If you’re like us and planning long-term travel in the near future, you’re likely asking yourself how to make money while traveling. Yes, you’ll have to save the initial investment – probably several thousand dollars, even after airline tickets are paid for – to fund the initial several months of your journey. But what happens when that money runs out and you’re not ready to come home? Halef and I have been researching some of the best ways to make money while traveling, and we’ve come up with a list. We likely won’t try most of these ourselves, but a couple of them are on our list.
What we have learned is that people who put the work in can make a decent living trying at least a couple of them.
Travel Writing and Blogging
This is the obvious one for us. Even in the short time we’ve been blogging, we have found several travel bloggers who are making $10,000 or more a month doing exactly what we’re doing – blogging. That’s not to say that you (or we) will ever make that much, but we know it can be done. It’s a lot of work though, as we are finding out now. And the time investment you need to make in it is substantial.
For us, our goal is just to make the blog successful. We don’t need $10,000/month. We’d like to see it get to $2-3000. That, paired with the money we’re now saving, would more than fund travel to the countries we plan to see on our voyage.
Check out this post to learn how you can start your own travel blog. It’s inexpensive initially and you can get it up and running in less than an hour (honestly!)
Halef and I have hosted a ton of Couchsurfers at our home in Atlanta, and not a few of them were au pairs who were using their time off from their jobs to do mini-whirlwind tours of the States. As an au pair, you’ll be responsible for caring for the children of a family while they’re out at work during the day. You will likely have other chores you’re responsible for as well, like cleaning and cooking. It’s worth noting that all of the au pairs we have personally met are women and that they don’t make a ton of money. But they do get free room and board in the house in which they’re working, plus $800-1000/month. Everyone we’ve met seems to say it’s hard work, but that they enjoy it for the opportunities it gives them.
This is one that Halef and I are pursuing right now. We’re currently going to Georgia Tech a few times a week, working on getting our divemaster certifications. If you know us, you know that we’re big into scuba diving. But making a career out of it can be difficult. A divemaster makes about $800-1000 per month, depending on where you work. Usually, this includes a place to stay. And if you’re working on a liveaboard, you’ll get a room and all your meals in addition to your pay.
I’ll likely stick with it and certify as a PADI instructor after I get my divemaster cert. Dive instructors can make far more than just having a divemaster certification on its own because you can teach people to dive and do it privately. My experience talking to divemasters tells me that they make a certain dollar amount per student per dive. If you work somewhere where it’s busy, you can make decent money. If not, you can’t.
For us though, we’ll be getting two things out of it – we’ll make money while traveling AND we’ll get to dive for free. Diving can get expensive, and this will allow us to do a lot of it without breaking the bank – maybe even adding to it!
Cruise ship worker
I’ve been on a few cruises, and I honestly didn’t know people who work on cruise ships make pretty decent money. I have to be honest with you and admit, reluctantly, that I thought that my waiters and bus boys from Indonesia and Eastern Europe were doing these jobs because they were the only ones they could find. But that’s not the case. These can be pretty lucrative positions. And when you think about the tips on cruise ships, it’s not hard to believe. In fact, depending on what you’re doing as a regular crew member, you can make up to $6,000 a month!
You’ll work long hours though. I’ve seen the same people who worked breakfast at 7 in the morning serving dinner at 9 PM. Your room steward will be there for you with a smile on his or her face at 6 AM and that same person will deliver you room service at 11 PM if you want. It’s a long day, for sure. But there is time off, and I’ve seen my waiters, bar staff, and stewards enjoying the same ports as I have. If it’s something you would like to consider, just think of all the wonderful places cruise ships go – the Caribbean, the rivers of Europe, Antarctica, the Mediterranean, and so many more!
Computer-based contracting work
This is something you should consider if you have a job that doesn’t tie you to a desk. You can make money while traveling as a graphic artist, computer programmer, Instructional Designer (like me), and many more professions that are able to work remotely. The only downside to this is that sometimes you ave to attend meetings. And if you’re in Malaysia and the meeting is with clients in America, you’ll have to get up at 3 AM to take it.
This is something I am keen on doing myself. My work involves developing online training courses for a large US company. I already work from home, so I know there’s no issue with needing a traditional office space in which to work. Everything I do can be done somewhere with a desk and a good Wi-Fi connection. So I will be looking for those opportunities while on the road.
I have friends who make money while traveling as nurses. Some of them take contracts with hospitals or other private institutions while they travel. Others I’ve heard of work phones and do triage work. If you work in the medical field and want to travel, do some research to find out where your skills are needed. You might find that the places with the most need are exactly where you want to go or similar.
Teaching English or other languages
Everyone’s heard of teaching English overseas. What you may not know is that, while English is certainly the most popular, there are plenty of opportunities out there for native speakers of other languages to find work. My Spanish teacher in Atlanta, for example, is from Colombia. He recently took a second contract in Korea teaching Spanish there because it was better than what he could make teaching Spanish here.
Many schools will even pay for your flight from home to where the school is. Others will pay for or subsidize your housing expenses. My own brother taught English in both Japan and Korea. Not only did he make decent money there over the decade he spent in both places, he also learned a ton about both cultures. A fringe benefit is that he can speak Korean pretty well now and does well in Japanese, too!
Your thoughts on how to make money while traveling
This is not an exhaustive list, and we are sure there are hundreds more ways to make money while traveling. If you have any ideas, or if you’re doing something unique to earn income on the road, please let us know in the comments!