Updated: Mar 2
In my younger years of travelling, people would constantly message me and ask 'How are you affording to travel so long?' and 'Where are you getting all of your money from?'. The truth is I didn't have a lot of money during those first years of travelling. I was just making the money I did have stretch further.
1. Au Pair
'An au pair is a young adult aged 18 to 30 who travels to a foreign country for a defined period of time to live with a host family. The au pair supports the host family with childcare and light housework while learning the language and culture of the host country.'
When I first started travelling I didn't have much money at all saved. I had been working as a Teaching Assistant in a local Primary school but most of my earnings were spent on going out on weekends. I was truly terrible at saving. Luckily, I had already began looking for jobs on Au Pair Facebook groups in Australia. I had interviewed with a few families and managed to get offered a few jobs. I chose the family that I thought would be best suited to me and allow me some financial stability. Accepting the job as an Au Pair meant that I had a home to move into before I arrived.
Being an Au Pair is a great way to start off your travels. You don't need to spend any of your own savings and it's an amazing way to live with a different family, learn about a new way of life and have first hand experience of a new culture.
2. Cultural Exchange
A Cultural Exchange is an amazing way to experience a new culture, live like a local, and make your money last longer. There are websites such as 'Work Away' and 'Help Exchange' which show different cultural exchanges where you can work for an average of around four hours per day, and in return you receive free accommodation and meals. The hours worked and what you get in return,differ depending on what each host offers.
For both Work Away and Help Exchange, you have to pay a small subscription fee, but it is worth it. I paid the fee with Help Exchange and definitely got the most out of my subscription. I spent a month up in the mountains of Chiang Mai living with the Karen Hilltribes and taught in their local school. In return I received three large, delicious local meals a day and a comfortable bed with a stunning view of the rice fields. In Indonesia I spent a month teaching in the local school and lived with a local family. They also provided me three meals a day and a bed to sleep in, as well as a real taste of their culture. This is such an amazing way to travel if you are really open to unique cultural experiences.
Hostels are a great way to travel on a budget. When I was first starting out on my travels, I only ever stayed in hostels. Not only are they the cheapest option, they give you the chance to widen your horizons and meet so many new people from different walks of life. You can save so much money by staying in hostels, especially as a solo traveller. I always use Booking.com when booking hostels and use trip advisor to check reviews and location.
4. Couch surf
Couchsurfing is a great way to save money and learn more about local culture. It allows you to stay with a local who knows all of the best places and fun things to do. It will allow you to see a different side of the place you are in and save money at the same time. I met a beautiful Brazilian family who had spent three years couch surfing as a family. They had so many interesting stories to tell of the people they had met. However, it goes without saying that this can also be a dangerous option.If you do choose to couch surf, create a profile with Couchsurfing.com. Ensure you feel comfortable and confident with the person you will be staying with. Check what others have said about them and what they have said about themselves. Use your instincts, if someone doesn't seem quite right, don't stay with them. Most people are genuine and it is important to remain open minded when couch surfing.
5. Eat in local Restaurants
Eat the local street food. It's the cheapest food and often the most delicious you'll ever eat.
It's also a way to get a taste of the local specialities. Eat at the places with the long queues. If the locals love it, it must be the best place to go!