If you want to use cheap transportation during your trips, there is no general rule to say wich one of the options is the cheapest way to travel, but there is a tip that is working in every case: slow travel.
Slow travel means to reduce the speed of the trip, but also to stay longer in the same place. This way the rate of days we are on the move compared to the days we are in the same place is decreasing, and with it, it's decreasing also the cost of the travel.
There are plenty of options to use cheap transportation: just pick your favourite!
This is probably the "original" slow travel: using our own legs. It's the oldest way of moving, when there were no means of transportation even before animals were domesticated. And it's completely free! Isn't it great? It's already integrated in our body and it's costing nothing. That's why it's on top of our ranking of the cheapest way to travel.
There are people crossing continents by feet, being able to experience and enjoy every single second of their trip. A light luggage is a must!
If travelling by walking is not for you, you can still consider doing it for part of your travel, going hiking or in a multi day trekking, or even taking up a bigger but rewarding challenge, like the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Bicycles are completely free to use (apart from the calories that you have to refill) and can take you far away, but this style of travelling requires an initial investment to buy the bikes and the equipment, plus some ordinary maintenance now and then. You can also be creative, and use instead of a simple bicycle, a tandem or a recumbent bicycle. Being an indipendent and slow travel, you have the freedom to decide to stop whenever you want, and to enjoy the view while staying on your seat.
If you are completely broke, you can build for free your own bicycle out of scraps with the help of knowledgeable mechanics that can guide you in one of the many free bike cooperatives around the world.
Even if we are not in the Seventies anymore, hitchhiking is still popular among young people, and it can be one of the cheapest way to travel. All you need to start is your thumb!
Often hitchhiking is a lifestyle, and there is solidarity and respect among hitchhikers. It can be hard and frustrating, but most of the times you are rewarded with great experiences!
I hitchhiked over 34 000 km around the world in the last 3 years, after I decided not to use planes anymore, and I can't help suggesting to try it. A good starting point to read more about "Autostop", another common name for this cheap transportation technique, is the hitchhiker's Wikipedia, where you can find all the tricks and even suggestion on places where to start from, in most of the cities! http://hitchwiki.org/
4) Railway passes: Inter-Rail and Eurail
For short trips, the cheapest way to travel by train is still to buy single tickets, better if done in advance and online, where it's possible to have big discounts!
Also for buses sometimes exists similar passes, like the Eurolines pass in Europe. http://www.eurolines.com/en/eurolines-pass/
5) Car pooling
Car pooling is a phenomenon becoming more and more popular, extremely famous in Germany, where it was used even before the internet era, through specialized agencies. It is as simple as posting an announcement with a travel plan and the number of places available in your car: people interested in the same trip in that specific date, will contact the driver to travel together, sharing the costs of fuel and the highway bill. Even if it's not the cheapest way to travel, it's still a good way to save some money, socialize and help the environment, very good for day trips or short travels.
6) Driveaway: deliver somebody else's car
This service is very popular in North America, because of the big distances people have to drive across the country, but not used only there. It simply consists of driving somebody else's car from a starting point to a destination, for a variety of reason: people moving from one State to the other or company cars for instance. It's basically like having a free rental car. Usually the arrangement is done by a specialized agency, and there are some rules to respect: a maximum number of days to drive the car to the destination, a deposit to leave, and the fuel to be paid. So it's not leaving you big chances to decide your own route and enjoy a slow travel, but it's a good option to save money on car rental. Here are some of the agencies:
7) Buy a car and sell it later!
We don't like too much to sponsor travelling alone by car: it's not a cheap way of travelling and it's not Eco-friendly! But if this is the way you want to travel, for long trips instead of renting a car and paying a lot of money, it's worth to buy a car and sell it later for almost the same price. This is commonly done by travellers visiting New Zealand and Australia!
8) Boat hitchhiking
Yes, it's not a typo, it's possible to hitchhike even boats! But with some disadvantages: it's not that easy to find a ride and usually it's not free like hitchhiking a car. In fact usually you are asked to share the costs of food and fuel, that can cost as much as 400€ per month; so also this is not the cheapest way to travel, but it can be a cheap transportation option if you want to travel from one continent to the other without using the plane. But how is it working?
No, you are not standing with your thumb on the beach! The classical way to do it, is to go to the harbour or to the marina and start asking to every private boat, if they need a spare hand on board. The research can be quite long and it can take days, or even weeks sometimes, of daily attempts.
Previous experience with sailing is not required, but it makes things much easier. Beginner can aspire to become part of the crew, helping preparing food and taking charge of the night shift.
There are also online networks where it's possible to apply for a position in a private boat.
I met other travellers that this way went from Europe to South America, and from there to Australia! So yes, it is possible if you want to. If slow travel by sea is your piece of cake, then these are some websites to start with:
9) International programs
Clearly it's not a mean of transportation, but it's a "smart way" to use the system and have free or at least cheap transportation. There are international programs that are financing partly or completely the travel expenses to get there, so basically it's possible to travel the world just moving from one workshop to the other. I know several people that are travelling this way.
And apart from the money saving, it's an interesting experience where you can meet a lot of nice people and learn something new. Limits on age and country may apply.
In Europe the most famous is Youth in Action, a 5-10 days program financed by European Union. The organization is paying for food and accommodation, plus 70% of the travel expenses to reach the place. Sometimes there is a participation fee, others it is completely free. http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/youth/
Another option is the Grundtvig programs: very similar to Youth in Action, but without age restriction. And you have free food, accommodation and transportation with no program fee. It's 100% free! Too good to be true, that's why you can apply only once every three years. http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/grundtvig_en.htm
10) Travel by plane
Only as the last option we selected to travel by plane. Last one because it is opposing the "slow travel" assumption made at the beginning, and it is the most pollutant of all the the other cheap transportation possibilities.
Quite popular is to travel the world with a round the world ticket during a gap year: apart from not being the cheapest way to travel ( the ticket costs several thousands of $$$) it's a superficial way to move fast from one place to the other, maybe visiting just the capitals. Not our favourite style.
If rather than travelling, you are going in vacation and you are hunting the single flight ticket instead, it might be economically convenient to use the plane (but still pollutant). There are plenty of websites publishing the last offers, and others where to check the most convinient low cost fares:
But what a lot of people don't know is that there are even more convenient ways of travelling by plane: you just need a little bit of patience. The tip number one is to use gift miles, that other people are not using and are selling online for a cheap price.
Or even better is to take advantage of "Error fares", that is a wrong ticket price appearing by accident in the airline company or travel agency website. This way you can travel from one continent to the other for less than 100€. There are forums and websites updating constatly all the mistakes and opportunities found around internet, in example this
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