How to Travel The World With No Money ~ Hey guys, I’m Tom from Croatia, and for the last couple of years, the world has been my home. I travelled, I hitchhiked in cars, trucks, horses, motorcycles, boats. I drove in buses, trains, rickshaws. I worked all kinds of jobs, spent time with locals, I volunteered, and became a monk -just kidding.
I sailed across the Indian Ocean, I tried things that I never tried before. I’ve seen things that I will remember as long as I live. and all that with almost no money.
That’s pretty much it actually, thank you very much. “Wow! I wish I could travel like that.” The thing is, most of us actually can. Before I started travelling, as Andrew said, I was a stockbroker, working 9-5, had a lot of money. and then the crash came 2008, I lost my job, I lost the money, and I lost the meaning.
At that time, I discovered a website called Couchsurfing. I don’t know how many of you guys heard about Couchsurfing?
Ok, how many of you haven’t heard about Couchsurfing? Ok, for you guys, it’s an internet website that allows you to host travellers in your own home, and at the same time it allows you to stay in other people’s homes while you’re travelling yourself.
When I was hosting people in my apartment, over 150 of them, by listening to their stories, and seeing the spark in their eyes, my thought was, “wow! I wish I could travel like that.” But I was afraid.
The world is a very dangerous place, at least according to the media, our education, our family church, and so on. I was afraid of leaving my comfort zone, and going, by myself, into the unknown world. I was also afraid of not having any money, and then the people that I hosted in my apartment told me two amazing things.
First of all, you don’t have to be brave to travel, you just have to have a little bit of courage to start, to leave. And the other thing they told me is that you don’t have to be rich to travel. Actually, all expenses while you’re travelling fall into three major categories: first is transportation, to get from point A to point B, the other one is accommodation, and the last is everything else, food, drinks and so on.
And they told me if you minimize those three expenses to some minimum, it can actually be cheaper to travel than live in your own city. I listened to them, and for the next five years, I’ve been travelling around the world, with almost no money. And this is how I did it: first thing, I hitchhiked.
Apart from being free, apart from being really fast, it allowed me one amazing thing, to have an adventure between point A and point B. Now how many of you guys have ever hitchhiked before? Ok, quite a lot of you, why, what are you doing?
I’m going to play you a short video called “Hitchhiking Guide”, just to tell you a few unwritten rules about hitchhiking, and some of my experiences.
There are other alternatives to transportation. One of them is walking, you guys know what that is… How many of you guys know?
So, you just take your backpack and hit the road. Another way is cycling; it’s not maybe completely free, because you have to buy the bicycle, and eventually fix it, but it’s much cheaper than the conventional methods of transportation. And the last one is actually working in exchange for transportation. I did this when I was sailing across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Africa. And I didn’t have to pay for the ride, I just needed to do some work on the boat, like some night watches, “cooking” and stuff like that. When it came to accommodation, most of the time I used Couchsurfing, because I had a lot of experience, had a lot these positive references on the website and so on.
What I like about Couchsurfing the most is not only because it’s free, it allows you to have a different perspective of the destination. You’re not destined to stay in your hotel room or take the tourist tours. You just hang out with your host he takes you on places that you would probably never visit by yourself.
But also there some other alternatives; one of them is camping, you have your tents, you can sleep almost everywhere you want. In the big cities I usually slept in parks just have my sleeping bag and my mattress. The last one when it comes to accommodation is volunteering.
There are a lot of opportunities all around the world that offer you to work in exchange for accommodation, sometimes even food. So you get to sleep in beautiful rooms like this. When it comes to all the other expenses, one of them is food, in rich cities and rich countries I usually buy food in supermarkets, which is the cheapest way, and just eat on the streets.
You can also cook with your host, which can be a pretty unique experience. To say the least. These are Germans actually. Sorry, it was pretty delicious to say the least and one of the cheapest. Another thing is dumpster diving; maybe over 40-50% of the food that is being produced is being thrown away, and a lot of people have a problem with that, so they go to supermarket bins after the closing hours, and just take all the food that is not going to be sold the day after. When it comes to drinks, booze you know, the usual ty to avoid bars, restaurants and to drink in parks.
This is how you can travel really really cheaply but one other thing when it comes to travelling is that you can earn money while travelling. How to do that? I did it a couple times. One of them is busking, playing the guitar on the streets. I’m not a musician. I know like probably four or five chords, and four songs, so it’s like repeat all, you know.
People are passing by, so they don’t really know. The most important thing is to have a story. I always had my small cardboard, which I wrote, actually somebody else wrote in the local language, where I’m from, what I’m doing there, what’s my story.
I think that’s why people donated a little bit of money, some sandwiches, sodas, and so on. You won’t earn a lot of money by doing this but it can get you through the day.
One other way is to write; you can write a blog, open up a Facebook page. After a while, you can maybe write a book, and so on. But what brought me largest amount of money is actually going to Australia. This is a job I worked in Australia, I call it “professional traffic diverter”, it’s a very hard job as you can see, you tell people, “Please go this way and not this way” I mean, if they are blind you know.
So for this, I was getting paid twenty dollars an hour. I’m sorry, I know you hate me, and all that. Oh, well. Plus, I had food and accommodation included. I know, I know. Actually, one information, this was on my around the world trip, it took me thirteen days of working at this job, to pay off eight months of travelling from Croatia through the entire Asia, reaching Australia.
So thirteen days of work, in exchange for eight months of travelling. So, what have I learned on all these trips? Have I found the meaning of life and so on. That’s what my mom asked me? Like “Oh, you know we were really scared for all these years, but was it worth it?” and my answer is always “definitely yes”. I’ve learned a lot of things, most of them are just like some personal nature things so I won’t be talking about that, but I also learned some general fruits. so to speak I learned not to trust media, and all their “horror stories”. I learned that we should preserve our earth, like it’s the only one we have, and the only one with chocolate right? I learned to tear down my prejudices, that was probably one of the most important things.
I learned that all the people around the world, no matter how much we try to point out the differences between the cultures, races, religions, and so on, we’re all actually basically the same. I have a short story about these prejudices that I encountered while I was travelling.
When I was leaving Croatia, heading on my around the world trip, everybody was telling me, “Be careful, it’s very dangerous, you know you’re going to hitchhike, going to sleep in other people’s homes and stuff like that.” In Croatia, it’s still ok to travel, but as soon as you cross the border, and enter into Serbia… you know what Serbians are like.
Be very very careful, somebody might kill you. And I’m like “Ok, thank you for the warning” and I cross the border enter into Serbia, amazing adventures, amazing people I met, people picking me up, taking me out sleeping in their homes, really really amazing experiences. I was leaving Serbia, heading to Bulgaria, and I was driving with a driver, and telling him that story, like how Croatians were warning me about Serbians. And he’s like, “Ah brother, you know that is complete nonsense, Croatians and Serbians, we are all brothers. But Bulgarians, when you cross the border, enter into Bulgaria… you know what Bulgarians are like; a lots of gypsies, man, you know. Be very careful, somebody might kill you.” Entering Bulgaria, the same story all over again.
Amazing experiences, people just extremely friendly. Then I was driving with one truck driver, going towards Turkey and I was telling him the same story how Croatians warned me about Serbians, Serbians about Bulgarians. And he was like, “Oh brother, that’s complete nonsense, Croatians, Serbians, Bulgarians… we are all Balkan brothers! But Turkish people, oh my God! You know what Turkish people are like. Very dangerous, somebody might kill you.”
Turkish people warned me about Kurdish people, Kurdish people about Iranis, Iranis about Pakistanis, Pakistanis about Indians, Indians didn’t warn me about anyone, I don’t know, it’s like the last frontier, or something.
Beats me, but yeah, it wasn’t only a travel lesson, but maybe a life lesson like not to trust all these horror stories that people were telling. And one also interesting thing, when you come back home, people are kind of afraid of leaving, because they don’t know what’s going to wait for them once they come back.
There’s a big probability you will be a star. When you come back, everybody will buy you beers, the girls will be like, “Ooh, you know he’s been travelling!” (Laughter) But after a while, it kinda gets boring; you’re tired of telling your own story, people are tired of listening to it, and this post travelling depression kicks in.
Then you actually have three options. One of them is to just settle down to your old lifestyle. You still have your old friends, they’re still talking about the same things, going to the same places, maybe you can get your old job back, and after a while it’s ok.
You feel safe living there; but you kind of miss that guy who has been travelling, having this intensity wherever he goes. The second option is to take your backpack, and say, “Oh no, I can’t live here” and just head back to the road.
You will have that intensity, you’ll meet amazing people, have adventures every single day. But after a while, you’ll miss something; you’ll miss belonging to a story. Your friendships will be intense, but they will be short lasting. Your relationships will last as long as your visa for a certain country. You will miss having a home. The third option is actually the balance of these two: so stay in one place, but still don’t loose that intensity.
Walk in streets you’ve never walked in before, start talking with random people on the streets, get a new hobby, find a new job, maybe write a book, give a TEDx conference talk, you know like all sorts of things. So, is it for everyone, this type of travelling?
I don’t think so; with all the amazing things that this kind of travelling can bring to you, there are also downsides: it’s a big chance that you’ll be lonely and that you’ll be hungry, sick, homesick, but it all comes down to your gut feeling. If after all these ideas, and all these knowledges, you still have that, “wow, I wish I could travel like this” then you should definitely do it. Then you should forget about your fears, disregard the fact that you’re broke, and just leave, head to the road.
Because like that famous quote says, “In twenty years from now on, you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do,
than by the things you did do”.