Travel freebies can make the dream of travel a reality.
By saving with free travel options you can spend more lavishly on what truly matters to you.
Balance out your travel budget with free tours and activities, accommodation, and apps so that you can travel longer, more luxuriously, or more often. Get more of the travel you want by taking advantage of things that cost little or nothing.
Below is my list of things you can do that meet the ultimate test for frugal solo travel.
They are all simple. There's no travel hacking involved, no calculating the best way to use points, and no buying this to get that.
These are travel freebies that are there for the taking. You just need to know where to look.
Travel Freebies – Starting with Free Accommodation
- House sitting options. House sitting is a free exchange of services. The house sitter gets a place to stay and the house owner has someone to take care of their home, the mail, the garden, and even pets while they’re away. Read 16 Tips for Successful Solo House Sitting. For information on how to become a successful international house sitter check out the Academy program.
- Try a home exchange. This can save you a lot of money on one of the biggest travel budget items. You can live like a local and stay for free. Home Exchange has 65,000+ worldwide listings. To get a sense of how it's done read Free Accommodation: Try a Home Exchange.
Free Travel Maps and Language Apps
- Learn the language for free. Before you leave home, learn a bit of the language with a free language app. There are dozens in the App Store and Google Play Store. Just search the language you want to learn and up will pop a number of options. Rather not be on an app? Here is a list of 49 Free Language Learning Websites.
- Get a city map for free. Just about any hotel or hostel can give you a map. I recommend that frugal travelers make a point of getting their map from a hostel because the map itself will have more information on cheap things to do and inexpensive places to eat in the city.
- Google Maps offline. Save an area of Google Maps to your phone to use when you're offline. Here's how to do it for iPhone and iPads and here's how to do it for Android devices.
Free Ways to Connect with Locals
- Book a free local greeter. I've used local greeters in Paris, Chicago, Tokyo, and other cities. To find a greeter, you can use the International Greeter Association site. Book the greeter online and in advance as it is often volunteers who have to make the arrangements for you. If you are going to a large city, search the city name and “free greeter” to find their local network. Here's my experience with a Paris greeter: Friendly Paris: Exploring the Real Paris with a Greeter.
- Use Meetup.com to find people who have similar interests. Meetup.com is a website that is organized by city and by interests. There are meet-ups in cities all over the world on as many topics as you could possibly imagine. They're not just great travel freebies, they're also cool free events to enjoy at home. I joined a hiking meet-up in Hong Kong. Read: Meetup.com Got Me Hiking in Hong Kong – It Was #[email protected]&%*! Hard!
- Join a local running, walking or cycling group. These clubs will often welcome guests from out of town to join them for a walk, run, or cycle for free. It's a great way to hang out with locals for a while. Read Grace’s Nerdy New York City Adventure: A Twenty-Something Travels Solo to learn more.
Free Activities for Travelers Around the World
- Take a free guided walking tour. Most major cities have free walking tours. Some, like Paris, offer a number of free walking tours. Sandeman’s has free tours in many European cities. Simply Google “free walking tour” and your city of choice. A tip for the guide is important. Here's why.
- Go to parks, gardens, and cemeteries. Central Park in New York City, in Paris the Cimetière du Père Lachaise or the Cimetière du Montparnasse (final resting places of intellectuals, artists, and philosophers) and a variety of gardens in London are all free and relaxing. There are wonderful green spaces in every destination to enjoy for free.
- Walk neighborhoods. Walking the neighborhoods of major cities brings you into communities where you can see what makes the city really tick. London, Paris, New York, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver… all major cities have vibrant neighborhoods with distinct personalities. Seek out locations made famous in literature and film. Eat where the locals eat.
- Get an app for free self-guided tours. There are many free travel apps and many offer self-guided tours of cities and the like. GPSmycity.com has self-guided walking tours for over 1,000 cities. Interested in history? Check out Historypin.org. If you're driving rather than walking, try RoadSideAmerica.com.
- Go to the museums when they're free. Paying museum admissions can really add up but most museums have times when their doors open to all for free. Here's a list of 26 museums that are free in London. Here are lists for Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles. A simple Google search will find the list for your destination.
- Find the calendar of free events. Every city has a calendar of free events online or in their local arts paper. Google it and you'll likely find lots of options for activities. You can see what’s free in New York city at NYCgo.com.
Stay in Touch as You Travel for Free
- Find great information, quiet time, and free Wi-Fi in libraries. Libraries, even ones in countries where English is not the primary language, are great sources of information. They always have information about what's free in the city and they always have free computers and Wi-Fi.
- Stay in touch with home for free. Skype is a free app for your phone. It's also often loaded onto library computers. Use Skype with the library's free Wi-Fi (or Skype on your phone with any free Wi-Fi) and you can call home for free.
You'll also want to check out:
- Solo Travel in Toronto: 32 Free and Low-Cost Tips
- Solo on a Budget in New York City: 50+ Tips to Make NYC Affordable
- Solo Travel London on a Budget: Top Tips for Free and Cheap
- Solo Travel Paris on a Budget: 32+ Free and Low-Cost Tips
Are there other travel freebies you have discovered in your travels? Please share them in the comments section below.