“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Before arriving in Tblisi, the capital of Georgia, I checked hostel prices only to find that they were quite a lot more than they had been in India. Though ten to fifteen dollars a night may not seem like a lot in the west, when you are use to living our of your tent (for free), or in a two dollar a night guest house, it’s hard to imagine spending that much. I decided to email a half dozen hostels with a proposal. In return for a free room, Kevin and I would work a few hours a day (cleaning, checking people in, or doing whatever else is needed). Much to my surprise I got two different places saying sure, we can work something out, come on over.
So that’s how we ended up for a week at Cozy Hostel in the center of Tblisi for a wonderful (free) stay. The owner, a 24 year old Georgian girl, trained us on how to check people in, where to do the laundry, and what to cook the guests for breakfast before assigning us a 24 hour shift so that she could take the day off. This worked out perfectly because we were free to explore the city during a few days before spending a day at the hostel. Ironically enough no one came that day so instead of working, Kevin and I got to take advantage of the kitchen in our very own “house!”
There is always a way to travel. There are sites like couchsurfing and warmshowers (for cyclists) which are set up as a way for you to connect with locals and learn something about the country you are in without damaging your wallet. In most countries, it’s possible to camp for free (or cheap) as well, and if that isn’t your thing, woofing is a good option for those willing to work a few hours a day on a farm in return for free room and board. When none of those things work out, I have found that there is nearly always a hostel or guest house such as this one willing to let you work for your free room if you ask. There are working visas which allow you to work in countries such as Australia and New Zealand to earn your keep, and it’s possible to teach English in nearly every developing country in the world for a wide range of benefits from simply free room and board to a decent salary. Homestays, woofing, camping, and working at small places such as this is what makes travel such an enjoyable and sustainable lifestyle. Being on a budget shouldn’t hold you back, in fact, I have found that it makes you creative which in turn leads to wonderful experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise had. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself! Try living on five or ten dollars a day (even if you have extra money) just to see how wonderful it truly is.