3 Ways To Travel When You’re Broke

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By Kathleen Fatica

A troubling quote has invaded travel lover’s Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards, and way of thinking. “Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about money, just make it work.” Even the softer, “Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be” grates on my nerves like sandpaper. Why? Because this attitude is a dismissal of a large slice of American’s financial experience. While the creators were surely well-meaning, the ignorance behind those who post and re-post is clear: they don’t have to worry about money. If they really had to, they wouldn’t say something as flippant as “just make it work.” Travel is a source of introspection that I myself have been privileged enough to experience. Throughout my short life of 19 years, I’ve had the opportunity to go to both Costa Rica and Guatemala as a teenager to supplement my Spanish language learning. These were opportunities I am grateful for, but they came at a cost. Not everyone has an extra $400 dollars around, (the low end of a flight to Guatemala), especially not the average American.

The average flight to London is over $1,000. Same with Italy, Turkey, Spain, Greece and Asia, many of the world’s most popular travel destinations. In light of this, travel enthusiasts can often come off as elitists. Throughout this article, however, I’ve found three ways for you to gain all the perspective and joy that comes with travel, but at a low (and sometimes no) cost.


Everyone in the travel community has heard of a Fulbright E.T.A (English Teaching Assistant program) or similar hyper-competitive travel grants such as Rhodes and Boren. But lesser-known is Diverbo, a program that places English-speaking volunteers into teaching sites such as Spain and Germany to teach English. In return? Free room, board, and transportation for the entire volunteer period. You can sign up for the Spain volunteer program, for example, here.


Spain photo via Shutterstock

2.Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is a no-cost volunteer program run by the U.S government.  According to their website, any volunteer accepted is provided with housing and a living stipend that is up to par with the norm in their new community of service. After a volunteer has completed the 2-year program, the Peace Corps provides each volunteer with over $8,000 to help transition to life back home.

Jessie Beck, a Peace Corps veteran, detailed her surprise at the extensive resources Peace Corps gave her on her trip.

“…They’ll also give you a ‘settling-in allowance’ so you can buy household items once you are in the country, so even those shouldn’t be a priority when you’re packing. Anything that is immediately essential to your health or safety while serving, Peace Corps will provide for you.” said Beck in her piece for the Huffington Post.

Peace Corps volunteers serve in up to 60 different countries, with the most popular being South Africa. In this case, you will get paid to travel to whichever place is right for you (and has an opening). Russia, South America, Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Carribean, and more are all options. While Peace Corps is a pretty great deal, it comes with a trade-off. This program is a 2-year commitment in which the traveler has to be invested in making a difference through hard work, pushing themselves way outside their comfort zone, and dedicating two years of their life to helping others. Still getting excited? You can check out where Peace Corps currently needs volunteers on their map.


Room and Board? Check. In a WWOOF program, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, volunteers have their housing and food taken care of in exchange for their service on an organic farm for 4-6 hours a day. This means doing anything from raising goats to picking strawberries. Locations vary from far-off locales like Korea and Tuscany to U.S options. However, this volunteer program isn’t free despite room and board being covered. You’ll need to cover your travel expense to get to wherever you’d like to go and a $72 WWOOF subscription. But from then on? You’re good. So if you’re someone who can front the cost to your dream travel destination, but that’s about it, then this is an option. You’ll get that warm, fuzzy feeling of contributing to a larger system and the eye-opening experience of long-term travel at a fraction at the cost.

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Farming photo via Shutterstock



Kathleen Fatica is a rising sophomore at DePaul University working towards a degree in Creative Writing and Public Relations. Before she joined The Culture-ist, Kathleen worked as an editor and writer for student newspapers at DePaul University including Her Campus DePaul and The DePaulia.  When she’s not busy writing or editing, Kathleen enjoys listening to female rappers and color coding her planner while she city-hops her way across the globe. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @kathleeen2102

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