Many people have asked me how I could just leave my job and seemingly travel perpetually. How can I afford it? How do you find places to stay for free all the time? How do you find places to volunteer? All questions I’ve received by email, and now I’m sharing the secrets in a series of posts about how The Happy Nomad Tour Rolls and what things are like behind the scenes.
The more you can adapt and live like the locals the less money you’ll spend.
So yes, staying in a Hilton or Marriot in Jakarta to have an American/Western bubble separating you from the city outside will cost a pretty penny. If you can stay in a local hotel, it’ll often be cheaper and more authentic/local though I hate to say anything about a hotel is authentic.
So far on my trip, I’ve only stayed in hotel/hostel a few times. Mostly it has been to visit friends or if my plan changed at the last minute , New Year’s at the beach in Venezuela, or to break up long journeys (and often I’ve written reviews for another website in exchange for a few free nights). But these are few and far between leaving nearly all of my accommodation free.
How I Find Free Places To Stay
My biggest resource so far has been couchsurfing.org. I have been a member there for over two years now and it has been an amazing asset of epic proportions. Apart from helping me find volunteering opportunities, I have used it a lot to stay with hosts for free.
Again, I like to stay with local people/families because yes, saving on accommodation stretches out my savings out for the trip, but more importantly living with local people in each country has been a priceless experience. You learn so much and you get to know a person/family in the country. This is all but impossible when you stay in hostels or hotels, yet it should be an aspect of your trip that you remember the most.
The more flexible you are, the more opportunities you’ll find. And this partly relates to how I find volunteering opportunities since the more remote the opportunity, the higher the probability that I’ll need to stay with them as there is no other option. These remote opportunities have been some of the best experiences on my trip so far.
Another option I haven’t explored too much is house sitting. There are tons of sites online dedicated to staying for free (or paying a nominal fee) in people’s homes while they are away.
Before I started this trip, I was a bit of a princess when it comes to sleep. It had to be dark, silent, etc. I still use earplugs, but I can sleep in a much wider variety of circumstances now. I have to be able to!
But my method seems to be working. Eight months into the trip and I’ve spent less than $200 on accommodation. Not bad.
If you have any more questions, put them in the comments below and I’ll either answer your question there or write a new post covering it.
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About Adam Pervez
In mid-2011 I left my cushy corporate job and took the plunge into a life incorporating my passions of traveling, writing, volunteering, learning, educating, and telling stories. I study what happiness means to others, offer what I can from my engineering/MBA background as a volunteer, and try to leave each place better than how I found it. Read more.