and snacks in case of long waits or unexpected situations
  • Be friendly and communicative with drivers, but always prioritise your safety

6. Teach English Abroad

Teaching English abroad can provide free housing and a salary to cover travel expenses while allowing you to immerse yourself in a new culture.

screenshot of gooverseas website

How it works:

  • Obtain a TEFL/TESOL certification to qualify for teaching positions
  • Apply for teaching opportunities in countries where demand for English teachers is high
  • Accept a position that includes free housing and a salary to cover living and travel expenses


  • Free housing and a steady income to support your travels
  • Opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn a foreign language
  • Gain valuable teaching experience and develop cross-cultural communication skills


  • Research visa requirements and working conditions in your desired destination
  • Choose a reputable TEFL/TESOL certification program to ensure quality training
  • Network with other teachers and expats to learn about local customs and travel opportunities

7. Volunteer with Non-Profit Organisations

Volunteering with non-profit organisations can provide meaningful travel experiences while covering your expenses.

screenshot of worldpackers website

How it works:

  • Research non-profit organisations that offer volunteer opportunities in your desired destination
  • Apply for positions that match your skills and interests
  • Look for organisations that cover travel, accommodation, and meal expenses in exchange for your volunteer work


  • Free travel and living expenses while making a positive impact
  • Opportunity to contribute to meaningful projects and causes
  • Gain valuable skills and experiences that can benefit your personal and professional growth


  • Choose organisations and projects that align with your values and goals
  • Read reviews and communicate with past volunteers to ensure a reputable and worthwhile experience
  • Be prepared to work hard and adapt to challenging living conditions in some locations

8. Attend Free Events and Festivals

Many destinations offer free events and festivals throughout the year, providing entertainment and cultural experiences at no cost.

screenshot of eventbrite page - 18 Ways to Travel Without Breaking the Bank

How it works:

  • Research free events, festivals, and activities in your desired destination
  • Plan your travel dates around these events to take advantage of the free entertainment
  • Enjoy music, art, food, and cultural experiences without spending money on tickets or admission


  • Save money on entertainment expenses while still experiencing local culture
  • Opportunity to mingle with locals and other travelers who share your interests
  • Discover hidden gems and lesser-known aspects of a destination


  • Check local tourism websites and event calendars for upcoming free events
  • Arrive early to secure a good spot and avoid crowds
  • Be open to trying new things and stepping outside your comfort zone

9. Travel During Low Season

Travelling during the low or off-peak season can result in significant savings on flights, accommodations, and attractions.

Paris Eiffel tower view during winter - 18 Ways to Travel Without Breaking the Bank

How it works:

  • Research the low season for your desired destination, typically outside of major holidays and peak summer months
  • Book flights and accommodations during these periods to take advantage of lower prices and discounts
  • Enjoy fewer crowds and more affordable prices for activities and attractions


  • Significant savings on travel expenses, allowing you to stretch your budget further
  • More relaxed and intimate experiences at popular attractions and destinations
  • Opportunity to connect with locals and experience a more authentic side of a place


  • Be prepared for potential weather challenges or reduced hours at some attractions
  • Take advantage of low-season discounts and promotions offered by hotels, tour operators, and restaurants
  • Consider alternative low-season destinations that still offer great experiences at a fraction of the cost

10. Stay with Friends and Family

Reaching out to friends and family living in different locations can provide free accommodation and local insights during your travels.

family with grandma and grandpa looking back at the body of water and mountain - 18 Ways to Travel Without Breaking the Bank

How it works:

  • Make a list of friends and family members living in destinations you’d like to visit
  • Reach out and ask if they would be willing to host you for a short stay
  • Offer to contribute to household expenses or cook meals as a gesture of appreciation


  • Free accommodation and the comfort of staying with loved ones
  • Insider knowledge and recommendations from locals who know the area well
  • Opportunity to strengthen relationships and create lasting memories with friends and family


  • Be respectful of your hosts’ space and routines, treating their home as you would your own
  • Communicate your travel plans and expectations clearly to avoid misunderstandings
  • Show your appreciation by treating your hosts to a meal, gift, or heartfelt thank-you note

8 More Money-Saving Tips for Budget-Conscious Travellers

11. Apply for Travel Scholarships and Grants – Seek out funding opportunities that support your travel goals and cover your expenses.

12. Participate in Airline Loyalty Programs – Earn miles and rewards through airline loyalty programs to redeem for free or discounted flights.

13. Become a Travel Blogger or Influencer – Leverage your travel experiences and social media presence to secure sponsored trips and collaborations.

14. Attend Travel Conferences and Events – Take advantage of free or discounted travel opportunities by attending industry conferences and events.

15. Use Sharing Economy Platforms – Utilize platforms like Blablacar and EatWith to save money on transportation and dining while connecting with locals.

16. Participate in Loyalty Programs for Accommodations – Earn points and rewards through hotel and booking platform loyalty programs to redeem for free stays.

17. Travel with a Group or Join a Tour Benefit from group discounts and split costs by traveling with others or joining organized tours.

18. Attend Free Walking Tours – Explore destinations on foot and learn about local history and culture through free walking tours.

screenshot of freetour homepage - 18 Ways to Travel Without Breaking the Bank

18 Ways to Travel Without Breaking the Bank – Summary

Travelling the world on a budget is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. From house sitting and work exchange programs to travel hacking and volunteering abroad, these strategies can lead to free accommodation & transportation, immersive cultural experiences, meeting new people and getting the most out of your travels!

Sometimes, sleeping on someone else’s couch can lead to a more fulfilling trip than staying in a 5 star resort. (I said sometimes – I’m in my fifties. not my twenties after all!)

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your next adventure today and discover the joy of globetrotting on a shoestring.

Happy travels, and may your adventures be as affordable as they are extraordinary!

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About the author

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