How to make money while you travel (when you´re not a blogger or an Insta-celeb)

We´ve all seen those annoying Facebook ads telling us how some ultra-glam traveler has been getting paid to wander the world for a few years and hey…you can too if you just click the link and sign up for their free webinar!

And like most things that appear too good to be true, this is no exception.

However, that doesn´t mean there aren´t real opportunities for making money while you wander.  Sadly, the early days of making fat cash off your travel lifestyle on Instagram and Facebook are long gone.  If you tried to get into that game now, you´ll be completely reliant on paid influencers and ads.  Because quite frankly, the market is super saturated.

This leaves us reliant on  real world opportunities to make cash while traveling.  Getting started, you can make the process easier on yourself (before boarding a plane) by doing a few simple things:

Getting paid as a summer tudor in the Amazon with free Mountain Bike usage!
  • Refresh your resume or CV.

Tailor it to meet the criteria of any type of work you may want to apply for.  References are also important and having a way to contact them through WhatsApp or Skype is a bonus.  Also , have a copy of your resume/CV translated into the local language before you go (if you can).  Be sure to mention any special skills you may have as well.

  •  Research work opportunities in the area you plan to travel.

This one is a no brainer, but you´d be surprised how many people don´t bother until they´re already on the road.  Are there schools, farms, businesses or other projects that are hiring where you´ll be traveling?  If so, apply before you go!  I´ve found numerous paid jobs through Craigslist in South America.  Obviously, if you are traveling to a very small town, the online listings will be considerably less.

Be sure to check out resources like:

Dave´s ESL Café

Work Away.Info

Local area Craigslist

In some cases like WorkAway.Info (of which I´ve been a member for a couple years), most opportunities are for volunteers, but offer free room and board in exchange.  In some cases volunteering can lead to paid work, so don´t write it off just because it doesn´t come with a salary on the front end.

  • Have at least 1 nice outfit for job interviews.

It certainly doesn´t have to be a suit, but having one semi-professional or dressy casual outfit in your bag (if you know you´ll be looking for work) is certainly a good thing!  I personally kept mine in plastic to keep it clean while I traveled.  Another good reason to do this is because backpackers have a reputation in most places for being flaky, irresponsible and dirty people.

And that´s because to some extent, it´s true.

Travelers don´t have the same sense of responsibility as someone who actually lives in a place, so showing up looking like someone who actually cares about having a job will definitely help.

  • Start learning the local language.

I can´t stress this enough.  Your opportunities for work (especially higher paying work) will depend greatly on how well you can communicate with the locals in their language.  You can always learn while you travel but believe me, this is something I wish I´d focused on more before I started traveling.

Language homework at one of my work gigs in Bolivia.

Duolingo is free and you can learn at your own pace.  It can help get you started.

  • Check out International corporations that hire seasonal or fixed term help.

A few examples of companies that hire people to fill their positions all over the world would be:

  • Outward Bound
  • Where there be Dragons
  • Expedia
  • All major Cruise Lines (i.e. Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, etc.)
  • Travel Nurses Inc.

Ok, now that you´ve prepared and have a vacum sealed outfit for interviews in your bag (not necessary for volunteer positions), it´s time to consider what to do once you arrive to your destination.

Let´s say that all your prep on the front end didn´t yield any job fruit.  Don´t get discouraged! Many small businesses and organizations don´t advertise online, which means you´ll have to network once you have boots on the ground.

Consider your strengths.  Why should a business hire you (a foreigner) and what do you have to offer that they may have trouble finding locally?

Things to consider when looking for work in another country:  Do you have skills in…

  • Management
  • Organization
  • Language
  • Arts
  • Construction
  • Web or graphic design
  • Animal care
  • Farming
  • Tour guide
  • Tourism (the business end)
  • Landscaping
  • Teaching
  • Child care (au pair)
  • Hospitality
  • Bartending
  • Dance
  • Medical industry

The reason I ask is because for every one of those skills listed above,  I´ve seen  paid work positions available (for foreigners) in 5 countries. 

Yes, really.

The key is not to be shy about “tooting your own horn”.  Just because you didn´t go to university for web design, but you´ve been doing it for fun and have references, absolutely add that to your list of relevant skills.

Are you outdoorsy? You could get paid to help with rock climbing tours.

What´s in demand in other countries can be completely different than the jobs in demand back home.

The next step would be to start networking.  Staying at a popular hostel in your chosen location (in the beginning) is a good idea.  The staff in these kinds of places are usually well connected in the community and often know of schools or other businesses that hire foreigners.  And before you cringe at the idea of smelly, noisy dorms, here´s a fun fact:  Most hostels also have private rooms with private baths.  (Insert long sigh of relief here.)

After networking with locals , check community job boards around town or on social media. You may find valuable postings for help wanted (I saw numerous listings requesting an Au Pair in Vina del Mar, Chile).

Something else to keep in mind:  Higher paying work will only be offered to a traveler who plans to settle in an area.  It´s unrealistic to think a business will invest in you if you´re only staying  a few weeks or even just a few months. 

If that´s your plan, then be realistic about how much money you plan to make.

You´ll definitely be able to score a cleaning gig, short term computer, graphics or art projects, farm work, landscaping, short term child care or maybe a paid tutor position.   However, don´t think a school or business will waste time training you if your plan is to bounce a month later.

Lastly, don´t discount the idea of working remotely or independently!  If you´re a self starter and have a good laptop, there are all kinds of remote teaching  and other postions available that are paid online.  There are remote positions available for people with skills like:

  • Technical writing
  • Copy editing
  • Marketing
  • Web and graphic design
  • Sales
  • Teaching/tudor

Side note: You will need to have a verified PayPal account in order to get paid with most remote work jobs.

The bottom line here is:  There are SO MANY opportunities to make money while you travel, the sky is literally the limit!

As always, keep wandering and more importantly….Get paid!  It´s absolutely possible.