Travel is what you make of it. It certainly is about the experience, but it is presupposed on the experience that you want to have. I have made choices in my life and they have left me here, enjoying a painfully slow 15 hour layover in Moscow, Russia. For most that sounds strange, but for me that has become part of my everyday life. Travel is attainable and EVERYONE can do it, believe me.
The first question I always get from friends or family is how can you support yourself for this long without having a proper job? You must be a rich guy right. Wrong. I have spent painstaking hours figuring out the best and most affordable ways to get from place to place, to live, to eat and everything i between. It turns out, I in fact anm not a rich man, but a cunning one, a hunter of deals and a frugal guy when I have to be. I would not be where I am today (looking at a frozen runway in Moscow), without these tricks that I will share with you in this article
Hostels are great but imagine if you could stay abroad and stay for free without mooching off of friends, which I have shamelessly done as well. This is not a dream but a reality my friends. I have discovered two different ways in which you can trade your work for accodomodation in pretty much any country you are interested in going to. I have lived abroad for nearly 70 days on this trip and paid for a total of 8 nights. I would call that the steal of the century. Here are the sites I use, don’t hesitate to check them out.
I am a huge fan of worldpackers. They are a company run out of Brazil connecting young travelers with free time to work in foreign countries for hostels, NGO’s and other entities. They are currently in 98 countries around the world and have something for just about everyone. The site itself is easy to navigate and inspires anyone who ventures to the page to travel.
Once you have narrowed down where you want to go you can send in an application to work at said place. Think of worldpackers as the middle man, someone you pay to find a place for you. You could effectively do this yourself but that would be way too much work and ballsy. From what I have been told, each place you pick has a price that goes directly to worldpackers, the cheaper ones being places less sought out and the more expensive being tried and true jobs.
They offer the cheaper ones to get people to try new members of the site and to experience different places. While it seems like a pure middle man scheme, you can get 20 people to endorse you and receive a 50$ promo towards any of your trips. I have been on three trips so far and have only paid 20$ total to worldpackers. Each time after your first trip also gets a discount with your 5th being completely free and every after that as well.
They are extremely helpful and you get paired with a travel buddy who helps with questions anand facilitates conversation with the hosts. I can say that worldpackers has been the best thing I have found on the internet in a while. I have had so many experiences, made so many friends and have been having the time of my life for a little bit of folding here and there, working the night shift.
The working part is also unique in that you truly become part of the hostel family, learn the ins and outs of the business and look at tourism in a whole different way after you are done. I think the most important attribute of the worldpackers experience is. the fact that you get to live as a local for a month, no longer beomcing just a traveler. You settle down, find what you like to do and embrace the place that you have chose. While not all places have the best experience I know thus far, I have had an absolute blast.
I have heard lots of good and bad things about work away but have never given it a shot myself. It is very similar to worldpackers in that it matches travelers with hosts for accomodation yet it has a bit more variation in things that you can do. Many of the projects are working with people in their homes, building or constructing things. It may be an experience I will try in the future but as for now I am satisfied with my company of choice.
Skyscanner is a great aggregator for all flight websites you can find on the web. They have a few good features including flexible date, best price finder as well as the “everywhere” feature, which lets you find the cheapest location in the world to fly from your outbound city. I have been a big fan of skyscanner as of this far and the deals are prevalent.
Another aggregator site with tons of deals. Really great for same day, or near future travel.
I first came across student universe when I was planning my Eastern European Extravaganza with my boys from Oregon. It is a site aggregator that specially reserves tickets for students, but the catch here is that you have to have a student ID in order to reserve the ticket. Normally they have good deals similar to skyscanner but anytime you book a ticket I would definitely check both.
Budget Airlines for European Travel
(Icelandic Companies) Wow Air and Icelandic Airways
Iceland has been on a tourism promotion rampage, offering flights from various locations in the US including LA, DC, NY and Seattle for unbeatable prices. WoW air is truly bare bones, much like a bus in the air. If you travel Wow don’t forget to bring food and plenty of water because nothing is complimentary except the chair! While peanuts are nice, so are one way tickets from LA to Paris for 250$.
RyanAir is the standard for offering cheap flights in Europe. You can bounce around from the largest cities in Europe for under 20 Euros one way easily, with many destinations to choose from. The one caveat with RyanAir is their hidden fees that could really stack up if you don’t pay attention. Make sure to print your ticket in advance and check yourself in online if you want to avoid paying for them at the airport.
Norwegian Air, much like Wow and RyanAir, is another essential budget option for European travel. They do, however, offer a bit more of a comfortable ride and give out more complimentary services.
This airline may be my favorite one in Europe, being the perfect median between affordability and services offered. Think Southwest in the US. Its an economic choice that operates in every major city on the continent.
Flixbus (Western Europe)
Flixbus is a company based out of Germany and they travel to nearly every country in Western Europe excluding the Iberian Peninsula. If you are looking for a comfortable and affordable way to travel in Europe and don’t care about long rides, Flixbus is the company for you. With routes from every major Western European capital to even the smallest towns along with daily sales, this company has changed the game as far as cheap travel is concerned. You can find deals for less than 10 Euros one way for tons of cities!
Student Agency (Eastern Europe)
I took Student Agency from Prague to Bratislava and all I can say is that my trip was fantastic. The bus was brand new and clean. Each seat had its own personal monitor with movie and music options and the staff was receptive and helpful. My ticket for a four hour bus ride was about 6 Euros and I can say that was a 6 Euros well spent.
After traveling through much of Spain, I came to realize that buses are truly the best option. They are rarely on time and a bit confusing, but overall the system works well. Alsa is not the best bus company you can find but they do offer cheap tickets to tons of destinations across the country. In comparison to the Renfe, Alsa tickets are at least half the price and get there in about the same amount of time.
My take on trains is that they provide services that you just can’t get on a bus. Most are slow and expensive but sometimes they are worth the hassle because of the roomy cabin and the ability to walk around that you just can’t get on a moving vehicle. The best trains I have taken in Europe by far are the Thalys which can be found in France and Belgium. They do quick connections from Brussels to Paris and they are definitely worth the cost. Trains all around Europe seem to be expensive compared to buses regardless of the country but they offer views that one doesn’t get on a highway. Trains, however, are reliable, safe and comfortable and built for traveling in Europe. And please, do not buy a EuroRail pass. That would be a serious waste of dough.
For hostels I generally use these sites below, compare the prices and then book on the cheapest one. Booking is great because they have zero booking fees and no online payments, which makes it generally more user-friendly than the others. I prefer to use hostelworld.com because of the functionality of the website alongside its ability to secure more rooms than Booking or Hostels.