Creative ways to travel on the cheap

Want to travel more and can’t seem to afford it? Are you wanting to travel like you have more money in the bank than you really do? Time to get creative and think outside the traveling box. 

It is true that you CAN make your dreams come true….you CAN make it happen! Here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning for making your travel dreams come true.

Creative Ways to Travel on the Cheap

pennies pouring out of a jar, Travel on the Cheap,

Creative Ways to Travel on the Cheap -House Swapping

Yes, you heard me right. You leave your house and vehicle and switch with another family…across the world. They come to live in your house and drive your car and you live in their house and drive their car. You both serve as consultants about what to see and do in the area where you live. Sound easy? Sounds…scary? I hear you, but Kerry, The Trusting Traveler, has a great website all about doing just that. Read about her experiences. Her family has had some amazing adventures! Very interesting.

Creative Ways to Travel on the Cheap -Couch Surfing

In this interesting way to see the world, you go to the website and register and basically trade sleeping arrangements with people from all over the world. You might find someone with a couch literally or a guest room. The site is well run and has lots of information on how to make the whole experience wonderful.

Are you worried about Ted Bundy or Charles Manson showing up to surf your couch? I hear you! The couch surfing folks take safety seriously and have tips on how to make good choices. I’d be lying, though, if I said I would actually sleep on a stranger’s couch. Ain’t happening. But…there are many thousands of people who do it safely every single day and I offer the information in case you want to be one of them!!

Don’t forget that back in the day this arrangement would be like a boarding house. Lots of women ran boarding houses and as far as I can tell from history in the days before social media….mass murder under those circumstances was rare. 😉

Creative Ways to Travel on the Cheap – Unusual lodging


Not just for students anymore, hostels can be a really reasonable way to travel. Old fashioned ones have large rooms in which you rent a bunk and share with others. Newer hostels have smaller rooms that you may or may not share. Even families can join in the fun and have a room all to themselves!

Learn the details before you go. Sometimes you’ll need a lock to secure your things while you sleep and/or while you are away. Sometimes you’ll need to BYOL – Bring your own linens.

Usually there is a communal living area which you share with other travelers. You can visit with others and share information. You can also share food because sometimes there is a shared kitchen. Going to grocery stores and cooking your own can be a great way to save money and can be really a cool experience.

Be careful that what you buy is what you think you are buying! Once, while staying at an apartment in Bologna, we went to the grocery store and prepared to cook dinner. We found some fresh mushroom raviolis (which were crazy delicious) and I bought canned  sauce – which I THOUGHT was something along the lines of our pre made spaghetti sauce. Instead I bought tomato sauce. The apartment had no more seasonings than salt and pepper which didn’t help the tomato sauce much. LOL! The raviolis were still the very best I have ever tasted – in spite of not having any sauce to go on them!


Live like a local. Sometimes renting a room this way can = crazy prices and/or crazy fantastic locations. But in addition to using airbnb to rent, you can also use airbnb to host. Do you have a spare room? Do you live in a tourist friendly place? Hosting other travelers can help you save money for your own future travels!

Creative Ways to Travel on the Cheap -Work abroad

You can work and travel along the way.  Doing what you ask?

Au Pair

Teacher and children, Travel on the Cheap,

When you are an au pair live in someone’s house as a domestic worker or childcare professional. Sometimes teaching the kids English or letting them practice with you is a big reason families choose an au pair.  Aupair World is an organization which puts together host families and aupairs.

Location independent work

Of course this relates to computer working…..if this is you…you probably know it! The rest of us….keep reading. 😉 Travel bloggers, travel writers, editors, marketing specialists, and SEO masters can work from anywhere!


The Department of Defense employs teachers for schools around the world. These teachers have teaching credentials in the states and work teaching American children whose parents work abroad. Interested? Go here.

Teaching English

These teachers are often from different industries than teaching. Work in that country or work via computer from home. Put your knowledge of your native tongue to good use! Consider earning one of these alphabet soup certifications TEFL, TESOL, CELTA to get your teaching experience started.

Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is really a combination of working and volunteering abroad. There are several industries to choose from including agriculture, environment, community economic development, health, education, and youth development. Follow your passion, gain experience, and change the world while your at it.

Work at Disney

If you speak conversational French and English…give Disney a try!

Creative Ways to Travel on the Cheap -Delayed gratification

You feel like you are more of the ‘save money and then go on a trip’ type of person? No worries. Read about saving here. Don’t just save with travels ‘one day’ in mind. Make a plan. Search to find out how much that airplane ticket costs. Research hotels and hostels and found out how much money you need for lodging. Having a concrete plan will make saving money easier and more fun!

You CAN make it happen! The Educational Tourist can help you plan the journey!

The Educational Tourist, Travel on the Cheap,

Happy travels!

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist logo, Travel on the Cheap,


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17 Responses

  1. onlybyland says:

    It’s worth learning French just to work at Disney! You have some great tips on savng money whilst traveling here, I’ve not yet tried couch surfing but the more I read about it the more I want to do it. That is one step further from hostels in saving money!

  2. kad8585 says:

    These are all great ideas. Hotels are usually pretty expensive so its great that you listed so many hotel alternatives. I also like how you mentioned working abroad because I did that when I taught English in Korea. Thanks for sharing!

  3. rhiydwi says:

    I’ve used couchsurfing plenty of times and am yet to be murdered 😉 In all seriousness though, not only is it a great way to save money but also make friends and see a side of somewhere you wouldn’t otherwise! You have some great tips on this list – some of which I’ve tried, others which I haven’t but definitely will! Also…Disney, yes please!

  4. TravelingMel says:

    This is a great list of ways to travel cheaply. We work independently, but could definitely follow some of the other advice. We’ve looked at hostels, but since there are four of us, it’s usually cheaper to stay in a hotel or airbnb that doesn’t charge by the person. If you own a house, housesitting seems like a great option.

  5. Ashley Smith says:

    All great ideas — for the right person. Hostels I can get along with but house swapping? Haha–omg I can’t even fathom the idea. I’m sure for some people it’s fantastic though!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I understand!! Lots of ways to think outside the box so you can choose what works for you! I’m not keen on house swapping either but it is an option for some!

  6. Those are some really great ideas. I have stayed in multiple hostels over the years and I loved it. However I would prefer only up to 4 beds in one room. Else I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Being location independent is the dream right now.

  7. Suma Shah says:

    While I have tried hostels and airbnb in the past and have totally enjoyed my stay there. I’m not sure I will be comfortable swapping houses or couch surfing. I am sure it is also one of the safe accomodation options, but somehow I just cant get past my fear hahah. Great options for making money while travelling, English teacher is one of the most preferred jobs by msny travellers.

  8. lydia@lifeuntraveled says:

    I haven’t yet tried house-swapping or house-sitting but I think they’re both great ways to save on travel. I’ve heard that couch-surfing isn’t just about couches anymore; you can actually stay in a private room (but, again, I haven’t tried it). We’ve stayed in a few Airbnb apartments and really enjoyed the experience.

  9. While everything you’ve mentioned are all valid points, I think only the last one applies to me. Lol. I’m not very comfortable with house swapping or couchsurfing and I only use AIRBNB when I’m traveling with a big group. I think I’m a more traditional traveler. As boring as it might sound. Lol.

  10. Jean says:

    A really interesting list. I hadn’t considered many of these – like joining the Peace Corp. Otherwise I agree whole heartedly with you. A little bit of creativity like yours and people can travel for longer!

  11. sabrina says:

    Great tips! I have been thinking about house sitting for a while, but I am not sure if the membership is worth it.. have you tried?

  12. Gareth says:

    As a perpetually broke backpacker, I’m always on the look out for how to save a few pennies to fund my adventures and these are certainly pretty valuable suggestions. In regard to possible jobs you can do from the road, have you ever considered Fiverr? As a writer, you can always pick up quick and easy gigs on their but really, it’s incredible the bizarre stuff people will pay you to do on there! Anyway, great list with plenty of ideas to keep the wheels rolling!

  13. Bhushavali says:

    To begin with, I found airbnb difficult! I mean sleeping in a stranger’s spare bedroom was a ridiculous thought. But I did it when I was not on a solo trip! Couch surfing too sounds ridiculous for me now. But I guess, over time, I’ll understand that too!!! Again, I may take it up on a solo trip though. House Swapping is interesting though, esp after watching The Holiday movie. Lolz!

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