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15 Free Ways (Or Even Get-Paid) To Travel That Will Enrich Your Life

15 Free Ways (Or Even Get-Paid) To Travel That Will Enrich Your Life

Traveling can be any experience you make it and whether or not you’re looking for a way to travel for less (or free) there are in fact ways to help you do just that. Not only can working abroad be a great experience, but it’s possible to cover parts of your trip or even make money while traveling. To say the least quite a few the options can lead to some of the most enriching travel experiences and adventures.

Get Paid to Ski

Get paid to ski by taking part in seasonal work at mountain ski resorts. You don’t even have to know how to ski, which is great because if you ever wanted to learn, this is your chance to do it and get a free mountain pass.

Ski resorts hire nationals from all over the world to fill positions from ski lift operators, hotel and restaurant staff as long as a temporary work visa can be obtained. Popular spots for seasonal work at ski resorts are New Zealand, Mammoth, California or Vail, Colorado. Even if you want to work domestically, it’s a great chance to live in some of the most beautiful places in the world and get away from city hustle-and-bustle. There are many resort options, but make sure to apply early to ensure a spot before the season starts. To find these positions you can start with a Google search or check out NZSki.com for vacancies in New Zealand.

Volunteer to Speak English for Free Room and Board

If you speak English fluently, you can sign up for a work exchange experience that requires you to have conversations with students in English who want to improve their language skills. Usually companies will send their employees to these programs so they can hone their conversation skills to better communicate with their clients. Though some people sign up as students just to improve their English in general. Throughout the week you’re engaging in conversations and getting to familiarize yourself with people of different cultural backgrounds.

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In return for speaking with the students in English, you can receive free room and board for the entire time you are volunteering. Diverbo is a program that does just that and accepts English speaking volunteers for their sites in Germany and Spain and provides volunteers with full room and board as well as transportation to the site.

Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

Earning airline miles from generous credit card offers is quickly becoming more popular and one of the easiest ways to travel in luxury for pennies on the dollar. Banks often offer sign-up bonuses to lure customers to using their cards in hopes of gaining a loyal customer. With just one 50,000 mile sign-up bonus you could be on your way for free to Europe, making it an incredible way to save money on travel. Some credit card offers require you to meet a minimum spending amount, while with others such as the 40,000 mile US Airways credit card offer it’s as simple as buying a cup of coffee.

On top of that there are many ways to to maximize your miles like adding free stopovers in cities along the way, so you can visit more than one destination or even continent on the same ticket.

WWOOF -Work exchange on organic and sustainable properties

Can you picture yourself working on a vineyard in Tuscany? Or a pineapple farm in Costa Rica? WWOOF is an opportunity to work on organic farms around the world in exchange for free housing and food. As a participant, you’re expected to put in around four to six hours of work per day for at least two days with anything that needs to be done. Once your shift is over you are free to explore the village, trails or nearby cities as you please.

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CouchSurfing

CouchSurfing is a website that allows you to connect with local hosts while you’re traveling to stay in their home for free, likely with someone who has a few things in common with you. For a night, two or even three you could stay on a couch, your own room or even a yurt out back for free. One aspect of CouchSurfing that people find appealing is that you are able to get to experience an area with a local. Another aspect of CouchSurfing that people find appealing is that hosts and couch surfers have profiles and reviews from past guests and their hosts so you can get a general feel for the person before contacting them.

Teach English Abroad

There are opportunities for fluent English speakers to teach English abroad in elementary and high schools even if you do not have teaching credentials. Most opportunities require that instructors are TEFL certified which is earned after a series of coursework is completed to become an affective English Second Language instructor. Salary for teaching abroad is based on the living standards of where you are teaching, but depending on the program you go through, some of your living expenses like free housing. In countries like the Middle East such as Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates as well as Japan and South Korea, the salary rate for TEFL teachers is known to offer the best paid TEFL Instructor salaries.

Join a Family and become an Au Pair

For travelers who love working with young children, there are families who are looking for Au Pairs to help take care of their children. Families may look for an English speaking nanny so that their children can improve their English-skills. As an Au Pair you should expect to receive free room and board as well as some payment. The company Au Pair World helps connect host families with potential Au Pairs through profiles which you can browse through by country and gets you in touch with a potential match. What you would get out of it is essentially an opportunity to immerse yourself within the culture and community and learn the customs and traditions.

Hitchhike the Globe

In some parts of the world, even in some areas within the US hitchhiking is common, accepted and generally safe. In Armenia, for example, it’s common for locals to hitch a ride so it would not be odd. To flag down a ride the universal sign of hitchhiking is to stand on the side of the road in the direction that you want to go and stick out your thumb. Always use good judgement when accepting a ride. If the vehicle or its occupants give you a bad vibe, then do not accept the ride. To get a feel for which countries hitchhiking is acceptable in and considered safe you can refer to Hitchwiki which is user-compiled and breaks down the unofficial rules and tips of hitchhiking by country.

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Diaspora Youth Programs

Birthright programs are usually synonymous with the young Jewish community through Birthright Israel in which for 10 days 18-26 year olds from all over the world get an all expense paid trip to Israel to connect with the Israel. However, for those who are not of the Jewish faith, there are programs geared towards other cultures such as Birthright Armenia which reimburses travel expenses to Armenia as long as they commit to a minimum of two months to intern or volunteer in various sectors such as news agencies, hospitals, government offices and environments NGOs in Armenia. Through these internships you get valuable experience that you can take back with you for your work resume. Other similar programs include Heritage Greece, ReConnect Hungary, or the Love Boat Study Program for youth of Chinese or Taiwanese descent.

Volunteer at a Hostel or Homestay

If you’re backpacking or traveling for an extended period of time, stumbling across a hostel that you love while traveling is likely to happen more than once. It never hurts to ask if they have any volunteer opportunities for free room and board. This can be a great way to extend a stay while traveling abroad. To find some volunteer experiences that vary from working at a hostel teaching yoga, to helping build a house, check out HelpX which lets users post help wanted ads.

Got skills? Become an instructor

If you are well versed in a sporting activity—surfing, rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking—you may be able to land a job abroad teaching other people the ropes. If you speak several languages it may also be a huge plus since most tourism agencies rely on their instructors to communicate with many international customers. Adventure Work is a great place to start looking for potential instructor jobs around the world.

See the World for Less through House Sitting

Believe it or not, homeowners around the world are looking for house sitters, and you’d be surprised as to how many opportunities are out there. You would also be surprised as to how many people are doing it and with multiple established websites it’s easy to get started. The options are varied, but for pet sitting or gardening, you can be staying for free. A benefit of house sitting, is that not only are you living rent free, but you get to spend time in one place for a longer than you may have if you had to pay for accommodations and get to know community.

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Free Walking Tours

If you are traveling to a country you know a lot about, especially the significance of monuments within a particular area, historical moments and are well versed in the culture, why not take a dabble at being a walking tour guide. Many of the guided tours are free, but basically you work for tips. While the tips may not be very much money, it can very well cover the cost of your meals for an entire week.

Show Off Your Talent with Resort Entertainment

If you have the talent to entertain, whether your forte is dancing, singing or even magic tricks, you may find positions available with cruise ships around the world. Working with a cruise line comes with a salary, free accommodation and the chance to travel along.  You of course have to audition, but if you have a special talent that you would like to let shine and you get the position, you will get to paid to do what you love, travel and perform. Backstage.com which offers a list of casting calls for various cruise lines is a great way to get started.

Teach in the US with AmeriCorps

While you may not be able to travel outside the US with AmeriCorps, you will be placed in a new city to work as an educator and role model under one of its programs. AmeriCorps members depending on the program usually serve in low-income communities, working with children in different aspects like homework help and tutoring. Some programs go as far as doing environmental field research like surveying salmon counts and analyzing watersheds. In addition to helping out communities who may be in need, members can have their university loans deferred, receive a monthly stipend, and a grant to help pay for grad school.

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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