A globetrotter who has visited no less than 70 countries has revealed her trick to staying in chic apartments and stunning homes – for free. Sibu De Benedictis, 33, left her last permanent home after finishing school – and hasn’t settled anywhere since.
She estimates that she has visited up to 70 countries on several continents since she was a teenager. And she said people assume she has to be wealthy to afford her lifestyle – but she insists it’s possible on a small budget when you know how.
Over the years, she’s crafted all the tips and tricks to get the trip of a lifetime without the exorbitant price tag. This includes getting the best accommodation for free – keeping the house while the owners are away.
And Sibu says she has no intention of settling down and encourages others to take the plunge and book a ticket somewhere – because she believes in “experiences over possessions”. The globetrotter, whose parents are Costa Rican and Polish-American, said: “There is such a misconception that traveling is unaffordable.
“But in terms of money, my number one priority is to travel as much as possible, even at minimum wage – it’s just a matter of being smart with it. Twenty-five dollars can buy you five Starbucks coffees, but it could also buy yourself drinks at a revolving bar in Baku, Azerbaijan, or a day wandering around the Mayan ruins in Mexico.
“There are so many things you can do or get for free too, just do some research and pick your favorite. All my stuff is in storage except for the suitcase I have with me, so I can go where I want.
“I’ve been living off minimum wage jobs or less for a good number of years now – I’m living proof that you can make it work on a budget. The world would be a better place if we could all travel more.”
Sibu grew up between the United States and Costa Rica until she graduated from high school, then left home to study in China. Since then, she estimates she has visited up to 70 countries in total, and spent time as a resident in Poland, the UK, Germany, Nicaragua and the US over the years.
In order to fund her lifestyle, she worked countless jobs, including waitressing, pot washing, and bartending. In June 2020, she decided to take the plunge – putting all her belongings in storage in Germany, where she was based while completing a master’s qualification remotely.
Since then, she’s officially been a digital nomad – someone completely independent of location – and has never looked back. The travel expert knows all the tricks in the book to get the most out of your experiences and you don’t have to spend a fortune to do it.
Incredibly, she discovered a way to stay in the fanciest and most amazing accommodations – totally free. Using an app called Trusted Housesitters, she pays for a membership, which means she can stay in some of the most spectacular homes while their owners are away in exchange for keeping everything safe and tidy.
She said: “House sitting has changed my life. Sometimes it involves looking after plants or pets, but it gets you anywhere. Once you pay the subscription, the possibilities are endless.”
Sibu recounted how, when she left Germany, she spent over a year traveling across the United States, living in a range of houses, which cost her pennies compared to what she she would have spent on hotels. But that’s not the only advice shared by Sibu.
She explained how to pack the light – even for long stays – saving her money by only taking hand luggage with her on a flight. Right now she is traveling through Africa which means she can carry less clothes due to the climate.
She said: “When I’m shopping for clothes, I don’t buy anything unless I’m making the most of it. You don’t have a lot of space, so you should only take items you like and that you can wear again and again. .
“I have about seven tops, seven dresses, and a few shorts and pants so I can mix and match. For me, that’s over three weeks worth of outfits. I’m currently focusing on hot destinations, which means I don’t need to carry so many clothes because of the climate.”
For the past year, she has held a remote marketing position with a US-based company. For Sibu, every penny she earns must be stretched to the limit in order to fund her lifestyle. While she vowed never to abstain, she explained how essential being smart with your money is to making it work in a digital nomad lifestyle.
She said: “You have to consider the little things you buy – $10 here and $10 there add up. Do you really want to take a taxi when you could take public transport? Know that every dollar what you spend could be spent on experiences, so spend wisely.”
Another travel tip is to look for scholarships, which are often free and allow you to learn new things as well as travel. Sibu visited eight countries completing eight different scholarships because she loved them so much.
She has just arrived in Tanzania after staying in Uganda, where she organized group trips for tourists working with a local tourism company – and is planning more in the future. In her spare time, Sibu also writes about travel and recently completed a book of tips for thrifty travelers.
She said: “There’s so much more you can do than you think – I want to stress this again and again. I don’t believe in access control so if I can share any information I will will do.
“At the end of the day, it’s about taking the plunge and doing it. No matter how many tips and tricks I share, you have to buy that ticket and get on that bus, plane, or train. The world would be a better place if we could all travel more.”
Sibu can be found on Instagram @goglobalwithsibu and her book is available here.