A while ago I posted a map of our trip on social network. Just after that I received a bunch of messages and questions, how do we make it. Do we really have so much money saved? The answer dissappoints everyone. For a long term travel you don't necessarily need a lot of money. To make it even more paradoxical, I claim that slower you travel, cheaper it can be.
Following is the first from series of articles about traveling with extremely low budget. You can expect four articles. With the last I hope I'll be able to show you how to get around the world with less than 10€ per day.
On the internet or on TV you saw some magical place on Earth. You wanted to travel there. Wish is a first step, the second will probably be : “How do I get there?” To travel, by the definition, means to move from one part of the world to the other. We can not avoid using somekind of transport. But, if it used to be different, the world in the last century became a global village. We have infinite possibilities and we can fly around the globe in one day. Of course some ways of travel are more expensive, the other are cheaper.
For the beginning let's check the cheaper options. Before the trip I set a goal to make as much as possible of the distance by land. Airfares are cheaper every year, but we can hitchhike for free. Speed of such travel will be a couple hundred kilometres per day. This is speed of a turtle in comparison with 900 kmph of a commercial airliner. But it gives plenty of time for observing the world, life and chat with local people.
The thing with hitchhiking is that there will always be someone who will be warning you with all the dangers and dark scenarios. When I mentioned I want to hitchhike accross Russia, they were saying: “Ok, in Europe you might be fine, but Russia, Siberia - they can kill you there!” Safely and without a problems I made almost 8000 kilometres to Irkutsk. No one harmed me, but I was warned there again. This time not about Russia, but Mongolia. The story then repeats.
To this day, I was able to hitchhike in every country I tried, except USA. There it just didn't work out. In countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos etc, people don't know what hitchhiking is, they don't speak English, but somehow we were able to move. A couple of times we were even picked up by busses (no charge.) But in USA it was impossible. By our experience, Americans are the most untrusting nation in the world.
How to overcome those issues then? There's nothing but to find cheap rides with busses, trains or flights. Saying this, it's very important to be as much flexible as possible. For example: it will be difficult to find cheap direct fare from San Francisco to San Diego on a very precise date. But if you're willing to wait a couple of days, depart from Oakland (which you can reach by train) and the destination change from San Diego to Las Vegas, you might find a very cheap solution.
It's difficult to make some universal rule, how to search for cheap fares, because different companies use different systems for ticket bookings. But if we focus on airfares, I have to mention a fare explorer by Kayak. When you pick up your departure location, the search engine shows you prices of flights to all other airports on the map. This way it's easier to spot a cheap offer.
Public transport is not the only option. Ridesharing is becoming more and more popular in modern world. Probably a lot of you already heard for BlaBlaCar. All the rest, imagine the following scenario. We have a person named Andy, who needs to drive from Vienna to Brussels. He's alone in a car and really doesn't feel cozy driving hours and hours without company. In Munich live Brigitte and Carol. They wish to travel to Amsterdam too for a weekend trip. The train is to expensive, but they would be willing to contribute a couple of euros for gasoline to someone driving in the same direction. For us, the solution is obvious. However, Andy and German girls don't know each other. BlaBlaCar makes it possible for such people to meet.
It's not just a website where people post potential rides. It's a whole social network. Every user has to create a personal profile with photo (mine was denied twice :D) and after the ride, driver and passenger exchange feedbacks. This helps to make community safer. I already know there will be someone saying, he would never sit in a car with a stranger. Then he will take a ride in a taxi, although I doubt he knows the driver.
It's a service of private rides inside the area of larger cities. The driver can be just anyone. Ride seeker search for potential drivers using application on his smart device. Same application on driver's device, notifies him of the possibility to earn some extra money. Because the drivers are not taxed as much as companies, price of such a ride is significantly lower than taking a regular taxi.
Unfortunately I can't give any better advice or share a personal experience at this point. To be honest I haven't used this service yet. But for sure for next generations this will become as obvious as hiring a regular taxi for us is today.
Last but not the least, one more option for those who love to travel by their own transport. I belong to this group myself, although this trip does not show it. What is better than to throw a sleeping bag, gas stove and double underpants in the trunk and hit the road with your own vehicle? To drive where, when and however you want - this is a receipt for unforgettable experience of freedom. But when you're at night twisting on the backseat and don't know how to turn to be less uncomfortable, the only thing in your mind is what all would you give for a luxury of a campervan.
Renting a campervan is expensive. To be honest, I don't even dare to check what are the normal prices. But in Australia we did everything mentioned above for more or less free of charge and payed only for gasoline. How can this be possible?
Imagine the problem of car rental companies. They have offices all over the country. People pick a camper up in Melbourne and drop it off in Perth. Because some routes are more popular than the other, it happens that there is to many cars on one location and a lack of them on the other. To solve the issue, the companies are willing to rent a vehicle for free just that you take it to requested location within the time agreed. Expenses of gasoline still need to be covered by the driver, but it turns out a good deal anyway. Beauty mistake exist - time, as much as kilometres, are limited.
We found our offer on a website called CoSeats. In general it's an Australian version of BlaBlaCar, but it also offers campervan relocations.
Let's check upper offer. There is a campervan for two adults and one child. It has to be driven from Adelaide to Perth. Renting cost is 1 AU$ per day and we have 6 days to take it there. What we don't see is that we'll have to pay also for propane bottle and toilet chemicals. Altogether we'll be charged around 50 AU$. At the first glance it looks we'll have to pay something after all, but there is another trick. Mentioned offer includes 100 AU$ of free fuel which we get refunded when we return the vehicle. Taking everything into equation shows that we are actually 50 AU$ on the positive side. However, Adelaide and Perth are 2500 kilometres apart and gasoline won't be cheap. But still, it turns out an excellent option.
CoSeats is a good resource for seaching campervan relocations in Australia and New Zealand. For the rest of the world consider Imoova.
I hope I was able to make a first step in revealing that for travel you don't necessarily need tons of money. Image that travel has to be expensive is painted by tourist agencies, because this is their way of earning money. With next article I'll show you how to find free accommodation!