Yes, I know that sounds an extremely cheap trip, even impossible cheap. Also, during this trip, I had lots of fun and I didn’t need to stop myself from doing something I wanted just to save money. I tasted traditional French food, enjoyed so much wine, almost daily actual. I had a trip with cabriolet around Marseille, I traveled to the North of France and lived in a mansion which was built in the 19th century, of course, I wandered around France, enjoyed wild nature in La Camargue and explored other historical places. Actually, before this month I planned to spend 200 € but in the end, I saw that I didn’t need this much.
Why I did it?
It’s an amazing feeling when money and materialistic things are not the most important thing in daily life. It’s nice to enjoy life without constantly thinking about expenses and it’s an interesting feeling to give something other than money for experiences you get.
Where did I spend money?
As you know the most expensive things while traveling are accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment. Well… during this trip I paid only for transportation ….sometimes.
My trip to France expenses:
- Plane tickets: I paid only 9 € for a plane ticket from Stuttgart, Germany to Marseille. I usually find the best deals on Kiwi.com
- Bus tickets: 17 € from Avignon to Paris
- ~ 70 € coffee, drinks, snacks and entertainment
So how I managed to do that?
I did several things which I never tried in my previous trips: volunteering, hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I traveled around France with WWOFF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) it’s a part of a movement around the world connecting travelers with organic farmers to promote cultural, educational experiences based on trust and non-materialistic exchange while helping to build a global sustainable community. The main rules are that you should work at least 4 hours a day and after 6 days you can have a free day. Your host has to give you a bed to sleep and give you three meals a day.
I was interested to be in an organic farm to learn how true organic farm is operating in France. I did volunteering in a vineyard in the South of France and volunteering in a 19th-century mansion and artist residency in the North of France. I will write my whole experience about it soon. But the ladies who hosted me gave me so much… evening conversations and their shared experiences were so valuable that I will treasure it for a long time. Also, most of the times we cooked together traditional, French and organic meals.
I tried hitchhiking for the first time in Germany a week before traveling to France and I totally loved it! I know that it’s not the safest way to travel but that is so exciting. I hitchhiked from Cavaillon to Marseille and the lady who stopped didn’t speak English at all and I couldn’t understand French, but we had lots of fun. When she stopped she showed me with gestures and French/English language mix that she is going near Marseille to a small village. I still agreed to go with her and when we reached that village she showed with gestures again that she needs to sign a document and to drink coffee so we stopped near the post office and then we went to a cafe where we met her friends! They were so nice and they spoke a bit more English so they translated some things to me about a lady who picked me and after it, she drove me to Marseille to a specific place where I needed to be. You don’t experience such things when you travel by bus. Read my full experience of hitchhiking and tips on how to stay safe.
Recently I rediscovered Couchsurfing again. Couchsurfing is a program that connects members to a community of travelers, it helps you to find a place to stay or to share your couch at home for travelers. Basically, when you travel and you need a place to crash you write to a member of Couchsurfing if you could stay with him and in exchange you can spend time with him, cook something, share your skills or interesting stories. I want to stress that it is not a service where you can have free accommodation, it’s a community in which you have to make a contribution. You should think that that money which you would spend on a hostel or hotel you can spend on time with your host, having fun with him.
In France, I tried Couchsurfing in Marseille and I was hosted by an English teacher who regularly hosts travelers to practice his English. I spend two full days with him and he showed me the whole city, told me about the city’s history, showed me local places. The next day he drove me with his cabriolet to another small town Cassis. You don’t experience such things when you travel alone and stay at hotels.