How would it be if you could travel the world at a fraction of the actual cost? How would it be if you could make new friends, experience new cultures, visit new places without burning a hole in your bank account? Well, it would definitely double the fun for sure! But then is it possible, and more importantly is it safe? So, sit back and take part in this whirlwind tour as we bring you a few fun options to make the foreign shores more lucrative.
With a growing database of six million users, couchsurfing is definitely a great way to travel the world. Having been around for a decade now, couchsurfing is an online community that allows users to find a free place to live in any part of the world. With community members from diverse countries, one can simply get registered and start looking at the options available for stay. However, like it is with online communities; your profile, recommendations and feedback on you matter a lot. So, if you have a good profile with all necessary details filled in, you have a better chance of gaining a couch. Also, free stay is just one of the elements of couchsurfing. There are instances where surfers also help with local sightseeing, translations and other odd jobs too.
Plus: Great way to travel for students and single persons. Families may do better with independent accommodations that can also be asked for.
Minus: While there are three layers of security to ensure that your information is safe, making wise choices about where you want to stay and with whom is a personal discretion.
5W: Women Welcome Women Worldwide
What began thirty years ago as a European organisation has today become a global brand. While very few people from India have registered, this is a great resource for women who would like to befriend women in other countries. Unlike couchsurfing, 5W charges a donation fee and keeps the information of members confidential, sharing it only with those who pay the fee to become members. Today the group is growing in number and is well-talked about in various media as well.
Plus: Great way for women to travel and keep their information confidential at the same time.
Minus: Charges a sizable fee.
WWOOF Worldwide opportunities on Organic farms
Like gardening? Then volunteering to work on organic farms can be a great way to see the world. Relatively the new kid on the block, this network links volunteers and hosts who have a common passion for organic farming. Hosts typically take in volunteers who are willing for 4-6 hours of work and provide food and accommodation to them. A membership fee that depends on the country you are from needs to be paid, and while there is no upper age limit, you need to be fit to be able to work on farms.
Plus: Suitable for those who like farming and are interested in alternative ways of living.
Minus: May keep you busy for a large part of the day. Details can however be worked out with your employer.
Apart from these, many other options like homehospitality and homestay can get you a completely furnished home in a foreign country for free. Sites such as workaway are great for people who are willing to volunteer their time and efforts in exchange for accommodation and food. You can opt for exchange programs that are available to suit students, teachers and other professionals as well.
While options for the budget-conscious globe-traveller are many, security is an important concern. Travellers constantly advice that whatever travel option you take up, prior discussions with the host on what to expect will keep away any unexpected surprises. A tough verification process, layers of security, reviews and ratings are a good indicator about the site. Gather as much information about the host person and never let your guard down in a foreign country. Also, using your personal judgement to choose whom you wish to stay with goes a long way. If this is your first visit, make it short so that both you and your host are able to enjoy the stay. And last but definitely not least, if you are a host yourself, then maintain transparency on what you can offer your guests.
Challapalli Surya Rao, an avid traveller and couchsurfer from the city has travelled over sixty countries using these options. Having visited places like China, Copenhagen, Israel, Perth, Australia etc., he has also hosted many couchsurfers in Vizag. A Charter member of Rotary movement and a Managing Partner of Balaji Anodizing and General Industries, Surya Rao shared his experiences with us on world travel. He unfortunately passed away on September 8. Saluting the man who lived every minute of his life fully, Yo! applauds his spirit.