Many people scrimp and save to go on one or two vacations a year, working around time off and the daily costs of living to travel. This arrangement may be fine for some, but if you have a passion for travel, it might not be enough.
If you’re wondering how you could spend more time traveling instead of sitting in an office cubicle, earning money while you travel can help you do just that. Whether you become a digital nomad or work as a tour guide, making money while traveling may allow you to go anywhere and see anything.
With the right job or type of work, you can make the money you need to fund your world travels as you go. We spoke with two travel experts who have worked their way around the globe to get their tips and find out how you can do the same.
4 options to earn money while traveling
Here are your four best options to work from anywhere in the world and pay for travel as you go.
1. Freelance or work for yourself
One of the best ways to earn money while traveling is by becoming a freelancer. Freelancing gives you control over where, when, and how much you work. This flexibility means you can travel and see the world while working to maintain an income stream to pay for your travels.
Robert Kanaat is the founder of Wanderlust Worker, a blog about working while traveling. He recommended considering what skills or experience you have that could qualify you for freelance jobs or other gigs that would be easy to do from anywhere. Some of the best options are technical or digital skills such as graphic design, web development, writing, social media management, or online marketing.
Once you’ve identified your expertise, start looking for freelance work and building out your clientele. Sites such as Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer can help you find your first clients.
2. Find a remote job
One way to earn money while traveling is to get a remote job you can do from anywhere. You can try to find a remote job, or you can try talking your current employer into a remote work arrangement.
“Usually, if [your job] can be done from a computer, it can be done from the road,” said Matt Kepnes, founder of travel site Nomadic Matt. “Don’t hesitate to float the idea of occasionally working from home past your boss. It never hurts to ask.”
But if you opt for this route, be prepared to have less flexibility and control over your schedule than you might have with other options.
“Working remotely or being a digital nomad while working for someone else is incredibly difficult,” Kanaat said. “You don’t generally have the freedom to roam halfway across the world because of the constraints of time zones and communicating with anyone else in the ‘real world’ in any effective manner.”
3. Get a travel-centered or overseas job
Besides remote work, Kepnes suggested looking into jobs that pay you to travel or live abroad. Overseas work such as teaching English in foreign countries or giving tours can be smart options. You could also pick up a job on a cruise ship or as a flight attendant.
Plus, these jobs can be used to create a home base, Kepnes said. This would be a foreign city where you work and live and from which you can travel to nearby destinations. This can provide some stability as you travel as well as the opportunity to explore one area in-depth and establish friendships and relationships with locals or other globe-trotters.
4. Generate passive income
The final option is to focus on creating passive income, or money that you earn without active and ongoing work.
There are several ways to generate passive income, such as writing a book by which you earn sales income, building out a monetized site or blog, or selling your photographs for royalties.
This is the route that helped Kanaat make a living while traveling the world. He wrote dozens of books and expanded into creating websites and courses. The passive income generated by these enterprises funded Kanaat’s international travels for just under two years.
How to prepare for long-term travel
Once you have an idea of how you can make money while traveling, you’ll want to build out a plan to get you there. If you want to travel long term and pay your way as you go, you should start preparing for this lifestyle change several months in advance.
“If you try to just fly by the seat of your pants, you could get caught in the middle of a vast ocean without a sail to keep you moving forward,” Kanaat said.
Here are some tips you can follow as you work toward traveling while earning money.
Start building your travel income and skills now. “You’ll need to have the skills under your belt before you hit the road,” Kepnes said. Research certification programs you can take that can qualify you for more or higher-paying work once you’re on the road. If you plan to freelance, start picking up projects to build out your client base.
Save a decent travel fund. “You’ll want at least three months’ worth, just to keep you afloat while you build your new lifestyle,” Kepnes advised. This buffer will act as your emergency fund to protect you should anything go wrong while you travel.
Close the door on your former lifestyle. “Eliminate every single expense that you have back ‘home’ so you don’t need to worry about it anymore,” Kanaat said. He suggested waiting until a rental lease is up before hitting the road. Sell your car, home, furniture, or other belongings you won’t be using while traveling abroad.
Choose low-cost destinations. Kanaat said inexpensive travel destinations such as Chiang Mai in Thailand or Budapest in Hungary can help stretch your earnings further.
Balance work and travel time. “It’s far too easy to either work too much or not enough,” Kepnes said. “Obviously, you’ll need to hustle, but you don’t want to burn out.” Decide how much you want to travel versus how much you want to work, and set guidelines you can follow to maintain that balance. For example, you might decide to spend two days a week working or three hours first thing in the morning every weekday.
Building and maintaining a source of income while traveling isn’t easy, and it takes time and dedication. But for those willing to put in the work, it can open up a world of possibilities.
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