How to Travel for Free* Around the World

*Ok, not exactly “free.”

“Travel for free” does cost some money to get from Point A to Point B, but through ever-increasingly popular volunteer programs, it is possible to see the world and secure your food and shelter in exchange for various types of work.

After teaching as a band director for 8 years, I decided to sell/give away almost all my belongings and travel through work exchange across the U.S. and abroad.

How to Travel for Free

travel for free
Photo Source: Jo Christian Oterhals, Flickr

I began my adventure on a beautiful organic farm in Tennessee, living in a converted school bus. I participated in monthly sweat lodges in the Lakota tradition, and practiced daily yoga in the yoga yurt, affectionately nicknamed the “Yogurt.”

I lived in a Teepee in Colorado and my primary job was caring for the greenhouse. A funny note left by the previous caretaker included instructions to sing to the plants often, specifically the music of Bob Marley or Leonard Cohen. Hmm…

Montezuma Canyon Ranch is a vineyard in Utah where I lived with a fun-loving group who worked hard and played hard. After long hours removing desert weeds that were sometimes taller than me, we cooked delicious meals together and explored our surroundings. The canyon was full of Anasazi ruins (circa 1300 A.D.); we saw petroglyphs and pictographs on the walls, the remains of a Sun Dial, shards of pottery, and hollowed-out holes in the rock walls known as “Anasazi ladders” used by the indigenous for scaling the canyon walls.

At a ranch near Homer, Alaska, I tended the garden and greenhouse, took care of the chickens and horses, and helped with odd jobs and daily cooking responsibilities. The energy of the land was strong and beautiful, and the surrounding mountains were breathtaking. Into October, the return of the night sky brought a depth of stars vastly beyond what I had previously seen, and twice I witnessed the Aurora Borealis.

A reforestation effort of indigenous, medicinal trees on the Southeast Coast of India was my volunteer experience furthest from home. I paid about $4/day to participate, as it was located in an impoverished village and there were not enough funds to provide food entirely for free. Along with a community of about 120 people, I learned about sustainable living practices and enjoyed workshops in yoga and Capoeira. We enjoyed nightly gatherings for music, dance, and film, and I performed in a percussion ensemble at local festivals and schools.

There is a whole world of opportunities available at your fingertips! If you are ready to travel for free, make a change and willing to live simply, work exchange may be a wonderful option for you.

Some helpful websites to connect volunteers with location hosts are:

Websites for the places mentioned in this article:

A Place of the Heart Farm (Tennessee)
Montezuma Canyon Ranch (Utah)

Do you use work exchange or volunteering to travel for free? What other tips do you have to be able to travel for free? Share with us in the comments below!