I’ve always been a big believer that shaving off the costs of travel is a creative art in itself. Opportunities are out there. Do a little research and you you’ll be surprised at the types of ideas that surface.
Spain is no different. A little bit of exploration goes a long way. You’ll have to expend a bit of effort of course – there’s no such thing as a free, 5-star holiday – but, if you’re willing to sacrifice top-end luxury, there are some interesting alternative options.
This article highlights some of the ideas I’ve had. Each one has helped me have a more cost effective Spanish adventure. They might also help you.
Remain open-minded, enthusiastic and receptive and you could probably pivot off these to create further opportunities for yourself too.
Volunteer at Pueblo Ingles
Pueblo Ingles is a language immersion initiative set up by the Madrid-based language group Diverbo. Designed to give Spanish natives a totally immersive experience in English, the program takes on volunteers from around the world on an almost weekly basis. Meeting in Madrid, groups of volunteers and students then travel out to different areas of Spain where program events then begin.
The benefits for the volunteer are numerous. Not only does Pueblo Ingles offer you free week-long accommodation (in private chalet-style resorts), it also provides all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and extras like excursions, shows and wine-tasting. La Alberca, the location of the program I experienced Pueblo Ingles, is a typical Spanish village with lots to discover and enjoy.
Volunteers, in exchange for the room and board provided, are expected to give up their time to help Spanish natives out with their English. A typical day of the experience includes one-on-one conversation sessions, community meals, group challenges and presentations. The program, is, by no means, a free holiday. Instead volunteers are expected to play their roles professionally, giving up the large part of their days to help facilitate the environment.
That said, Pueblo Ingles is well worth exploring. It’s an experience worth much more than a mere attempt to make Spain cost effective. It gives you the opportunity to meet and make friends with people the world over, add value by teaching and correcting English and really helps you understand more about yourself.
Hired Hostel Help
This is really a backpacking option but I’ve seen it done countless times by older and wiser people just looking to do something fun and new.
If you have a particular city, region or area of Spain in mind, look ahead and make a list of the hostels in the place. More often than not, the turnaround of staff in hostels (for one reason or another) is very fast – meaning that there are usually several short-term opportunities for travellers to swap their labour for room and board.
Some of the more popular places I’ve actually seen this happen include Granada, Madrid and Valencia. These kinds of cities attract travellers from all over. And while the front of house reception job might require you to speak a couple of languages, there are almost always other, less technical spots available.
If you have a specific skill-set of course, say in design, marketing or advertising, you might also consider trading off these in exchange for discounted rates of free stays. This strategy also applies to people with web platforms (like this one you’re reading). Offer to mention the hotel or hostel in a write-up on your site, pitched at your highly-specific audience (people thinking or considering travelling to Spain), and you can often come to some kind of agreement that suits both parties.
It always surprised me how few people know about the WWOOFING initiative. Started with the idea of linking organic farm owners with volunteers looking to learn and work in the same environment, WWOOFING has expanded into a global network. And Spain, on its part, has some of the largest number of farm opportunities in the world.
The process of WWOOFING takes a little work. First you’ll have to sign up as a member (involved paying a yearly fee) and then you’ll have to search and send messages out for the positions you wish to apply for. Finally you’ll have to negotiate with the farm owner or coordinator concerning dates, your responsibilities and travel arrangements to the location.
That said, a little effort into working and planning a WWOOF experience can be worth it indeed. Not only do some of these placements last as long as six months, but some even provide training schemes that can help develop you for jobs in further careers should you wish.
Often your time and labour is traded for free room and board but, in some cases, there’s also the opportunity to pick up a small salary too. Even more reason to look into WWOOFING as a viable option of getting to know Spain for less.
The best strategies for travelling for less are always best found through research and planning.
You can use online tools that scour lots of information to present the best and cheapest ways to travel by rail, coach or air, just as the interface at GoEuro enables you to do. They focus specifically on Spain, England and Germany at the moment if you fancy adventures outside of simply Spain.
As for where else, it’s also worth paying attention to more traditional forms of travel media. Things like magazines, the Lonely Planet guidebooks and, as is always the case, word of mouth.