How To Travel Like A True Nomad – For Free!
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Who said you need money to travel?
I’m not going to offer you some coupons here but something that is way more permanent; tips that you can use if you want to travel without spending any money on it. This idea hit me for the first time when I was in Himachal Pradesh, our drive broke down, and we had to wave our raised thumbs to some strangers going in the same direction. Some ignored our thumbs, some honestly declined the request nodding in a negative manner, and some stopped.
When I came back from that trip, I realized that the idea of traveling without any money still hasn’t left my head just yet. I was more than sure about it.
So, I started taking suggestions from my friends for deciding in what direction I will be heading to. One suggestion that got the most of my attention was a weekend trek (for people living near Delhi); Nag Tibba, Pantwari, Uttarakhand.
This trek takes you to the highest peak (9915 ft) of the Nag Tibba range of Garhwal Himalayas. You will be tracing your way up to the summit through the dense oak forest, and there will come places in between to just sit down and feel surrounded by beauty.
Now, let’s come to the real deal, what plan did I make to get there?
The first thing I did was I made a list of things I would need to make that trip happen. I didn’t have any trekking gear at that time. So, I had to make a list from scratch.
Things that I included in my list:
Rucksack: Most of the people who have landed on this page probably have one, but I didn’t. So, I saved all the money I used to spend on local communities and bought it.
Sleeping bag: As my main plan was to not spend any money on the trip, I didn’t mind investing a bit in some necessary things.
Tent: Hitchhiking would get you in troubles if you don’t have a tent with you. There isn’t a shortage of places where you can raise a tent.
A trekking stick/ hiking stick: Though you can make this trek happen without one, you can save a lot of trouble just be introducing this gear to your list if you’ll be heading for a trek.
Some charts and a pen: I’ll explain later.
(List might vary with destination choices. You’ll know what you need, just a matter of research)
And that’s it.
Sounds like a fair list right?
Tips for getting rides without much effort:
Some of these pieces of advice might sound a bit off, but I can’t stress enough about how well they worked on every free trip I went to:
Your appearance: Now, the person you’re trying to flag down doesn’t know what sort of character you possess. Depending on your location, appropriate attire might help. I learned while experimenting with clothing that sometimes your different attire might also help you get rides. Caution: A lot of questions might be thrown at you. If you can handle that, try experimenting; just don’t look like a person who could kill a cat for no reason.
Use your possessions to attract attention: I observed while moving forward to Tosh, Himachal Pradesh that when my DSLR was hung around my neck more people stopped to help. I gave the whole scene a vivid thought. Then I came up with a simple explanation that calmed my curiosity; it made me look like a genuine traveler as a lot of people assign a DSLR with traveling.
Till dusk: Try to reach to a certain destination till dusk because once the sun goes down people tend to get more reluctant and cautious. As humans are unlikely to trust a person who’s trying to flag them down on a lone and dark road.
Use creativity: If you’re stuck somewhere. Your creative mind could save you. I once made a chart that said “I won’t kill you I just need help” and luckily a person found it funny and stopped. Some experiments with the text won’t harm.
Your ride will come: While hitchhiking not a thing matters more than patience. “Right ride will come” Keeping this in mind I just stood there waiting; there were times when I had to wave at more than 200 rides to get a small trip, and then there were times I got more than 100 km covered by just waving at one person.
It wasn’t just about saving some money; I love traveling more than that. It was about meeting new people, having an interesting conversation with strangers. There are questions in the street, and I’m a collector from that angle. I look at them and ponder. Thus, I seek answers, and they get answered in those ways.
While the central idea of this article is hitchhiking, there are other ways that could help you travel the world:
- You can stay on the move and still earn some bucks to support your trip further.
- Use websites like WWOOF to earn a stay and learn new things. Farming related duties will be assigned to you, and in exchange, you’ll get accommodation and food. If you are ready to get your hands dirty. You’re welcome.
- You can use a bicycle to roam around without paying heavy bucks for the commute.
For more tips and tricks try doing it yourself. You’ll get face to face with hidden aspects of traveling. I personally love to talk to strangers, and that is the reason why I do it. What’s your reason? I’m asking you think because your reason for doing it will motivate you more than my thousand stories.
I want to end this with an extract from my personal experience. I started the trek when the sun was already preparing its departure; 6:30 P.M. Around 8:30 I found myself swilled by the darkness of the hour, and there wasn’t a beat of a heart, except my own, to be heard.
I was lying between the trail trying to get my breath back; suddenly I saw a light come dancing my way. That light was held by a local boy; Aashish. I picked myself and my rucksack, and starting moving upward beside him. I asked me “is this a safe place to pull a tent on.” He said “follow me,” and I followed him silently. I was so tired that no other tiredness till this very date could parallel its intensity. I said, “Bro, I’m carrying a heavy load could you walk at a slow pace.” He asked me for my bag, and I had to give it to him putting my male ego aside for the time being.
We finally reached the place; it was his secondary home (dwelling of their animals in the summertime). Then on a plane stretch of land that seemed ideal for placing a tent, he didn’t help me pull the tent, he did it all by himself, and I was standing there just passing him hooks and stuff. Then he brought food and milk for me.
The generosity of that person shaped my perspective, and that was the day I become the person I’m today, I may change into something else in some coming weeks, months or years, but his element will never cease to be there.