A question I am often asked is “how do you afford all this travel?” I’ve been on the road for the most part of 6 years and in that time I’ve almost constantly had work. I am no trust-fund baby, nor do I get regular hand outs from anybody, I’m also terrible at saving so anything I earn generally goes on my traveling and worldly experiences. In my opinion, all you need is a positive attitude, a good work ethic and longing for experience.
There are plenty of jobs you can do on the road while you’re traveling or when you stay put for a certain amount of time, or even when you’re at home saving for that trip of a lifetime! I’ve done most of this list at some point or another but the list is almost endless!
Never let work be a barrier to travel: if you do it right, you can take your job with you.
Working Holiday Visas
Your first point of call should be looking at working holiday visa options. A lot of countries have reciprocal arrangements allowing people between the age of 18-35 to work for a year or two. This is mostly how I do it. I find a place where it’s easy for me to get a working holiday visa, I use that place as a base and then travel from there, heading back to save some money for the next trip.
To find out about these your best bet is to check out the embassy websites of the country you’re interested in going to. Otherwise, a quick google search should point you in the right direction.
For the last few years this has been my go-to. No matter where I am in the world there is always somebody that needs their kids looked after. This job is incredible because it’s usually seen as more of a cultural exchange. You generally don’t need experience (common sense goes a long way!), you have a lot of time off, you often get food, accommodation and a lot of other perks (like overseas holidays!) included. I’ve worked as an au pair/nanny in France, Turkey, UK, Canada, Thailand, Vienna and The Netherlands and I’ve head incredible experiences in all those places. I don’t go through an agency, although some people prefer to do this for safety reasons and some countries require you to do this. I use Aupair World and Great Aupair. There are plenty of other sites you can use but from my experience, these are the most popular.
Again, wherever you go in the world you’ll usually find somebody that wants to learn English. You don’t always need specific qualifications for this either and there are plenty of ways to go about it. You could go through an organisation, work at a language school or advertise privately on noticeboards or websites like Gumtree, Craigslist or similar, depending on where you are.
Housesitting is a great way to save money on accommodation and get your bearings in a new city. I usually try to set up some housesitting when I first move to a new country. This gives me a base and somewhere to go to when I get off the plane in my lovely jet-lagged state. It gives me the security that a hostel probably wouldn’t as well as a comfortable feeling of a home away from home. Most people that get housesitters often have pets to look after so it is important that you take on this responsibility rather than just take advantage of the free accommodation. There are a number of websites I use and most require a small membership fee, although I think that’s worth it.
I’ve had wonderful experiences with these sites, including housesitting in central London over Christmas! In my experience though, you do have to contact quite a few people and well in advance.
With such a high staff turnover it’s generally easy to find work in a bar or a restaurant. What is difficult, however, is if you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language. If you’re a native English speaker in a non-English-speaking country, my advice would be to hunt out your nearest international pub! There are bars in many towns and cities that pay ‘cash in hand’ to travelers who can work a bar and are willing to stay in one spot for a while. Bars connected to hostels are often your best bet. The same goes for cafes and restaurants. If you’re in a popular backpacking destination, just ask the hostel staff if they know of any cafes that hire travelers. Sometimes you’ll find a local classifieds/coupon traveler-oriented magazine lying around the hostel as well. Flip it open and many times you’ll find restaurants advertising for help.
Host a Pub Crawl/Pub Quiz/Karaoke
I met a guy from the UK in Vienna hosting a pub quiz and he said it was very easy to get that sort of work and he makes a decent amount for a couple of hours work. Basically you just go and approach a few pubs/bars (English and Irish pubs are your best bet!), sell your idea to them and work out a deal and hey presto – you got yourself a little bit more cash and the bar has a few more people coming in on that quiet weeknight.
This is a personal favourite of mine! To be honest, I’ve never used this one to make money but I think the idea behind it is brilliant and I just love searching through the thousands of profiles on here. This is a great way to make a little bit of pocket money for a little bit of work. When setting up a profile on here, my advice would be to try to make your profile niche-specific so that you don’t get lost in the thousands of other similar profiles.
Do you have some kind of talent? Maybe you don’t have talent but you’re more than willing to have people laugh at you, especially if they’ll throw their spare change in your hat. Many, many travelers are playing guitar, juggling, dancing and singing their way around the world. It may not be legal in some places though, so be sure to check the rules.
Haircuts and/or Massages
I was recently at a hostel in Poland and a girl that was staying there was offering haircuts and massages for a donation. She had no professional training and taught herself using the internet. Not a bad idea! Needless to say, I signed up for both!
Manicures and/or Make Up
Follow the same idea as above but offer manicures or make up instead!
Piano? Guitar? Flute? Glockenspiel? Whatever you can play, chances are there are people all over the world who want to learn as well. Advertise in local online classifieds or put up signs in busy areas, such as gathering places of college students, and you just might have a few classes lined up before you know it.
English isn’t the only language people want to learn. Speak French, Spanish, German, Italian, Mandarin, Arabic or anything else? Look for jobs or set up your own classes by advertising at universities or popular hangouts such as cafes.
Edit English Signs/Menus/Websites/CVs/Documents
It might sound silly but there are travelers out there earning decent money by wandering around touristy areas all over the world and getting paid to correct the English spelling/grammar on signs and menus of businesses that try to attract foreigners.
As a keen photographer myself this is often how I make some extra money on the road. I advertise on local websites and social media pages and I don’t find it too hard to get work. I initially worked for free to build up a portfolio but now that I have that it’s easy to charge people a bit of money. There’s so many different types of photography! I get most of my work doing weddings and family portraits – that’s also where most of your money is. You could set up your own ‘shop’ on sites such as SmugMug.com and you could try and sell your photos to a variety of travel magazines and to companies that have stock photography collections.
I always recommend this option as an excellent way to earn good money while getting a taste of the world, gaining some solid work experience and networking with hundreds of people (both fellow crew and passengers) from around the world. Not a bad list of benefits.
Not the most glamorous of jobs but again, it’s easy to get – there’s always rich people looking for people to clean their mansions.
Just check out the listings on HelpX.net and Workaway.info and you’ll be ready to pack your bags today. If you’re willing to work a few hours each day in exchange for room, board and sometimes, some extra cash, there is no shortage of opportunities. There’s also WWOOF.org which focuses on organic farm work.
Fruit Picking/Farm Work
Get out into the sun, grab a basket and start picking fruit or working on a farm. Such an option is quite common for travelers/backpackers passing through Australia and the pay can include payment per kilo of fruit you pick, room, board or any combination of the three.
Hotels and hostels often hire people from all over the world for a variety of different jobs. Front of house, cleaning, in the restaurant or bar, etc. Sometimes they’ll even offer you food and accommodation along with your salary.
Some countries pay you to do this and you’d be saving lives at the same time. Win-win!
Sell your belongings
Have you accumulated a lot of stuff while you’ve been on the road? Or perhaps you’re saving for that next trip away? This is a great way of making money. You can literally sell anything. If you live close to a university town, I would suggest advertising anything and everything around the time they’re going back to school. I’ve bought and sold a lot at this time. Otherwise, advertise on facebook or community webites. Remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
Many international tour operators that offer budget tours around the world, hire tour guides or leaders to accompany each group. The pay is on the low side and you usually have to sign up for a 1-2 year contract, but the benefit is that you get to explore parts of the world without spending any money at all, while gaining some great work experience in the process.
Maybe you want to live overseas but you want to have a proper career or are looking for a higher paycheck. Well, there’s nothing stopping you from applying for corporate or other long-term jobs around the world. China has a growing number of opportunities for foreigners, Singapore and New Zealand are very popular and several countries in the Middle East are home to thousands of expats living and working for companies there.
Work on a Yacht
Sometimes they pay, sometimes they don’t, but if you look at websites such as Desperate Sailors you might find it hard to turn down an offer to work on board a yacht or sailboat, especially one that will spend a few months in the Caribbean or Mediterranean or perhaps even head across the Pacific.
So, as you can see there are plenty of ways to make money while you’re on the road. Whether it’s a quick working holiday abroad or taking your career with you or working a few weeks here and there to fund the next leg of your journey. It can be done! Of course there are any other ways of making money out there so if you have any other suggestions or want to share your experiences comment below!
Happy Travels 🙂