A reader once wrote me with the following question:
I read an article you wrote about being able to travel for 1 year for $17,000.
My idea is to do long-term work exchange, maximum 2-3 different places, possibly not too far from each other and only the ones which offer accommodation and food. My goal is to spend no more than $6,000/year. Is this totally unrealistic?
This is a great question. You could probably keep your travel budget that low, providing you do a few things:
1) Don’t travel internationally (stay on your continent). The farther you go, the more you’ll pay to get there (and back). A return flight from North America to Asia or Australasia is $1,000 – $1,500 – that’s up to 25% of your annual budget right there.
2) Volunteer at places that provide both accommodation and meals. These tend to be out-of-the-way locations, often quite rural, so you don’t really have a chance to spend money on anything other than food and accommodation – which is covered. (In my experience if I’m in a city, I spend more money). See also: How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World.
3) Travel slooooooooowly. A minimum of 2-3 months in each destination is good, and like you say, if they’re pretty close to together you’ll save further travel expenses. See also: The #1 Reason Why I Love Slow Travel.