Traveling the world is its own form of education, but for students or graduates saddled with student debt, even road-tripping can seem financially out of reach.
However, there are ways to travel the world for free, or nearly free, if you are willing to work for it. Enter part-time gigs, side hustles and other methods that allow you to travel and stay in the U.S. or abroad for next to nothing:
1. Transport goods and even pets
2. Housesit or pet sit your way into a vacation stay
3. Become a travel nanny
4. Do domestic work (and blog about it)
5. Get your hands dirty (on an organic farm)
6. Learn about your heritage and travel for free
Plus: Other ways to see the world more cheaply
There’s no better classic getaway than a cross-country road trip. Unfortunately, between gas, hotels, and food, your costs can add up quickly. But what if you made deliveries along the way to cover your costs?
That’s exactly what the app Roadie offers for those who want to hit the open road and get paid to do it.
On average, a Roadie driver can earn $15 to $650 depending on the size of the delivery, how far it’s going, and how quickly it needs to get there.
You also have the option of loading up the car with other items that need to be transported, too. The downside to this gig is that you don’t get to have a leisurely drive since you’re on a deadline.
The upside? You get to see cool parts of the country and meet interesting people you would never have without the job. To apply for Roadie, you must be 18 or older, have car insurance, have a valid driver’s license, complete an application and pass a background check.
Unless you plan on camping, you’ll need accommodations during your travels. That expense can add up quickly, depending on the time of year and the location you travel in. For example, the average cost of a U.S. hotel room is roughly $135 per night.And if you are headed to London, you could spend upward of $231-$241 for a hotel or an average of 80 euros ($89) for an Airbnb stay.
If you have friends, consider a house swap, or check out sites like MindMyHouse and Nomador, an international housesitting community.
Sign up for between $20-$89 a year (depending on the service) and receive access to thousands of potential gigs. While you will likely have some chores like collecting mail, watering plants and maybe even feeding pets, you will have access to places around the world to stay for free.
Babysitting or taking on a part-time nanny job is a great way to make some extra cash on the side. But you can use those same skills to see the world if you work as a travel nanny.
Adventure Nannies connects families who are planning travel with someone to help look after the kids on the trip. That means you get paid — plus free meals, accommodations and transportation — while traveling the world. The trips are for set periods of time, too, so you can plan ahead with your time off from work or a school vacation.
Adventure Nannies suggests that you’ll make a minimum of $25 to over $40 per hour depending on the job. Adventure Nannies does not take a cut out of their nannies pay, and you can set your own rates for travel placement.
Keep in mind that because you’ll be working, you won’t have entire days free to explore. Still, there usually is downtime, and you can always extend your trip after completing your commitment.
To sign up for Adventure Nannies, you’ll need to:
- Fill out an initial application
- Do an initial FaceTime or Skype interview
- Go through a phone screening
- Provide five references
- Undergo a social media and internet screening
- Write an in depth essay/application
- Pass a background check
Once you’re cleared to start work, you can begin applying for gigs on the site.
When Stevo Dirnberger and Chanel Cartell set off on a trek across the globe in March 2015 after quitting their jobs, they knew their savings wouldn’t cover all their costs.
To stay on the road, they took up many odd jobs and wrote about them on their now well-known blog, How Far From Home. Fast-forward to 2020, and Dirnberger and Cartell have turned their blog into a brand complete with an online retail shop and virtual classes on how to travel the world. In addition, the pair offer their services as travel photographers, film production, even travel wedding planners.
The couple did a series of jobs in their first year of travel, ranging from working with huskies, chopping wood and cooking for guests in Norway, to scrubbing toilets and building a jungle gym in Sweden.
If you wanted to do the same, for example, renting a wooden cabin in Norway for an entire month would cost anywhere from $1,200 to over $2,500.
Although they didn’t get paid for their work, they received food and accommodations in return. In addition to cleaning toilets, the pair helped out at a dog-training facility in Italy, lived on a private island in Iceland and housesat in New Zealand.
All of their work saved them big bucks and they founded a whole new chapter in their careers centered around traveling the world.
If you love working with your hands in nature, check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) or WWOOF-USA, the American branch of the organization.
Besides individuals, couples, friends and families can participate in a WWOOF program together. Volunteers can choose from thousands of jobs all over the world from Togo to New Zealand. Help farmers harvest crops, feed animals, even assist with cheese and winemaking, among other jobs.
The agreement? The farm will cover your meals and accommodations, workers can work for usually four to six hours a day and then have time to themselves for travel.
For those who apply and qualify, a “birthright trip” is a free or nearly free way to experience the country of your heritage with your peers.
There are birthright trip programs to Ireland, Cuba, Israel, Armenia and Greece, among other countries. Most of these trips are offered by nonprofit organizations that provide a packaged tour of a home country.
Typically when you are selected to go on a birthright trip through a nonprofit, your meals, lodging, classes and transportation are all paid for by the organization. You may want to bring spending money or cash for tips, but otherwise, the trips are free to those accepted into them.
Besides these, there are ways to shave money off your travel expenses.
For example, a rewards credit card that racks up points for miles can help you pay for plane tickets and even hotel stays. Just remember to stay within your credit limit while you maximize your use of the card to earn points.
Meanwhile, for affordable stays abroad, try a housing swap. Stay in someone’s home in Kenya or near a loch in Scotland by becoming a member of HomeExchange, which has members in 187 countries, or via HomeLink, a popular exchange program. Founded in 1953, the program has members in over 70 countries.
By using a housing-swap program, you can explore hundreds of thousands of potential homestay vacations around the world.
Even if your discretionary income isn’t much after student loan payments and living expenses, there are ways to travel without a hefty travel budget. With these ideas in mind, you may be able travel the world for free, or nearly free, and all it takes is a little creativity and research.
Maya Dollarhide contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.74% – 8.70%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.74% – 7.99%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.05% – 5.25%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.86% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|N/A7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 8.38%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
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Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for Navient.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).
IS Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates advertised are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Your final variable rate may be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.