To travel on a budget or even for free in 2021 seems like an impossible task, doesn’t it?

However, it can be done! And frankly, it’s my most favorite way to travel.

I know that 2020 was filled with little to no travel opportunities due to the horrible global pandemic. BUT 2021 is looking hopeful, and you better be ready to hop on that plane (I know I am!)

I remember when I first began traveling and I would google things like this. My google searches would come up with articles on how to be an Au Pair, Teaching Abroad, or even Working on a Yacht.

Or sometimes more unachievable occupations, like becoming a travel influencer. Easier said than done!

While all of these options are true – you get to work and travel the world for free, many of them require thousands of dollars in schooling start-up costs or training. Additionally, I didn’t want to invest all this time and money just for the opportunity to travel.

I needed a quick and easy way to travel months at a time for very, very cheaply.

travel on a budget free 2021

Honestly, I debated on writing this because I feel like what I’m about to share with you is somewhat of a top-secret you learn from backpacking.

Even after I did extensive research before I left for my first backpacking trip, I never came across these resources on the internet.

I only began to learn how to travel for free, after I had already been traveling for quite some time.

Aït Benhaddou 7 days in Morocco

Let’s Talk Money

Depending on your location and duration you are looking to travel, you will likely need some money.

Even if you don’t technically need much, it’s always important to have money stashed away for travel emergencies.

I can’t tell you how much money you need to get you by. That just really depends on who you are, where you are going, and what kind of experiences you are looking to have.

How to Travel the World on a Budget or Even for Free in 2021

travel on a budget free 2021

This guide is essentially broken down into 2 sections, flying and lodging – which are largely the most expensive parts of traveling.

My top two favorite resources for traveling on a tight budget are Scott’s Cheap Flights and Workaway.

These two resources are fantastic options if you want to travel, but don’t want to spend a lot of money. I can guarantee if you implement one or both of these resources into your travels, you will save thousands of dollars.

What is Scott’s Cheap Flights? (SCF)

Scott’s Cheap Flights is the top industry standard cheap flight subscription service.

Let me tell you, I am not a fan of subscription services generally. I pay for my Spotify premium and SCF and that’s about it. So, I definitely understand if you may be hesitant. Luckily, when you sign up for SCF premium subscription, you get a 14-day free trial and are welcome to back out if you feel like it’s not for you.

How SCF works

There are two options for signing up with Scott’s Cheap Flights; the free or the premium subscription. I have done both, and really only found the premium subscription to be beneficial, as that’s when I started really booking discounted flights.

With whatever subscription you choose, you will customize your chosen airports that are closest to where you live. These can include domestic or international airports.

After you sign up, you will receive highly discounted flights sent straight to your email. I often book flights from St.Louis, Missouri, USA to London for around $350 Round trip. These round trip prices typically give you a two-week time span for your trip, however, they can be modified.

Booking the cheap flights

When you get your flight notification, it will look a little something like this –

In the flight notification email, there will be detailed instructions on how to book your flight.

The only tricky thing about SCF is the flight deals are often very temporary, only lasting for a couple of days, and in some rare cases – only a few hours.

This means you must be ready financially and physically to book your flight FAST. The great part is, the flights are often months or even a year down the road. So it’s not like you have to jump on your flight to Spain tomorrow, you have plenty of time to prepare for your dream vacay.

Why are the flight deals so temporary?

SCF’s cheap flight system is designed to catch errors in the airline systems, immediately. This is something called error or “mistake fares” meaning there is either a system or human error mix up with the costs of the flights. Scott’s catch those flight errors, send them to you immediately, and you book them.

The airlines fix these errors after a day or two, which is why you must act quickly.

How to sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights

You can start your free trial by clicking below.

Workaway

Workaway is one of my most favorite ways to explore the world. I’ve watched fireworks in front of the Budapest Parliament building, climbed the world’s largest wooden staircase, and I’ve hiked the mountains of Norway – all while traveling through Workaway.

Workaway is an online platform that allows members to arrange homestays and cultural exchanges. It does cost a small fee to be a member, but it’s completely worth it, especially if you are backpacking.

Essentially, you work somewhere abroad for a few hours a day in exchange for free accommodation. In some cases, food is included as well.

travel on a budget free 2021
me with my Workaway buddies in Norway

The Pros of Workaway

As I said, Workaway is my favorite way to travel. The experiences you have are simply more enriching when you are living with locals abroad. Also, you bond with other Workawayers who come from all over the world.

Pros: Immersive cultural experiences, free accommodation, free food (sometimes), opportunity to build lifelong friendships.

The Cons of Workaway

Like anything, there can and will be some obvious cons to participating in a Workaway program.

I think you can avoid a lot of these cons by reading reviews and choosing your location carefully.

My two Workaway experiences were both very different. One was on a remote island in Norway and one was in the city center of Budapest. My experience in Norway was like a dream – I lived in a beautiful hotel on a fjord with lots of other Workawayers. While the stunning location of this Workaway was one of my favorite parts, it was very isolating.

Think about what kind of person and traveler you are, and what kind of experience you are seeking.

Another tricky thing about Workaway is, it really only works if you are traveling for an extensive period of time. Not always, but most of the time Workaway hosts are looking for a minimum 2 week – 1 month stay but would ideally keep you for even longer if your schedule allows.

Cons: Working while on holiday, locked in one place for a long period of time.

Overall, Workaway is totally worth it in my opinion.

travel on a budget free 2021

Couchsurfing

If you are well versed in the travel world, you probably have heard of couchsurfing.

Couchsurfing is a website and app that allows travelers all over the world to crash at someone’s house for free. It works similar to services like Airbnb and Workaway – where travelers and hosts have a review system to keep everyone accountable and safe.

I personally have never used Couchsurfing, but I’ve met lots of travelers who are big fans. Couchsurfing is ideal for backpackers who don’t particularly like planning in advance and are just traveling around on a whim.

Pros: Free accommodation with no strings attached, short term stays, meeting locals.

Cons: Short term stays, last minute arrangements.

How to Travel on a Budget (or free) in 2021 – Ebook Guide

If you’ve made it this far, congrats! I know this is a super in-depth guide, but I wanted to give travelers a detailed look on how to actually travel for free that wasn’t a bullcrap answer like “start a blog” or “be an influencer!”

If you’d like a visual list and even more detailed guide, subscribe below to get my free Ebook set straight to your inbox.

And that’s all I have for you! I hope you found at least one of these resources or tips helpful to kickstart your budget friendly traveling adventure. Please comment below if you have any questions.

Also, if you have used any of these resources before, I’d love to know in the comments how they worked out for you.

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