Travel for Tuppence?
Travel for tuppence? Free holidays aren’t always a scam!
Going on holiday this summer? Not to be presumptuous but I’m guessing the answer is no, because your meagre student loan is so stretched that even a dinner out once in a while is an expensive treat, so plane tickets are out of the question. Or is that an outdated view? Travel is being revolutionised from below, from the very people who once couldn’t afford it.
Getting a free holiday seems like something a dodgy email that appears in your spam box would offer, but it is actually possible. One of the means to make this happen is the phenomenon known as couchsurfing. The basic premise is this: sign up to a website where lots of people offer their sofas to you, choose said sofa, and sleep. Couchsurfing hosts really do offer their homes for you to sleep in – and usually for free. As well as saving on hotel costs, couchsurfing gives you the opportunity to meet likeminded people and the locals, who more often than not are willing to tell you their favourite places to visit if not show you around. Couchsurfing has been a ‘thing’ since 2003, but it’s only in recent years that it seems to have become so popular. Of course you have to be careful, but if you go about it safely and sensibly, not only can you get a free night’s kip anywhere in the world but make new friends.
So your accommodation is sorted, but what about getting there? Hitchhiking is still a bit of a taboo topic, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. Yes, there are still dangers associated with hitchhiking, and getting into a stranger’s car will always be a risk. But if you make sure to travel in a group and are cautious about who to accept lifts with, hitchhiking can be the perfect way to get from A to B for free. Admittedly a plane is a lot faster but still, with weeks if not months of a summer holiday you’d be surprised how far you can get. If the risks don’t seem worth it then car-sharing is always an option: there are a number of websites where drivers offer lifts for a darn sight cheaper than the price of a train ticket.
With accommodation and transport provided for, the only things left requiring money are food and sight-seeing attractions. If you can self-cater then you won’t break the bank, which leaves you with more cash for seeing the things that you went on holiday to see in the first place!
So it’s not a scam: free travel is possible. I’m not saying that it is flawless; it’s quite likely that at least something will veer off-plan along the way. But if you’ve got an open mind and some time to kill, it can be even more rewarding than that Zante trip your mates were talking about.
If you want to find out more information about couchsurfing then the official website is https://www.couchsurfing.com/. In terms of car-sharing, the UK’s number one site is www.liftshare.com and www.blablacar.com is a site where drivers all around Europe offer a ride. Even if you haven’t been convinced to try out travelling for yourself, it is an equally great experience to be a host to couchsurfers and offer your passenger seat to road-trippers; this way you can make free travel a possibility for other strapped-for-cash students!