So you want to travel sustainably?
In today’s world there are so many ways to make money while you travel. Some are exactly as stable and secure as a nine to five office job in your hometown, and others will require some capacity for self-motivation and determination in the face of uncertainty.
Rest assured, no matter what your current skillset or personality type, if you want to make money while you travel, there’s an option out there for you. It may just take some creativity and willingness to learn new skills.
Find a job that sends you places
In today’s job market there’s a wide range of professions that will allow you to travel. Ambassadors, flight attendants, engineers, consultants, vendors, data analysts, humanitarian workers, medical professionals, and salesmen are just some of the careers that may include travel as a key component.
There are four main factors that you’ll want to consider to determine if any specific job that sends you places is right for you. In fact, for whatever manner of making money and traveling that you choose, you’ll want to consider these four factors.
First, scope of travel: some of these jobs will have you focus on a specific country or region, while others can take you to a more diverse range of places. Second, is choice of travel—how much say you get in determining where you will go. Some jobs will afford you a lot of flexibility to choose where you’re sent, and others will send you to specific places of their choosing. Of course, this is partly determined by a company’s corporate culture, but mostly by the nature of the work.
Third, jobs can vary in length of travel. Will it require living in a foreign country for years or will you be in-and-out in a day? Constant bouncing around and living out of hotel rooms will exhaust some people. Others thrive on the constant newness. This ties in with the final factor: frequency of travel. Being able to maintain strong relationships and a sense of personal stability are important for everyone—some are able to maintain these things while doing frequent short-term travel, and others are not. Examine what you need in your life. Doing longer trips (or living in places for a year+), or less frequent short trips are both possible solutions that offer more stability, while still allowing for a travel lifestyle.
I’ve talked to a number of people who have traveled for their jobs and loved it, but at least as many hated it or got burned out. Definitely consider those four factors (scope of travel, choice of travel, length of travel, frequency of travel) when deciding to take a job that will involve a travel component. Sure, being able to experience new parts of the world sounds great, but make sure you’re doing it on terms that will actually make you happy and not lock you into a lifestyle that doesn’t suit you.
Find work in new locations
Another option for making money while traveling is to pick up work in new locations. Some examples include seasonal workers, nannies, language teachers, cooks, bartenders, painters, construction workers, etc. I’ve personally met nomads who found jobs in new locations in each of these professions. From a nanny in Seoul, to construction workers in Georgia, organic farming in Peru, teaching English in Japan, getting hired as a cook in Spain, bartending in Los Angeles, etc.
Of course, if you’re traveling internationally this can add some complications regarding visas, since local businesses in a foreign country are not allowed to hire you without a work visa, but there are definitely legal ways—sometimes nomadic families will hire a nanny to travel with them. Or you could have a school sponsor your work visa to teach English, or work in exchange for food and housing with no monetary compensation. There’s a program called TEFL which offers international English teaching job placements and courses to train you. In fact, they guarantee a job for graduates!
Now there are two ways to go about picking up jobs in new locations to make money while traveling. One option is to go places where you know there is work for you. The other, is to decide where you want to go and then search for work there. I’ve seen it done both ways. It can be nice to have work opportunities be a reason to go somewhere, but in situations where you don’t like the place, is it really benefiting you to pick up that work and force yourself to go? Depends on the urgency of your finances, perhaps, but it’s hard to believe that that’s the only place in the world where you could make money.
Find a remote job
It’s so exciting that companies offering partial to full remote positions are becoming increasingly common. Programming, product development, social media management, marketing, web design, SEO, technical writing, copywriting, teaching, HR, recruiting, and more are just some of the remote jobs available today. If your current employer doesn’t offer remote work as an option, but it seems like it would be possible for the job you’re doing, Tim Ferris has some great advice in his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, on how to approach them to gradually ease yourself into remote work. Otherwise, there are a ton of companies out there looking to hire remote employees.
It’s often good to have some experience in the position before seeking a remote job, as there may be less opportunity for hands on training. Also, a number of remote jobs require you to be online during certain hours of the day which can make international travel difficult, but it’s fine if you don’t mind working weird hours or traveling North or South within your time zone.
Having a remote job is the ideal of many, but it’s definitely still a job. If full-time, you’ll have to put in a solid work week. However, being able to work from home, from a cafe, or from a beach on the other side of the world, and still have the security and salary of a full-time position can be a really fantastic travel lifestyle for the more risk averse.
If you don’t currently have the right skillset to have a full-time remote job, there are so many free or affordable training options online. For many of these jobs your portfolio and results are more valuable than a degree. In fact about a third of STEM workers haven’t even completed a Bachelor’s Degree! Treehouse is a well-known and highly rated online program made for beginners to learn coding in order to get a tech job. If you’re looking to get started, this can be a low-risk, high reward way to go.
Have a skill you can use anywhere (Gig life)
This is definitely a different experience than working for a company that sends you places or picking up jobs in new locations, because it requires having a specific skill and the ability to market yourself and pick up gigs based on that skill in different places. I’ve seen this done successfully by yoga instructors, dance teachers, musicians, photographers, videographers, public speakers, and DJ’s. In this scenario, you are an independent contractor who gets hired for specific events or series events in a certain location. (You may also organize these events yourself).
Depending on your situation, you’ll have to research the legalities of payment, taxes and visas if you want to do this internationally.
Pick up Remote Freelance Work
This is basically the remote laptop version of gig life. If you’re skilled in graphic design, coaching, web design, SEO, copywriting, blogging, editing, voice over, translation, etc. you could start doing freelance work. Note that this is creating a job for yourself where you’re your own boss–your success or failure rests on your shoulders alone. It can be empowering or stressful. You could be very successful or find yourself tossed around between lack and plenty. Some people enjoy the challenge and independence of it, but others won’t be able to handle the uncertainty. Which is fine, there are other options for you.
To me freelance work is different than starting a business because, while you are your own boss, you still get paid for the time and work you put in. The distinction of a business versus a job is that it severs the correlation between your time and your income.
Start a Remote Business
In this case, I’m referring to ‘remote business’ as either a web-based business OR a physical business that doesn’t require your physical presence to run. Of all the ways you can make money while traveling, starting a remote business is the one I’d recommend, because it’s the only one that allows for passive income.
Passive income means money is coming in while you aren’t working. As I mentioned, a ‘business’ is distinct from a ‘job’ in that the time you put in and the amount of money you’re making are no longer directly correlated. At the beginning, this usually means you’re putting in way more time and making way less money than you’re worth on the job market. The goal, of course, is to get your business set up so that you can cut back on your time and still have income coming in.
Some examples of physical businesses that can be remote include property rentals, Airbnb’s, and any kind of business that other people can manage and run in your absence.
There are a billion types of online businesses that you can start today, but it mostly comes down to either selling your own products or promoting other people’s products.
For the former, there are many options, such as amazon dropshipping, selling presets, publishing a book, creating an online brand, or selling an online course.
For the latter, you can do affiliate marketing (promoting other people’s products) through your blog, podcast, Youtube channel, etc. or in some cases actually run ads to promote a specific offer. You could also become an influencer on social media who gets paid to post pictures promoting someone’s business regardless of a direct affiliate outcome. (I’ve heard this can pay $50 per thousand subscribers!)
You don’t need to understand all of this right now. Depending on your exposure to modern nomad culture, there may be a lot of new information or words you aren’t familiar with, and that’s ok. My goal is to make everyone aware of the variety of options that are out there so that they can start to consider what might be possible.
P.S. You can schedule a live call with me (it’s free) where we take a look at who you are and what kind of travel lifestyle might be the best fit for you at the link below.Schedule Call With Stacia