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Richmond, Virginia

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How do you make money traveling?

I am planning on quitting my job to travel South America. I can always keep some in the bank to fly home if it doesn't work out, but I'd really like to make some cash to at least cover living expenses. I don't like the idea of teaching english, etc. because I'd rather cover more area and not be stuck to one place. I've researched some ideas like elance, working in a hostel, and correcting english menus for businesses, etc. But I want to find more creative ways to make money on the go (like cutting hair in hostels). What have you seen or done in your travels along these lines?

8 Answers

top answer by
Jodi from Funchal

Hi Kelley, I've been travelling for about 7 years now, and initially it started out as backpacking for a year, then turned into a business. During that time I've seen a lot of blogs start up and aim to travel for free with comps, and I've seen passionate writers built a business around what they love to do (tell stories), as well as people travelling then coming up with a great idea for a startup and hunkering down to work on it. In my case I turned the blog I started for my mother into a business. How I make money is set out here:, including selling hand-drawn maps of food that I commissioned from an artist. I mention the maps because setting up creative merchandise is a good way to fund travel and provide something of value to the market. (Hopefully!)

I think the first question is: what's the game plan? Are you looking to make money to fund continued travels, or to do so as a business eventually, converting the travels into something more. If it's the former, then Wandering Earl's piece might be of use:

There are, of course, lots of sharing economy resources that will mitigate costs. Trading accommodation for services via, Housesitting via one of the many housesitting sites out there, or working on farms via WWOOFing. 

I'm Canadian, but for Americans a guide to working holiday visas are here: Getting one might allow you to work locally for bigger companies than hostels or restaurants, perhaps putting your existing skills to use or helping local businesses work in English and attract more sustainable tourism.

You can also sign up on or and work as a freelancer from afar, but in terms of covering costs it's less lucrative as it's not consistent work -- best to find project basis payments if you can!

Finally, if more long-term work with companies that let you travel doesn't turn you off, check out's newsletter with listings for jobs, many of them location independent.

I realize this answer touches not just on your direct question but also some others, but when we're looking at travel and work it's often best to take a broad perspective first. I hope this was helpful!

23 thanks

answered first by

Picking up casual work in -South America is hard because there are usually plenty of people who are ready to do the job for very little money. Translating a menu is unlikely to give you more than a free meal.

Teaching is very possible, especially in Brazil, but that will tie you to a place for a few weeks.

I actually make a living from traveling myself, by working as a freelance tour leader and doing some online consulting in travel business, but if you want to be a tour leader in South america then you will need to be close to fluent in either spanish or portuguese and know the countries you work in very well, as clients are very demanding these days. Unless you have already spend a few months there, then you are unlikely to get a job as that.

i have a few blog posts about my tarveling for a living on this link:

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Brazil (country)
7 thanks

answered by
Will from On The Road

The most suitable jobs for serious full-time travellers (regardless of whether they work for others or for themselves) are those requiring only a laptop and an internet connection point – where deliverables and paychecks can all be submitted online. Offering the maximum flexibility, such jobs may include the creation of website content, editing reports, handling graphic design assignments, computer programming, selling products on eBay, stock trading, translations, digital film editing, and freelance and/or journalistic writing. The widespread availability of high-speed internet access has made such jobs more practical for travel-based lifestyles, and has created work schedules which result in greater freedom for travellers seeking to journey farther and longer than they previously imagined.

Travellers unable to find online work can alternatively consider looking, in their destinations of choice, for project-oriented or temporary work – such as construction jobs, brick laying, tree planting, highway paving, farming, hospitality roles, teaching English, managing call centers, selling arts and crafts (for those with creative talent), or even volunteering for governmental or non-governmental organizations (all expenses paid). In certain cases, an employer or sponsor may even be willing to train travellers for flexible roles that can be performed in multiple outlets across one or more countries, thus encouraging those travellers to move about with the security of knowing they’ll be doing a familiar job upon their arrival in a new or different location.

For even more info on making money while traveling check out 'Jobs for Travellers' on World Leap's Resources Page.

I hope that helps!

6 thanks

answered by
Adam from Montreal

If you're looking to cover expenses you could volunteer in exchange for accommodation. This site has everything from farming, working in hostels/bars, taking care of kids, helping with web/graphic design, online marketing, etc.

What kind of skills do you have? Freelance writing, editing/proof-reading, voice-over actor, social media, design, programming or any technical skills?

Browse through the job categories on Elance or services people are offering on to find what kind of things people will pay for which may fall into an area you have some experience in.

4 thanks

answered by
Steve from Southampton

I came across the blog which, apart from being an entertaining read, includes an article about how the writer Sabrina makes money from her travels

3 thanks

answered by

Hi, Kelley, first of all you must define where you want to go. Each country in South America is different. Do a little research first. Are you planning to visit large cities, like Buenos Aires or Bogota? Then, cutting hair in hostels is unrealistic. Hostels are generally cheap and cutting hair in hostels will not give you adequate money, plus it would be an random experience. How many restaurants and exactly where would be willing to pay you to correct a menu in English? Most restaurant owners in big cities in South America generally know English well. You could not make a living from this random job, if you were to hit one offer. So my advice is to do  research first, decide where you want to go exactly (a big city, a lovely colonial seaport, like Cartagena, in Colombia), and then do more research. And even teaching English needs to be planned in advance, to be sure you will be hired. Like Claus Andersen says below, picking casual work in South America is hard because there are myriads of people ready to do all types of jobs for very little money. Teaching English, again, would perhaps work in a country like Brazil, but then you would need to stay in place, say from 3-6 months at the least. And, have you ever taught English as a foreign language? This demands experience and skills.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. South America (attraction)
  2. Buenos Aires (city)
  3. Bogota (city)
  4. Cartagena (city)
  5. Colombia (attraction)
  6. Brazil (country)
2 thanks

answered by
Edna from Paris

I moved abroad after graduation with $700 to my name and have been traveling ever since. I recently wrote up a post on how I've been able to fund my travels for the past five years:

I'd say keep your eyes out and ears open to any opportunity -- for instance in Singapore I responded to a Craigslist ad and ended up working for a reality television show! -- and don't discount volunteering, either. Volunteering is what ultimately got me a job at two Olympics and you never know who you'll meet while doing something fun and meaningful!

1 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Pawan from Delhi


Nice to hear about your plans and you sounds very adventurous.  I hope all goes well and as per the plan

As far as money making is concerned, dosing some job(any Job) will keep you stuck at  one place. So it would be better if you can do some travel writing or some travel photography. Contact some travel outbound travel agencies at your place or travel magazines or website. They might sponsor your trip or they can keep you as freelance writer which will help you in generating some revenue.

1 thankscomments (1)

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