The topic people have asked me the most about since I began my journey of preparing for full-time travel is how to make money while traveling full-time. I get it – this is the question I researched the most before deciding to quit my job to travel. It’s natural to have some hesitation around such a big life change, but it’s even more nerve-wracking to leave steady income behind and figure out other ways to make money!
In this post, I want to share some of the best resources I’ve discovered for earning while traveling full-time. If you have any questions or comments at the end of this post, I’d love to hear from you! It’s always nice to discuss my passion – living in new and different ways – and I also like making new friends!
Keep in mind, these are the ways I plan to earn and these are the ways I’ve researched so far, but there are plenty of out-of-the-box ways of making money that I may have yet to discover. If you’re thinking about going on a journey of long-term travel, research, talk to people and figure out what will make you the happiest! In the meantime, here are some great ideas I’ve found on how to make money while traveling full-time.
1. Freelance on Upwork
You often see blog posts on travel websites about “freelancing” or “building a remote business.” What you don’t often read about are the nuts and bolts for how to do that, and in taking this journey for myself, I’ve discovered that it would be really helpful if someone could give you the actual tools for beginning to freelance.
Here’s my (abbreviated) story: I went to law school, practiced law, became a writer for a little while because writing was always a passion of mine that I didn’t think I could realistically pursue, then went back to practicing law. This journey has made me realize that I should pursue my passion, and for me, writing is it. But I didn’t know where to begin. With a little bit of research – voila – I found Upwork. Upwork is the product of a merger between two former freelancing sites – Elance and oDesk. What this means is that Upwork is now the number one freelancing site in the world. And – spoiler alert – it’s amazing! I tried freelancing many years ago, on Elance, and absolutely hated it. Upwork’s platform is much better, the clientele is much better, the interface is much better and overall – the website is an incredible way to make a living, on your own terms.
The economy – and the world – are changing, and with so many millennials deciding that they don’t want to be chained to their 9-to-5, the “gig” economy has been booming. In my mind, “gig” economy is a terrible term for what it really is – a new economy where you can make your own rules, set your own hours, do what you love, and still make a living.
Here’s the important takeaway I want you to remember about Upwork: it’s not just for freelance writing. Let me say that one more time, because it’s worth repeating: Upwork is not just for freelance writing. If you’re thinking about traveling full-time, Upwork is definitely a resource you want to check out. Here are just some of the things you can do on Upwork – remotely, on your own time, and building the business you want: website design, game development, video production, lawyering (yep!), data entry, virtual assistant work, paralegal work, research, transcription, search engine optimization, social media, engineering, data mining, customer service, accounting, human resources and so much more. Although we traditionally think of “freelancing” for writers or photographers, the world has changed and now, if you can build it, the freelancing will come.
If you are at all thinking about a new lifestyle, I would encourage you to hop on to Upwork.com to see what you might want to do. If you have a profession you want to continue, chances are, Upwork will let you. If you have no idea where you could begin but think you might be able to write some emails or organize some things, maybe virtual assisting or administrative work is for you. The point is, to make a change, you must start somewhere and Upwork is a great place for that.
2. Make and sell a product
Etsy isn’t just for crafty hipsters anymore. Making a product, or series of products, that are unique and in demand can be a great way to make money without having to be in an office. And Etsy isn’t the only marketplace: you could try clothing design with a Cafe Press store, or even Handmade at Amazon.
The benefit of creating your own good and selling is that if it’s what you love to do, you’ll be happy doing it while traveling full-time. One thing to consider is how you’ll be able to ship your good once you start traveling abroad very frequently, but there are logistical companies that can help with this.
3. Teach English abroad
An old faithful that has been around for a long-time: teaching English abroad. Many people look at this as a first option, because there are several established programs for doing so, and a lot of travelers have done it with a lot of success. It can also be a great way to get to know locals and take your time getting to know a new city.
4. Au Pair
If you don’t mind kids, becoming an au pair might be a great option. Au pairs generally move abroad to live with a family and take care of their children full-time. Sure – it won’t be the “fly by the seat of your pants” type of travel you may be looking for, but it will provide you with a place to stay, a family, and a new experience in a new location.
Becoming an au pair definitely isn’t for everyone, because of the commitment involved as well as the childcare, but if it’s up your alley, it could be a great way to get an “in” to visit new destinations.
5. Work in the resort/hospitality/cruise/tour industry
If you want to bounce from place to place, getting a job in the resort or hospitality industry may be for you. Often times, these positions are seasonal, allowing you the opportunity to constantly be discovering new places.
You can also work on a cruise ship or work as a tour guide. These positions can be tough work and long hours, but for those willing to do it, they can also be great learning experiences. The point is, if you want to travel and even work in the travel industry, there are some great ways to do it.
I have a travel blog, you’re reading it. And a lot of people think you can make money from blogging. That’s sort of true.
You don’t make money from the act of blogging itself – I started my blog so that I could share things I’ve learned, and meet new people who also love travel, and because I’m a writer at heart. But you can make money around blogging. What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of times, having a well-built blog can be a good resume builder if you are trying to write for a big organization. You can also put paid ads on your blog (but likely won’t make too much from there).
You can also host sponsored content on your blog – this is probably one of the best ways to make money from blogging. Essentially, after you’ve built up a bit of a following, different organizations will pay you to put content on your blog related to their product or service.
Blogging isn’t normally a primary method of income while traveling, but it can be a good income boost if you spend time and energy developing it.
7. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is another great way to make money from blogging, but I’m putting it in it’s own separate category because you don’t have to be a blogger to be a good affiliate marketer (but it helps).
What is affiliate marketing? Well, it’s basically partnering with a seller of goods to promote their product in some way, and if people buy through your special link, you get a bit of money. It’s not as difficult as it sounds: Amazon has a popular affiliate program (of which I am a member), as do a few other big organizations.
So, you don’t actually have to have a blog for affiliate marketing – but it obviously helps. You can promote your links through Facebook or Twitter, but having a big following and a large readership is important for this kind of money-making.
If you’re the type that likes to share your story visually, creating a YouTube channel and monetizing the content can be a good way to try to make money on the road. This, like blogging or affiliate marketing, requires spending a lot of time and energy making your channel great (I’m learning along the way). Monetization is obviously an effective strategy only if you have, once again, a large following.
It is, however, easier to make a decent income on YouTube than from, say, click-based ads on blogs, but you do need to really have a passion for it to ensure that it shows in your videos.
As you can see, if you really want to change your life to begin traveling full-time – it’s a completely viable option! It will require some sweat and hard work, but everything great in life often does.
It would be best to go in with a clear head and an open mind: don’t rely only on one source of income at first (I plan to do a combination of the things I’ve listed here) and be prepared to do anything. Also, realize that making money from online sources will require time and effort – you won’t be able to just put up a blog and have millions of followers overnight – you’ll have to work at it! Know that you’ll likely face some tough times, and it won’t be all smooth sailing, but in the end, if traveling full-time is something you really want to do, it will certainly be worth it!
P.S. Want to know more about how you can start living the travel lifestyle? Check out my book, “Quit Your Job & Travel The World”, available now on Amazon!