Many people assume that travel is expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. I wintered in the Canary Islands for three months and spent almost nothing. It’s just a matter of learning how to live without using money. You won’t be staying in five star hotels all the time, but it is quite possible to be happy and there are actually many advantages of a money free lifestyle.
Without money, I think you are likely to meet more people, see more of the places you travel to, and learn more. If you stay in an hotel and go on guided tours you see the inside of an hotel and meet tourists. Then you come home a week later because you can’t afford any more and you think you’ve got to do some job you would rather not be doing right then. If you sleep on a beach, in a cave, or even on the street you will certainly have a more interesting experience. You’ll probably meet other travellers or locals who can help you with things and show you interesting places.
Money forces things. This is maybe ok if you know exactly what you want all the time, but you probably don’t. The most obvious example is where to go. I left Edinburgh with the idea of going to Patagonia. If I had bought a flight, I would have gone straight there. I attempted to hitchhike, and because I was not successful I had other adventures and learnt and did things which I might not have otherwise. I think what should have happened did. Things tend to work out for the best.
I think I’ll write separately about the practicalities of living without money. The main expenses which need to be removed are accommodation, food, and transport. For now I’ll cover more general ideas.
“The bare necessities of life will come to you.”
I’ve worked some of this out for myself on my recent travels, but I’m hardly unique in doing so. First, I’ll tell you a story. I met a guy in Las Palmas called Toto. He helped me at a lower point with his story.
A few years ago he left home with 20 euros and his bike. Since then he has travelled round the world. He sailed from Australia to Europe, then to the Caribbean and back to Europe, and probably other places he didn’t talk about. He did some busking and when I met him had 100 euros. He didn’t have any special performing skill, he just did some silly dance. It’s not really important where he went, the story is that this is possible.
“Even if I only ate bread one day it doesn’t matter, maybe I’ll find something else the next day.”
I met another guy who makes a bit of money from playing music on the street. You might call him homeless if you saw him, but since I’ve been back in Edinburgh working on my geek bike project, he’s been flying all over Europe. He’s probably happier than most people who work in an office.
It is important to be positive. You’ll be interacting with people for things like hitchhiking, and people like happy people. “You won’t get a boat with a sad face.” It’s also important for your own motivation.
The kindness of Strangers
When I was in the marina one day I went and said hello to some people. After I short conversation I had to go and buy some food. They said no, you don’t need to, we have food. I was reluctant to take it from people who may need to more than me but they insisted and later I found it is not really in short supply.
On La Palma I wanted some sort of shelter to take walking with me in the wetter Northern part of the island. I mentioned this to someone I had just met and so within a few minutes of meeting he had lent me his tent and a better sleeping bag. I nearly skipped over the fact that this happened in a house I was staying in - where I had been invited to stay by someone else I had just met. There are many more examples but you’ll need to read them in my other blov entries when I get round to writing more.
What you do need money for
Basically, it comes down to convenience and speeding things up. There are a few things you probably need it for though.
If you want food, you don’t need money. If you want something particular to eat, you’ll probably need to buy it. If you want something now, you need to buy it. If you can wait until you find it in a skip, you don’t. If you have time to hitchhike, you’ll get there in the end. If you want to go now, you have to pay for a bus. Of course, if you don’t know where you are going, hitchhiking is better anyway.
Things you pretty much do need money for are transport, some foods, and medicines. Sometimes you might need to pay for transport: a ferry, for example. It’s very rare to find certain things in a bin, e.g. alcohol, coffee, cooking oil, dried foods, and things with a long sell by date, but you can live without these.
This post is rather unfocused because I have a lot to say on this subject and I’m just trying to get some ideas out for now. Hopefully it is enough to show you that this is possible. If you go out into the world with nothing but a good attitude and an open mind you’ll probably do very well.
I’ll end with a particularly impressive story from a friend, and a link to another blog post about this sort of thing, “The Universe Is Conspiring to Help Us”.
“The magic is FULL ON when u arrive in a city and we have no where to sleep and a beautiful girl called Ling comes up to u and says: I heard u play music its is beautiful! Do u have anywhere to sleep? U can have my apartment for the weekend when i go visit my boyfriend! So she gave us the key. AMAZING LIFE!!!”
I'm River MacLeod, a nomadic hacker.