Saving money for travel is always a challenge.
But you have an option.
You can make money as you travel and recoup at least some of the cost of the trip.
Yes, there are a number of ways to make money as you travel whether your travel is short-term or long-term.
Below you'll first find ideas for short-term travelers. All of these can be added to the list below that has ideas more appropriate for long-term travelers. I hope these tips help everyone travel longer, farther, and more often.
Make Money As You Travel Short-term
- Rent your place while you're gone. The sharing economy has created many opportunities for people to earn money. Renting your apartment or house on Airbnb while you're away could earn you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. TripAdvisor also offers this service with its Vacation Home Rentals as does VRBO, one of my favorite sites for booking accommodation for travel. NOTE: Make sure you have a reliable friend or family member ready to receive your guests, answer their questions, and deal with any issues in your absence. Be sure to stay up-to-date on policy changes made by these companies.
- Get paid to drive to your destination. Cars and trucks are moved around North America by independent contractors, people like you and me, all the time. In some cases, your costs are covered; in others you actually make money. It's luck of the draw as to whether the destination of the car is of interest to you but it is a great way to save on travel and possibly make some money as well. In Canada, see Canada Driveaway. In the United States, see Auto Driveaway.
- Get paid for your road trip. This is cool and if it was in Canada I would definitely do it. With Roadie you can be a courier for packages from one part of the US to another. There are local gigs (that's what they call a trip) and long-distance ones. Most local gigs pay from $8 to $20 and long-distance gigs with over-sized items can pay up to $400. If I were to do it I'd let the delivery gigs plan my trip. There are various security checks involved for both drivers and clients.
- Rent your car while you're out of town. Turo is a car sharing site in the way that Airbnb is a home sharing site. Unless you're on a road trip, your car will be sitting idle while you're gone. The Turo site says that “hosts can cover their [car lease] payments by sharing their cars just nine days per month”. Also, “As a host, you’re covered by our CA$2 million insurance policy and we’ll be here to guide you every step of the way. Or bring your own commercial rental insurance and take a bigger piece of the pie.”
- Busk. In a safe public square show off your musical talent or perform an exquisite poem by heart. You don't need a large repertoire as people move along all the time. In a good location, you can make some decent coin to cover travel expenses and also meet some pretty interesting people. Just be sure to find out any local regulations that apply. You don't want a ticket eating into your profits.
- Sell cool stuff you find on your travels. Are you a shopper? Are you good at marketing things you love? Find products on your travels that are totally unique and/or inexpensive that you can bring home and sell. The money comes to you after your trip but it's still money earned from your trip!
Make Money On the Road Long-term
Everyone has different skills and talents so not every option will be of interest to everyone. However, have a look. There are a variety of ways to earn money as you travel long-term.
- Work at a hostel. Hostels are often staffed by travelers. Consequently, they are often looking for staff. The pay won't be tops but you will get a room as well.
- Sell your talent online. Fiverr.com and Fiver.co.uk are sites where you can sell your services for $5 (or more). It's amazing what people will sell. If you can edit video or do web design you'll do well. But even if you have only one talent, impersonating one celebrity, you'll likely get gigs recording a phone message in that voice. Or if, like one guy I've seen, you have a puppet, you could produce a video message with your puppet. The options are endless.
- Freelance from the road. Upwork helps you find freelance work – all kinds of freelance work. There's everything from acting as a virtual assistant to doing bookkeeping, customer support, web design, and writing. These are freelance jobs you can pick up along the way.
- Tutor or teach English as a second language. Tutoring can be a relatively short-term gig while teaching ESL tends to be more of a commitment. ESL Cafe is a great resource for prospective teachers. Also check out Teacher Traveler, an excellent blog for teachers who want to travel.
- Get a part-time or short-term job. Working retail or in a restaurant may be an option for you. Make sure you know whether it's legal and what visa you require to do so. Google “travel and work in _____” to find reliable information like this article on traveling and working in Australia. Working on a farm during harvest season may be another option. Check out Picking Jobs, a site that gives you basic information as well as a listing of picking jobs in 18 countries. If you're in Israel you may want to work on a kibbutz. You won't get paid but you will get room and board.
- Become an au pair. Are you good with children? Settle into a community and take care of a family's children for a year or more. Go Au Pair has been matching families with au pairs for 28 years. They have listings in 8 countries including the United States.
And why not earn money for a good cause as you walk the world?
As you travel, you can make money for a favorite charity just by walking around. Charity Miles is an app that taps into an activity monitor on your phone. Before you head out for the day, (whether at home or traveling) use the app to choose your charity, indicate whether you’ll be walking, running, or cycling, and then just go. The money Charity Miles collects from their sponsors is distributed to charities based on their app users’ activity and charity choices.
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Are there other strategies you have used to make money as you travel? Please share them in the comments section below.