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4 Unconventional Ways of Traveling 

Getting on a plane and flying to an unknown country is one thing, but to actually experience the life style and to immerse yourself in a different culture will take a little getting out of your comfort zone. The more I travel,  the more comfortable I get and even today,  I still try to push myself a little more outside of what I’m used to. At first, that meant sharing a room with 20 other backpackers in a hostel dorm and now, I’m down to staying with locals and hitchhiking my way around the country. Alright, this might sound scary, but let me tell you why those unconventional ways of travelling make the best memories!

 1. Working 

Working abroad is a great way to meet locals and really have the time to explore an area, but most importantly, it also allows you to extend your trip by making some money. Many countries allow backpackers to work under a working visa. I decided to have my first experience of travel overseas in Australian and applied for a Working Holiday visa (450$)  that allows you to work around the country for a year. Australia is a very good place to do so, as the country needs a lot of seasonal workers for fruit picking or even hospitality and the wages are pretty high!

In my 7 months in Australia, I first worked as a waitress on the Sunny coast, Queensland and I am now bartending in a country Pub in Western Australia. As you can guess, those are very different experiences, but both of them were great and I would highly recommend to anyone coming to Australia to do the same and not just stick to the cities. The countryside didn’t really look appealing to me at first, but I met some lovely people out there and I’m really glad I push myself to do it.

2. Volunteering 

Whether it’s to teach english to kids in Africa, protect the turtles in Mexico or clean the reefs in Thailand, volunteering will be available everywhere and it is always a rewarding experience. It is also the perfect excuse to settle down somewhere for a couple of weeks as travelling constantly does get very exhausting! I would highly recommend for anyone interested in volunteering to look for an opportunity once ur away. Online, a lot of organism ask for huge amount of money to participate and it’s hard to know whether the money really goes to the foundation.

My first experience of volunteering overseas was on a protection project for endangered birds on the Californian coast. I haven’t done much since, but I’m definitely planning to volunteer in the next months while I’m traveling across Asia.

3. Couchsurfing

Once you get more comfortable travelling and meeting people, couch-surfing can be a great alternative to staying in hostels or home-stays. For anyone that is not familiar with this platform, Couchsurfing is a big travel community that allows travellers to get in contact with locals pretty much everywhere in the world. It’s the best way to stay with locals, learn more about the culture and get local tips so you don’t miss out on those secret beaches or local restaurants. I must admit, it can be a little nerve racking, at first, to stay with a total stranger miles from home, but fellow travellers often write reviews on the host so you can know what to expect. Obviously, it is always good to stay with someone that has good reviews and talk a little bit with your host beforehand to make sure you feel comfortable.

I had my very first couch-surfing experience at the beginning of my trip, in Hawaii, and had the best stay. My host showed me around the island, told me about the best places to eat and simply made me feel at home.

Yes, free accommodation is one of the perks of couch-surfing, but if you think that’s all there is to it, you’re missing the point. For those of you that have been travelling in south East-Asia, you already know that getting a bed to sleep won’t cost you more than 10$ per night, so you’re not breaking the bank . Nevertheless, I’m still planning to do some couch-surfing in the next few months. Some of the people I met while travelling might have had a different culture, religion or even spoke a different language, but in spite off all that, they were strangely a lot more like me than many people I grew up with. This is a pretty hard feeling to describe, but I guess it makes you feel a lot more connected to the world.

4. Hitchhiking

Now, this one is a little tricky. Hitchhiking can be a great option to save money on transport while travelling, but it’s definitely not safe to do it everywhere. Hitchhiking always come with some risk, but if you use your judgement and take some precautions, it could be one of the best experience! For example, you should always text a friend when you get in a car and give them the plate number. I would also recommend you to keep your phone and money on you and to hitchhike with someone else if possible. Most importantly, you shouldn’t be scared of being rude by refusing a lift. If you don’t feel comfortable or you have a bad feeling, decline politely!

It’s pretty hard to say which country would be considered safe for hitchhiking. Like I said before, their is always some risk, but some places are a big NO. Third world countries, for example, are unstable and I would not attempt to do it over there.

I had my first hitchhiking experience in Kauai, Hawaii last year. Me and my friend met a great guy on the road and he showed us around the island for the rest of our stay. I also hitchhiked during my time in New Zealand last January. This country is considered, by travellers, like one of the safest for hitchhiking and it really felt like it. I was never alone on the road waiting for a lift and I never waited more than 10 minutes for a car to pull up. The most incredible people I met in my travels were probably the one I met while hitchhiking. Here are some of the best hitchhike I got while I was on the south island.

When I was in Queenstown I got picked up by a family and they invited me to stay with them and showed me around for a couple of days. On my way up to Nelson, two European backpacker picked me up in the middle of nowhere and I join their roadtrip for 4 days. Finally, on my last day in New Zealand, I had to catch a flight in Christchurch in the evening.  That day, I woke up in Nelson and got picked up by one guy that drove me all the way down to Christchurch (400km appart).

Those hitchhiking experiences are the best memory I have from New Zealand and they are beautiful demonstration of  kindness to stranger. Even though I personally never had a bad experience or even felt uncomfortable, it still happens. The important thing to remember is to stay safe and follow your guts!

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