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How to Make Money to Travel

An experiment which shows how anyone from the developed country fringe can make money to travel the world.

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Maine Project #1 – How to Make Money to Travel

I arrived in Maine with one objective: to leave Maine.

To leave Maine — to leave the USA — I need to make money. To travel, I need money.

Though this should not be taken as a discouraging proposition, as working for travel funds can be interesting, if not to say fun. Digging up your bean money is one of the great affairs of traveling the world.

I often get letters from readers asking how I make and save up my travel funds, and I explain to them what I do. But I have always felt that my outline seems a little too abstract, a little too far away. Now, I intend to demonstrate what I do to make and save the money necessary to travel the world.

Doing archaeology fieldwork is my usual way of making up my bean money in the USA

Project — How to Make Money to Travel the World

For this project I am going to frame off a set amount of time — 5 months — and a specified amount of money that I want to save within this time — $6,000.

The playing field is now set.

To meet this goal I am going to work any job that I can get: from working for $7 an hour through day labor agencies to living on the thick per diem allowances of archaeology projects, from farm work to journalism. I will take whatever employment I can get. My only specification is that I am going to try to avoid any permanent, 8 hour a day, 40 hour a week sorts of jobs. But this is only a matter of my own personal preference.

The project: I will work any job that I can find in my attempt to save at least $6,000 of travel funds by October of 2009.

Projected budget for traveling in Latin America: $10 a day per person. Three people = $30 a day. $30 a day X 182 (6 months) = $5,460.

Working as a gardener in Maine

For the next six months I will shovel crap, break my back, and work my fingers to the bone in order to save up enough money to continue traveling the world with my new family.

If I am successful in my goal of saving $6,000, I will have a six month buffer where neither Chaya nor I will need to work as we travel. We want to have this time open so that we can adjust to traveling with a newborn baby, as well as scope out possible bases of operation where we can find jobs when our funds finally do dry up again. The money that I am saving now is simply head start money for a journey around the world that will again be perpetual.

There is no such thing as travel without money. It is my impression that the idea of traveling around the world with empty pockets is a fanciful, fairytale notion that arose out of hedonistic visions dreamed up by non-travelers.

All travelers work: the penniless hobo is a man in search of a job.

You need money to travel, and you need to work to make money. Working is the lee side of the romance of traveling . . . though it is what makes the romance real.

This is sounding all to much like a lecture my father would give me as 17 year old punk.

But the fact remains that I ended up in Maine early because I failed to make enough money to continue traveling. I planned on tramping down through the Sahara to Addis Ababa for a couple months of solo travel after Chaya returned to the USA. But I could not do so because I did not have enough money.

I did not work enough to fund my journey, so I went home.

In the Middle East, I opted to let my travel funds dwindle rather than taking proactive measures to build them up. In point, I put most of my available time into the travelogue and building vagabondjourney.com rather than cranking out newspaper and magazine articles that I could sell. I could have written dozens of articles from those travels, and if I only sold 1 in 4, I would be crossing Sudan right now.

But I did not work, and I ended up in Maine

I like working on the Vagabond Journey projects — I do not like writing for other people’s media nearly as much. In the Middle East, I chose to do what I really enjoyed doing over working — and I went belly up.

10 years of travel has only taught me that I am always on the verge of making a mistake.

This error of judgment was easy to allow to happen as I was traveling through a land that I long held as being fantastic, romantic, exciting. It is easy to go belly up when you are smiling a big smile.

I am not willing to allow the same misjudgment to happen again:

I am going to work, because I want to travel.

But I am not pitying my situation; to the contrary, working — especially at odd or temp jobs — can be an adventure of its own creation.

It is my impression that working can be looked upon in two ways:

As Work — And all work, ultimately, sucks.

As A Game — If I know that each dollar I make is going to shoot me a little farther down the road, then working up my bean money can be made into a sort of sport — and even self-competition can be fun. At the goal line is the money that I need to save before I will leave the USA, and I am going to fight like ravaged, one eared pit bull to get there. . . and I hope to befall many interesting situations along the way.

The goal: $6,000 in five months.

Jar for travel funds

Maine Project #1 – How to Make Money to Travel


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Filed under: Maine, North America, USA

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

3 comments… add one

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  • Anonymous October 5, 2009, 5:44 am

    You should hit Alaska. I put away almost 9 grand in 2 months of work.

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  • Anonymous October 28, 2009, 10:43 pm

    Man I want to dip out anywhere!!! I have the mone just not the means..dont know where to begin and dont want to regret the decision as I have a home but can pay for it atleast for a few monthes..whatcha thinkin

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  • Anonymous December 20, 2009, 9:13 am

    I'm curious how you go about looking for work to make that much in a strange city in so little time. Just the same regular application flood and interview process?

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