One of the ways to travel free or close-to-free that we highlight in the book is volunteering. We are both huge advocates of volunteer travel, or “voluntourism” as it’s often called; in fact I (Shelley) first went to India as part of a volunteer group to an orphanage, and it so changed my life that I’ve been back 5 more times, and even wrote a book about it!
As we discuss in the book, volunteering isn’t always free. Because nonprofit organizations are cash and resource strapped, they have to cover their costs of recruiting, training and hosting volunteers – and they often do this through fees for volunteers. Many people question why organizations charge you to volunteer, but an incredible amount of work and resources goes into volunteers – especially those coming from another country – and the nonprofits can’t cover that. However, volunteering still often represents a way to stay somewhere for weeks, even months at a time for a very low cost; and it also provides an in-depth cultural experience that is hard to find in any other way. Plus, one of the biggest benefits is the feeling that volunteers get from really contributing to the places they visit, and making often life-long relationships.
But there are still many volunteer programs and opportunities that ARE free! Today I would like to highlight one of these – the Continental Divide Trail Alliance. One of the most scenic ecosystems in the world,the CDT is a 3,100-mile primitive and challenging
backcountry trail from Canada to Mexico along the backbone of America. Approximately 70% of the Trail is usable. However, many of those miles are in desperate need of repair, rerouting for sustainability, or removed from roads and motorized trails.
If you are interested in seeing some of the most beautiful wilderness this country has to offer, from Montana to New Mexico, and having an excellent outdoor adventure, the CDTA volunteer program is something you might want to check out. Best of all – it’s FREE to volunteers!
That’s right – you can backcountry hike, backpack and camp while improving one of our greatest natural resources and having an amazing adventure, all for free. No trailbuilding experience is required for most projects, and most meals are provided as well. Most projects are from 2 days to a week, but if you’re up for something longer you can piggyback several projects together. You are responsible for getting to the site yourself. Most projects are for those 18 and older; but a few allow children as young as 10 with an adult – making this a potentially great, free family adventure!
Imagine a week spent in the picturesque canyons of the Rocky Mountains, enjoying spectacular views over the Continental Divide, or backpacking through Yellowstone National Park alongside elk and bald eagles?
Check it out – free travel doesn’t get much better than this! And if you want a more in-depth look at volunteer travel, as well as many other methods such as work exchange, agri-tourism, home exchange and frequent flyer tips for traveling for free, don’t forget to download or order How To Travel For Free (or pretty damn near it!) today!