Do you travel?
Traveling is not something everyone does. Sure, we may travel from town to town, city to city or even from state to state, but international travel is still not very common for most people. According to statistics, only about 20% of Americans will ever own a passport.
The most common reason most people don’t travel much is lack of money, with work and family problems getting the rest of the blame. We can’t help you if your boss won’t give you time off, or if family stuff keeps you stuck.
BUT! If money is to blame, you should know that you are not completely out of luck. There are several ways you can travel, even if you’re flat broke! Here are my two favorites.
Now, you should know that this first tip can also work if you’re in a major jam. Let’s say you get stuck somewhere and have nowhere to crash. You might have an option you never thought of before. It’s called COUCHSURFING.
And no, you don’t have to pay a thing. In most cases people just sign up with them via social media, like with your Facebook account. Then you just fill out your personal profile so people can get to know you better. And yes, of course there is a catch.
To be sure you are who you say you are, there is a short verification process and there are certain precautions that are taken to make sure it’s well documented whenever you travel to meet someone. (Trust me. It’s much better that way.)
This kind of Couchsurfing starts online! According to its website: “Couchsurfing International Inc. is a hospitality exchange and social networking website.
The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event.” and they operate in over 200,000 cities, worldwide.
You will have many opportunities to meet new people and travel with Couchsurfing. It’s not the sort of thing where you just meet up with someone last minute, crash on their couch and mooch off their kindness. It’s a chance to travel and make new friends.
It’s a chance to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. It’s a chance to plan ahead and make your journey easier, more personal and more cost effective. And yes, it can also be used in a jam.
They have a last minute section where you can ask for help from Hosts in your area. (I’ve had to use this feature myself on a few occasions, and I’ve met a few new personal heroes because of it. They saved me from a very unpleasant evening of riding the night bus around Amsterdam until dawn)
There are also a lot of Couchsurfing events and meet-n-greets, so if you’re planning to go to a new city or even if you’re staying closer to home, you may find people willing to meet up for a coffee, a stiff drink at a pub or even to go see a show together. Never know unless you check it out!
Another amazing way to travel is definitely via organizations like Workaway.
Workaway is basically a program that connects people who are looking for a place to stay, with people looking who are looking for a helping hand. It’s a lot like Couchsurfing, only more long term, and your food is usually included!
You sign up, pay a small fee (so they can verify that you are who you say you are via your checking account) then you just surf through the long list of hosts! You can apply for an account by yourself, or fill one out with a friend.
There are thousands of hosts looking for volunteers (according to their site they currently have 21,914 active hosts) in over 155 countries. Feel like picking olives in Italy for a week? You can do that.
Want to volunteer at a hostel on a beach in Spain? How about on a ski slope in the Swiss Alps? Or maybe on a sea turtle preserve in the Galapagos? No matter where you want to travel, or what you love to do, chances are, you will find a workaway host that suits you.
Most of them just ask that you offer them a little help for a few hours every day. If you stay somewhere more than a week, they usually give you a couple days off to get to know the area a bit. If you’re lucky, they might even show you around too!
I can say from personal experience that both CouchSurfing and Workaway are amazing. My friends and I used both of them to backpack all over Europe for several months.
We made friends everywhere I went, and even got to know other surfers that were volunteering at the same place and time.
It can really change your life, in more ways than you’d ever realize. You never know until you make that leap!