Lonely Planet Writer

Creative travel funding

anniemoleTravelling takes money. And if you go a long way (particularly over water), it can take lots.

There are a good variety of shoestring options to get around and plenty of things you can get up to for free, but you can't exactly hitch a ride on a 747 by holding out your thumb on the side of the tarmac, or live on the breadcrumbs the pidgeons don't want.

The recent story about a New Zealand athlete who opened a brothel to fund his Olympic bid got us thinking about similar tales of creatively fundsourcing wanderlust.

Some travellers have taken to using the airlines' overbooking practices to their advantage, strategising ways to get bumped from flights to get cash, flight vouchers, or free hotel rooms. One Thorn Tree traveller is hoping to help fund a trip through Central and Eastern Europe by busking, others hope to get a little cash and experience by working on farms, some are charging it all to a credit card and other are open to suggestions.

Travel blogging, if you're dedicated, talented, skilled at networking and lucky, can be a way to raise funds, or at least, get you what you need.

Two Guys Around the World, winner of the 2009 Lonely Planet Travel Blogger Awards for Best Travel Blog, hope that readers find their adventures sufficiently entertaining to prop up their travel budget. From their homepage you can watch their fluctuating (but currently dwindling) bank account balances as audience donations nudge them along.

Bloggers like NomadicMatt, whose posts frequently appear in Lonely Planet's Blogs We Like, have managed to monetise their blog to a level that it more or less pays for their travels.

We also asked around the office for stories. One colleague tells of a friend who made his way around Europe joining different religious groups along the way for a free bed and free food. Another told of a friend who shaved his head while backpacking around China. Locals would invite him in for meals wherever he went because they mistook him for a monk and charity toward monks is considered lucky.

One enterprising traveller took a suitcase worth of Blundstone boots from Australia to the UK, set up shop at one of London's street markets with a 400% markup (they were still cheaper than the locals could get). Putting sponsor logos on your gear (and body!) also came up. Arguably the most committed effort came from someone who lugged a 40kg spanner around North and West Africa, fixing cars in return for food and lodging.

What are your stories? Have you done anything unusual to support yourself while travels (before or during)?

[Photo: Annie Mole]