4 Side Hustles That Help You Travel the World for Free

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Traveling the world is great, but it certainly isn’t cheap, especially if you’re already dealing with credit card debt.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the average domestic round-trip airfare was $432 in the second quarter of 2017. Add on the average nightly cost of a hotel (around $123, according to Statista), and you’re looking at shelling out over $500 for a one-night trip.

But don’t let this deter you from indulging your wanderlust. There are many ways to have an adventure without going broke that don’t involve flight-booking hacks or racking up credit card points. Here are actual side hustles that let you travel the U.S. and the world for practically nothing.

1. Transport goods and pets

Petsitting side gigs

Image credit: Shutterstock

There’s no better classic getaway than a cross-country road trip. Unfortunately, between gas, hotels, and food, your costs can add up quickly. But what if you made deliveries along the way to cover your costs?

That’s exactly what the app Roadie offers for those who want to hit the open road and get paid to do it. Columbia University student Thomas Scheiter wanted to drive his car from Los Angeles back to school one semester, so he signed up for the app in hopes of making some money along the way.

“I had a Prius and knew it would cost me about $200 to $350 worth of gas to drive it cross-country,” Scheiter said. “I figured out how many deliveries I needed to make to cover that cost, and my trip was paid for.”

On average, a Roadie driver can earn $8 to $650 depending on the size of the delivery, how far it’s going, and how quickly it needs to get there. You get paid even more for transporting pets. For example, Scheiter said he made $300 to $400 delivering a dog from New York to Denver.

“I’ve done many pet gigs, and they pay well,” said Scheiter. “In fact, it can cover my trip halfway across the country. I once drove a dog from New York to San Francisco and made $600 for that alone.”

You also have the option of loading up the car with other items that need to be transported. On that trip from New York to San Francisco, Scheiter did just that and made $2,000, minus the cost of gas.

The downside to this gig is that you don’t get to have a leisurely drive since you’re on a deadline.

“This gig is good for people who don’t mind driving many hours in a day and making a cross-country journey in about four or five days,” said Scheiter. He will sometimes drive 10 hours a day and take naps on the side of the road rather than pay for a hotel.

The upside? “You get to see cool parts of the country and meet interesting people you would never have without the job,” said Scheiter.

To apply for Roadie, you must be 18 or older, have car insurance, have a valid driver’s license, complete an application, and pass a background check.

2. Housesit

Housesitting side gigs

Image credit: Shutterstock

Unless you plan on camping, you’ll need accommodations during your travels. That expense can add up quickly if you’re looking at an average $123 cost per night in the U.S. Head to a European hot spot like London, and you’re looking at spending around $252 a night for a hotel and $144 for an Airbnb, according to Business Insider.

Those high costs are why Josie Schneider and her husband, Conrad, housesit when they travel.

“We had a wonderful five-month housesitting run through Europe where we didn’t have to pay for accommodations,” said Josie. “This has saved us a ton of money on our travels.”

During the couple’s first six-week housesit in Copenhagen, they spent $2,400 on living expenses, including food, transportation, sightseeing, and more. They calculated that if they had stayed in a hotel and eaten every meal at a restaurant, their cost would have been closer to $13,000 for the entire trip.

The couple also loves the cool experiences they’ve had through housesitting.

“The variety of housesitting assignments are incredibly wide,” said Josie. “One time we received 10 days’ free lodging in exchange for helping with a family’s olive harvest in Tuscany. We’ve stayed in a multimillion-dollar home on the beach in Sydney, Australia, and on a ranch in the Australian outback, all for free because we looked after the homes and animals.”

Although you can stay in cool places all over the world for free, you’ll likely have to complete some chores such as collecting the mail, watering the plants, or sometimes, watching an animal. You also can only stay as long as the owners need you, so their schedule becomes your schedule.

To get started, check out sites like MindMyHouse and Nomador, where for $20 or $90 per year, depending on the membership, you get access to thousands of homes.

3. Become a travel nanny

Travel nanny side gigs

Image credit: Shutterstock

Babysitting or taking on a part-time nanny job is a great way to make some extra cash on the side. But if you love kids and want to travel, consider becoming a travel nanny.

The company Adventure Nannies connects families who are planning travel with someone to help look after the kids on the trip. That means you get paid — plus free meals, accommodations, and transportation — while traveling the world. The trips are for set periods of time too, so you can plan ahead with your time off from work or a school vacation.

For example, two musician moms on the site needed a nanny to travel with them on tour for a couple of months. They offered to pay $20 to $25 per hour with a guaranteed six hours of work per day.

Adventure Nannies promises you’ll make a minimum of $15 per hour, plus overtime. The company also recommends parents pay $150 to $250 per day for nannies on travel placement.

Keep in mind that because you’ll be working, you won’t have entire days free to explore. Still, there usually is downtime, and you can always extend your trip after completing your commitment.

To sign up for the website, you’ll need to:

  • Fill out an application
  • Go through a phone screening
  • Do an in-person or Skype interview
  • Provide references
  • Pass a background check

Once you’re cleared to start work, you can begin applying for gigs on the site.

4. Clean toilets

Gigs for cheap travel

Image credit: Shutterstock

When Stevo Dirnberger and Chanel Cartell set off on a trek across the globe in March 2015 after quitting their jobs, they knew their savings wouldn’t cover all their costs. To stay on the road, they took up many odd jobs and wrote about them on their blog, How Far From Home.

The couple did a series of jobs in their first year of travel, ranging from working with huskies, chopping wood, and cooking for guests in Norway to scrubbing toilets and building jungle gyms in Sweden.

“Scrubbing toilets in Sweden was probably the weirdest side hustle we took on,” said Dirnberger. “When we signed up, we knew we’d be helping with tourists but had no idea that meant doing laundry and scrubbing toilets. It was tough, but with work only lasting one hour per day and a free car to explore, we managed to see Sweden’s wilderness for an entire month, not paying for anything except the night trains to get us there.”

Although the couple didn’t get paid for their work, they got food and accommodations for their time. In addition to cleaning toilets, they helped out at a dog-training facility in central Italy, cooked for a family in Iceland, and pet and housesat in New Zealand and Canada.

In one blog post, the couple revealed they’ve “tallied 135 toilets scrubbed, 250 kilos of cow dung spread, two tons of rocks shoveled, 60 meters of pathway laid, 57 beds made,” and they couldn’t remember how many wine glasses they’ve polished.

All of their work saved them big bucks. Staying in a wooden cabin in Norway for an entire month would likely have cost them anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500. They also estimated that the cost of three meals a day for two people for a month would’ve been between $4,000 and $6,000.

The same can be said for their six-week stay in a gorgeous treehouse in New Zealand with a free car. The couple said renting a property like that could cost upwards of $2,000, plus an additional $2,000 for the car rental. But all they paid for that month was for food and a flight to New Zealand.

With these four side hustles in mind, you can have an adventure-filled vacation at practically no cost. All it takes is a little creativity and a little work on the side.

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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.

Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.

Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance:Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.470% APR to 6.990% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.470% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.64% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.


5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of October 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.22%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.32% (2.72%-8.32% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled. Applicants with an Associate’s degree or with no degree must have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. Qualifying payments are the most recent on time and consecutive payments of principal and interest on the loans being refinanced. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a cosigner will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.47% – 6.99%3Undergrad
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2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
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2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
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2.95% – 6.37%2Undergrad
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2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
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2.72% – 8.32%6Undergrad
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