Considering portable working or a ‘workation’? There’s nothing so good as traveling and working at the same time. Not only will you make money as you go, but you’ll get an opportunity to experience travel in a way most others won’t. And you won’t have to worry about spending your savings. Never let work be a barrier to travel: if you do it right, you can take your job with you.
Before you go
Before you dive into the list of quick-money fixes, take stock of what your job entails. How much of it is mobile? If you reshuffled tasks, could you make an entire day or week solely a computer job? With Wi-Fi and the right communication tools, working from your laptop is one of the easiest way of taking your job with you.
When it comes to getting paid, a good tip is to make sure you have a PayPal account set up. Quite a few places in Europe and around the world use this for once-off payments (if it’s not in cold, hard cash).
And if you want to keep it really sensible, offer to house-sit. This is a great way of avoiding hotels, which can be a distraction. A house gets me more focused. House-sitting will save you the cost of accommodation and eating out, and usually only entails taking care of some animals and basic household duties (hot tip: try not to get sucked into watching renovations).
Skeptical? Think that there’s no point if you still have to work? Not so! Because after you’ve finished your emails, reports and spreadsheets, you can wander down to the beaches of some gorgeous Greek island to watch the sunset, or head to a Broadway show in New York, or take a walk around Edinburgh.
A few creative tricks will get you money, but so will some other more standard methods. Here are 13 tips for making money while traveling:
1. Street performing
Dance, music, art: whatever skills you have on the side — or weird body parts that you don’t mind showing off for money — the right corner on the right street will get you a few dollars. Busking your skills topped off with painting yourself in silver may earn you enough to get a meal and a room in a hostel for the night. Try not to break any local laws regarding public decorum, or you may earn a fine or worse! Research in advance for this one.
2. Freelancing or Tutoring
Depending on your job, something like web developer or engineering consultant is a great way to earn cash as you go. Have access to your portfolio online so you can grab opportunities as they arrive. Or, put your profile up on Upwork and go get ’em! Tutoring can include dance, singing, languages, math and other school subjects. Make connections through Facebook groups and get referred by local ex-pats for a better rate of success with temporary tutoring placements.
3. Fiverr or Odesk
If you’re not too worried about when you will be picked up for a job, set up profiles here to earn pocket money. Try to make your profile niche-specific so that you don’t get lost in the thousands of other similar profiles.
4. Guest lecture
This one’s a challenge, but why not try it? If you are in a more remote part of the world and you have a skill or knowledge the local college or university might be lacking, then you might be able to contact them in advance and set up a class. In a few parts of the world qualifications are fuzzy and confidence will pull you through. Or, if you truly are a professor, you have every right to do such a thing and might be able to negotiate a placement in advance.
5. Get a job with an international traveling show
Join a circus, music band, dance show, or theater performance … there are all kinds of jobs going at these types of touring organizations. Sure, it’ll be tough and you’ll have almost no free time, but if your goal is pure travel then it’s worth a shot. The interesting people you are sure to meet along the way will be worth it!
6. Work in a dispersed team or flexible job
Be the outsourced person, so to speak. If you can arrange to get a job where you can work from home, there shouldn’t be any reason why “home” can’t turn into Kuala Lumpur. You might be able to make your manager happier about this if you negotiate to work for what your income would be relative to the salary of the local exotic location you happen to be traveling to (and no, I wouldn’t recommend scaling up to a more expensive country…!)
7. Seasonal work
Picking vegetables, fruit, flowers: if you can handle being outdoors for long stretches and don’t mind getting dirty, you can bounce from the northern to the southern hemispheres in search of farms in need of a helping hand.
8. Resort work or summer camp work
Resorts and summer camps are often held in gorgeous regions, be it beach or mountains. These jobs require tons of energy and often the contracts have limiting stipulations such as not being allowed to leave the camp area or cruise ship, but you can save good cash for free travel time later.
If you’re a real go-getter, unafraid of setting out in new cities, then spotting sales jobs around regions you want to travel in could be a lucrative opportunity. Some travelers cut a deal with a surf equipment rental shop by getting a commission for each tourist they bring by the shop. There are many middlemen jobs you can pick out through your observations. Just take on what many people are too lazy to do on their holidays — think and make decisions.
10. Hostels, bars, restaurants
If you stick to very touristy areas, it’s pretty easy to land a bar job or table-waiting job in high season. Competition gets more tough in the low season but being multi-lingual will give you an advantage. Also, having a seasonal work permit/working holiday visa will encourage the local business owners to choose you over those less organized (and less legal).
11. Beauty and hair
If you have the chance to carry the basic pieces of equipment with you, it is not unknown for some travelers to offer hostel guests a quick shave or massage for a few bucks. Manicures, pedicures, haircuts, make-up, face-painting for carnivals and parties … if you can build a rapport with a chain of hostels around a region it will be even easier to get clients.
12. Au pair
Au pair has its limitations of age, but is still a nifty way of getting around with free bed and board plus money on the side. Be careful what you get roped into in the contract: there is no joy to being an au pair if you are required to be with the children seven days a week. Stick with a trusted agency as well.
13. Tour guide
And last but not least — give people tours of the places you know and love well. Blag it if you will (I know of a colleague who gave “English” tours of Lisbon in the ’80s when the only phrase he knew was, “Come on!”), but make sure your tourist group has a laugh. There are a couple of agencies who look for guides for a couple of weeks’ spot work. And the other option is to gather a casual group of people, take them around, and request a donation for your endeavors