How to travel the World with $17/day – The story of my trip

Along my travel in Startup Weekends, I always give a little presentation on Sunday – in the startup weekend travelend – about my journey. In this speech, I talk about how Startup Weekends are valuable
for any entrepreneur, how medias build fears among people and how bad it is to listen to those fears and, finally, how I sustain a 10 month trip on a low budget of $17/day on average!

At the Startup Weekend Edu San Diego, I met Michael Frisella. He’s one of the organizer of Startup Weekend Yuma (AZ) and he is thinking about going on a similar journey one day too.. We kept in touch through e-mails and Michael was very curious about my story and asked me many questions about it. I thought it would be a great idea to share a piece of this conversation on an article, so here you go:

Hi Michael,
I just highlighted your questions. Read below my answers 😉

Michael – What did you do before you left for the SW World Tour?
François – So I was an exchange student in Medellin, Colombia from July 2014 to June 2015. I borrowed money from my bank for this year abroad and came back to France for the summer 2015.. I still had a bit of money left from my bank and I started working hard for 3 months and I could spare a good amount of money! On the side, I was still building this project! I left on Sept 24th 2015 for my first Startup Weekend!

What was that time like when you first contemplated the idea to travel the world? 
Very good question.. My first real trip was in 2008 when I was an exchange student in Arizona.. I lived with an American family into the American culture… After that I thought: ‘If I learnt so much in 5 months in the US, what must it be to travel in other places around the World..” But I was still very young and had my studies to think of first.. So I always had colombia motorbikethis traveling guy deep in my mind.. Then when I left for South America, I really started traveling on my own in a “Wild way”: backpacking, motorbiking, buses… And when I had
to plan my next big project (I like to have projects always in mind), I thought that traveling the World would be an awesome thing to do now..
So I had the idea of the Startup Weekend World Tour in the end 2014 and then the President of Startup Weekend gave me the green light to use their image and name and told me that they will take care of my entrance tickets for the events on my route!
Then I really started to work on it around March/April 2015.. It took me a while to first prepare myself psychologically at the idea of traveling the World, then I met people who inspired me a lot: Tomislav Perko from Croatia, The Sharing Bros (3 crazy French) etc. Therefore, I started to build my website and find partners here and there before starting to gather the money and plan my route! 

Did you tell friends and family about your thoughts to travel? What did people say? Friends? Family?
Yes of course!
So my family; they know me.. They know it’s my thing and even if sometimes I know they would like me to be around and they are worried, they are happy for me because I’m happy 🙂 My family taught me a lot in terms of respect, value and cultural acceptance.. I’m the only one traveling among them but I owe them a lot..
My friends, they know that I’m a bit crazy and different haha! But since I left for my first travel and repeated again after that, I noticed that more and more of my friends were going abroad as well to see new cultures.. In the end, we all inspired each other I think. It’s like being in a group in which everyone is doing well so there is no reason you can’t do well! That’s the good energy!
What was that first month like when you began your travels? 
So, I’ll be speaking about the SWWT! My first month was in Europe. I was already used to traveling so it went pretty well especially because Europe is my home haha! People say that the first month is always super exciting when you’re going on a long journey! Everything is new etc.. After a while, you start to be tired, you might have ran into some troubles (sickness, robberies..) but you have to get back on your feet and start enjoying again.. At the end of your adventure, you’ll look back and you’ll remember 99% of hitchhikingit as being awesome! Me, I’m tired sometimes but this trip is so intense that I always see new things, jump into different cultures.. No time to be bored haha!
As I said, I took a long time to prepare myself psychologically.. Going without a plan, having a tent on my backpack in case I have to sleep on a side of a road, be prepare to hitchhike (I had never hitchhiked before!!) haha! So I kind of trained myself in France by doing some hitchhiking and camping.. So it is all about the mind and I took time to think about it..

Would you tell me about the moment things “clicked” for you and you knew that traveling the world, meeting new people, and exploring was the right thing for you? I guess, what made you decide that you would go through with it?

The decision came from me.. I think I’m ambitious and i always want to go higher.. At that time in Colombia, I had already traveled from Brazil to Colombia and I was about to leave for a motorbike tour of Colombia by myself.. I also had a startup back in 2012, I wrote theater plays and novels, I worked for companies and had many little jobs etc.. I just wanted to go higher again and this project of traveling the World was the challenge to fulfill my ambition! So, when did this ‘click’ happene?… I think, it was while I was traveling actually… I started meeting more and more people, having more and more crazy random stories, staying with random people, understanding more and more about human behavior and culture differences and in general, about Humans I guess.. Finally, traveling is also about discovering yourself, and I think, I discovered that traveling was right for me!

Any suggestions on how to go about Couchsurfing as a traveler in the states? I think I will try it for a bit in some neighboring cities, San Diego, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. 
Couchsurfing in the USA is very easy. My suggestion, is to fill a good profile and host maybe a couple of people at your place if you can before going to the big trip.. Then when you wanna surf, you have to read each profile carefully before to send a request.. It is time consuming but it is the right thing to do! You wanna meet people who you actually wanna couchsurfingmeet.. Not people you just wanna stay for free with..
The bigger the city is, the more profiles, the more chances you have in a way.. But always read carefully a profile and send a cool personified request.. Then, as for me, I always try to cook for/with my host and bring a little gift from another country/city to say thank you.
Here you go Michael, if you have more questions, don’t hesitate, I love to share my experiences.. Don’t take those lines as pieces of advice but more as real life experiences and opinions..

Cheers man!


This was fantastic to read. Learning about your thought process before and during your travels is incredibly intriguing. Perhaps practical or normal to you at this point of your travels. To me learning about your process is brand new and something exciting to read and think about.
I do appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, experiences. I feel I am at a point in my life where I could make the decision to do something similar to you. Still trying to discover what is truly holding me back and how to accomplish it. I feel excited and anxious when I think about the possibilities and opportunities traveling offers.

When you said you like to have projects you’re working on, that resonated with me as I also have projects I continuously work on. Most are beneficial and some take up a lot of time that I could probably utilize more effectively. I’ll have to direct my focus towards some goals and decide how to accomplish them.


4 thoughts on “How to travel the World with $17/day – The story of my trip

  1. Thanks for this post! It’s very useful to have your experience because, as I told you by email (yeah, I still have to answer your since 1 month ^_^) I would like to do the same but for hackathons.
    I talked about it with friends and we had some questions like that.

    I hope your experience will continue and you will continue to appreciate. Thanks for sharing.


    • You are more than welcome Danny! And yes, I’m still waiting for your answer haha!
      Don’t hesitate to write to me if you have any other questions!
      Cheers for BELGIUM from MEXICO compadre!

  2. That’s awesome Francois! I loved meeting you here and loved hearing your story – very inspiring! 🙂 glad you are still enjoying and learning. Can’t wait to read more!

  3. Pingback: Traveling Central America with 8 USD/day - A traveling story - Startup Weekend World Tour

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