There's apparently no such thing as a free lunch – so if that’s the case, is there such a thing as free travel? Well, you might still need a credit card on hand, but it is possible to still see the world, even if you have got mountains of student debt hanging over you:
Teaching English abroad
Want to spend 6-12 months getting paid to spend time in amazing places around the globe? Sounds a little far fetched, but there’s a massive demand for certified TEFL teachers, everywhere from Indonesia to Italy. You’ll need to spend a few hundred quid/dollars getting a TEFL certificate, but with 2 billion people learning English around the world, the opportunities are huge.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need teaching experience, you don’t need to speak the local language and sometimes you don’t even need a degree. There is the snag that you’ll still need to pay for flights and vaccinations. However, some schools will reimburse you the costs of your flights when you finish your 12 month contract, and some will even pay for your ticket upfront. So, with a little bit of penny-watching you could come home with money in the bank.
For more information about how to make it happen download your free Graduate’s Guide to Teaching and Travelling Abroad: http://www.onlinetefl.com/graduates.
Working holiday in Australia
OK, so this is hardly free – flights to Australia cost upwards of £600, but once you’re there you can keep your costs down by working as you go. Luckily the Aussie economy hasn’t suffered as badly as the UK’s in the recession, so there are plenty of jobs around for bright-eyed backpackers. Most people who get a year-long working holiday visa spend six months or so working in one of the big cities then another six months moseying around the country burning through the money they’ve earned. So, not free, but certainly a blast.
For more details check out http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/.
Volunteering on a farm
If you’re hankering after the simple life, how about working on an organic farm? WWOOF (http://www.wwoof.org/) sets people up with farmers around the world and your hard labour (generally around 4-6 hours/day) pays for a roof over your head and food. The experience isn’t always trouble-free: some farms are very remote and it’s generally a surprise as to where you rock up, but it can make for a very fulfilling and relaxing experience. Again, it’s not exactly free though: you have to pay for a list of farms in the country you want to visit (generally around £20-£40), flights and vaccinations.
Visit http://www.wwoof.org/ for the lowdown.
Hitching a ride on a yacht
Do you know your port from starboard, your mainsail from spinnaker? Probably not, but even without knowing one end of a boat from another you may be able to hitch a free ride in return for cooking, cleaning or general deck-handing on a yacht.
Or, for some cheekier options…
Possibly the most wildly optimistic option – get a guitar and set off on your merry way. Just watch out for police and rival buskers. Oh, and have a credit card handy to bail you out if your strumming turns out to not be as good as you thought…
Joining religious groups
Almost everyone knows someone who did the Alpha course for the sandwiches afterwards. This is just the large-scale (and infinitely more ethically dubious) version. Search out religious groups around the world and worm your way in for free food and lodging. Best not to think about the long-term consequences though…