‘We ditched our jobs to travel – we spent £1 a day and hitchhiked 650 times’

A couple took backpacking to a new extreme by travelling through 13 countries in Latin America on a 'zero budget' earning and spending just £1 each day.

Tobias and Andrea, who live in London, wanted to spend a whole year exploring the region but realised they didn’t have a fortune in the bank to fund the trip.

So, they set themselves a challenge that many would find almost impossible and spent just £500 between them in 12 months – including flights.

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The couple – who share their adventures on YouTube @europeansonthego – managed to do so by wild camping in their tent, working local jobs they found through apps, hitchhiking over 600 times and eating the cheapest food.

Andrea told Daily Star: "The two of us have been together now nearly seven years.

"At the start of our relationship we discussed that it would be great to do a trip – something crazy – before we started a more structured adult life."

Tobias is Swedish while Andrea is Hungarian and British so the pair spent two years meeting in various countries around Europe.

But, after the pandemic caused them to be stuck in London for two years they decided to go away for a much longer period.

Andrea added: "It made sense for us to do a very low budget trip.

"We didn’t have the funds to spend a lot of money, but also it was quite an exciting challenge to see what the minimum amount could spend would be.

"Coming from London, which is a very commercial, very materialistic, quite expensive city it was a very interesting comparison – we learned a lot.”

Andrea and Tobias made their way through Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia.

Tobias said: "My favourite place was Mexico, the food was incredible and the people were very relaxed and welcoming.”

Discussing how they kept their budget so tiny, the pair explained that they initially made connections through volunteering before finding paid work.

Andrea explained: "We were on a zero budget and volunteering our way through the different countries.

"As we got more comfortable we looked for work opportunities – we helped out in restaurants, bars, hotels or bakeries, did digital marketing for smaller hostels and even worked in a hospital for a week. Tobias was bartending."

They found a lot of their volunteering and work opportunities through the app WorkAway.

Due to the difference in salaries from the UK to Latin America the pair actually only earned around 10p per hour – meaning they earned the £1 that they then spent each day.

Andrea commented: "We managed to purchase three meals and cook for ourselves three meals a day, which was quite impressive. We ate potatoes and bananas."

Tobias added: "We also had out little camping kit so we had a base of mainly rice and tuna that we carried everywhere. That was an interesting mix – I can’t look at tuna anymore.”

Each night the couple had to find somewhere to sleep within their £1 budget.

Andrea told the Travel team that they took a tent with them in their backpacks which weighed 18kg and 15kg respectively.

She explained: "We has a tent and sleeping bags and we camped wherever we could. Often we would go to a gas station and they would show us a place where we could put down the tent and they would look after us for a night.

"In every small town at the fire stations you can stay for free.”

However, wild camping isn’t advisable in the bigger cities.

Andrea added: "We tried to avoid bigger cities because they were a lot less safe – you wouldn’t camp in a bigger city like London.

"We used an application called CouchSurfing which means you can find a couch around the world and ask people on the app if they can offer it to you. It’s free as it’s a cultural exchange.”

The couple also hitchhiked their way around the whole continent and so made many friends who offered to let Tobias and Andrea stay at their homes.

While hitchhiking may sound scary to Brits, the duo claim that it is a 'pleasant experience' and that it’s common in Latin America.

Tobias commented: "We hitchhiked with between 650 and 700 people in a year and 99.9% of the time it was absolutely fine.

"In South America, in most places, hitchhiking was not something that only travellers would do, it was a more local thing.

"There were a few people who questioned the trip and what we were doing saying we’re careless which was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling.

"Sometimes there were drivers who drove at insane speeds. But, all in all, I was amazed because it was almost exclusively positive.

"There were a lot of truck drivers – I can imagine it tends to get a bit boring and a lot of the people picked us up simply because they were happy having some company on the road."

Andrea noted: "There’s no transport system in some areas so this is a way for them to move between one place and another. Everyone was super kind with us and they were very generous. We had great conversations and got to ride for free."

When they were unable to hitch a ride, the pair walked – on average 134 hours per month or 4,200km (2609miles).

As such, the pair lost a lot of weight – from five to 10kg each before regaining it when they were in their next location.

But, it was all worth it for the experiences they shared together.

While volunteering, Andrea and Tobias managed to build houses, work in agriculture, look after 20 German shepherd, teach English, teach an 85-year-old Photoshop and even put on a concert for a community school in Peru.

Andrea said: "We made some lifelong friends who we really look forward to seeing again. I think they are planning to come and visit us as well back in Europe."

While Tobias noted: "That goes for both people we volunteered with or couchsurfed with, but also for people we hitchhiked with sometimes we ended up with them for three or four days."

Andrea and Tobias share their story and tips on social media and you can follow them on Instagram @EuropeansOnTheGo, @andreameszaross and @tobiassvenssonmusic.


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