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How to travel the world for free

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USDA Forest Service

Do you yearn to visit new and unexplored lands, but can't afford the price of a plane ticket? Have you longed to travel across the world, only to be held back by a limited budget?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that frugal travelers can travel the world for next to nothing, thanks to effective cost-saving tricks. Here's how you can travel the world for free.

Couch surfing
Couch surfing is a relatively new phenomenon that has gained significant traction in recent years, thanks to the burgeoning community on the CouchSurfing.com website. This volunteer-based network connects travelers with individuals living in a destination who are willing to offer a spare bed or couch for a few nights. In exchange, couch surfers must offer a room to fellow travelers visiting their hometown when they can.

On his 25,000-mile journey from Europe to Antarctica without any money, which was documented for the upcoming PBS travel series "How to Travel the World for Free," Michael Wigge said couch surfing proved an invaluable resource.

"My main help was the social media page Couchsurfing.com," he explains. "I used it to log into free Wi-Fi networks and found many people who offered me free accommodation in their private houses."

Though it won't cover travel costs, couch surfing is a great way to get free accommodation and meet new people virtually anywhere in the world.

Work your way there
While you'll need some money initially to cover traveling and living expenses, the right job will soon have you breaking even, or even turning a tidy profit while you travel. The kind of work you perform will often depend on the skills you have - for example, musicians might give music lessons, while "do it yourself" experts might help with home improvement projects. In addition, a native English speaker can often find work teaching the language in a foreign country.

To catch a free ride on his travels, Wigge says he worked on a cargo ship across the Atlantic, as well as on a luxury cruise ship from Argentina to Antarctica.

Hitchhike
Although the practice has died out somewhat in recent years, hitchhikers still travel for free both in the U.S. and abroad. According to Wigge, hitchhiking is far more popular in Europe than in America, where it has been banned in many areas.

Of course, you'll need to exercise great caution to avoid any potentially dangerous situations, but hitchhiking offers a free ride and an opportunity to meet interesting people along the way.

Seek out resources
If you're looking for an odd job to keep you afloat on your travels, certain organizations and resources can be of great help. World Wide Opportunities offers work on farms in countries like Canada, Kenya, and Iceland.  WWOOF connects travelers with organic farmers who want to trade room and board for an extra hand around the farm. Although the organization does not pay for travel costs, WOOFers often don't mind hitching or working for a ride.

Getting there
If you're looking to set out on a no-budget journey, it always helps to make arrangements in advance. First, contact a friend or check out the Couch Surfing website to acquire free accommodation. Then, check local classifieds for work opportunities.

If you plan on hitchhiking, always check with the authorities in the local area to ensure it is permitted, and be sure to exercise great caution at all times.