Air is free. No matter where you go or who you’re with, don’t let people charge you for it. The only exceptions to this would be underwater or in space.
If you find yourself in either of these locations, pay anything for air. Air is life and life is great. Without it, you’d be dead.
Water is essential to life. Drinking dirty water can make you very sick. Personally, I drink tap water from most countries that I have ever been to without any problems and in particularly untouched areas (such as when hiking rural Iceland and Norway), I have drank from streams.
My body has adapted to this existence and you will notice that locals can drink tap water much easier than tourists can, so I am not suggesting you do this unless you know that it is safe to do so.
As a safer alternative it is normally possible to find safe-to-drink water at public fountains from which you can fill water bottles.
Simply ask around and people will help you out.
For this reason, it is important to carry empty water containers. These containers might simply be empty plastic bottles, but you should try to obtain a metal flask as it lasts longer and is better for the environment.
If you are not able to obtain safe drinking water, the best option is to boil water in order to kill all of the nasties inside. If you have the resources (a friend’s stove for example), let the water boil for at least a full minute before you bottle it for consumption (although some sources recommend boiling it for longer to be safe).
Failing this, take water treatment chemicals / tablets.
The cost of these is minimal (compared with buying bottled water) and they can treat large volumes of water. With a little bit of forethought, safe drinking water is free / very low cost to obtain.
Note: If you drink dirty water, it is possible that it is contaminated with E. coli, cholera, salmonella, protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), viruses (such as hepatitis A, polio and rotavirus), or chemical pollutants.
These make you feel somewhat unwell and you do not want this. Clean water is vitally important, so be aware of where you will next be able to obtain water.
For more on this topic, read the full article on How To Find Free Drinking Water When Travelling.
Our bodies may be able to survive for a week without food, but that isn’t a very pleasant experience (not that I have ever tried).
When I travel, I like to eat. One of the ways I have received great food is by hitchhiking.
It is important to never expect food, but when people offer you a lift, it is not uncommon for them to offer you food in addition to a lift (particularly truckers). Expecting something is one thing; graciously accepting is another.
If this opportunity arises in any situation, say thank-you and enjoy the food.
Never rely on other people’s kindness as a source of nutrition however. As I am a vegetarian I have often turned down food because I have been offered meat.
I am always sure to thank them and apologise that I cannot take them up on their kind offer.
It was only after years of travel that I realised one could eat for free when a friend of mine introduced me to the idea of skipping (otherwise known as dumpster diving or freeganism).
This involves going to the waste bins at the back of supermarkets and collecting the food that has been disposed of due to it approaching it’s sell by date.
This may sound terrible at first.
When this idea was first suggested to me, I was shocked and appalled, causing me to reject the idea. Then I found out that most food in the bins has gone out of date that day and is sealed.
Look at what you are collecting and you should be able to find some fantastic food for free. Trash wiki details some of the best locations and techniques to find free food in major cities around the globe.
Skipping is a major growing trend and I have found that the people who normally do it, do it not for economic reasons, but for prevention of food wastage.
We produce and dispose of far more food than is necessary.
When I was volunteering in Norway everybody on the farm ate skipped food and we would regularly find alcohol, cheese, chocolate, and many other expensive delights on our weekly searches.
When walking in rural areas, it is easy to find fruit or vegetables.
Try not to steal from fields or gardens, but in many countries, wild apple and plum trees (amongst others) provide you with delicious and healthy snacks throughout the day.
If you want good, free food, try volunteering in exchange for food and accommodation. This is another safe way to travel for free and I have enjoyed almost all of my volunteering experiences. If you don’t like it, you can always leave.
If you really cannot bare the thought of skipping or foraging, or the effort of volunteering, you can always buy the ultimate budget travellers food which consists of plain bread or carbohydrates such as pasta (when you have access to cooking facilities).
Nutritionally it isn’t very sound, but it will provide you with a form of sustenance.
My brother and I survived on uncooked instant noodles and chocolate bars when we hiked across Iceland. It was a pretty terrible diet, but it served a purpose when we needed it.
It is possible to survive on small amounts of sleep. I once tried a polyphasic sleep schedule during which I slept four times a day for only thirty minutes at a time.
This totals only two hours of sleep a day and I felt fantastic. My friends that I lived with at the time said that I constantly appeared in a state of euphoria, as if under the influence of high amounts of drugs.
Thus, this may not be the best idea. However, it is very possible to find free beds around the world. This is quite a big topic, so I have put it onto a separate page.
To summarise, if you only need one to three nights accommodation in a specific location, you should consider CouchSurfing or free-camping.
is a wonderful experience in which you sleep outside for free and really start to appreciate life. It sounds less than ideal until you try it.
If you are staying in a location for slightly longer, you should consider volunteering or house sitting.
These ideas, and others, are discussed in greater detail on the following pages and I suggest you read them for more in this topic.
If you lose your , you have nothing.This, above all things, is the most important part of life.
I previously stated that we need air, air is life, and without it, we’d be dead. Without health, food, or water, we’d be dead. Medical treatment is incredibly expensive wherever you go in the world.
For this reason I cannot support travelling without health (travel) insurance. If you spend money on only one thing, this should be it – even if you only get the most basic policy that covers nothing more than medical fees, get travel insurance.
I wrote an article about travel insurance in which it explains why you need it and offers suggestions of which travel insurance policy you should purchase.
Do I sound a bit repetitive?
I hope so. If you go anywhere, get travel insurance. It isn’t a problem until you get sick and your parents have to sell their house to pay for your private jet home. And then you find out that you only had food poisoning.
Is all that trouble worth it for the cost of a bungee jump or two? No. I broke my back in France a few years ago and my several thousand pounds of medical bills cost me a total of £65 (in addition to the policy cost) because I was covered for accidents.
Also in the health category is prevention of diseases.
Visit your local doctor to see what medication or vaccinations you need for the places that you are visiting.
You should get all that they recommend although there are decisions to be made when it comes to rabies injections and malarial medicine because these are optional.
If your country has a national health service, many of these immunisations are available free of charge.