World travel is an expensive endeavor only manifested after decades of hard work for some of us and an unattainable imagination reserved for the rich and brave for others. Traditional advertising taught us that travel is expensive, a once in-a-lifetime experience, and full of dangers or hassles UNLESS you sign up for that special guided cruise deal or through a travel agent all for the low price of an arm and a leg. PSSSHH!
We live in a new world where travel is not only inexpensive, but free in many instances. A little bit of research, negotiation, and patience can go a long way to attaining what was once thought impossible. I came up with 11 overlooked ways that allow one to travel free….ALL for the bargain basement price of $0!
The explosion of the internet is the #1 reason why travel prices continue to drop. In most big cities you don’t need to wander too far to find a free WIFI connection. Even the smaller cities tend to house a few local hotspots. Coffee shops, parks, hotel/hostels/any place where people lodge, and restaurants are good places to start looking. If you can’t find any locations, ask. Internet and WIFI are commonly understood words in almost all languages.
2. Walking Tours
Want to go on a mind-numbing free walking tour guided by knowledgeable, well-spoken locals that give first-hand experiences, stories, and information of the city your visiting? These tours exist! Of course many free tours work on tips or up-sell paid tours, but that’s your choice to give them money. The Berlin Free Walking Tour and the tour guided by the owner of Hostel Che in Belgrade, Serbia were two of the more memorable experiences on my travels through Europe.
3. Public Libraries
Free public libraries? Whoda thunk? This is one of the more overlooked aspects of travel. In the age of the internet and Google, we tend to forget that public libraries still exist around the world. Hard working university students know the importance of a place that provides a tremendous wealth of organized knowledge and a good quiet place to focus. Travelers should too!
Don’t under estimate the value of your existing relationships. Many times you can score free room and by board just by advertising your travel itinerary to friends and family. Couchsurfing, however, is my preferred method. I’ve blogged about the concept many times in previous posts. A free couch is just the beginning. In addition to the stay, many hosts go out of their way to ensure travelers receive a favorable impression of their city by providing home cooked meals, local hot spots, and good company during the stay. If you want a more adventurous free lodging experience, try camping. I remember two backpackers I met in Croatia who carried full sized tents with them, camping yards away from hostels.
Depending on the day and time, you can visit some of the most world-renowned museums for free. I remember specifically visiting The Louvre in Paris, France, The Museo de Prado in Madrid, Spain and The Acropolis in Athens, Greece for free. All three were a bit crowded during these times, but not unmanageable during the offseason. I highly recommend looking up times and dates online before visiting.