When someone learns I traveled the world and will travel the world more this year, the typical response is “Aw, lucky!” and then add a blast of reasons why they CAN’T travel the world:
- I don’t have the money.
- I don’t have the time.
- I don’t have the money.
- I have a family.
- I don’t have the money.
- (And my least favorite:) I’m Deaf. I can’t teach English abroad.
First, here’s the deal: I’m not lucky, it takes a whole heck of a lot of work to make travel dreams come true.
Second: There are always reasons not to travel the world. ALWAYS. My secret? Ignore them.
Third, confession time: I’m poor; I barely get-by most months when I’m in the states.
Fourth, WHAT!?! There are a billion things to do around the world that do not involve teaching English abroad. Being Deaf is not a good excuse, sorry. Moving on.
If you REALLY want to travel, you’ll find a way! So, I need you to put all those excuses to the side while you read this article–they’ll try to creep in but ignore them for a few minutes. Deal?
Ever since I was young, I was always on the lookout for ways to travel cheaply. After years of practice (yes, practice!) and tenacity, I finally feel like I can write an article to help others reach their traveling dreams.
DEAF FRIENDLY WAYS TO TRAVEL FOR FREE
1. ORGANIC FARMS
Sound crazy? Honestly it’s quite a deal! If you REALLY want to travel, you’re willing to do anything right!?! So work a few days a week on an organic farm in exchange for food and housing. There are even opportunities to care for gardens in monasteries, shear sheep, harvest orchards and environmental and wildlife conservation projects!
WWOOF-World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! Everyone, hearing and Deaf will be gesturing to communicate because of the language barriers! Guarantee you’ll probably be able to communicate better than someone who has only played hearing Gestures games
Enjoy caring for children? Travel the world by being a nanny for families. Become an older sibling for a summer or year. It’s free housing and free food. Even better? You get paid!
Make profiles and search for families on the following sites:
Also post to Deaf Network, AllDeaf and other forums to get your name out there!
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! You can be a role-model for Deaf children in hearing homes or become an older sister in a Deaf family.
3. HOUSE SIT
A lot of folks want their homes, gardens or animals cared for as they travel for long periods of time. It’s a great way to live for months or even a year at a time in a new country with little cares. It does take some work to get a house lined up (and some sites require a yearly fee), but it’s well-worth the wait, I’ve heard. Also, consider switching homes. They come to your home for a few months while you travel to theirs!
Mind My House
Trusted House Sitters
Search Posts on Craigslist
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! House-sitting is house-sitting. No hearing required.
Crash at someone’s house for a night or two and meet incredible people along the way! Just post your desire and you’ll find many people wanting to house you or come to your home when they get to your country. It’s a wonderful way to meet people!
If you want to get inspired watch this video of Jenny who traveled Europe by couch surfing and meeting Deaf in her travels.
Couch Surfing Site
LDS Couch Surfing
Work at Camping Sites
Tip: Also consider staying in hostels rather than hotels which are usually much cheaper. Search the message boards at HostelWorld to see if you can work at the hostels for FREE room and board!
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! I have met Deaf around the world simply by walking down the street or searching online. I even met 4 couch surfers from England while I was in India who had traveled through Nepal! Talk about random awesomeness!
5. WORK ONLINE
Apply for online writing jobs, such as Writers Domain. Or sponsor a product online while you travel. Write a blog with google advertisements. Take a gnome with you, make a funny video and submit it to Travelocity’s Gnome Competition. There are a variety of options that take some work to get started but can enable long term traveling around the globe. I personally read the book Click Millionaires to get me started. Get creative, look outside the box!
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! Traveling and meeting Deaf is very unique, especially for competitions or blogs. Just stand out from the other millions of blogs in the world and you’ll find your niche!
6. WORK ON A BOAT
Love the ocean? Want to span far distances? Work on a yacht or a cruise as a Deaf tourguide, cook, sailor or maid.
Crew a Yacht
Work on a Cargo Ship
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! There are a variety of jobs on boats, choose the one that fits you best! Plus some cruises host Deaf groups…perfect time for your hospitality skills!
7. GO WITH A PROGRAM
There are SO many programs you can travel with, I don’t know where to begin. The main thing is to find a program then contact them directly. You never know what connection you find that could open up doors for you down the road. Remember, include that you’re willing to work before, during or after to help with the cost.
Discovering Deaf Worlds
THE PEACE CORP
Deaf and hearing Peace Corps volunteers in Bulgaria, Guyana, Jamaica and Kenya use sign language to conduct classes in science, social studies, creative arts and life skills to deaf and hard of hearing students. You get paid, your travel expenses are covered, and you live in a country for two years. Awesome, right?! Take a look at the video below to get inspired!
If you’re into intense adventures, you can do it for charity through the following groups: (Not sure of the morals of it, but it seems to work for some people )
Global Adventure Challenges
Across the Divide
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! There are so many travel groups and programs where you can travel with other Deaf. Just open up Google and start searching!
8. STUDENT PROGRAMS
If you’re a high school or college student, you have the best of both worlds! While you may be under the impression that study abroad programs are for rich kids, the fact is there are many programs that are cheaper than your semester tuition! Plus you can choose a program that moves forward your educational goals at the same time! I’ll just throw out some ideas.
- Study Abroad
Don’t be afraid to ask professors about study abroad options. They might be looking for research assistants to come along or be willing to sponsor part of your trip! (Key: Ask early in the year, not last minute.)
You’ll be amazed how many options are available, especially for funding! There are travel grants, scholarships, and loan options available only to students! Some schools allow you to use your student grants or loans towards study abroad options (if they don’t, APPEAL! It worked for me on Semester at Sea–my home university agreed and I received extensive funding as a result!)
The key is to just ASK! So many students think there are no options or it’s too expensive. The truth is studying abroad can be one of the cheapest ways to travel around the world. Plus you get to learn from your professors, travel with students your age, gain life-long friends and participate in several programs throughout a semester!
Contact universities with strong Deaf programs and offer to teach ASL. While it’s still a new thing, there are some universities wanting their Deaf students to be bi-lingual or tri-lingual. It would be a tough (and possibly long process), but why not try!?!
Yes, I’m suggestion service again. The thing is students are able to receive funding from other sources and donations relatively easily because…well…everyone knows they are poor students! Contact the Lions Club International, and the Rotary Foundation, for travel and service grants. There are many options for high school students as well!
There are so many writing, photography, and travel competitions for high school and college students. Take advantage of it and make your travel dreams happen during your schooling career!
Check out more travel info for students here.
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! There are many student study abroad programs through CSUN, Gallaudet, and your home universities. Again, just talk to your professors!
9. CHEAP TRANSPORTATION
Ok, I know this is breaking the whole “FREE” rule of this article. HOWEVER, there are so many ways to travel that are cheaper than hopping on a non-stop Delta flight to Budapest, Hungary. As convenient as it is, open your eyes to some other options.
- My personal favorite: TAKE A CRUISE.
If you’re traveling in the off seasons (specifically March or October) you can find crazy cheap cruises. Take a look at this cruise for instance: $449 for a 13 night cruise from Florida to Bahamas to Puerto Rico to St. Maarten to England!
- Another favorite: ARRANGE YOUR OWN FLIGHTS
Sure, plugging in your locations into Kayak or Travelocity may be the most convenient, but they are most likely not the cheapest options.
First, just as review. Use the flexible dates option or the +/- 1 to 3 days option. Look for travel dates over a month’s time and I can almost guarantee that you’ll cut 25% or more off your flight cost.
Second, arrange your own flights. For example, this summer I am nannying for a family in Munich, Germany (they are absolutely wonderful by the way!). I am taking a cheap cruise from New Orleans to Denmark to get to Europe but I may want to fly home in August. A flight from Munich to Phoenix, Arizona on Travelocity, costs over $1,000 (even when using the calendar option and 1-3 day options).
I found that it would take me from Munich to Iceland to New York to Phoenix. I searched each of these routes separately (still on Travelocity) and found that if I buy each ticket separately and fly from Dusseldorf (Germany) to Iceland to Boston, then my total is $690. Over $300 in savings! Sweet, huh!?! It took me a couple of hours but the more I practice (yes, practice) the easier it gets to spot where Travelocity is making a hefty profit.
Small airlines can give you awesome deals if you keep your eyes open. When I fly in the states I use Allegiant Airlines when I can. It’s 2/3rds the cost of a regular flight (even with their extensive taxes, bag fees, and seat fees) and it even flies from my home city! Try to find small airlines that go from your local airport rather than the international, well-known airports.
If you’re in Europe, try the following airlines: RyanAir, easyJet, and Monarch. Don’t be satisfied with the major airlines unless you’re convinced it’s a good deal.
Also good to note, several airlines like Southwest, do not come up in Travelocity or Kayak searches. You can only find flights with them through their home page.
- GET CREATIVE
Don’t rely only on airplanes, look into train options, cheap bus tickets, bicycles, sailboats, or submarines!
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! They’re cheap. Can’t get more friendly than that.
10. JUST COOL
While writing this article I found a couple of really cool, random sites that may be just what you’re looking for to travel the world for free or cheaply!
DEAF FRIENDLY? YES! Look at all the web addresses, they’re all Deaf affiliated.
I do need to make something clear.
These are a variety of ideas that can help you out in your planning. But it does come down to your hard work and determination. Do I get every job or position I apply for? No!!! BUT I don’t give up…I keep searching until I find something just right for me! I emphasize practice because it really does take a whole lot of work to make dreams happen—but that’s what makes them fun and SO worth it! I pity the people who’s parents paid for their travels…they miss out on the challenge and the exhilaration of making a dream come true!
GOOD LUCK MY FRIENDS!
Oh, and remember you can combine these to make the perfect vacation. Work on a yacht to a random country, then work a nanny job, then work at a monastery for a week or two before your next Au Pair job in another country, then fly home via a cheap airline. That’s my rough plan for the summer, I’ll let you know how it goes.
WATCH MY VIDEO TRAVELING ABROAD
Have any specific questions or personal experiences that worked? Feel free to comment below!!!
Disclaimer: The author is not guaranteeing any positions or implying that the options above are perfectly safe. Traveling the world has inherent risks.