I traveled for 20 months with $8,000. That's how I got through 23 countries (2023)

Central points

  • You can avoid paying for food and lodging when you travel looking for volunteer work through Workaway and WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
  • To travel more efficiently, you need some financial tools: a budget, a travel credit card, and a high-yield savings account.
  • To travel further, you will have to sacrifice some comforts.

Check out our pick of the best credit cards with no annual fee in 2023

Between December 29, 2014 and August 20, 2016, I traveled around the world from Atlanta to Atlanta through 23 countries including Ireland, Poland, India, Cambodia, New Zealand, Chile and Brazil.

That much time on the road can easily cost $60,000 to $120,000 for European travel, which would add up to about $100 to $200 a day, or $20,000 to $30,000 if you're traveling where the dollar is stronger. Instead, I spent $8,000 -- $8,300 if you count my preparations (luggage, hiking boots, books).

The truth is that $8,300 actually wasa lotbecause of the type of travel I was doing and I met several travelers who had figured out how to survive on much less than my savings.

I don't know how they did it, although I suspect there may have been fewer showers involved, but here are a few things that helped me travel 20 months into what could now last me around three.

1. I volunteered on farms and ranches.

I couldn't have done what I did without two platforms: WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and Workaway.

These platforms have some differences (mainly in the cost structure), but they are similar in one way. They present opportunities to volunteer on organic farms, ranches and other agricultural projects in some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. Each option is different and you can choose which ones best suit your skills and interests. But in each, you'll work about four to six hours a day, five days a week, in exchange for lodging and three meals (two of which are cooked for you).

Let me emphasize: if you are willing to work as a WWOOFer or Workawayer,You do not have to pay for accommodation or food.And while working on farms for travel may sound like an unorthodox vacation, I will say this: some of the best experiences of my life have been in the hands of Workaway and WWOOF hosts.

The platforms are easy to use: once you have purchased a membership, you can explore thousands of options from more than 100 countries. And it's not just farms either. You will find everything from hostels to beekeeping and animal sanctuaries. When she finds an opportunity that interests her, she contacts the host. You'll list your skills, work experience (if you have any), why you think you'd be a good fit, and how long you'll be staying. If your hosts accept it, they'll place it on their calendar.

In most cases, I stayed two to three weeks (sometimes more than eight) with my hosts and learned a variety of skills that I would never have developed otherwise. I trained horses in Ireland and participated in an art project with an Icelandic painter. I picked carob pods in Sicily and built ukuleles in Tasmania. I've tended a garden just below Machu Picchu, built adobe bricks for a community in Thailand, laid the foundation for a residence on an island in Scotland, and roofed bungalows along the Tatai River in Cambodia.

This way I only paid for my travel (airfare, buses, TukTuk) and another "extra trip" to places like Angkor Wat or Torres del Paine. I very rarely spent money while WWOOFing or Workaway as my hosts often kept me entertained, sometimes even taking me to local attractions and paying my entrance fees.

2. I kept a tight budget

When I left Atlanta, I had approximately $8,000 in minecheckkonto, which I had saved for six months from my first job. I was 23 years old and had no experience in handling what was then a huge sum of money for me.

It's absurd now, with all thatbudget appsavailable, but I documented each expense in a palm-sized Moleskine notebook with graph paper. I put the date on the far left and left the spaces on the right for purchases. It looked something like this:

17. maj 2015$14.64 (lunch)$23.41 (stamps)$0$0
18. maj 2015$25 (bus)$10 (lunch)$14,73 (bus)$3,74 (café)
19. maj 2015$0$0$0$0

Data source: Author's notes.

Now I realize this is inefficient and can seem obsessive (I kept track every day even when I wasn't spending money).Men made me feel like I was in control of my finances. Since I only had $8,000, and wanted to travel as long as I could, I needed to see where my money was going and what, if anything, I could cut to keep traveling longer.

In addition, I also charged all expenses on mytravel credit card, which ultimately helped me pay for my flight from Sao Paulo to Atlanta. And while I kept some of my money in my checking account for easy access, I also had onehigh yield savings accountt to earn a little more interest.

3. I felt bad

Make no mistake: this journey was not easy. Hands calloused from digging and cutting wood aside, my 20 months traveling the world led me to practice an austere, solitary and, for frugality, self-disciplined lifestyle.

I didn't spend much on myself and rarely paid for anything other than a bunk bed in a room with eight people. When I spent money on tourist experiences, it was usually because I knew I would never return to that part of the world and wanted to see big places before I left.

For transportation, he often hitchhiked or walked when he could. In fact, at one point I had walked so much that I had worn the bottom of my shoes down to the foot and started getting holes in my socks.

He also had a tent, and when he couldn't find work, he slept in it. I did this mainly in Australia and New Zealand where there were a number of free or cheap campsites and the large number of WWOOFers and Workawayers at the time led me to camp for several weeks.

I understand that this type of travel is not for everyone: working on other people's farms in countries whose cultures are already foreign to you can be a learning experience and requires an openness to adapt without certain comforts. You can also challenge your spending habits. Many of the farmers I met made a living from what they grew, which was not very much, and they treated edibles with an attention most of us would struggle to adapt.

It's not for everyone, but if you can make it work for you, this type of journey can be transformative. You will not only find new cultures, but you will also be able to get in deeper contact with yourself. And while volunteering on a farm might not generate money for yoursRetirement, it will give your retiree a lot to reflect on when the trip is over.

Warning: The highest cashback card we've seen now has 0% introductory APR until 2024

Using the wrong credit or debit card can cost you a lot of money. Our experts love itthis top choice, with an intro APR of 0% through 2024, an incredible 5% cash back rate, and all with no annual fee.

In fact, this card is so good that our experts even use it personally.Click here to read our full reviewfree and apply in just 2 minutes.

Read our free review

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated: 15/03/2023

Views: 6221

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.