How to go on holiday for free

Posted by Tyson Jopson on 27 March 2014

Still paying for your own vacations? That’s so passé. Here’s how to go on holiday for free …

Lake Malawi, Senga Bay, sunset, Tyson jopson

Fancy a free holiday?

I’m not in the business of writing ‘how to’ guides. In fact, I’m more of a ‘how not to’ type of guy. For example, over the summer holidays I tried to braai an entire meal at Keurbooms Caravan Park in Plett using a full-sized garden spade as tongs – I’d forgotten those at home. Suffice it to say, squashed potatoes seasoned with bits of charcoal and tin foil aren’t to everyone’s taste.

Anyway, if you’re anything like me, your bank account is still reeling from those holidays. ‘There must be a better way,’ I thought as I scoured the internet for anyone interested in buying a second-hand, dual-purpose spade. And that’s when I figured out how to go on holiday free of charge. I stumbled upon a website that encourages the modern-day phenomenon known as crowd-funding. Crowd-funding, in short, is the impudent practice of coming up with a hair-brained idea, and then emotionally blackmailing your friends to pay for it.

Solar-powered brake pads? Genius! Edible tent poles – perfect for those of us too hungry and too tired to pack up at the end of a camping trip. Yes! We’ve all had such asinine epiphanies. Mine occur in the shower, when there’s hot water trickling over my eyelids and a delicate fusion of honey-lavender soap frothing under my armpits. Usually they dissipate as soon as the water runs cold and I snap back into the real world. But nowadays, describing yourself as an entrepreneur is a badge of honour rather than a polite way of telling people you’re unemployed. And to fund this unfettered surge of bohemian business, a wave of websites has emerged that allow you to skip the traditional method of raising money … and eyebrows.

Forget all that nonsense about having a legitimate business plan and getting a loan approval from a verified institution. All you need do is upload a short summary of your ridiculous idea – around 150 words – to one of these sites. Include a few catchphrases like ‘paradigm shift’ and ‘revolutionary design’. It helps to mention how some recent family bereavement has inspired you. Then you guilt your entire mailing list into investing their hard-earned cash into your objective. It’s basically online begging.

And it works. Why? Because we’ve reached an unprecedented level of social compliance in which it’s easier to shell out a few rands than tell our friends their idea is complete crap. Why should this money-spinner be reserved for entrepreneurs? My holiday is just as important as your goofy ploy to sell collapsible air conditioners at the Bruma Flea Market. If people are buying into these contemptible intimations – and they are – we should be able to do this for our holidays. Travel is, after all, a journey to enlightenment and cultural harmony. It’s fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness, as Mark Twain so eloquently put it. What’s more important than that?

Think I’m being ridiculous? So did I. Until I found, lurking in the depths of the internet, a site which actually exists for the sole purpose of crowd-funding holidays, I kid you not:

So, with that, here’s my pitch:

Zesty traveller seeking to revolutionise modern understanding by wandering idly along the sun-kissed beaches of Thailand, sipping Singapore slings and engaging in local customs. If you’d like to donate to this epic pilgrimage [I suspect ‘epic pilgrimage’ could be one of those useful catchphrases I mentioned earlier] email your full credit card details to [email protected]. In return, I’ll send you a postcard illustrating exactly how much better the world is when I’m at the beach.

Column taken from Excess Baggage, Getaway magazine March 2014.


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