People do some “crazy” things to travel. Admit it. They do. From selling all worldly possessions to donating plasma for twenty more “travel bucks” – saving money is almost always a concern for the independent traveller. The good news is, you don’t have to part with your bodily fluids to afford travel. If you have the time, but not the money, all it may take is a little bit of searching for travel opportunities outside of the mainstream.
- Check your mail. You’ve won a million dollars! You’ve won a cruise voucher! You’ve won the secret to eternal life! Toss the first and the third letters, keep the second. Although these free vouchers do come with a catch, you might as well see what that catch may be. Sometimes, you have to listen to a sales presentation, or try a product. This voucher will probably have inflexible dates and not include how you are going to get to the departure cities (which are usually in Florida), but cheap tickets to Florida abound, and if you are without time constraints, the Monday – Friday cruises aren’t necessarily a big deal.
- Become a Frequent Flyer/Frequent Cruiser/Frequent Sleeper. Airlines, cruise lines, hotel chains and other traveller-services love their frequent customers and reward them aptly. Airlines throw around frequent flyer points like candy and hotel chains love to give discounts to those who often use their services. Those who enjoy cruises may find themselves on a list of loyal customers that will provide them with discounts, and, even better, opportunities to participate on “test runs”. Test runs are “new cruises” – new ships or itineraries where the crew needs “practice”. You may not have the smoothest trip ever, but for a dirt-cheap trip, hey, does it really matter?
- Make a friend in the travel industry. Travel agents, flight attendants, children of pilots…all those people have connections, and if you’re close enough with ’em, some of those connections may rub off on you. Airline buddy passes, 2-for-1 deals and promo trips are all part of your possibilities. These things usually require a bit of dough, patience and a good book (for the long hours you may be stuck in the airport when you’re flying stand-by), but think of it as time spent reading up on your ultimate destination.
- Develop a sudden interest in time-shares. Ahh, time shares. Major scams, in my humble opinion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work them for all they are worth. Head to Google and look up a few. Many times, in order to entice new, potential clients through their doors, these “Travel Agencies” will offer free trips to popular destinations such as Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada. These tickets and two-night stays are usually in the middle of the week, and do not include taxes. However, if you were thinking of heading there anyway, might as well say “yes” the the next time someone gives you a call and offers you a free trip or two.
- Start filling out surveys, dropping your name in the box, and putting your local radio station on speed dial. A little luck never hurt anyone. Scour the internet for surveys and fill ’em out! You may just be that person that gets the free vacation to Europe/Mexico/other exotic locale. As the saying goes, you can’t win the lottery if you never buy a ticket. Radios also offer travel promotions, usually in conjunction with a concert tickets. Free trip and a rock show. Totally tubular, man!
- Go solo and pack light. They usually cost some dollahs to get into them, but working as an Air Courier is a great way to travel for those who don’t mind a bit of adventure. Air Couriers take last-minute flights to various destinations around the globe, and are usually allowed only one carry one bag, as the rest of their luggage allowance is taken up by the cargo they are responsible for carrying. However, since 9-11, heightened security measures have limited the number of Air Courier flights that are available, and it may not be worth the $35 investment.
- Hang out at your local port. Boat crews are always looking for extra hands. Unfortunately, men have the advantage here, as most want strong workers who are willing to work long days on the fishing boats. Most go out to sea and then back again, but work in fishing regions can give you a feel for life somewhere else, along with some cold, hard cash (especially in Alaska). They lucky few that can snag a ride on pleasure or race yachts should jump at the opportunity. These are usually easiest to catch in the South Pacific and Caribbean Islands.
- Develop a hidden talent and head out over the seas. Cruise ship workers have long and hard hours, but it’s a great way to get out an explore. Entertainers generally have it the easiest of the lot, so if you’re sensational at singing, dancing, or playing a harmonica while standing on your head, this may be the job for you. Most cruise lines will offer 3 to 6 month contracts, and having an “in” is the best way to make your resumé leap to the top of the pile. However, numerous books and articles on the internet also show you a way through the door.