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How to Make Money While Traveling

Let’s be honest, making a living while traveling is the dream of many of us. However, the question of how to make money while traveling can be a tricky one to answer.

Never fear, because I’ve been there and done it. 

The four key ways of making money while traveling are:

  1. Become a digital nomad or remote worker
  2. Build an online business
  3. Passive income ideas
  4. Odd jobs on the road

Lucky for you all, I’ve done all four of these methods multiple times, so I know what works, and I want to share my knowledge with everyone.

So, let’s dive in and find out how you’re going to continue to make the big bucks while you see the world! 

Become a Digital Nomad or Remote Worker

So, becoming a digital nomad is probably one of the most popular ways to make money while traveling. A lot of the time you’re working for a remote-friendly company or overseas corporation that allows you to work from anywhere.

The result is often that you can work anywhere with a stable WiFi connection. Some businesses insist that you stick to certain time zones or core working hours, but on the whole, it’s a great way to earn money and travel at the same time. 

Realistically, the jobs that you can become a digital nomad within are pretty endless. Unless you need to be in-person for your job like in retail or manufacturing, it can be fairly simple to make a case for remote working, especially after the pandemic. 

Essential Tools for Digital Nomads

If you’re going to be a successful digital nomad, there are a few things that I’d recommend investing in or sourcing before you commit to a life on the road.

Travel Insurance

Honestly, if you’re traveling without travel insurance, you’re out of your mind. From pickpockets to missing luggage to canceled flights or hotel reservations, you need to make sure that you’re covered. 

Personally, I use Insubuy for my travel insurance and they’ve never let me down – and I travel with a lot of tech and gear!

VPN

If you’re planning to live and work overseas, I cannot recommend getting a VPN enough. VPNs are virtual private networks and they allow you to change your digital location to access different networks or websites.

My go-to VPN has to be Nord VPN for its reliability. I’ve tried a ton in the past, and this is the VPN that’s stuck!

Even if you’re not overseas, I’d recommend getting a VPN for everything from accessing overseas Netflix content to getting better rates through Skyscanner. If you change your location to a cheaper location you can often find better prices on flights and accommodation.

It’s honestly insane, and a travel game-changer. 

Portable Charger

Look if you carry around a phone, laptop, camera batteries, smart watches, whatever, you need a portable charger. Even if you’re not on your phone all the time, using Google Maps and trying to polish up your language skills with Babbel, slowly eats away at your battery life. 

I’ve long been a fan of Anker products in general, but their portable charger in particular is always the first thing I put in my backpack whether I’m just heading out for meetings or jumping on a flight across the world.

Tax Assistance

Okay, this is a boring one, but it’s essential, especially if you’re a US citizen – after all, the IRS is going to find you no matter where in the world you are. I hate doing my own taxes overseas, it’s needlessly complex and it’s so easy to mess it up and get in trouble with the taxman. 

That’s why I cut out all the guesswork and use MyExpatTaxes every single tax season. If you live and work overseas, the deadlines are different to allow for the extra paperwork, and there are tons of extra differences that you might not be aware of.

Honestly, it’s a headache that I am so glad that I don’t have to deal with anymore! 

A Decent Backpack

Jumping from country to country means that you have to become a pro and packing and getting around annoying train stations, bus stations, and airports. So, you need a durable backpack that can handle all that travel. 

Osprey is a beloved brand for a reason. With their roots in trekking and adventure travel, they’re built to last and this 60-liter backpack is ideal for backpacking for months on end. Combine this with some handy packaging cubes for organization and you’ll be digital nomading like a pro! 

Overseas Cash Card

We don’t do overseas charges and fees here. No, your money is your money, so make sure you get an overseas cash card or worldwide credit card that works for you and your jetsetting lifestyle. 

There are a few cards that I love when I’m traveling for different reasons. If you’re not getting cash out of an ATM and just want a reloaded debit card, use Revolut.

On their premium tiers, you’ll have higher withdrawal amounts without fees, but their free version is great for paying at local rates around the world and topping up from your phone. 

Of course, you can also go for a premium credit card, like American Express, that helps you build up frequent flyer miles and points that are redeemable on hotels and lounges around the world. 

Some of the airlines and hotel point schemes I love and use a lot include:

It’s worth mentioning that transferring points between different schemes and accounts can massively boost the worth of your points, so make sure you shop around and look at the different partners your points credit card has. 

Build an Online Business

Okay, so the next way of making money while traveling is to start your own online business. As you might guess, this one is my jam in particular.

While it might take more work, it’s entirely yours and you call all the shots here. So, if you want to run your online business from a beach in Bali, no one can stop you!

To go about building an online business, there are basically six key steps to consider. Let’s go through them one by one and discover more. 

1. Pick a Niche for Your Site 

Whether you’re setting up a website, YouTube site, or TikTok empire, you need to pick a niche that you’re going to talk about. From travel to lifestyle to food to finance to tech to cars and beyond, there are so many avenues to go down.

That’s your wider niche. Within that, you need to find what sets you apart. Let’s take travel, for example. There are millions of travel blogs out there.

Are you a digital nomad site, budget travel, points-based travel, traveling with kids, off-the-beaten-path travel, or winter adventure travel? There are so many options to think about. 

Pick something that you know about and that you’re passionate about. You’ll need to spend a ton of time building content and working on this business, so make sure that there’s scope to grow down the line.

You don’t want to hit a content dead-end after year one. So, find a niche, but don’t make it too niche!

2. Set Up Your Business Name and Basic Brand

This is the fun bit. Now that you have a niche, you’ll be able to create your business name and branding. Now, a few pieces of advice on selecting a name. 

  • Nothing too long
  • Nothing too cutesy
  • Check that the domain and social accounts are available
  • See if you can get the matching email
  • Don’t be vague, say what you are!

When it comes to branding, it can be difficult if you don’t come from a marketing or graphic design background. There’s actually a really great Brand Management course on Coursera that I can personally recommend. 

That being said, your best friend when it comes to visual branding is going to be Canva. You can set up a branded color palette, set fonts, post templates, and more.

It ensures that everything looks on brand at a glance.

If you need to find a freelancer to help you build your brand in the first place, there are hundreds of great options on UpWork and Fiverr

3. Set Up a Website, YouTube Account, or Mailer

Once you have your brand name, palette, and niche nailed down, it’s time to actually set up a website, YouTube account, or email mailer system, depending on your business.

Choosing a domain hosting website can be tricky, but my go-to is NameHero. They manage everything on the domain and host ends so that I just have to detail with content management.

However, if you’re looking for a budget option, I can also recommend Bluehost.

For YouTube, I use TubeBuddy which has honestly been invaluable when it comes to finding keywords for my video content! You can get started with TubeBuddy with this link.

When it comes to mailers and email marketing, you can’t go wrong with MailChimp. It’s super intuitive and user-friendly so even if you don’t know where to start with design and optimizing subject lines, they’ll help you out.

You also get great stats from their dashboard which will help you see what’s working for your content.

Even if you’re not thinking about becoming an influencer, a social media presence is a much. If you’re not sure how to go about managing social media accounts for your business, this Coursera Social Media Marketing course is going to be perfect for you!  

4. Open a Bank Account and Set Up Your Accounting

Again, this might sound like a boring step in the process, but it’s another essential thing to do if you want to make money while traveling. A bank account like Bluevine, which you can access from around the world and is also designed with business management in mind is ideal.

This is in addition to any business credit cards, which we’ll come onto later in this post.

I’d also recommend Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, because it works in 40 currencies and 160 countries, so it’s ideal for international travel and business.

There are also a ton of integrations to accounting and business management software. It’s in a handy app which is good if you’re on the go and want to stay updated.

You also need a way to stay on top of your accounting. I’d recommend QuickBooks or Xero as they’re purposefully made for small businesses and independent traders to make life easier.

You’ll be able to track invoices, payments, services, taxes, and more. There are also reporting features that make tax season a lot less painful if you’re doing your own tax return. 

5. Use Travel Payouts, Points.com, Rakuten, Awin, or Amazon to Do Affiliate Marketing

Okay, if you’re a small online business owner and you’re not doing affiliate marketing, then you’re flat-out leaving money on the table. So many major brands and websites have affiliate marketing programs so that creators can promote their products and services to their audiences.

However, scouring the internet for individual affiliate marketing sites is time-consuming and not an efficient use of your time. There are a few different websites that work as hubs for affiliate marketing. 

Here are my top six affiliate marketing compilation sites that I use:

  1. Travel Payouts
  2. Points.com
  3. Rakuten
  4. Awin
  5. Amazon
  6. Impact

Of course, some of these are geared toward travel, but not all of them. For example, I have tons of camera gear on my Amazon storefront and language learning apps on my Impact account.

Here are some of the big brands you can find within each site. This is not a complete list, but just a taste. 

Travel Payouts

Points.com

Rakuten

Awin

Amazon

All of these affiliates work in slightly different ways. Some will give you a code to put at the end of any other URLs which is common with accommodation sites like Booking.com or Trusted Housesitters.

Sometimes it’s a full URL that tracks the individual post, and sometimes, in the case of Amazon’s affiliate system, you have to choose your favorites from a list of affiliate-approved products.

How to Do Affiliate Marketing Well

Personally, I find that affiliate marketing works best when it’s genuine. I promote products that I tend to use, otherwise, it’s really difficult to create content that people are going to resonate with. 

If you’re a blogger or writer, you can add links to posts or emails with your affiliate code embedded in them already. If you’re on YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok, you can add links to your bio and directly people there.

Be aware you do have to declare ads and affiliate marketing, which is why you see #aff a lot on Instagram. 

You’ll tend to get a percentage of the sale if a customer has used your link. It’s not high – normally under 5% but on repeat purchases or on a large scale, that soon adds up.

Some of the affiliate links also work through 30-day cookies so if they go back onto the site a couple of days later without clicking through your link, it’s likely that your code will still be in the remembered URL and your affiliate kickback will be registered. 

6. Consider Investing in a Business Credit Card

I’ve touched on this briefly before, and it’s not for everyone but I think it’s worth looking into getting a business credit card. Business credit cards often have better limits and transaction fees, and come with stacks of benefits and points that you can make the most of.

We’re talking 100,000 points just for signing up, $1000 cashback, referral perks, and points bonuses if you spend a certain amount within the first couple months of having the card.

These points stacking can save you a fortune in the long run. In fact, I managed to use my business credit card to get Emirates First Class tickets from Thailand to Germany recently. It’s definitely worth it!

The best business credit cards in my experience as an online business owner are

  1. American Express
  2. Chase
  3. CapitalOne

I’ve used all three of these before to get the biggest sign-up benefits and for different parts of my life. The one thing that I will say is that although I love my AMEX, it’s not accepted everywhere, so if you’re traveling, you’ll want to bring a backup credit card or debit card with you. 

Passive Income Ideas

The third way that you can make money while traveling is through passive income. This takes some setting up, so think about this before you start making plans abroad. It’s basically when you’re earning money or royalties from previous projects even though you’re not actively creating or promoting them at the moment.

Some of the most common ways to earn passive income include

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Renting out rooms or property
  • Dropshipping
  • Selling an online course
  • YouTube or other monetized content creation
  • Investments

I’m going to go through each one of these one by one to give you all the information you need to get started and work up to that sweet passive income.

Affiliate Marketing

So, I’ve already been through this in the online business section, but if you’ve already set up your content and then scheduled posts about it on your socials to run while you’re away, you’ll be generating clicks without actively working.

It’s really interesting to see when certain topics or blogs come back into style or are popular again, even if you haven’t promoted them. Maybe something on Netflix came out about Spain and now all your Spanish content from a year ago is getting all the clicks, or all the camera affiliates are getting interested around Christmas time.

Affiliate marketing is a long-term money-making strategy – it’s incremental but once it’s set up and the content is out there, you don’t have to do tons of work. 

Renting Out Rooms or Property

If you own your home or your lease is loose around subletting, you can make money renting out your room on VRBO or Airbnb while you’re gone. This can be scary for a lot of people, but as long as you have a neighbor or family member who can check on things or if you set up a retainer deal with a local cleaning company you should be golden.

On the other hand, if you know that you’re going to be away for longer, you can find a more permanent sublet or tenant for your property. Just make sure all the contracts are in place before anyone moves in and make the rules clear. 

You can also rent out things like your parking space, especially if you live in a city center or built-up area. Some go for around $20 a day and if you can get a long-term tenant, you could be looking at a couple of hundred dollars a month in some cases. 

Dropshipping

If you spend any time on the internet, then you’re probably aware of dropshipping. This is where you set up a storefront on Amazon or Etsy normally and sell items that are directly shipped from a wholesaler, like Alibaba, to the customer. No need to store goods or even package and send them yourself.

Much like affiliate marketing, you’ll want to curate a selection of products in a certain niche for this. Then you can decide how you promote them. Most people use Instagram ads or promote them through their existing blogs or socials. 

Selling an Online Course

One of my personal favorite passive income methods is creating and selling an online course. Websites like Coursera, Skillshare, and Teachable allow people to upload their own courses for people to buy. These can be video-based courses or text-based with worksheets and expert guidance.

Obviously, how much you can charge for your course largely depends on your level of expertise. But the cool thing about doing courses through these sites is that they’re either pre-recorded or preloaded up, so you don’t need to be there at all.

You can be on holiday in Osaka and someone in Cadiz is taking a course that you recorded in Chicago. Meanwhile, you get those course fees minus a small commission from the website.

YouTube or Other Monetized Content Creation

If your online business has taken off and you’re receiving ad revenue from YouTube or Mediavine, or other ad-related programs, you are likely earning money while traveling. How much that is depends on how big your following is as you normally get paid by views or clicks. 

Much like affiliate marketing, this takes a while to set up for many people, but once you do, you can start seeing the benefits any time people visit your content.

Of course, the more you promote it, the more ad revenue you’re likely to see, but if you want a month or so off work to travel and don’t want to do anything, you’ll likely still receive monetized amounts. 

Investments

This is probably the most classic form of passive income, but you might not always be able to access it right away. Interest earned on savings accounts, dividends from stocks and shares, and even just cashback amounts on purchases that you make can all be forms of passive income.

Even your pension is a passive income investment once you start collecting it. 

For example, some Chase current accounts offer 1% cashback on purchases while their savings account offer 4.1% and it’s paid monthly so you don’t have to wait too long to use it. Hargreaves Lansdown is also a great option if you want a traditional savings account that gives you solid returns and amazing service. 

If you don’t mind locking your money away for longer, Roth IRAs in the US or ISAs in the UK are great ways to save and receive tax-free interest on your money. There are some eligibility criteria and limits to how much you can put in each year, but it’s a great place to start if you want to start getting that compounding interest and not have to lose it to the IRS! 

If stocks and shares are more you’re thing, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on it, but mostly it’s a long game for real gains. Apps like Revolut and Cash App, have stocks and shares sections built into them now so you can buy, sell, and monitor your investments on the road, but you can also set them up and leave them while you’re away.

Pick Up Odd Jobs on the Road

If you’re not too bothered about becoming an entrepreneur or want some more flexibility from your employment, you can always pick up jobs on the road. I have plenty of guides to traveling jobs if you have little to no experience, and some of the most common ones are

  • Bar work
  • Hostel work
  • Au pair
  • Teaching English
  • Retail
  • Housesitting
  • Fruit picking
  • Tour guide
  • Resort temporary work
  • Sports guide i.e. ski instructor, scuba, climbing, windsurfing, mountain guide

These jobs aren’t likely to make you a fortune while you’re away, but many of them come with accommodation help or visa assistance which can be really useful. 

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