The biggest issue I hear when I talk to people about traveling is that they can’t afford it. Some people truly believe that traveling is a hobby that only depletes a bank account and that’s what stops them from seeing the world. What a lot of people don’t realize is that if you want to travel bad enough you can find a way to make it happen. There are countless opportunities out there for people who not only want to travel but also want to make money while doing it.
When I decided to start traveling after college I was clueless. I had grown up in Nebraska. Gone to college in Nebraska. Got my first real job in Nebraska. Nebraska was really all I knew at that time. When you know you want to make a change and decide to leave everything you know behind where do you start? I knew it was time to leave but had no idea how to make that happen.
I ended up Googling “Travel Jobs” and quickly found that if traveling was my new goal there were plenty of ways to help me do that. I applied for as many of them as I could. Cruise ship worker, Au Pair, TESL, resort worker, etc. A lot of the opportunities out there may seem unconventional to some, but a life of travel and change is anything but conventional. I decided that working on a cruise ship was the perfect blend of everything I wanted.
Before I left to go work on the cruise ship I had countless people look at me and say ‘wow I wish I could do that.’ My answer was always the same. You Can. Sure there are times when it’s a lot more challenging of a life than working a normal 9 to 5 but finding a way to pursue your passion is also incredibly rewarding. With a little courage, flexibility, and the ability to think outside the box there are plenty of ways you can not only see the world but get paid to do so.
I realized that it’s not usually a lack of desire that holds people back but often times a lack of knowledge about the different opportunities available. Below is a list, originally written by a friend of mine Wandering Earl who’s been traveling the world since 1999 and making money while doing it. He lists out 42 different ways you can make money while traveling (keep in mind this is just a fraction of the opportunities that actually exist!)…
Teach English – Job opportunities are all around the world and in many cases, you don’t need to be certified. You just need to be a native speaker. Check out eslcafe.com, send in a few applications to schools in South Korea, Japan, Thailand or dozens of other locations & you’ll be surprised at how many interviews you land.
Sell Timeshares – If you were born to be a salesperson, then head to Greece, Thailand, Mexico, the Caribbean or any other major resort area and you can find work selling timeshares. These resorts want salespeople who can relate to their potential customers, so they prefer to have Americans selling to Americans, Italians selling to Italians and so on. The earning potential is huge in this line of work.
Resort Jobs – If selling isn’t your thing, resorts all over the planet often hire staff from other countries for a variety of positions, such as front desk, restaurant or the activity/entertainment department.
Work in a Hostel – Hostels are often looking for new staff who are willing to work some hours each day, either at reception or cleaning or maybe both, in exchange for a free bed each night. Not a bad way to save money at all.
Online Freelance Work – Whether you have a background or interest in web design, programming, illustration, writing, marketing, consulting, legal work, engineering or able to do any type of admin work, you should definitely look at websites such as Elance.com and Odesk.com. These are platforms that connect freelancers with people and companies who need work done. Even if your background is in something else, have a look anyway as there is freelance work to be found in dozens of different fields.
Act in Films & Television Overseas – Head to Mumbai, stand on a street corner in the Colaba neighborhood and before long, an industry scout will ask you if you want to act in a Bollywood film. You won’t make millions, but you’ll be on the big screen.
Working Holiday Visas – Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Ireland and Singapore offer these to foreigners, generally those who are between the ages of 18 – 30. If you’re in that age range, the working holiday visa might just be your best option to make money and travel. It allows you stay in a country for up to one year and in some cases, to apply for and work in any position you want. Yes, it is a sweet deal and one incredible way to earn an income while being overseas.
Fruit-Picking – Get out into the sun, grab a basket and start picking fruit. Such an option is quite common for travelers/backpackers passing through Australia and the pay can include payment per kilo of fruit you pick, room, board or any combination of the three.
Travel Blogging – It’s not easy to earn a big income with a travel blog. The amount of time/effort required to do so is much more than most people imagine. But if you’re looking for some extra cash to help fund part of your travels, while keeping the world informed of your adventures, starting a travel blog might be your answer. (Have a look at the useful Travel Blog Success course if you’re serious about earning money from your blog and for inspiration, see my list of fellow travel bloggers out there.)
Any Kind of Blogging – You don’t have to start a travel blog just because you’re traveling. Whatever your interest may be, that might be the kind of blog you should start. There are always opportunities to earn some money no matter what you choose to focus on.
Affiliate Marketing – Making money this way is definitely possible even though the competition can be high. But if you’re willing to dedicate yourself to a couple of months worth of research, you’ll find your niche and hopefully a steady paycheck. If you don’t know much about affiliate marketing, have a look at Affilorama.com, which offers an excellent series of free lessons to get you started.
Selling Goods Online – Found some cool product that you think others would be interested in? Have your own handmade product you want to sell? You could set up a website or a shop on eBay or any other type of online sales outlet and start selling. Your success will depend on many factors but again, if you’re willing to learn how to get your goods in front of the right people online, even a few sales each week could potentially keep you on the road.
Day-Trading – It may not be for everyone, but there are people out there earning a living and traveling as a result of their day trading efforts. One in particular is Marcello from WanderingTrader.com.
Housesitting – Who wouldn’t want a free place to stay? While you typically won’t get paid, if you don’t mind looking after somebody else’s house while they’re away, this is a great option. I know many people who just hop around from house-sitting gig to house-sitting gig, essentially avoiding accommodation expenses for years. Gigs can be one week, one month, one year or anything in between. (Jess & Dani from GlobetrotterGirls.com and Pete & Dalene from HeckticTravels.com are the experts when it comes to house-sitting!)
Work Remotely – There’s no rule that states you must quit your current job in order to travel. Perhaps your position allows you to work remotely and all you need to do is speak with your boss in order to make the adjustment. Head down to a place like Playa del Carmen, Mexico and you’ll find foreigners everywhere who are doing just this, able to make money and travel wherever they wish.
Haircuts – Choose a popular hostel, put up a sign (ask first!), charge a reasonable amount and off you go. I remember meeting a traveler who was doing this in Zagreb, Croatia and she was making $40 USD per day by advertising in 3 hostels. She would cut hair for a month, then travel for a month and repeat. Not bad at all.
Massages – Follow the same idea as above but offer massages instead! I’d sign up for sure after a long day wandering around a town or city.
Bartending – There are bars in many towns and cities that pay ‘cash in hand’ to travelers who can work a bar and are willing to stay in one spot for a while. Bars connected to hostels are often your best bet.
Cafe/Restaurant Work – The same goes for cafes and restaurants. If you’re in a popular backpacking destination, just ask the hostel staff if they know of any cafes that hire travelers. Sometimes you’ll find a local classifieds/coupon traveler-oriented magazine lying around the hostel as well. Flip it open and many times you’ll find restaurants advertising for help.
Website Design – Know how to build simple websites, or even more complex ones? Start your own business and look for clients online, through family & friends or even overseas. Staying at a hostel in Turkey that has a crappy website? Tell them you’ll completely improve their site for $50.
Teach Musical Instruments – Piano? Guitar? Flute? Glockenspiel? Whatever you can play, chances are there are people all over the world who want to learn as well. Advertise in local online classifieds or put up signs in busy areas, such as gathering places of college students, and you just might have a few classes lined up before you know it.
Teach Any Language – English isn’t the only language people want to learn. Speak French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Arabic or anything else? Look for jobs or set up your own classes by advertising at universities or popular hangouts such as cafes.
Teach Dance Classes – Again, put up some signs around town, find space in a public park and teach others how to get their tango on. You could also work out a deal with a restaurant/bar where they pay you to hold a class at their location because it will bring them plenty of extra business.
Teach Yoga – You could do the exact same thing as above with yoga or any form of exercise!
Construction Work – If you have construction experience, or you can fake it, this is one industry that tends to hire people for short-term work while paying them ‘under the table’. As a result, this makes for a great option for travelers looking to earn some quick cash.
Au Pair – The situations vary but you’ll get room, board and a weekly paycheck for helping take care of a family’s kids, allowing you to explore the country you end up in during your free time as well.
Scuba Diving Instructor – Are you certified? If so, there are dozens of great scuba destinations around the world – Egypt, Mexico, Thailand, Australia, Hawaii – where you could find work. Talon from 1Dad1Kid.com has done just this in Central America.
Tour Escort – Many international tour operators, especially those such as Indochina.com that offer budget tours around the world, hire tour escorts to accompany each group. The pay is on the low side and you usually must sign up for a 1-2 year contract, but the benefit is that you get to explore parts of the world without spending any money at all, while gaining some great work experience in the process.
Sell Your Art & Crafts at Local Markets – There are markets in many places where foreigners can rent a stall and sell their goods. Usually these are markets that are geared towards tourists and other travelers. As a result, there are many people who follow the market circuit, bouncing around from market to market all year round, selling their hand made crafts, artwork, clothes from India or other goods that are in high-demand.
Photography –For those who know what they’re doing with a camera, it is possible to try and sell the travel photos you take. You could set up your own ‘shop’ on sites such as SmugMug.com and you could try and sell your photos to a variety of travel magazines and to companies that have stock photography collections.
Travel Writing – If you’re a decent writer, there are opportunities out there to write about your experiences and the destinations you visit and then have those articles published on websites or online magazines. It’s not an easy business, but if you can get a couple of articles published and start to establish yourself, your articles might soon become sought after.
Corporate World – Maybe you want to live overseas but you want to have a proper career or are looking for a higher paycheck. Well, there’s nothing stopping you from applying for corporate or other long-term jobs around the world. China has a growing number of opportunities for foreigners, Singapore and New Zealand are very popular and several countries in the Middle East are home to thousands of expats living and working for companies there.
Cruise Ship Employment – I always recommend this option as an excellent way to earn good money while getting a taste of the world, gaining some solid work experience and networking with hundreds of people (both fellow crew and passengers) from around the world. Not a bad list of benefits.
Work on a Yacht – Sometimes they pay, sometimes they don’t, but if you look at websites such as DesperateSailors.com, you might find it hard to turn down an offer to work on board a yacht or sailboat, especially one that will spend a few months in the Caribbean or Mediterranean or perhaps even head across the Pacific.
Travel/Tourism Industry – This won’t ensure that you’re on the road all the time, but a job in the travel industry at home might be perfect for some. A steady paycheck, plenty of good networking possibilities and if you end up in the right position, you’ll just have to travel as part of your work. (Work in Travel is a great resource for anyone interested in working in this industry.)
Edit English Signs/Menus – It might sound silly but there are travelers out there earning decent money by wandering around touristy areas all over the world and getting paid to correct the English spelling/grammar on signs and menus of businesses that try to attract foreigners. I met one guy in Thailand who would charge $10 for his editing services and he would have approximately 20 clients per week. Not a bad way to earn $800 bucks per month.
Busking – Do you have some kind of talent? Maybe you don’t have talent but you’re more than willing to have people laugh at you, especially if they’ll throw their spare change in your hat. Many, many travelers are playing guitar, juggling, dancing and singing their way around the world. It may not be legal in some places though, so be sure to check the rules.
Volunteer Work – In most cases, this won’t pay, but you’ll have an unforgettable experience while usually saving money on room and board, which is just like getting paid! You don’t have to spend a lot of money with large global operations in order to volunteer as there are local organizations in every country that would love to have you. One good website is GrassrootsVolunteering.org.
Work Exchange – Just check out the listings on HelpX.net and you’ll be ready to pack your bags today. If you’re willing to work a few hours each day in exchange for room, board and sometimes, some extra cash, there is no shortage of opportunities. There’s also WWOOF.org which focuses on organic farm work.
Be Creative! – One of the best examples of this involved a female traveler I met in Central America who had funded over 6 months of travel by using a very simple business model. She would hop from beach town to beach town, contact several local tour operators (who usually offered snorkeling and scuba diving trips) and then worked out a deal. In exchange for bringing them business, she would receive a good commission. Each day she would hang around the hostels and travelers cafes and recommend the tour operators she was working with. Let’s just say she was doing very well. So put on your thinking cap, brainstorm some ideas and don’t be afraid to get creative!
I really do hope that this has helped you realize that you can make money and travel, that earning money on the road is not as impossible as you once thought. If it were impossible, there certainly wouldn’t be so many people, from countries all around the world, traveling and working as they explore this great planet of ours.
Of course, there are many more ways to earn money while traveling as well, so if you have anything you’d like to add or share, please leave your thoughts in the comments below. The more opportunities we list, the more we can help each other!