I’m going to talk about how to get paid to travel.
Can you imagine if you are receiving a steady stream of income while enjoying the adventure that comes with visiting cool places around the world?
With travel re-opening up around the developed world, you can start planning right now.
Making passive or active income while travelling takes a some time to get the contacts so you should start soon. Here are some ways you can reach your dream job of being a digital nomad and pay off your travel expenses.
Table of Contents
- Travel blogging
- Travel videography
- Travel photography
- Be an influencer
- Finding a seasonal job
- Find a job that will allow you to work remotely
- Freelance work
- Au pair
- Financial planning while travelling
We’re on a blogging focused website so let’s start with the most obvious.
You can be a travel blogger and write articles that bring in money but there are two methods — writing for someone else or writing your own blog.
Writing for a magazine
If you’re going to write for someone else, you’re going to have to find these contacts.
Did you want to pitch to a magazine? Writing a pitch requires you to be able to write something that hooks and sells. Magazines are interested in your experience traveling, the travel industry, a road trip and other travel writing.
You’ll need to know your niche. If you are a RV traveller, you can find RV magazines that want to know your experience blogging about bringing your RV around the country. It all seems country specific, though, so if you’re a US writer, you’ll be able to pitch to American magazines.
Airlines also have magazines that you can pitch. They’re in a bit of a bind these days because of the decline in travel so you might want to wait until they are back on their feet.
Then, there are magazines that cover everything about a specific region. In the US, you can find magazines that talk about the Pacific Northwest, California, Georgia, the Midwest and more. They’re not really travel magazines, but who’s to say you can’t pitch to them if you’re in those regions that they cover.
The downside of writing for a magazine is that you have to continuously pitch, and some of those pitches will get no reply (which means you haven’t caught their interest). Magazines also plan very, very far ahead. Perhaps three months, perhaps six months. Just keep note of seasonal changes.
The upside of writing for a magazine is that your work gets paid far better than any other method for converting words to cash.
It’s very rare, but you can get a dollar per word. That’s pretty amazing. Most magazines pay above 10 cents per word (unlike writing for a blog).
Writing for a blog
A travel blog needs to be fed content, often.
And you can be feeding them!
Unlike writing for a magazine, you might not have to pitch as much. It’s more common that your topics are supplied to you.
The downside of blogging is that the pay is lower. The quantity of work is more frequent.
And while magazine pitches are something you have to do often, with blogging, you’ll have to do one good pitch.
Search up job boards like Problogger or Content Writing Jobs. There’s all sorts of niches that come up daily, so you’ll need to go hunting every day.
Then, you write your pitch. Sometimes, they will ask you for your portfolio, have a bunch of questions they’d like answered and often they’d want to know your rate.
Creating your own blog
Here we go into the high risk, high reward category.
Starting a new blog is a big investment in time. You will need to hit a certain word count, keep the content’s quality up and also ensure the technical aspects like SEO, server management and design up to scratch.
Daily, you’d have to have the discipline to pace yourself to write blog post after blog post.
Once you get to a certain amount of traffic, then you can monetize it with ads, affiliate links or your own products. Or you can create sponsored posts. Hit up tourism boards and pitch them for money and freebies. Lots of possibilities…
BUT from what I have observed, the timelines for these investments are very, very long. You can’t really tell if you are on the right track until you get to certain milestones like 100 posts, 1 million words, etc.
There will also be big fluctuations in traffic at the start of your blogging venture.
But this is the ultimate way to get paid to travel. You’ll have control over anything and everything. If you have personality, people will be interested in reading what you write BECAUSE of you.
It’s like being a celebrity tour guide except you’re a travel writer.
YouTube can become a very profitable medium for side income, but it takes a very long time and you have to be committed all while knowing you might get nowhere.
There’s also a need for various investments into gear. At the very least, you’ll need a tripod with a clamp for your cellphone.
And then, it would be advisable to get a proper microphone so that you can get proper sound quality. Crappy, hollow audio filled with sounds of wind buffeting and road noise just makes people want to X out of the video.
If you’re looking for a fun way to make money, travel photography is the way to go. You get paid by people who want your photos of their experiences.
Photography is an excellent way to make money, and there are many ways to do it. You can get paid for your photographs by selling them or through stock images.
Selling your photographs is pretty simple, but not easy.
If you just sign up for a bunch of stock photo pages, you can upload your photos of your travels to all of them.
The hard work comes in setting up the keywords that will help you on the stock websites.
Of course, your photos can’t be casual shots. They have to be high quality.
And also, the more you shoot, the more likely you’ll be able to get a sale.
Unfortunately, this also means you’ll have to lug a lot of equipment from place to place.
If you are planning to travel long term, it might not be feasible.
There’s safety to be concerned about. Those thousand dollar lenses might just be a few months’ salary for folks in certain places.
Then, there’s the weight. Glass is heavy and might add to your luggage’s weight. That’s brutal.
Be an influencer
Social media influencers who have access to the right audience, like on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok or Instagram can make a significant amount of money.
Again, this is one of the longer term investments that might or might not pay off. It’s good as an option if you enjoy social media tasks like uploading Instagram stories daily. Your followers want snappy content that traps their attention in no time!
You won’t be making money directly. Let me just talk about Instagram influencers. You are going to need to get followers, then use them to your advantage.
Some celebrities use their large following in order to advertise for brands through sponsored posts which often leads to them making more than $1 million per year from endorsements alone. You probably won’t get there but you can definitely take part in the action!
Finding a seasonal job
If you have access to work holiday visas, you can consider getting a seasonal job.
For example, if you have an Australian work holiday visa, you can get your stay extended if you work for six months in an agricultural setting like fruit picking.
On the other hand, Australian work visas are also a pain in that you can’t work for more than six months with a single employer. That’s fine if you like trying new things like working in a ski hill in winter time (yes, Australia has ski hills except winter is in June).
The upside is that these jobs are always needing people. You can find one as you travel. There’ll always be a vineyard, orchard, restaurant, farm, etc. that need workers.
Find a job that will allow you to work remotely
While COVID-19 has decimated travel, it has also opened up a world of possibilities.
I am very amazed every time I learned how much I loved working remotely. It’s just something that I would have never foreseen to be a possibility until the world went into lockdown and everything went to the garbage. Except now all of us have just a little bigger chance of working remotely.
Finding a remote job is probably the best way to get stable, developed world income.
But you’d have to be lucky enough to get it. You’d also have to hustle. You’d have to prepare your resumes, gain some trust and then ask if you can go remote.
It’s easier if you have a job that’s in tech or tech related. Like blogging, web development, digital graphics, social media ads and other related fields.
The problem is that most companies hate the idea of a remote worker who is travelling. Especially if they are old school. Large companies with a lot of employees collaborating seem to have the biggest issue with these.
My experience has been that you’re probably better off just going to small companies. You’ll get much more flexibility there. Of course, if you are lucky with a high paying, large company with a future to come back to, then all the power to you!
Freelance work is the opposite of working for a large corporation that has solid rules.
As a freelancer, you get to set your own terms. One of the most common ones is the ability to work wherever you want as long as you make the meetings and hit the deadlines.
It’s easy to find work online, but hard to get chosen.
If you go to freelance task boards such as Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr, you’ll find yourself competing with so many people who can live on much less than you can.
What I found is that it’s easier to get jobs off local classifieds like Craigslist. People like to know that you’re local and you’re always within reach. You also need much less cred on these sites as you would on freelance task websites.
Those websites have a rating system and that takes a very long time to build.
You’ll often be making peanuts too while you grind to get a few stars. It’s a lot more smooth sailing after that, though, if you can find a niche that’s in demand.
Every day is different as an au pair. You might take care of one or two children, help out around the house and cook some meals for your host family while they are working on their careers.
I mean, in English, we usually call this “nannying” or being a house helper. Put it in French and then suddenly it’s for glassy eyed, blue sky thinking youth to travel and be a traveling nanny. Folks, it’s all about the travel experience!
The upside is that you get a good host family to be anchored to. They can help you with things that you might not be familiar with. And when you travel to places where you don’t understand the local culture, that can be really helpful.
You’ll probably end up teaching English to the kids too, since you’re probably from an English speaking country.
The host family can be good, but they can also be a nightmare. One of my friends told me about how their families are pretty controlling and insufferable. I was pretty bummed, but I suppose it was worth it for her because she’s raving about how much she enjoyed it.
Another one of my friends described her experience as an au pair as being: “I was a little nervous when I first got the opportunity to work with families, but every single one of them has been wonderful and welcoming. Now that I’ve worked as an au pair for many different people in [my town] over the past year or so, it’s become easier to get along (and really make friends!) with all sorts of parents while they’re out running errands together.”
Financial planning while travelling
What you need to remember is that travel costs money and it’s important to think about the cost of traveling before you start.
It is challenging to plan for your financial future while you’re travelling.
That’s why the best time to prepare for it is when you are back home.
If you are planning to travel for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to sell your items. If you’re not going to be using them while traveling, then there is no reason keeping them around.
It gets rid of clutter in your house and you can use the money for other things, such as travel expenses!
I mean, if you are a person who has lived in a place for YEARS, you’ll find you own a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff.
And once you go travelling, you’ll know those items are really unnecessary.
Pack light so you can travel with just one suitcase or backpack. It’ll save you costs and pain (for example, you’ll be able to walk from the bus depot to your hostel, rather than paying for a taxi).
When planning to travel long term, I like to look up the cost of living in different places.
I ask around. I search the web.
Living in the developed world, I am a bit amazed that people can live on less than $1,000 a month. It’s amazing. Kinda shows how we are just have so many luxuries that we take for granted… or is that just lifestyle bloat that causes us to keep asking for more?