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5 Ways to Earn Money While Traveling

Loved How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World in 5 Steps? Looking for ways to earn money while traveling? Join the club! We explore the world of nomadic adventurers with travel-lust in their souls and endless imagination. Let’s discover how they manage to fund their travels by working abroad.

“How on earth can you afford to travel the world?” This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the question I am asked most. When I mention that I write travel guides for a living, the response I get is almost universal: “Aaahhh of course you do…that makes sense!” It’s as if travel writing is about the only option one has when one wishes to earn money while traveling.

But let me tell you, it’s not.

I have been traveling the world for almost 13 years but have only been writing for the last six. How have I supported my travel-lust all this time? Easy! I’ve tour guided through two entire continents, tackled casual bar and restaurant work and taught English. Mind you, these are only the jobs I did for money. There’s still an exhaustive list of things I did in exchange for food and accommodation.

Some travelers feel that a ‘work exchange deal’ – whereby you work in exchange for a bed and a couple of hot meals a day – is not the same thing as earning money. But I disagree. Had I earned money painting that wall, rewriting that menu or managing that campsite, I would have spent it on food and accommodation, so as far as I’m concerned it’s one and the same.

Earning money while traveling simply means finding ways to keep yourself on the road longer. And that’s precisely what I’ve done. For 13 wonderful years.

Here are my top 10 Ways to earn Money While Traveling: 

1. Online Work

Out of all the ways I have earned money on the road, writing and online work has given me the greatest amount of flexibility. I don’t deal with guests and customers, I have no set schedule, my bosses are my clients, and (the best part) I get to move around as often as like. My next ‘office’ is just a plane ride away, to wherever I dream of going next. Having said this, online work has also been the hardest way to earn a decent living.  It took me at least two years to set up a solid reputation as a travel writer, and at least three until I could actively apply for jobs. Now that I have a solid reputation, clients approach me and I no longer waste time on fruitless job applications.

The scope of work available online is virtually limitless. You can find work doing data entry, reviewing of products, designing and supplying content for websites, and writing of any kind, from business reports to travel guides, product launches and even wedding dress descriptions! The world of digital nomading is absolutely huge. Just look at the extensive list on portals like Upwork and you’ll start to understand the kind of work you can find online.

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2. Working Holiday Visas

Working holiday visas are absolutely fantastic and give younger folks the chance to experience life in a new country, whilst earning a bit of cash on the side. Usually, on a 12-month working holiday visa, you have the option to work for a total of 6 months and play the tourist for the rest of the time. Canada, New Zealand and Australia offer perhaps the most known visas of this kind, but you may be surprised to learn they are not the only ones. You can also get a working holiday visa in Ireland, Singapore, and South Korea, whilst other countries offer visas for very specific kind of work like, say, nursing, au pair (nannying) and teaching. The only hitch with working holiday visas is that they are quite restrictive. Most are only available to those under 30 years of age with no dependents and limit the number of hours you can work and the amount of time you can spend at any one particular job. With many, a minimum amount of funds needs to be shown on your bank account before you’re allowed into the country. While some, like South Korea, you must be either be currently at a university, or have completed a degree within the last two years.

Once you’ve bagged one of these golden visas, the world is your oyster. Seasonal agricultural work is hugely popular and, in some countries like New Zealand, it will actually make you eligible for a 3-month visa extension. The most popular websites for finding jobs on a working holiday visa are TAW (Australia) WorkingHolidayStarter (New Zealand) and (Ireland).

3. Work Exchange

Work exchange projects are extremely popular all over the world, and will give you a chance to extend your travels for much longer than you ever envisaged. In theory, you offer your services to locally-run enterprises, be they campsites, hotels or businesses and, in return, they provide you with food and accommodation. The kind of work available is varied as are the destinations on offer. Just take a look at the most popular sites like WorkAway, HelpX and WWOOF to get an idea. From helping with housework in Sydney (Australia) to running a hostel in the Dominican Republic or getting your hands dirty in an organic farm, the options for this kind of ‘volunteer’ work are endless.

The only downside of this kind of work exchange is actually the one thing it prides itself on most, as this is a relatively unstructured and unmonitored system of job placement. The lack of monitoring can leave you open to unfavorable experiences. Unlike traditional volunteering programs, which are connected to registered NGOs for example, the jobs and employers are not vetted and placements aren’t set in stone. The room for disappointments is considerable. Once a placement is secured, you are really at the mercy of your ‘employer’ and experiences have ranged from ‘perfectly heavenly’ to ‘steer clear of this!’

On the other hand, you can mitigate risks by simply searching for work exchange programs in a country you are already traveling through, rather than hopping on a plane and traveling to a country solely for the job. If you do strike work exchange gold then you’ll certainly enjoy an amazing experience working abroad.

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(Photo: Flickr )


4. Teach English

An immensely popular option is to travel the world teaching English. Although you’ll need to be a native English speaker and certified ESL (English as a second language) teacher in order to land the best jobs with lucrative pay working in illustrious schools and universities, there are still plenty of other language classes you can hold in less formal settings or with smaller local schools. Getting ESL certification is the one thing I did before I ever started traveling and although I have not used it all that much – certainly nowhere that required it – I still think it an investment well made, should I ever want to use it in the future.

The most popular resource job recruitment sites are FootprintsRecruiting and GoOverseas but there are dozens more online. ESL certification can either be done remotely or on-sight and the one most important requirement, in my opinion, is that the certificate is internationally recognized. It would certainly defeat the purpose otherwise. Courses can go for upwards of USD 1,000 and include over 100 hours of practice, which is essential. The most respected course are offered by i-to-i (which is the one I did and am happy to recommend) TeflUK and TeachAway which is run by the University of Toronto.

Teaching contracts can go from 6 months to multiple years and will see you immersed in a new culture and living like a local. A good pay and extensive school holidays mean your travels need not stop at the school gate. A wonderful option for those who crave a little stability with the added bonus of an overseas adventure.

5. Trade & Skill work

This is probably my favorite of all the options here and the one I find the most creative. In all the years I’ve been gallivanting about, I’ve met truckloads of travelers who put their particular skills to concrete use. Hairdressers, electricians, plumbers, yoga, dance and music teachers; teachers of everything else, acupuncturists and masseuse, to name but a few. If you have a skill of ANY kind, chances are you can support yourself while traveling simply by advertising your services around. No matter what it is that you do, chances are you’ll find a way to earn money with it.

My partner is a very competent tradesman and he’s earned us a good keep doing all sorts of wonderful things: building wooden furniture in Australia, redoing the electrics in a campsite in Ethiopia, fixing cars in a remote mountainous village in Chile and even managing a horse-farm in South Africa for three months! The amazing this is that once you start exploring this side of your skillset you’ll realize that what you don’t know, you can easily be taught. This is why we take every opportunity to learn a new skill. Someone needs a hand on a farm? We’re onto it! Meet a local who wants help building a wooden pergola? We’ll be all over that too. Learn, practice, perfect. Soon enough you’ll see that skillset grow, attracting even more opportunities to earn your keep while traveling.

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Written by

Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 11 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now, along with her partner in love and travel, riding a motorbike from Germany to Australia. Laura moonlights as a freelance travel writer and, between adventures, loves sharing her travel ramblings on her personal website:Laura's Travel Tales