Many times people make the mistake of thinking you need to be rich in order to travel, but often times that’s not the case. For some people this can be true, if you wish to stay in fancy hotels and fly first class but if you don’t mind a little adventure there are ways to accomplish the task of getting from point A to point B and have a heck of a lot of fun in between.
When it comes to traveling cheap there are three main areas that need to be covered. Food, sleep, and adventure. Often times in the adventure itself you can meet all of these requirements no problem, it just takes a little thinking outside the box.
When it comes to food on the road there are many ways to find it cheaply, and sometimes even gourmet food untouched. If you are ever downtown in any city often times you will find people leaving the restaurant with an entire meal untouched inside a container. Simply asking if they are going to eat it and often times they will give it too you! Most of the time this food just get’s thrown away but in this scenario they get a sweet story and feel good about helping someone out and you get a bomb meal for free!
Another way of getting free food is by going into places and literally asking. Often times you can come out with at least a free ice cream cone from places like McDonalds. The key is to have a smile and a story and in most cases people will hook you up! This goes both ways for rides too, often times gas station workers would help me find a ride after talking to them for a while. People like to help out and it gives them a story as well.
Opening up to people and being real is the best way to get a home cooked meal too! Often times people would just invite me for a meal or cook one them selves after a conversation turned into an hour long talk. People are bored with the lives we are forced to live and their curiosity brings them out of their shell. This is when you get to have some really cool conversations with some awesome people with a free meal as well!
If you’re not too picky you can literally sleep anywhere. Literally. If you have a nice wool blanket this makes it even easier. The same concepts apply here as when searching for food. When you open up to people and have real conversations they are actually likely to invite you to stay with them.
This is one reason I stopped using CouchSurfing because the real adventures I’d have with people I meet along the way were always more crazy and fun than anything that could be planned. I found myself sleeping in the back of a pickup truck on an air mattress for five hours with my dog as we went through the long stretches of Texas.
Other times you can offer a little bit of money and people will open up their yard or extra room as well. This is one way you can get both a cheap meal and place to stay by simply offering a little bit of money. It helps everyone out and it’s more of a conversation opener than an actual proposition. People are always looking for a good story!
The key to all of this is the adventure. When you open yourself up to the locals and their adventures, you find yourself on secluded beaches playing soccer, climbing through vacant cities on the ocean, or jumping from rocks over a cenote. When you stop planning and start adventuring you find you really don’t need much money at all. That most of the things you needed money for were things you actually didn’t even need. We make the mistake of bagging our bags full to the top never stopping to imagine that we need space to find new things. New adventures.
By hiding behind the CouchSurfing veil of travel you miss out on all kinds of adventure and it actually costs you more in the long run as you hop from town to town spending money on food, travel, and other things not knowing how to move around cheaply. You waste time on silly things and never really experience the adventure itself. Start being real and traveling cheap comes with it!