He avoids tourist traps and saves money by relying on others.

Andrew from Homeless and Abroad attends Florida Atlantic University. He, like many other college students, has accumulated student loan debt. But paying off that debt is not a priority right now.

Andrew caught the travel bug back in the summer of 2015, when he visited a friend in Rome. During that first trip outside the States, he spent freely. But Andrew says that trip gave him “the confidence that I could handle going somewhere with a different language, culture, and norms.”

One problem: He couldn’t afford it. So, he decided to shun the normal tourist costs and agenda and live a different life as he discovered the world. He says his travel style puts him “into the category of vagabond, hitchhiker, hippie, and crazy among some other names.”

When my editor first introduced me to Andrew, I found this on his “About” page. It hooked me:

I’ve picked up how to cheat all kinds of public transportation systems, find a place to sleep at night for free, find food for free, survive off of very little food healthily, get from city to city for free, avoid getting in trouble with the law, and get water and use the toilets for free among other things.

Awesome. Live cheap, have fun, and somehow survive it all in a strange country. Andrew told me it began in 2016 when he and a friend visited Puerto Rico. They didn’t have an itinerary (curse the thought), and Andrew only brought $300, which he spent on food and a hostel the first two day in San Juan.

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But that didn’t deter them. They ended up meeting other college kids and couchsurfed with them for six days. “If we hadn’t found those college kids we would not have been able to afford a hostel for our last four days,” remembers Andrew.

After that trip Andrew admits: “Pretty much every time I go anywhere it ends up being a story of how to save money, whether I want it to be that way or not.”

Bending the Law

“I have never been arrested,” says Andrew. “Bending the laws to save money takes an awareness of how people look at you. Being an American I’m probably perceived as a dumb tourist at first glance.”

Andrew uses that to his advantage. He says “acting oblivious can get you out of situations with the law often with a warning or even just a frustrated shrug.” That includes using public transportation with an old bus or metro ticket and squatting — “which is sleeping/living on an abandoned property.”

He gave me a great squatting story. It took place in Ljubljiana, the capital of Slovenia. “A whole community of hippies, homeless people and artists lived in an abandoned bicycle factory,” recalls Andrew. “Looking grimy and with a backpack, you can enter without being noticed and stay for a night or more without a need to pay.”

Hitchhiking presents other problems. Andrew told me it’s illegal to hitchhike on the highway in almost every country. I didn’t realize that. Still, he pushed his luck in Germany.

“On my way to Puttgarden, Germany from Hamburg I got dropped off on the highway by my ride,” says Andrew. “I decided that rather than freezing to death I’d take the next ride no matter where it was going. The next car was a cop.”

They told him to get in the car and started driving toward Puttgarden, where the ferry launched to Denmark. Andrew was hoping he’d reach it before nightfall. Then something happened. “The police started laughing their asses off,” says Andrew. “They never intended to bring me to the ferry. They dropped me at the next truck stop.”

I loved Andrew’s travel methods and how they saved him money — but I don’t think I could travel like him. But in case you have the travel bug and not much money, Andrew provided his top three vagabond travel tips:

  1. You need internet. Hitchwiki, trashwiki, couchsurfing, are all websites you need access to if you want to be able to get free places to sleep, free travel (at least until you get the hang of it) and free food. Starbucks or McDonalds all have free WiFi.
  2. Talk to everyone. Literally anyone you see could be the source of your next meal, next place to sleep at night, next tip to avoid something in town, source of adventure in a city, anything. Knowing some of a country’s language also helps get you on their good side.
  3. Tourism is everywhere unfortunately. With tourism comes people trying to take advantage of people from other places who don’t know what things should cost. Don’t succumb to these opportunists waiting to take your money.

Thanks Andrew. Keep traveling, saving money — and avoiding the law.

Meet the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski

Staff Writer

Bienkowski is a staff writer and is the face of Debt.com's 'By the Numbers' videos.

News, Travel

Financial Profiling, save money, vacations

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Article last modified on November 1, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Andrew Lives the Vagabond Life When Traveling - AMP.