Couchsurf and carpool
The couchsurfing phenomenon is perhaps the purest form of the “sharing economy” enabling travellers to save hundreds of dollars every night. While staying in someone’s lounge or spare room isn’t for everyone, if you want to experience a city just like the locals do then there’s no better way. Another aspect of the new economy is ride sharing, using BlaBlaCar (in Europe) you can find a ride to destinations across the continent for a small fee in the spare seat of someone travelling there anyway. It’s another great way to get to know a destination and its people.
Relocate camper vans and cars
Looking to go on a road-trip but don’t want to shell out money for a hire vehicle? There’s a way to do it and it’s called Transfercar. The concept is simple; every day dozens of hire cars are being freighted back to their depot, due to a one-way hire. This costs money and often the return fees on a one-way hire don’t cover the actual cost to return it. Transfercar is a classic “sharing economy” way of solving this problem by linking travellers with exceptionally cheap ($1 -$10/day) and even free car hire. As long as you can travel within certain dates you can take advantage of offers.
Use your frequent flyers
The notion of travelling for free is at the very core a lot of loyalty programs. We all dream of converting those precious points into frequent flyer miles and then jetting off into the wild blue yonder. There are numerous loyalty programs that will link you with free travel awards when you sign up and using a credit card to pay bills and shop online will generate significant points, as long as you do your research about which cards and what shopping portals are paying out the greatest rewards. However, and it’s a big however, you should only do this as long as you stay within a budget, not overspend on your cards and keep up to date with payments.
If you really want to get off the tourist trail and you’re willing to put in 4 to 6 hours a day helping out, then Wwoof-ing may be for you. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms connects you with organic growers across the world offering accommodation and food in exchange for a few hours work a day. You’ll learn new skills and have life enriching experiences helping sustainable, organic growers with their day-to-day work, whether tending a vegetable garden in Hokkaido or helping build an irrigation system on a raspberry farm in Argentina. Another website to check out is Volunteer HQ, where you can volunteer for a variety of projects in 30 countries from health care and teaching to wildlife conservation.