16 August 2012 by Anna Staford
Here are some things that I have personally experienced and which have seriously influenced my life. I will be always thankful to those people who have created these organisations, services and phenomena. Here are 5 ways how to travel the world for free or in some cases very cheap. To give you a better understanding how these organisations work I have decided to answer 3 simple questions:
•What is it?
•What is free?
•What is special about it?
Therefore, you can easily find what suits you best. Don’t lose your chance to change your life!
1) Couch Surfing - CS
What is it? Couch Surfing is a worldwide online travel community and social networking service. It is about hospitality exchange, travelling opportunities, making friends and helping each other.
What is free? Couch Surfing can help you to find free accommodation or free guidance anywhere in the world. Using CS you don’t need to worry about where to stay while travelling. It is easy to find people who will host you with pleasure.
What is special about it? Actually, Couch Surfing is a new way of travelling. It may seem unbelievable but Couch Surfing is built on natural trust and hospitality of unfamiliar people. You just need to become CS member at the website and you can use its service immediately. However, I would not call it just a service. It is something much, much more. It is a great chance to see the world and to change your life!
2) European Voluntary Service – EVS
What is it? EVS is for people who would like to travel and contribute to global society. It is a project, which allows young people (18-30 years) to become a volunteer in another country for the period of 2-12 months. You select the country and the project you would like to participate in yourself.
What is free? Almost everything in EVS is free for volunteers because the sending organisation often pays for your accommodation, meal and transportation.
What is special about it? It is a great way to challenge yourself in living in another country, being independent and helping others. It is a good chance to travel around Europe and find like-minded persons. Also you will have an opportunity to learn the language of the country where you will volunteer. EVS sounds like everything is just for you, just do it!
3) European Youth Parliament – EYP
What is it? If you are young and ambitious, if you would like to bring your fresh ideas to the world, if you want to be heard then EYP is what you need. The EYP is an independent educational project aiming at youth development.
What is free? When you become a member of the EYP community you represent your country community. There are many sessions happening at regional, national and international levels. So, when you go to international sessions and forums you are hosted for free. Often such sessions organise meals for free. So, you pay only for transportation.
What is special about it? I would say that the EYP is a lifestyle. It is an opportunity to share your skills and knowledge, to meet other active leaders, travellers and to meet the locals. Nowadays the EYP is one of the largest European platforms for political debate, intercultural encounters, and the exchange of ideas among young people in Europe. With the EYP you can get valuable experience in organising different kinds of youth events, conferences, trainings and workshops. I promise when you start the EYP life, you will never want to quit.
4) European Students’ Forum - AEGEE
What is it? Aegee is one of the biggest European associations, which strives for a united Europe without prejudices and stereotypes. In order to reach this aim Aegee’s member have debates about international politics, culture, environment, education issues etc.
What is free? Travel with Aegee is pretty cheap because you pay a participation fee that covers meal and accommodation. Sometimes it even covers transportation. Thus, in general, Aegee covers around 70% of travel expenses.
What is special about it? Aegee is an organization that makes you feel at home across the whole European continent. It is one of the best ways to travel for free because you don’t need to worry about where to live, what to eat, where to go. They will take care of it and even more. However, it is not a travel agency; it is a huge family that feed you with excellent mood, high spirit and bright impressions. You can realize your creative plans, break stereotypes, get rid of any inferiority complex with help of Aegee. Aegee knows how to make you happy!
What is it? If you are a courageous, self confident and carefree person, hitchhiking will only bring pleasure for you.
What is free? Transportation is free if you are not limited for time. Sometimes even accommodation can be free if you stumble upon very generous and friendly people. And believe me, there are such people!
What is special about it? There are people who would say that hitchhiking is not for everybody. These are people who like comfort and facilities and can’t survive in other conditions. Many say they are afraid of hitchhiking and it is unsafe. I would say it depends. Whatever you do you should do it sensibly. As for my experience, I can say that there are many great people who are ready to help and support and they don’t care whether you can or can’t afford an expensive hotel room or plane tickets. Many people meet great lifetime friends by doing such extreme things as hitchhiking.
p.s. Let us know about your experience when you use these opportunities for free travel around the world.