I always find it interesting learning about how people are funding their travels while on the move, especially as photography isn’t always the most reliable source of income, it is literally a feast or famine career, especially if I am going to be constantly moving about, never settling anywhere long enough to build a base.
Here are some of the money-making career choices and quirky ideas that I have heard about over the years:
- Freelance work. Photography, web design, illustration, legal work, admin. I could go on and on. Travel the world and work on beaches with your laptop. Perfect!
- Teach English. An option that I have been looking into. I’m in the middle of a 140 hour TEFL course at the moment, which will allow me to teach English in schools, privately, one-to-one, to children, adults and business men around the world. A very popular choice among travellers.
- Resort Jobs. Another popular option. Resorts worldwide are constantly on the lookout for staff for their reception, restaurants, or for the activities they hold.
- Hostels. Hostels are also an easy option. I did this for a few days here and there last summer, and I found that generally even if a hostel has no need for more staff at that time, they will usually recommend a ‘sister hostel’ that does. If you’re lucky they may even just allow you to linger for free – free accommodation!
- Work Exchange. This is something that I want to try out this summer. WWOOF is probably the most well known organisation for this, and I’ve also heard things about HelpX.net. Basically in exchange for so many hours unpaid work (generally 4-6 hours), you receive free food and accommodation. Mostly people will be working on farms, doing anything from helping with the harvest to helping in the kitchen. HelpX also includes some ads looking for help in B&B’s, hostels and on sailing boats!
- Fruit-picking. Popular in Australia. The pay can be a combination of payment per kilo, food or accommodation.
- House-sitting. Another one that I intend to try this summer. I have couchsurfed many times, but this one is taking it one step further: taking care of someone’s house while they are away. Rarely do you actually get paid for this, but you instead save money on accommodation! I’ve often heard about lovely home-owners stocking their kitchens with food for their sitters before they leave, so maybe if you’re lucky you can save money on food too! Mind My House and House Carers are two very good sites.
- Bar-tending. Easy cash-in-hand work. Just ask around.
- Cafe/Restaurant work. Same goes really.
- Cruise Ships. There are so many available jobs on cruise ships. Photographers, croupiers, waiters/bar staff, performers, retail staff, receptionists, spa staff, hairdressers and makeup artists. And then there are the much needed doctors and technicians. Options for everyone! You get to travel the world, its good pay, and its good work experience.
- Tour Guide. As a general rule, you can’t really survive as a tour guide if you can only speak English, though I have seen some English-only tours in cities like Rome and Paris, so it’s not impossible. You also have to, of course, know your stuff! Brush up on your history!
- Busking. Not an option for me unfortunately, my musical talents are pretty poor.
- Au Pair. Its very case-by-case, but generally you are given a room and weekly payment in exchange for taking care of someone’s children.
- Teach people to play musical instruments. Again, not an option for me, my piano skills are very rusty and I can hardly read sheet music! But if you can play an instrument, why not advertise yourself as a private tutor?
- Teach whatever you know! So many other options. Yoga, dance, languages, surfing (apparently you don’t even have to be particularly good to be a surfing instructor, as long as you’re better than the paying beginners), scuba diving (if you are certified), photography. Again, I could go on
- Massages. I met a girl last year who was offering €5 massages in one of the most popular hostels in Paris and making enough that she could travel every month or two. Trust me, there’s nothing you want more than a full body massage after carrying around a heavy backpack all day!
- Hairdressing. A similar idea, and again I met a girl who was offering hair cuts in a hostel in Slovenia, and most of her customers were long-term travellers who had long neglected their hair.
- Selling goods. If you’re good at arts and crafts, you could always sell your produce online or at markets.
- Travel Writing. A tricky business, but if you work hard enough, you could find yourself sipping cocktails on various beaches around the world reviewing your travels as you go.
- Blogging. Another very tricky business and not one that is guaranteed to earn money. A lot of effort has to go into building up a blog.
- Working on a Yacht. Not always paid, but websites such as DesperateSailors and Find a Crew are good for finding boats in search a crew members. Sailing experience will of course be necessary (seems obvious but the amount of backpackers I’ve met who have seemed shocked when they found they couldn’t just hop onto someone’s boat and catch a free ride).
- Tour Operators. General tasks include greeting people as they arrive, making sure that groups remain organised and leading them to their tour bus.
- Construction Work. If you have experience, this can be a good option for short-term cash-in-hand (payment under-the-table) work.
- Acting. I’ve heard that if you linger around the Colaba area of Mumbai, no matter what you look like, soon enough you’ll be approached by a scout and asked if you would like a part in a Bollywood film. This is also common in Kenya and apparently they pay isn’t bad!
- Be Creative! I’ve heard some pretty quirky and very creative ways of making money on the road over the years. You could work as an English sign editor, meaning that you literally wander around offering to correct English spelling and grammar mistakes on signs and menus in exchange for a small payment. In Japan it is common for women to hire out their thigh as an advertising space! They are paid to wear a temporary advertising tattoo on their thigh for one day, the only rule being that regardless of weather, they must wear a skirt/shorts. There are also apparently vending machines in which women can sell their dirty underwear, but I can’t say that’s one I’ll be trying. One of my favourite money-making ideas came from traveller Michael Wigge, who once set up a spot on a street in San-Fran offering people the chance to pillow fight in exchange for a few dollars. Very good stress release. I tried this in Milan, just out of curiosity, and make €150 in two hours. Particularly popular, I’ve found, between stressed out businessmen, and therefore I recommend saving this one for busy cities like London or New York. You can see Wigge’s top 5 quirky ways to make money while travelling here.
I’d love to hear how everyone funds their travels while on the move!