As a young traveler on a budget I am always looking for ways to pinch pennies on the road. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stay in creepy motels and eat cereal for three meals a day. What would you think if I said you could be laying poolside at a private villa in Tuscany or surfing in Costa Rica…for free!? Let me break budget travel down for you. Below are three travel hacks that have allowed me to travel on the cheap. 

Three simple travel hacks that will allow you to travel long term (or short!) while not breaking the bank.

Most importantly, the budget travel options below have contributed to some of the most amazing experiences abroad. Keep reading to hear the highlights!


When I first told my parents I would be couch surfing my way across Italy they were less than thrilled about the idea. A young, solo, female traveler staying in the homes of strangers didn’t sound like a good idea to them but the thought of the unknown could not have been more intriguing to me. My brother had done it across the U.S. and had great experiences so I was ready to give it a go.

Concept: Using their online platform you can search for hosts all over the world. Accommodations vary- a private room, a shared room, a couch…but they’re all free. Why would hosts do that, you ask? Not everyone has the opportunity to travel. Couchsurfing gives hosts opportunities to meet people from different countries and cultures. It allows people to open their homes, connect with interesting people and show genuine hospitality to those visiting their city. It seems weird until you realize that there are over 400,000 hosts and 4 million surfers worldwide. The process is set up on a profile and review system. Helpful hint: Do your research. Not all hosts are created equal. In my experience, the more reviews the better.

My experience: 3 nights in Siena, Italy, 7 nights in Florence, Italy, 1 night in Rabat, Morocco, 1 night in Fez, Morocco, and 2 nights in Cordoba, Spain. That’s 2 full weeks of free lodging and the memories and experiences gained are priceless. Couchsurfing allows you to see a country in a totally different way than you would if you were staying in a popular hotel and visiting the top tourist spots. Authentic travel is the best travel.


A great carpooling program set up in Europe. Their slogan is “connecting people who need to travel with drivers with empty seats.” Instead of taking a train or bus to a destination you can log on to Blablacar and see if other travelers or locals are headed to the same place as you. They pick you up in their personal car and bring you along for the ride in exchange for a few bucks and some good conversation.


This an amazing way to travel! Workaway is a platform that allows people to travel while contributing to the places that they’re visiting. This is best for extended stays so that you can really settle in to the “job” and city but they have short term and last minute listings as well. 

Concept: Through the website travelers can search for hosts in over 150 countries. You then volunteer in exchange for accommodation (and sometime food depending on the host). Services could include housekeeping tasks, yard work, building, teaching, babysitting, web design, etc. Visit Workaway to discover all of the amazing opportunities around the world.

My Experience: 3 months at a hostel in Seville, Spain (that means 3 months of no rent!), 6 weeks at a Naturist Guest House in Malaga, Spain, 3 weeks at a surf camp in Costa Rica, and 4 nights at a primary school for underprivileged children in Nagarkot, Nepal.

Travel hack highlights (and remember, this was all FREE)

  • Private poolside villa/grape harvesting on a vineyard in Tuscany
  • Motorbiking through Chianti (with a cute Italian guy!)
  • 3 weeks of yoga and surfing while ‘glamping’ in the Costa Rican jungle.
  • Family dinners and morning assembly in a tiny village in Nepal
  • Cooking Iftar during Ramadan in Morocco
  • Late nights of karaoke and bartending in the Spanish countryside
  • Paella cooking classes on my rooftop in Seville
Costa Rica Beach Budget Travel

Volunteers enjoying a beach day

Iftar Meal

Preparing Iftar during Ramadan

Spanish Guest House Budget Travel

Finca Natura where I called home for 6 weeks


Harvesting Grapes in Tuscany

Jungle Home

My Costa Rican jungle home

Volunteer Budget Travel

Bartending at my hostel in Seville

volunteer Nepal

Teaching at a primary school in Nagarkot, Nepal

Motorbike Tuscany

Motorbiking through Chianti

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3 hacks for budget travel

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton

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