If you’re not prone to seasickness, traveling by boat is one of the most relaxing and wonderful ways to travel. The crisp sea air, pirates, fresh fish and the rolling sea are just a few of the highlights you can expect. Unfortunately, most people think traveling by boat has to be expensive. They envision expensive cruise ships or luxury yachts. However, this isn’t always the case. Although you may have to work for your passage, boat travel can be very cheap if not completely free.
1) Private Sailboats: If you are interested in sailing from Florida to the Mediterranean or vice versa, you may want to consider volunteering aboard a private sail boat. Between April and June, countless boats depart from Ft. Lauderdale Florida to boating Mecca’s in the Mediterranean, such as, Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Antibes, France. While many are large luxury yachts, others are privately owned 30-50 foot sailboats. Often times, these owners are in need of one or two crew to help them make the crossing. Although having sailing experience helps, it is not required. Check out Craigslist, or if you’re near the marina, walk the docks to see if you can work for passage.
2) Luxury Yachts: Like private sail boats, luxury yachts also make the voyage between Europe and the Americas every year. In order to travel free on one of these grand mega yachts, you must look clean shaven, and professional. If you do manage to find passage aboard one of these yachts in exchange for your work, you will find yourself living the high life. You will be provided with excellent quarters and will wine and dine at the labor of the yachts chef. If you are interested in learning more about finding free passage or becoming a full time crewmember aboard a private luxury yacht, check out this extensive guide on the subject. “How To Work On A Luxury Yacht.”
3) Cargo Ships: There are a few different shipping companies that offer passage across the Atlantic and pacific, and even around the world. However, they usually charge a fair bit of money. Fortunately, you can reduce that fare or even avoid it altogether if you offer to work for your passage. To begin, start by e-mailing a few of the myriad shipping companies that can be found on the web.
4) Ferries: This is perhaps one of the best ways to travel by boat for free. This doesn’t apply to all ferries though, only car ferries. In order to get on board, simply hitchhike before the car terminal entrance. Since most ferries charge by the car and not the number people, drivers don’t mind giving you a lift. One of the best places to do this is between Dover, England and Calais, France.
5) Cruises: Like cargo ships, there are some cruise ships and private charter ship companies that might be willing to offer you free passage in exchange for your labor. If are motivated, willing to work, and make the right contacts, it is possible to cruise the Galapagos or even to Antartica for nothing but the lint in your pocket.
If you love traveling by boat and need to do so on a budget or for free, the former methods are your best bet. Although it may take time to find your boat, if you are persistant and network well, you will eventually get a lift. Good luck, and free travels.