Face it, Internet friends, you are getting bored of wherever it is you are living and you want to journey somewhere strikingly (or at least a little) different than your current environs. But wait! You are broke (or mostly broke), but with the ineffable and indefatigable desire to sling that rucksack over your shoulder and leave your home behind. I’ve been broke abroad a long time, and have thought over many an awesome way to enjoy yourself journeying across this planet. Of course, you have to be ready to be daring.
Enjoy these tips for a vacation unlike the actual definition of vacation (I hate cruises).
This first tip is pretty basic, actually, and that’s to use Couchsurfing. Be sure to be wise about it, and look for signs of predatory folk (reviews are obvious enough). Couchsurfing is an amazing way to meet local people, many of them quick to recommend their favorite haunts and even take you out (if you’re in Europe, I guarantee some caring individuals will bring you on memorable evenings out). It’s always a gamble, not knowing who you are staying with, but the experience will be richer (and cheaper) than a hostel or AirBnB could ever be.
If you have a couch to sleep on, leave your map there. Remember your few directional phrases, and get walking (or rail riding). To get to know anywhere, you have to get lost in that place. You’ll find locals, hilariously lost tourists, and maybe even a prostitute or two (depending on the city).
Now that you’re suitably lost, stay that way, and don’t go near Erasmus or Study Abroad areas. They can be fun for a drunken laugh or two, but they will strangle all the culture out of wherever you happen to be (they’ll even ruin drinking’ and being rowdy somehow). Tourists and students alike make for a weird and not so authentic experience.
Try your hand at WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). You’ll meet fantastic folks of all shapes and sizes, eat the best food in the world, spend very little money, and learn a language in the best way possible. Everyone I’ve ever met who has tried WWOOFing has come away an objectively more useful and more aware person, in terms of gastronomic culture and being an awesome human.
When in a new place, find a prop you can utilize to the best of your ability, whether as a mode of conveyance or mode of acquiring friends (sometimes these can be the same object to meet your objective). For example, if you play a guitar, bring it everywhere, play it everywhere, and acquire folks through your musical mystique. Another example is some dude who, according to a colleague of mine, biked about with a kayak in tow. You can imagine the success that dude had making friends, having adventures, and simply getting from one badass place to the next.
Make Ethan Hawke proud and star in your very own Richard Linklater romantic comedy, except in real life. Make yourself more interesting by shutting down all social media, hop on a train going somewhere, seduce someone into getting off said transport and have an adventure. This will probably not work, but just trying could land you in the midst of something great authors and filmmakers could only muse upon. Pretty much, this is a culmination of all the other travel tips, but to a level that proves that the mad people you meet along a madder road are more important than all the selfies and likes in the wide world.