One of the most common reasons people give me for not traveling is that it is too expensive. Frankly, that’s just not true. In fact, just as you can choose to travel in a way that breaks the bank, you also can choose to return home having spent less during your trip than you would have in your native country, or even having more money than when you started! How do I know this? I left over a year ago for India with a budget that would barely get me through four months. I’m still here, learning a lot and having a great time. What I did, and what you can do to, is that I found ways to make money while traveling–and believe me, it’s easier (and more fun) than you’d think. Here are some of the ways that I and many travelers I met along the way have uses to fund their travel experiences.
Perform. Do you have a skill? Show it off! Standing on a street corner with an instrument or some juggling balls is one of the simplest and most fun ways of making some cash while traveling. If you don’t play an instrument or have any performance-based skills, improvise with the tools and talents you do have–make something up! The great thing is that you don’t necessarily have to be excellent in whatever you’re doing. Half (or in some cases nearly all) of the job you’re doing is connecting with people and helping them have a good time. Do this by meeting people’s eyes and smiling, making people laugh, and being over the top presenting yourself as a “Big Show” while at the same time maintaining humility and humanity. Performing is fun and a great way to meet people. Just make sure you’re in an area where it’s legal, and be conscious of cultural differences, especially when it comes to humor and boundaries.
Blog. Traveling teaches you a lot that couldn’t be learned any other way, and sharing what you learn can be really valuable to people. If you don’t want to set up an ordinary travel blog, try anything else you are interested in, and if you want give it a new spin that coincides with your travel. For example, if you are interested in culinary arts, you could blog about learning to cook authentic dishes with the locals. For example, I chose to share some of the wisdom I have encountered in India in a way that is relevant to readers back home (see here). The most important thing is that you enjoy what you write, because this is the only way to really provide people with something of value. This is one of my favorite ways to make money while traveling, because you can use your experience as both the means and the end of making money. A blog can be monetized in many ways, including displaying ads and providing paid material such as courses or eBooks for readers who are interested in diving deeper.
Do odd jobs. After running out of money in India, I spent a while doing odd jobs. Just ask around and let people know if you have specific skills, and sooner or later a job will probably turn up. It’s easier if you don’t rely on income from jobs like these, but they can take some strain off your other finances, and sometimes end up leading to more long-term deals. They almost ways lead to a new adventure or unique experience. Be prepared to do many kinds of work and consider accepting food and accommodation instead of cash in exchange for your trouble. Especially in touristy areas, local businesses know that having a foreigner working with them in some capacity will give them a leg up with the competition, so looking in these areas can be especially rewarding. You won’t make millions, but the jobs are usually fun to do and give you a new perspective on the country you’re in. I found jobs working in guest houses, as an extra in films, as a photographer, as a tutor and more by just asking around.
Work online. So far, this is one of the best ways I have found to make money while traveling. There are countless types of jobs online that only require skills that most people already have, so don’t worry if you’re not a graphic designer or a techie. You can find jobs doing just about anything, including tutoring, transcribing, writing, and a whole lot more. Check out Work At Home Adventures to find one that fits best with you, and begin! It’s nice to try out several options to see which one is the most enjoyable.The great thing about working online is that, if you’re traveling in a country where the exchange rate is in your favor, one hour of work can translate to a lot more buying power than it would back home. For example, during my trip in India, writing for one hour has translated to between one and two days of traveling. Not bad!
Get a proper job. One method to make money while traveling that is overlooked surprisingly often is getting a working visa and a proper job. Places like Australia, which give out Working Holiday Visas very easily, or China, where English teachers (qualified of not) are in astoundingly high demand, are good bets. Not only will you return home with more money than you came with (or have some left over to travel to yet another country), you will experience life in the country on a completely different level. After all, the only way to truly understand a culture is to live the life of the people there. Working abroad allows the time to dive deep into a new country and culture and also gives the opportunity to have some steadiness within your new environment–a great opportunity to learn something new and engage avenues of life that were closed before. Some travelers I know who work in India do so to have the time to meditate or learn to play the Sitar as well as help the organizations they’re working for (mostly NGOs, as it would be hard to work in India just to get rich!).
Choosing to make money while traveling allows for longer stays, deeper experiences and a new perspective. Use several of the methods above or find one that really works for you. Talk with other travelers who might know about opportunities in the place you are in; and share with them what you’ve learned. After all, money is only a tool that can be used to create experiences and connections that would have been closed before. And when you use it for traveling, it’s a good bet you’ve used it wisely.