How to Travel For Free: Sample Chapter Outline
Disclaimer: This chapter outline example is very loosely based off what professional advice suggests. In truth, I’m unsure it’s based off it at all.
Also, it’s a rough draft, so I welcome your critique and commentary!
How to Travel for Free: The Vagabond’s Bible
Rough and Rugged Book Chapter Outline
What does free travel really mean? Free travel! There’s no magic involved. I begin uprooting the mystery by introducing the four pillars of free travel: getting there, staying there, exploring there, and eating there. And yes, that just so happens to encompass all the components needed to sustain yourself on the road.
Assuring that you won’t have to uproot your current notion of vacationing, I encourage you nonetheless to begin thinking outside the box. With an open mind, you can add some, if not all, of the free travel tips, tricks, and hacks I’ll soon add to your pack.
Part One: Getting There
Oh, the ways to cover ground for free! Getting There begins by discussing the conceptual and logistical preparations needed to actually “get there” without spending. I then assure that the ensuing chapters will cover every imaginable method (well, minus freight hopping) to cover ground for free, and a few ways to do it at the lowest possible cost.
Chapter 1: The Forecast
No matter the duration, it can be tough to wrap your brain around an impending trip. We get the lay of the land with some reconnaissance. Looking at geography, trip timing, foreign visas, culture and politics, and possible money needs help you understand what you’re in for and how to choose a destination. With this overview, you’ll be calm and ready for the Getting There specifics that follow.
Interlude: The Nowhere Zoo ┃ Southern Israeli Desert
I arrive to a desolate outpost in the middle of the Southern Israeli Desert. The plan: provide five hours of weekday assistance to a mysterious “zoo” in exchange for room and board. The problem: I have no idea what I’m doing.
Chapter 2: Taking Flight
Planes are usually costly, but they’re pretty dang efficient for getting around. I share my ultimate flight secret: Travel Hacking, which involves maximising and manufacturing credit card rewards in order to achieve free flights. The best part? It can actually increase your credit score. An exclusive interview with Jason Moore of ZerotoTravel and LocationIndie quells any additional hacking fears.
I then teach the secret language of flight booking. You’ll understand when to fly, how to find the best deals, and ticket and search options you never knew existed.
Chapter 3: The Wheels Go ’Round
You thought train and bus travel was mundane? No way. Illuminate yourself on every imaginable booking tip and trick. An example, you ask? Want to kill three birds with one stone? Take an overnight ride! There’s no payment for nightly accommodation, the fares are often cheaper, and if you fall asleep, time will pass more quickly!
I also compare Hop-On, Hop-Off ticketing options to the more common point-to-point ticket before closing out with a per-country look at the best time to book. (No birds were harmed in the making of this chapter).
Chapter 4: Behind the Wheel
Carpooling: the unsung hero of free travel. Not only can you save hundreds by riding along with someone, you can also use it to make a profit! I’ve coined the term Rental Hacking, and once you understand the carpool world, you can tap into it by connecting with paying passengers who’ll cover car rental costs.
Carpool-averse? There’s still precipitous savings with traditional rental hacks, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) carsharing, and innovative Point-to-Point Rental options. Boom!
Interlude: Dan and the Van ┃ Durrow, Ireland
While we’re on the topic of cars, I draw a vignette from six weeks spent careening around the Irish countryside in the loaned van of my host during its sunniest summer in 20 years. Perhaps there is illegal activity, and perhaps there is covert camping in the middle of a city.
Chapter 5: Hitchhiking
That ol’ free travel standby: hitchhiking. It’s not just for vagrants anymore. Learn the essential steps for preparing for the road, standing alongside it, and what to do (and not to do) when a car actually stops. Motherly safety talks included!
Interlude: The First Hitchhike ┃ Montpellier, France
I’m no free travel guru if I haven’t hitchhiked myself—let’s take a look at my first time hitching in a country where along with not knowing the language, I also don’t know what I’m doing (a common theme of my earlier travels). Nevertheless, after half a day and a nap in some bushes beside the highway, I made it!
Chapter 6: Cycle Touring
The bike: of course it’s great for getting around for free. And using it to cover hundreds of miles? It’s as easy as, you know, riding a bike. I wax philosophical on the merits of cycle touring, then Rob Greenfield, a guru with thousands of miles of free worldwide cycling under his belt, brings logistics to the plate with an exclusive How to Travel for Free interview.
Part Two: Staying There
Perhaps the biggest question while you’re on the road is where to sleep each night. Here, I introduce the primary ways to keep your sojourns free—work-exchange, housesits, and couchstays—and how to factor them into the duration of your trip.
Interlude: The Grampus: Up Close and Personal ┃ Devon, England
What free travel odyssey would be complete without a completely embarrassing story involving a British Pub, sleepwalking into my host’s room, and performing yoga acrobatics in my underwear?
Chapter 7: Work-Exchange
The most lifestyle-immersive method for staying on the road indefinitely is work-exchange: living and sharing meals with host families in exchange for 15-30 hours of work per week. The benefits are immeasurable: develop passions, explore interests, beef up your résumé, and simply live a different life for a while.
Who’s it for? Practically everybody—the curious traveler, the family on a budget, or the professional looking to expand their skillset. Become a pro with this chapter detailing how to started (and whether you should), finding the right host, and and what it takes to create an amazing exchange.
Interlude: Toilets, Fleas, and Family ┃ Nazareth, Israel
Sometimes work-exchange is . . . weird. Like housemates-peeing-on-the-toilet-seat in-the-middle-of-the-night weird. But you know what? It can also be amazing. Like sharing-Shabbat-dinner-with-a Jewish-family-in-Nazareth amazing.
Chapter 8: Housesitting
Oh, the glory of living rent-free! Housesitting is the most competitive sport in free travel, so it’s important to be on the cutting edge. Heck, it’s important to know whether you’ll be able to hack it at all. But read on and I’ll get you there.
There’s probably a dog, cat, pool, or garden to care for, but apart from that, you can live and roam as you please. This chapter answers whether housesitting is a suitable option for you, and if so, how to get started, find a job, and become a housesitting superstar.
Interlude: Luxury by the Sea ┃ Lakonia, Greece
Hosts may squabble and they may cheat at scrabble, but when you’ve scored your first housesit at a beautiful coastal home in Southern Greece, these things are forgivable.
Chapter 9: Couchstays
Barely a century ago, rural homesteads offered a warm bed or hayloft to wayfaring strangers; the tradition is carried on today by an online network of worldwide couchsurfers. This isn’t about staying on just anyone’s crumb-filled couch, it’s about finding a safe, comfy home on the road and making friendships that last a lifetime.
Dispel misgivings about this formidable free travel method, understand how to get online and connect with hosts or guests, and win the couchstay expertise of a pro!
Chapter 10: The Other Guys
But wait, there’s more! I weigh the hidden costs of camping, how to score P2P Rentals (like AirBNB) for free, and what the deal is with Peace Corps. Rounding things out, I dish out how to find secret savings even when you decide to pay for accommodation.
Part Three: Exploring There
Now you know how to get there and sleep there, but how about some tourism action? The sleeves keep coming up, the tricks keep pouring out.
Chapter 11: You’ve landed . . . Now what?
Foreign language! Money exchange! Hawkers selling wares and taxi drivers pushing rides! Stepping into a bustling travel terminal can be disorienting. I begin by explaining five tips for a smooth arrival before explorations begin: (1) Pack food, (2) Be language-aware, (3) Have relevant phone numbers and addresses, (4) Know where you are, (5) Have an exit plan.
Chapter 12: Playing Tourist
Play the tourist, not the fool. Yes: the sight-seeing arena might require more from your wallet. But, also yes: it’s time to rethink things. Once you hit the streets, I list six secrets of savvy spending. Then, I cover ways to dig up discounts on traditional tourism, including hacking into the sharing economy for meals, local tours, and rentals. Finally, understand the basics of getting around with public transport and other rides (or, ever consider the economics of walking?).
Part Four: Eating There
Great food experiences are an imperative part of travel. It follows that if such experiences are free, then budget is more available for other things. A subtle mentality shift may be required, but satiety is guaranteed.
Chapter 13: Budget Food
Food can be free and delicious. For the dedicated free travel gourmand, I remind that well-chosen work exchanges enable you not only to skip food cost, but often eat consistently better than ever!
Then, we cover food hacks for traditional travel with a 101 course on preparing your own food instead of dining out for every meal. To this end, I delve into simple, road-friendly creations with store-bought items and share my best low-cost travel recipes.
Still, there are hidden ways to dine out and create free meals in the process, or at least save where you’ve until now been wasting. Leaving no plate uncovered, I close out with a section on budget boozing!
Interlude: Dining Disasters ┃ Durrow, Ireland
Free meals might not be worth eating if the woman cooking them is ostensibly a witch. Find out what happened during a work-exchange when the witch and I didn’t see eye-to-eye.
Chapter 14: That Dirty Word: Budget
This is a free travel book—and I want you to travel for free—but completely free may not always be your cuppa tea. A piggy bank provides wiggle room.
Lack of predictability is inherent in travel (it’s even part of the allure), so financial reserves provide insurance. How does one build said reserves? No matter your spending style, this chapter covers it all with the Free Traveler’s Guide to Spending and Saving.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go!
Appendices I-V: Work-exchange example profile, a work-exchange feeler message, housesitting example profile, a housesitting feeler message, final hacks for free travel.
Let me know what you think…I mean it!