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How to Make Money Traveling

Do you want to travel the world? Here’s how you can make the money to do it.

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How can I make money while traveling?

Hello Justin,

Running amok — sounds like a good plan, the open road always has oepen arms for new converts. Making a living on the road is not an extremely difficult thing to do for an educated native English speaker or for someone who has a few trades tucked under their sleeves. There are many options out there, from trading work for accommodation and food to freelancing to working jobs that pay far more than you can make living idle in the USA

Lower cost of living means you can work freelance for less

As traveling in the tropics or cheaper countries means a drastically lower cost of living, it seems to me entirely possible for you to keep yourself employeed off and on working on various website projects. Underbidding your competition for tech jobs on websites such as Elance can produce a decent income if you are living in a country where rent is $200 per month and food $1.50 a meal. A traveler spending under $500 per month living in Mexico is going to be able to take jobs at a lower rate than someone living in the USA paying out $2,000 per month in living expenses. Use this cost of living imbalance to your advantage: live cheap and bid low on freelance tech jobs, work hard, create a client base.

As you seem to have excessive experience and skill in website construction I say this should be your bread and butter when traveling. Read these two articles about travelers who keep employed and well funded doing work similar to you in the traveling context:

Freelance writing to fund travels
Traveling SEO consultation work

English teaching abroad

Right on about there being many options for a traveling English teacher. Just keep in mind that most schools willing to pay a decent wage want at least a six month to a year commitment. So if may be a good idea to arrive in a place first in order to size it up for its potential at being a base of opperations for an extended period of time. I would not dream of signing an English teaching contract for a school in a city that I have not visited. Though I must admit that the crap shoot of signing on to an English teaching job, blindly offering up a year of your life, and jumping off to an unknown location on an is something to get the juices of excitement flowing.

[adsense]In point, there are two ways to land English teaching jobs abroad:

1. Apply online to job listings on websites such as Dave’s Esl Cafe, commit and sign a contact from afar.

2. Go to a location where you think you may want to teach, go around and drop off applications to school in person, check out the lay of the land yourself.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each option. I have already gone over the problems that could be associated with applying for a teaching job online — What happens if you sign a year long contract, travel across the world, and then find out that you had signed your life away to a bunch of dicks? — and the ramifications for such action are obvious. As for the second option, the drawbacks have mostly to do with immigration. Some countries have laws which state that you cannot change your visa from inside their borders — meaning that if you get hired for a teaching job that you found in person you will either need to exit the country and apply for a work visa or stay and work under the table. So while I recommend the second option, be sure to check up on the immigration laws of the country you want to teach in — can you apply for work visa from inside the country? Can you change from a tourist visa to a work visa? Do you really need a work visa to teach English?

In point, it will often help to start out by emailing foreign English teachers who are already teaching in a country that you would like to work in. Ask them about their employers, if they know of any vacancies, about the living conditions, what is considered a good salary and employment package, and get the low down on immigration issues. In cities with larger and more visible expat communities, there are often online forums, blogs, and websites for or ran by resident English teachers. Read what these people have to say and ask them questions.

As far as Mexico is concerned, it is rather easy to find English teaching work there and to change a tourist visa to a work visa. In Mexico City you can even make pretty good money. Though keep in mind that outside of the capital the average wage of an English teacher plummets inversely proportionately to the distance you travel away from it. In Chiapas my wife was offered a teaching job which only paid around 60 pesos an hour whereas in the capital you can make 200.

Teach English in Mexico

English teaching questions

Archaeology fieldwork

As far as doing archaeology, forget it unless you have a related degree and a fieldschool. This has often been my way of making money while on the road, but it is not a strategy that can readily be emulated successfully without years of preparation and credentials. It is even difficult for me — an archaeologist with 9 seasons of experience — to land well paying work outside of the USA.

Trading work for food and accommodation

As you have mentioned, trading work for food and accommodation is a clutch way to keep the costs of travel cheap. Below are some pages that give more information on this:

Trading work for room and board

How to volunteer in Latin America

Bicyclist trades farm work for free food and accommodation

How to find work in Europe

Taking the first steps

The hardest step to doing anything is always the first one. You are taking that step by going off to work in Ghana. Traveling full time is much like jumping into a swimming pool. There are those moments of indecision at first where you are teetering on the deck, dipping in your toes and testing the water, trying to decide if you really want to go for a swim or not. Maybe you make up an excuse to justify not taking the plunge. But, ultimately, if you walked all the way over to the pool and are staring down into the water, then, deep down, you really want to jump in. So jump.

Once you are in the water you either sink or swim. Most travelers choose the later option.

Go to Work abroad and travel employment for more on making a living on the road.

Hope this helps.

Walk Slow,



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Filed under: Money, Travel Help, Work

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 3723 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

4 comments… add one

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  • Galen August 8, 2011, 9:07 am

    Isn’t “amok” a middle eastern “mental illness”? As in socially accepted, kind of like how americans socially accept “depression” in general. My understanding is “amok” is when someone snaps, after a small insult, and runs around killing people. (“Crazy Like Us”, Ethan Watters) Okay, that’s a negative topic, but I wouldn’t use that expression when traveling in the Middle East!

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  • Uzuoma January 26, 2013, 7:13 am

    For the vagabonds who have some knowledge of photography and a decent camera. Photographing at a wedding or some other kind of celebration in areas where technology is not so advanced also pays off pretty well. Plus you will have free meals and drinks for the whole day, you will experience the culture from up close and you finally have the opportunity to photograph beautiful people without them being bothered by it.

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    • Vagabond Journey January 26, 2013, 8:21 am

      @Uzuoma Good call. Have you done this before? If you want, it would be excellent if you could publish a few paragraphs about how you do this on here 🙂

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      • Vagabond Journey January 26, 2013, 8:21 am

        @Uzuoma If you’re interested just email me. Thanks!