How to Afford to Travel and Get Paid for it
This site is brand new so no, we don’t make our money from travel blogging. Rather, I have been working remotely for years in other ways. On top of that, I know how to travel for free or super cheap, manage finances well and have prioritised travel for us. You can find more about ways to make and save money at my other site, The Thrifty Issue.
I do a combination of things which allow us to make money from anywhere. It took a little time to create this lifestyle but it was worth it. I don’t travel hack with credit cards, although that is an option for many. Instead, I created a few online businesses, do freelance writing and other travel work. Find what works for you.
Disclosure – This site uses affiliate links.
Photo Credit: Justin Yatibu Saula of Black Beard Photography, Vanuatu
How to Get Paid to Travel
There are so many ways to get paid to travel or make money travelling. Hospitality work, dive guides, cruise ships, air hostesses and similar are all options. I have 29 ways to make money travelling here.
1. Travel Writing
This is different from blogging, which I will mention below. Travel writing involves writing articles for different magazines, newspapers and websites for payment. Not all sites pay and many pay extremely low. To do this, you need to create a portfolio of work and pitch articles a lot. Then join travel media associations for better opportunities. I’m a member of TravMedia and TravelMassive to name two.
I started off freelance writing about finance then moved to travel later so already had a portfolio of work and an online presence. However, I have helped numerous people get started more recently. You can check me out at kylietravers.com.au.
Read how to become a freelance writer for specifics on getting started and finding gigs.
2. Travel Photography
From my experience and speaking with others, travel photography is harder to make money from than travel writing. Many places pay writers more and provide more opportunities for writers. Often it can be one photographer to 5 writers plus many writers take ‘good enough’ pictures according to various tourism boards. Or they have both skillsets properly.
That said, you can still sell your images in many ways such as for magazines, websites and other content. Sign up to stock image sites and get paid when people buy your images. Or create your own products using your photos.
3. Famil/Media Trips
A famil or media trip is a trip where you, as a media person, will do a trip outlined by a company or tourism board. You don’t have a say over what is on the itinerary normally and they can have high expectations in terms of deliverables. Some pay, some simply provide the trip as a contra, meaning, in exchange for your work.
There is a lot of controversy over what is right and wrong. Most professionals expect to be paid for their time and skills, not just provided a free trip. Free trips don’t pay the bills. However, what you do is your choice and there are plenty of options.
These sort of trips have requirements around how many images you provide the host of the trip, how many articles and other content.
Since it can be done from anywhere, on any topic, blogging can be a great income source. It takes time to build and create an income through it but I’ve done it successfully for years. Check out how to set up a blog and make money blogging for ideas.
How Do Bloggers Make Money?
Bloggers, YouTuber, Influencers etc all make money similar ways. Affiliate links are popular as they are links where if you buy or sign up through them the blogger gets paid. I use mainly Wowtrk, FlexOffers, Commission Factory and any directly through the company or brand itself. Search for the brand or product you want to promote and see if they have an affiliate program.
Ads such as Google Ads and MediaVine and similar rotate and change based on your traffic and what advertisers want. Once you install the code, that is all you have to do.
Sponsored posts and brand collaborations are where brands pay to be featured. This is great but be selective about who you work with. I won’t work with brands I can’t personally endorse or I don’t use. For me, if I don’t use it and love it, I can’t promote it.
Courses, books, ebooks, coaching and other services are common ways to make money as well.
These are a few of the ways but there are many more.
How do we Personally Afford to Travel?
With so many options out there and articles on how to get paid to travel, how to travel hack and how to afford it, it can be confusing. Before I get into a bunch of options and things you can do, here is exactly how we do it.
1. Decide on the Lifestyle
I decided a long time ago I wanted to travel the world with my kids. The past few years, after leaving an abusive marriage and being in court over custody, it was all on hold. However, since I had made that decision, I continued to work towards it.
When I got custody, I sold off everything I owned and we have been nomads since. We have a suitcase each, a few essentials and I have a few pieces stored with a family member. I don’t miss having so much stuff. At some point, I will set up a house again but for now, our lifestyle is minimalist and nomadic. This has greatly reduced our expenses.
2. Remote Work
Numerous income streams and work options have meant I can work from anywhere and make money. Actually, one of my websites generates a good income now without much effort from me. I own The Thrifty Issue as well as 2 other finances sites. I have shared how to set up a blog and make money blogging here.
As a travel writer, I get paid to write about our trips and often get paid to do a trip. Public speaking, tourism marketing and consulting all see me get paid to travel and are remote work options for us. Previously, I ran a marketing company so I had some contacts and a reputation when I decided to change direction.
Most of the publications I write for have happened in the last few years though, not when I ran a company. It required a lot of pitching, networking and some free work at the beginning.
I bought The Thrifty Issue in 2014. Within the first week, I made back the purchase price because I knew how to make money with it. Since then, it has grown and generates a steady income in many ways. This is the main reason I still make money when we travel.
3. Media Trips
As a writer, I am invited on media trips. I get numerous opportunities but am selective about what I choose to do. Typically, I only accept trips my daughters can come on unless it is really amazing and simply not practical for them to come with me at the time.
Media trips require you to write about the place, have commissioned pieces ready to be published for the trip or be providing the photos and video. As a writer and consultant, I usually have a combination of providing a few articles, sharing some content on my social media channels and doing consulting work. Most of my trips have resulted in ongoing paid work with the company post-trip as well rather than one straight trip.
3. Public Speaking
I put this under remote work because I have done it in numerous locations. I do this less now but for a while was travelling a lot to speak at events. It took it’s toll though and was harder on my family. Mainly because a lot of the events were about homelessness and domestic violence, our past and how I overcame it all.
While I did raise $30,000,000 with the events I spoke at or campaigns I was an ambassador for as well as a lot of awareness, it was hard.
Now, if I speak at events, it is usually business or marketing related, I get paid a fee and travel expenses. This isn’t something everyone can do but it is part of how we personally do it.
What do I do to Get Ongoing Work?
With Wonderful Indonesia, I did a trip then was paid to speak at two festivals, offered more trips, wrote some articles, was available for other events, spoke to media and was in discussions about marketing on a contract but I was unable to commit to that last part.
With Solomon Islands Discovery Cruises and Dive Munda, I have been twice and will go again with my kids. I’ve provided ongoing content, social media posts scheduled for a set period of time and any time they need an article for a promotion or magazine, they reach out to me. I’ve also mentioned them at events I have spoken at, in media and podcast interviews I have done for others.
The Crow’s Flight was another recent one where even on the trip I was commissioned for extra pieces then after was consulted regarding website, content and marketing for both it and the owners other business.
Having a range of skills and things I can provide before, during and after the trip means I get paid more per trip than many others I talk to.
4. Keep Costs Low
We’ve stayed at friends places for free, done housesitting, eat simply and don’t shop. With our lifestyle, we don’t have a lot of ‘normal’ expenses. I’m not paying a mortgage on a home we don’t live in while we travel. No electricity, gas, water, internet or similar bills.
We do have food, mobiles, sometimes travel equipment, schooling, clothes and things like that. Most of the large expenses, we simply don’t have anymore.
We cook from home (or whatever hotel/apartment we are staying in), on media trips meals are included and when staying with friends and family, often they want to cook a meal or we are invited to dinner with people close by.
Phone plans have so much data, along with free wifi in most places that I don’t need to pay separately for the internet either. When I went over all our expenses both before and after we started travelling, I was amazed at how much cheaper this lifestyle is for us.
For flights I use Skyscanner. Whenever I have compared them with the direct airline sites, they’ve always been cheaper. They compare heaps of travel sites to get you the best deal.
Housesitting, friends, family and media trips are the cheapest. Sometimes we camp but not often. After that, we typically book with Airbnb (get up to $76 off your first booking here). I have a limit on how much I will pay for accommodation based on what my rent used to be.
Discounts for Everywhere
Install Honey because it gets you cash-back online and also scans for codes to get you a bigger discount. Cash Rewards and ShopBack get you cash-back as well but you can only use one at a time. These are listed in order of my preference.
Use Groupon, Scoopon and Adrenaline for activities and fun in the area or look up free events. Always check the tourism office or website for discounts on events and attractions in the area. Also, check local blogs as some do giveaways. Enter before you get to an area.
I don’t remember the last time I actually paid full price for anything.
5. Travel Fund
When budgeting my expenses, I split my money into a few sections, one is a travel fund. Firstly, I pay 10% into savings, invest 10%, donate some through Kiva, set aside my regular expenses and split some of the money into travel, education and things I am focused on.
A travel fund helps stop you from dipping into savings or using too much of your own money. We could easily spend everything we earn on travel but I don’t want to live that way.
How do you afford to travel?