How do people travel perpetually – you know the people on facebook and instagram who are always in a new country, livin' la-vida-loca, while you're plugging away at an office job? Does anyone actually get paid to travel, besides Michael Palin, Sir David Attenborough and professional athletes? How do travel bloggers make money? What is the secret to getting paid to travel?
This month I look at professional travellers, how people afford the lifestyle and what to do if you think it should be you taking self-portraits for your Wall in Rio. If you've ever worked while travelling before, let us know on our Facebook page or in the comment box below.
The first major logistic when it comes to working abroad is time: how long do you want to travel for? Do you want to work abroad for a spell or be a modern vagabond until you're grey and wrinkly, before retiring back home? You might want to travel several times a year, every year for the rest of your life, and earn money for it while maintaining a life at home. It's possible to work around all these variables; they all come with certain quirks and hiccups, but offer different opportunities. You don't need to be dead-set on a specific path right away, but knowing that you've got options is a good start.
The other crude reality is that getting paid to travel involves a bit of "work". This can also be the fun part of the journey, as long as you love what you do. We live in an incredible era, where technology has made it possible to do a range of jobs from just about anywhere - and sometimes more effectively when you're not in an office. Still, finding the right kind of work, which pays the right amount of money and matches up with your time-frames and needs, is the trickiest trick of all.
Look At Short -Term Work -Travel Options
One of the most productive and practical ways of getting paid to travel is getting a job that allows you to earn well, live cheaply and travel to awesome places nearby with the money you save. Last month we counted down the Top 10 Working Holidays, which included teaching English in Thailand, picking grapes in France, yachting in the Caribbean, farming in Australia and more amazing suggestions. You could do one every summer if you like, or travel the world for two years doing each one in a row for a limited time.
Do Cabin Crew work
Working as a cabin crew member for an airline is a great way to see the world, meet people and earn a living while doing it, but it doesn't come without challenges - some argue that it's badly paid. You've all seen rude, sick, panicked and frustrated passengers making a mess on a flight - whose job is it to deal with those people? Still, working for a decent airline comes with immense travel perks (besides being a pilot, you'll struggle to find another job where flying is free) and opportunities.
To find out more about how to get into this, check out www.cabincrewdirect.co.uk for course details.
Become a travel writer.
Travel writing involves being a jack-of-all-trades these days. You need to be savvy with online work, social media, website development, seasonal trends, topical issues and always generally aware of what's going on in the world. You also have to love the craft of writing words - for starters, because if you don't enjoy sitting at a computer for hours on end, the job will drive you bonkers. Secondly, because bad writers make even less money than good writers - and even good writers struggle.
There are a number of ways to be a travel writer, including:
1. Work For A Travel Publication
It's an obvious place to start, but working for a travel/sport/adventure/exploration magazine will often involve 'field research' for articles, although this isn't guaranteed and you'll need to work hard to earn your stripes. For a publication to justify sending a journalist to another city, country or continent, you'll need to prove that your writing will generate enough sales or hits to justify the expense. So when you're pitching an article to your editor, keep in mind the cost, level of public interest, longevity and timing of the article you are proposing.
2. Freelance Writing
If you're a good writer with decent ideas, you can fund your own trips, write about it and then sell your articles to various publications. This is risky because sometimes people won't buy your work, so you have to make sure you're committed to the task.
3. Travel Blogging
Travel blogging, as a sustainable way of making money while constantly travelling, has grown into its own monster. Today anyone with an active blog is a potential business owner. The trick is getting people to visit your website - keep this in mind because it's the final say in everything. If you have a good audience and a big social networking presence, you're on fertile ground to start making a living out of your travel blog - and to keep travelling to new places from the money you make.
Travel bloggers make money in a number of ways, but these are the three most common:
Advertising: if you have big numbers visiting your website, companies will pay to have their banner on it.
Affiliate Networking: By promoting various products through your blog, companies will pay you a cut of the sales that come directly from your site.
Guest Posts: Companies will pay you to post content on your website because of your following, in the hopes of gaining more hits from your popularity.
Useful Tips For Travel Bloggers
Get Professional Help. Nomadic Matt has released a highly-touted e-book with useful tips on how to turn your blog into a working business.
Read Other Blogs. You will get some of the best advice by looking at travel blogs and seeing what other people do. Just don't plagiarise.
Save Where Possible. Starting a new blog from scratch takes time. You're going to struggle for a while. You hear all sorts of wonderful stories about “that time I had no money whatsoever”, which is fine when you're a student with a healthy immune system (or one that is used to getting by without nutrition), but it loses its appeal when you start getting older. Being broke sucks, especially if you're alone. Asking your folks to send you money when you're in your thirties and forties stops being cute. So don't plan on being a working traveller until you have a cushion to rest on - or very understanding parents.
Some backpacker hostels offer free accommodation for guests who work there. If you're trying to keep the budget down, pull a few shifts and cut out the expense of a warm bed. You can still do your blogging between shifts and excursions.
Get Travel Insurance.
Getting hurt or having your wallet stolen is a potentially crippling saga if you're not covered, especially in a country like America, where the hospital will turf you onto the pavement if you don't have the means to pay for medical treatment.
Have The Right Tools and Be Reliable.
To write online effectively, you'll need a decent laptop, a smart-phone/android and WiFi access (at least some of the time). A 3G card is also helpful for places where WiFi costs an arm and a leg.
These are important tools of the trade. It's not a cheap set-up, but these items are tax-deductible. To make a success of your work/travel stint, you need to be reliable. There are far too many slackers out there who use “bad connection problems” as an excuse for missing deadlines to fall back on that - even if that's your legitimate excuse.
Decide: I Want To Travel.
Travelling is not always a cheap luxury - sometimes it's not even a luxury. The people who centre their lives around seeing the world do so because they love it. Most world-travellers will never get rich or famous and certainly don't stay in five-star hotels every night of the week. If you're interested in getting paid to travel, you're going to have to make certain sacrifices from time to time and be in love with the lifestyle all the same.
Last Updated: October 2012