When I first began planning this trip, I knew money would be a challenge. Having worked for a non-profit prior to traveling, I didn’t have the opportunity to save enough money to live on while I was volunteering. So it was imperative that I make money while traveling. I spent hours searching the internet for tips, pointers and examples of how others were doing it. Honestly – most of what I found sounded like scams, pipe dreams or fancy pyramid schemes. Sure, there are people with established, legitimate freelance careers who make money while traveling. Many were location-independent before they left. Others worked their butts off to reach that point so they could leave. (Major kudos to them!) Then there are the numerous travel bloggers that are “living the dream”: Travel the globe. Write about said travels. Make money from writing to pay for more travel. Sounds simple, right? It isn’t. It is a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of tenacity.
I’m not a typical freelancer. I don’t have the desire to be a travel blogger. (<–more on that later.) I just wanted to travel, volunteer, and make enough money to sustain myself while on the road. I’m not afraid of hard work, and I’m even less afraid of getting creative. So with a few nickles in my pocket, a drastic reduction in monthly bills and steely determination to make money on the road – I hit the road.
That was 8 months ago.
So how is it going?
It’s going… OK. Not great. Not bad enough to make me quit. Some months are better than others. During the “slow” months – I slow down. (Traveling slowly isn’t just for international travel. It can save you money here at home, too.) I do think the job seeking is more exhausting than working. I never would have been able to make it this long without the support of some really awesome family and friends who have opened their homes to me – sometimes for extended periods.
Making Money While Traveling – The First Eight Months
I always wanted to be transparent here about how I make money while traveling. When I researched the topic before I left I found it very difficult to get straight answers on how other people were doing it. Oh sure, there were plenty of eBooks I could have bought that would tell me so-and-so’s method to making money (I’m guessing it was by selling eBooks). I wasn’t looking for a road-map to riches, I was simply looking for practical information in order to determine whether making on the road was a feasible endeavor for me. Since I found so little to go on, I decided I would write about what I was doing, and what was working for me. If the information can empower people to find ways to fund their own travels – fantastic! Not every method will work for every person – and I am sure there are dozens of brilliant ideas out there that I haven’t even imagined. The following is a list of the ways I have been making money while traveling so far.
- Promotional Work (Also known as Brand Ambassador work, promotions, experiential marketing, event staff, etc.) I have extensive experience in promotional work, and had always planned on pursuing this as much as possible in order to fund my travels. Back in October I was lucky enough to secure work for the month of December. That job turned into 3 months, in 3 different cities. (Thankfully I had friends and family in all three locations, so I didn’t have to worry about paying all of my wages in hotel expenses.) I have worked some week-long events, and a couple of one-off (one day or 1/2 day events) since then. I love working promotions and events, and will continue to do this throughout my travels.
- Web Design – I hadn’t really planned on doing any web design work to fund my travels – mostly for the same reason I don’t have the desire to be a travel blogger: I spent many years doing website design and development, and as editor, writer and programmer for an online magazine. I didn’t want the added pressure of being Wi-Fi dependent in order to make a living on the road. But I was approached to help develop and design a new website at a perfect time for me to complete the work. Of course I took the job.
- Marketing Consultant – Much like the Web Design gig above. It was an opportunity at a perfect time. While I was writing a marketing plan for a new business, I realized how much I do enjoy this type of work – and will be something I will more actively pursue in the future.
- Pet and House Sitter – As I write this, I am pet sitting in Los Angeles. There are so many things I love about pet sitting gigs. Mostly, I get to hang out with animals! I no longer have pets of my own, and this gives me a chance to get in some serious animal play time.
- Various items for sale – I have some “support perks” listed here on ChangeForMiles.com that people can purchase in order to help fund my travels. It doesn’t offer a lot of revenue, but it is a fun way for people to offer support with it being an outright donation. I have also had T-shirts for sale in the past (and will have again soon.)
- Although it wasn’t technically a way to make money while traveling, I was fortunate enough to win $1000 in free fuel from Exxon Mobil through their “What Fuels You?” contest. As you can imagine, free fuel when you’re driving across country is a HUGE deal – and I am so thankful for everyone who voted, and for Exxon Mobil for sponsoring the contest!
Do you have a suggestion or tip on how to make money while traveling? Or a need for a rock star pet-sitter? 🙂 Let me know in the comments below!