My dear Lola,

“Traveling is never a matter of money but of courage”

Someone told me this sentence once, and from the other side of the world, while traveling around South America for the first time alone with my 13kg backpack, I understand the meaning of each of its words.

He was right. Nowadays it is really easy to explore the world without saving for years. Those who decide to travel for a long time and to become travelers rather than tourists, they search for different ways to finance their stay, save on transportation and get involved in the local culture daily.

On many occasions I have been asked how could I had settled in 4 different countries, toured much of western Europe, visited South East Asia or spend 6 months discovering South Smerica … and the answer is easy if you decide to combine rather work or volunteer programs with visits to family and friends leaving abroad, etc .. while traveling.

Today Lola, I would like to introduce you different kinds of “travel for free possibilities” all bases on my own experienced.

– Sabatica

Sabatica is a company settled in Barcelona that organizes voluntary programs and professional internships across the world, language courses in native countries or au-pair experience in Ireland, USA and Norway, etc.

With them Lola, I booked my first experience abroad 6 years ago, which encouraged me to continue traveling and living with native families around the globe.

In 2010, I traveled for 2 months to the Lofoten Islands in Norway where I met for the first time the Scandinavian culture and I explored every corner of one of the most beautiful places on earth while working on a family camping.

It was an unforgettable experience that allowed me to discover Norway for the first time, to travel around the islands, and to meet a wonderful family that became part of my life.

So if you’re interested, you can contact them through their webpage on Sabatica.org

Where I’ve worked? 

Lyngvær Lofoten bobilcamping (Lofoten Islands, Norway)

My first experience abroad… 6 years ago! OMG!!!

– Au Pair

Probably the best way to learn a foreigner language and to discover a country at the same time.

In my second experience, I choose Ireland to work as an au-pair with a half Irish – half Scottish family.

Unlike my previous position, wages in this case are minimal, so I learnt to live with the minimum luxuries, organizing every penny and making use of the cheapest hostels in each free weekend traveling around the emerald island.

Although all this money inconvenient, it has been one of the most beautiful experiences. Again, not only to be able to discover a new country by living with its native inhabitants but to end up being part of their family (unfortunately not in all cases it becomes like this, and in mine ;)

Many agencies (including Sabatica) offer family service search. Even so, to save any kind of fee, family searching can be done individually and independently through Aupairworld.com by creating your own profile and getting in touch with signed in families.

Where I’ve worked? 

Ballina (Co, Claire, Ireland)

Au-pairing at the beautiful Irish Village of Ballina, Co. Claire

– WorldPackers (work en route) & Workaway

The best way to get to know a place is to move in and keep discovering it daily becoming  part of its routine. WorldPackers & Workaway offer the opportunity of volunteering in hostels in almost every country in the world.

To become part of the staff it is necessary to create an account and a profile (as in Aupairworld.com) to apply in each hostel; one at a time and chosen by destinations, where you would like to work at.

Once you reach an agreement with the hostel, accommodation, breakfast and some daily meal are obtained in exchange of a few working hours.

My first experience was in Antigua Tilcara Hotel&Hostel in a small but cosy village called Tilcara, in northern Argentina. An incredible experience I could share with locals and tourists helping in the owners restaurant for 2 weeks.

P.S. The volunteer hostel search can also be done individually by asking to the different establishments upon arrival. Although you won’t be able to know in advance if the position is still available and you might better be flexible and able to change your plans.

Where I’ve volunteered? 

 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Tilcara (Argentina) and Fiambalá (Argentina) 

My first worldpackers’ experience was working in Bella Flor Restó and staying at Antigua Tilcara Hotel&Hostel, located at the small but cosy village called Tilcara, in northern Argentina

Ninukot

Similar with Sabatica, Ninukot is a company based in Reykjavik (Iceland) offering work & travel services for foreigners wishing to visit the country of ice and fire while working rather in tourism or agricultural sector.

A fast and efficient agency that organized my 6 months working experience in the small Volcano Hotel, located in the island southernmost city of Vík í Mýrdal, and living with a local family.

Where I’ve worked? 

Volcano Hotel (Vík, Iceland)

– Hitchhiking

It might be the oldest and most economic (or free) way to travel from one place to another. Recommended in some countries and to avoid in others ones.

In any case, in order to find out which is the best route to take, you can always visit Hitchwiki.org to discover the safest routes and its traffic.

Couchsurfing

If you have been able to hitchhike and save 100% of the transport cost, Couchsurfing will allow you to stay with native inhabitants also free.

An excellent option to get to know the local culture, listen to travel advisories and save extra money on accommodation.

As it happens with Worldpackers, you must create an account to apply to all host who suits your personality the most, after reading their profile carefully.

Where I’ve Couchsurfed? 

 Posadas (Argentina) 

– European Voluntary Service (EVS)

An EVS project is a partnership between two or more promoting organisations. These organisations are responsible for recruiting volunteers for their project.

Volunteers participate in EVS through a Sending Organisation in the country where they live and a Receiving Organisation that receives and hosts them during their period of service.

Projects last from 2 weeks to 12 months, and as a volunteer you can work in a wide range of fields, such as culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare, environment and development cooperation.

By being an EVS volunteer you will receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. The only thing you might have to pay is a small part of your travel costs.

Where I’ve volunteered? 

International Short Film Festival, Balchik (Bulgaria) – Sending organization: Asociación Mundus (Barcelona)

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City of Balchik (Bulgaria)

“Artistic residences” volunteer program

– International friends will always be your best host

What a better way to discover a country but with your best friend living in it?

That friend of you who knows what you like, that does not need a map to move around the city (and does not make you waste your time asking every single direction) and it takes you to the best night clubs, always on a student budget (I doesn’t matter your age or career, he&she will always guide you to the cheapest and less tourist places)

And you Lola, do you know any other trick to travel for free?

Love,

Marina

 

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