Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures: Tips for living like a hobo while touring, travelling or drifting

 I’ve spent a sizeable amount of time backpacking internationally, budget travelling the US by car, and have done more than a few tours; both with an indie rock band and solo. The one thing all my travelling has had in common is that I’ve done it all on an extremelly tight budget.

Here are some of my best tips to get by on the road with little or no money:

             1. Continental Breakfasts
 

So many hotels just open up their doors every single morning and invite the world in for a scrumptious and complementary breakfast. Of course, they don’t want non-guests attending but that doesn’t stop me. Just walk through the front doors like you own the place and try to spot out the C.B. and re-angle your way to it. Say hello and good morning to the front desk staff and they won’t suspect a thing. Take your time and enjoy the breakfast and feel free to grab muffins and fruit for the road. Turn it into a free lunch as well.

Hours are usually 6:30-9:30 am, and my favourite is the Holiday Inn Express.

 

             2. Gym Trial Memberships
 

Many large gyms offer a free trial. This usually ranges from a single session to a weekly invitation. In large cities you may even be handed a flyer on the street by some low-level employee encouraging you to try their free trial, these are the true gold mines. It is a free place to shower and some of the high end gyms have emaculate facilities and occassionally free snacks. It never hurts to ask about a free trial, just walk up to the front and say hi.

 

             3. Hammock Hotel
 

While living in Maryland, USA, for a summer, my friend Steve and I discovered the freedom of hammocks. We purchased 10$ hammocks from Wal-Mart and hung them in the trees at the edge of town and essentially lived for free. Swaying between trees under the stars is as good as it gets. Great idea for summer or for warmer parts of the world. If you are staying in the woods or in the jungle be cautious of wildlife. We usually kept a bug lantern burning all night between our hammocks.

 

             4. Box Store Return Policies
 

Most large box stores have aggregious return policies. You can usually take anything back within 30 days with a receipt. If you need a small vehicle repair such as a headlight, simply purchase a headlight, install the new one, clean the old one, and put the old headlight back in the box and return for a full refund. You can also buy food, eat half of it and return the rest. These stores are evil so don’t feel too bad about doing this.

 

             5. Staying With Strangers
 

It can be a bit uncomfortable upfront, but staying with strangers you met at a show or through a third party site such as Couchsurfing.com can be great ways to save some money and meet some great people. When playing music I always ask on stage if anyone has a place to stay. I’m almost always offered great places to stay. These can lead to life long connections and help you meet great people.

 

             6. BYOB
 

As far as I’m concerned, every bar is Bring Your Own Booze, everyday of the week. If I’m going out drinking then I always have a flask in my pocket full of whiskey. I can order a coke and mix my own drinks under a table or in the bathroom this way. You can buy cheap flasks at dollar stores for under $5. I have one in ever jacket pocket I own. If the bar searches you then it’s not worth going to anyways, unless you like getting stabbed and hanging out with gangsters. If it’s a bar I like, then I usually buy a few pints to help support, but I always at least mix a few of my own to cut costs.

 

             7. DIY Drive-Inn Movie
 

My friend Curtis and I got stuck in an awful snow storm one night while making a three-hour-drive. It was white-knuckle driving and we decided to pull over in the next town and spend the night. The only hotel in town was booked so we had to stay in the car. I keep two sleeping bags in the trunk and tea light candles so we were good for warmth. We pulled up to the McDonald’s and snaked some free WiFi. We put Curtis’s iPad in the centre console and watched a full season of Portlandia on Netflix before falling asleep. It turned into a somewhat enjoyable night and by the morning the roads were driveable again. The drive-inn movie theatre feel kept morale high and made it a unique experience.

 

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