How I Afford a Life of Travel: All The Ways I Make Money While Traveling
Back in 2015, I left Mexico on a one-way ticket with a total of $1000 in my bank account and zero plans to go back home any time soon.
Four years later, I’ve been to fifty countries, lived in Thailand, spent six months backpacking Africa, and met the love of my life in Germany (2021 edit: turns out he wasn’t the love of my life 🤡). Oh, and I have way more money in my bank account than I did back then. These days, I make money while traveling through a combination of travel blogging and a few freelance gigs. I can’t believe that, in just under a year, I’ve managed to build a business that allows me to work and make money while traveling!
So how the hell did I do it?
Let’s first dive into what got me here in the first place.
2015: Not being able to afford to travel, but doing it anyway
The way I travel has changed so much over the years.
When I started my first long-term trip, I’d hitchhike, sleep in bus stations, wild camped, and couch-surfed. I did it for several months and while it was an incredible experience, it was also damn hard to continue with the lifestyle for much longer. Not only did I began feeling like a parasite at some point – accepting rides from people, sleeping on stranger’s couches and having no money to at least invite them out for dinner, I also was honestly not enjoying it anymore. I know this might sound weird, but I love being home. Basically, when I’m not traveling, you’ll find me indoors.
I love working, I love watching Netflix, and I adore being on my own – I’m very much an introvert who occasionally leaves her shell to meet people on the road, but as much as I love traveling and meeting new people, I also need downtime.
Honestly? If someone told me, “Dani, let’s go hitchhike Iran for a month!”, I’d be packing my bags without hesitation. It’s something I love doing – it takes you places you’d never find in guidebooks, it gives you a chance to meet locals, and in many ways, it’s always a reminder that the world is not this incredibly dangerous place that many make it out to be. Honestly? I think everyone should do a trip like that at least once in their lives.
But, that invitation would be to an adventure with a deadline. The problem in 2015 arose when I realized I’d originally planned on doing it for years on end and after three months, I was completely drained.
Things had to change.
2015 – 2017: Becoming a travel photographer
Going back home and admitting to my mother that she had been right all along was not an option.
Instead, I found a sort of Workway arrangement in Thailand. I agreed to work for three months in exchange for accommodation with the plan to use the evenings to find new freelance projects that would help me save money to travel further via Upwork, work in the evening, save a bit of money, and continue traveling.
That, however, turned into something completely different. Thailand felt right, I loved the little village I was living in and before I knew it, I’d been living there for six months, which turned into nine and later turned into a year.
That’s the beauty of travel, isn’t it?
After a while, I was offered a full-time, *paid* position at the company. My job was to travel to all their destinations and create content for their partner agencies to promote their programs. This gave me the chance to travel to several countries in Asia and Africa. I did this for over a year and it was the dream! At twenty-one, I was getting paid to travel the world and it’s a pretty crazy thing to think about.
2018: Dipping my toes in the world of freelancing and blogging
Life is a beautiful network of paths.
Eventually, you run into a crossroads and you can choose to continue on the easy and flat path you’re on, or you can choose the new one. The one with no signs, sky-high mountains, and swamps you must wade through in order to continue.
I chose the latter.
I had no idea where this path would lead me to. There was no map in sight or even a sign that the path would lead to something beautiful, but something inside me was telling me it was time to go on a new journey. For years I’d been dreaming of freelancing and starting my own blog, and it was about time I started to work towards my long-term goals.
And it was scary as hell. I suffer from a condition called Trichotillomania, an impulse disorder in which I basically feel the urge to pluck my eyebrows out whenever I’m stressed. I know it sounds super weird but it’s a very real disease and well, long story short, when I sent in my resignation, I did it eyebrow-less.
But like I said, I trust my gut. My eyebrows grew back to normal and in the meantime, I began looking for opportunities online that would allow me to make money while traveling. I joined a bunch of Facebook groups, offered my services and bam! Within a few weeks, I had a few clients… who later recommended me to their friends and within a few months, I was earning six times as much as I was on my old job. And the best part? I was more than enough for me to set sail, travel AND save!
How I Make Money While Traveling in 2019
Today, a year after starting my freelancing business and launching my blog, I can proudly say I’m finally making money while traveling through a combination of freelancing and blogging. It’s not nearly where I want it to be in the future, and I’m still learning a lot about the world of blogging and freelancing.
And it feels damn good.
What I’m currently doing to make money while traveling is not necessarily what I want to be doing in say, a year. My goal for twenty-twenty is to be making a full-time living off of No Hurry To Get Home – mostly via passive income (the absolute best type of income!). Nowadays, busy weeks see me working 8 hours a day, and on quieter times, I work an average of 3-4 hours a day for clients and use the rest of the time to focus on growing the blog.
I have the feeling that by 2020, this post might change a bit. Like I said, I’m still learning, growing as a business owner, and changing things up whenever something doesn’t feel right.
I’m excited to see how things will look like for me in a few months! I’ll be sure to update you guys if any major events or turning points take place on my way to make money while traveling 🙂
Here, then, is how I make money while traveling as of June 2019:
There are many, many ways to earn money from a blog! Popular ones include paid press trips (i.e. when a destination pays you to visit a place and write about it), coaching, selling products, or writing sponsored posts.
Since I’m not currently doing any of the above, here are the two ways I’m making money off of No Hurry To Get Home:
Affiliate marketing: This is a random link to a product I like. If you click on that link and purchase the product, I will earn a small commission (usually anywhere from 2-10%). No, this doesn’t cost you extra as the commission I get is calculated in the marketing cost of the product already. You’ll usually find these type of links in my packing guides.
It’s an incredible way to earn money as it’s passive income, meaning I write the post once and it can keep making money for me for years to come. For instance, I wrote this guide to packing for Europe in a carry on last year and to date, it still earns me a couple hundred every month without me having to do anything.
Ads: You’ll notice a few ads here and there inside my posts. Currently, I’m using Google Adsense but there are many other networks you can use! Some of the best paying ones are Mediavine and Ezoic, but they’re hard to get into. By the end of June this year, I plan on applying to Mediavine and this should be a huge game changer in my blogging income!
How much can you earn from blogging?
It’s pretty crazy to think about it, but really, the sky is the limit here! My blog is still quite small, so I don’t earn a full-time living from it yet, but I know people who have been doing it for longer that earn well over 10,000 USD a month with their blogs alone! It takes patience, a whole lot of learning how the backend of the internet works, and a lot of hard, upfront work to earn from your blog, but it’s totally worth it!
What? Can you get paid to use Pinterest?
Sort of. I mean, I do get paid to do Pinterest marketing, and it has nothing to do with saving home decor ideas or totally screwing up a DIY nail tutorial.
I currently do Pinterest auditing and marketing for several blogger friends of mine. It seems crazy, but there is a whole science behind Pinterest and the platform is a popular way for bloggers and online shops to get traffic to their websites – my job is to make that happen for them. This involves designing pins for their posts, keywording them properly, scheduling them out, and some other chores to make sure new potential readers will stumble across their content.
How much can you earn from Pinterest marketing?
I’m currently earning around $1000 a month from this gig – I charge either an hourly rate or a package rate depending on the clients’ needs. This is not the best paying job out there, but it is currently one of my most reliable income streams. $1000 goes a long way in many countries.
Graphic design, website design, and branding
This is one of my favorite ways to make money while traveling because it allows my creative self to be… creative! I also love getting inspiration for new designs from the places I visit.
I’ve always been obsessed with graphic design – I actually started learning how to create graphics when I was just eleven years old and so, it’s incredible to think that I now make enough money to travel the world by doing something I used to do as a hobby when I was a teenager.
And more than that, it’s one of my most lucrative gigs as it turns out that I’m actually *talented enough* to charge quite a bit for my designs. It’s also given me the chance to work alongside some seriously incredible people like The Beatnik Group, Christiane Northrup, and many, many talented bloggers and business owners.
How much can you earn from this?
Currently, I charge $45+ an hour. This is one of my best paying gigs and also my favorite because it has given me the chance to some pretty kickass projects.
Nowadays, I’m selective on what projects I take on and I’m currently focusing on working with small brands, travel blogs, and the likes. I made the mistake of taking on any project that came my way in the past and it took an enormous toll on my health and well-being. It sucked to suddenly realize I was living the digital nomad dream – traveling the world, being location independent, but not actually having time to see any of the places I was visiting.
My online shop
I own a little online business with my boyfriend in which we sell handmade products that I stumble across on my trips – be it purses, baskets, and even pillow covers! It’s a fun way to make money and I love it, although it hasn’t reached its full potential as either of us has the time to put the effort and love it deserves – but we have huge plans for it in the near future!
How much can you earn from this?
I prefer to keep this private as I own the business together with my boyfriend but as I said, it’s not earning nearly as much as it could. Currently, we aren’t actually pocketing any of the money that comes our way as we are focusing on reinvesting to make it grow more. For now, though, it pays for a few trips here and there, including several trips to Morocco a year to scout for new goodies.
Occasionally, I do a bit of travel writing too! I used to do it way more when I was starting out, but I realized it wasn’t something I enjoyed doing that much.
I do love writing, but juggling writing articles for other people AND posting on my blog too proved hard. I’m not a fast writer and creating one single article can take me several hours – at some point, I neglected my blog for months because I simply didn’t have enough energy to create new posts. Because my ultimate goal is to live off of the blog, I had to put a pause on this gig if I wanted to have the inspiration and willingness needed to write good content for No Hurry To Get Home.
And that’s how I currently make money while traveling the world as a blogger and freelancer!
These are just a few ways you can make money while traveling – there are many other career options available, such as teaching English online via VIPKID, coding websites, writing a book, teaching yoga, etc. The options are endless: you just need to get creative and figure out how you can monetize the skills you have 🙂
What are other ideas or things you do to make money while traveling?