Nearly three years ago when I quit my job, I had savings to last me a couple of months. I had every intention of going back to work once I returned so I didn’t think of establishing a career in travel space, I didn’t work in that direction at all except updating this blog which was a subdomain back then (.wordpress.com). Making money while traveling was a thought in the back of my head but I never actively worked towards it.

Things worked out differently from what I had planned and I eventually ended up traveling longer. I might have to go back to corporate someday but I don’t dread that day anymore.

My list of creative ways of Making money while traveling –

1. Project Management

Location:

Kodaikanal

How I got the Project:

My friend shared one of the business owner’s contact details. I wrote them an email which was followed by a few discussion/ interviews with each founder.

My Experience:

I spent most part of 2018 in Kodaikanal setting up a backpackers hostel as part of this project. It involved looking for ideal properties; running around the government offices like municipality, taluka, and police station; looking for contractors; supervising the contractors; among other things.

To be fairly honest, it’s no fun to be dealing with people who talk like potential criminals (Most of the property agents did), Kodaikanal has a huge alcoholism problem (like a lot of hill stations) and I had numerous meetings where the other person was reeking of alcohol, being the only woman in the entire process wasn’t helping, There was staff hired that was visibly upset about taking instructions from a woman. All this can make a work environment quite toxic.

But during the period when I had the liberty of choosing to work with who I wanted to (I never had a second meeting with anyone who was outright disrespectful), It still was great. I never lost sight of the end goal, I knew if it works out, there would be another backpackers hostel in Kodaikanal that will host people like me. I wanted it to be the BEST. Each time I had said ‘I wish this hostel had..’ I wanted this hostel to have that. It didn’t work out that way though because at the end of the day it was not my hostel, not my money, so I had less say in how to spend that money.

Working towards a goal that affects your community is exhilarating. Also, no matter how your day is going if you wake up to the view of the hills with the cold wind brushing against your face, it automatically turns a bad day into ‘it’s not so bad’ day.

Trash outside house

That’s what it was while setting up. Cleaning up!

2. Photography

Location:

Ecuador

How I got the Project:

My Couchsurfing host asked if I would want to join her during an Ad shoot. It was not meant to be paid.

My Experience:

I had a great day helping my friend through the day for an Ad shoot. Because it was not meant to be paid, I went around taking pictures of the shoot which had professionals so I didn’t feel pressurized.

I shared selected pictures at the end of the end with my host, she liked them so much that she shared them with her bosses and ended up getting me some merchandise as a form of payment.

I sold the merchandise when I had the alternatives. I would probably have kept it in my regular life but I was backpacking and I couldn’t carry anything that I didn’t need. Also, the best use of money for me back then was travel. 

Had I not found a buyer for it, I would have given it away.

The experience was great because I wasn’t working for money.

Girl with a camera

At the job

3. Helped someone with English

Location:

Remote Work

How I got the Project:

Upwork

My Experience:

I applied for at least a few hundred gigs before I found this one. Without a good amount of references, it’s insanely difficult to find a gig on Upwork.

The feeling of seeing someone improve with each day was satisfying, seeing someone not repeat the mistakes that they did in the first few calls felt fulfilling but it requires a commitment beyond the call.

I was constantly thinking of other activities I could incorporate to make the process more fruitful and effective. I tried to find out what others were doing etc. 

Even though it was remote work, I couldn’t do it from anywhere. I needed a quiet place with a good wifi connection for which I ended up paying slightly more than what I would otherwise pay.

I loved the experience overall.

4. Painted a cafe

Location:

Himachal Pradesh, India

How I got the Project:

I asked.

My Experience:

It has to be one of my favorite projects ever. Art is something that I love anyway but the people that I worked with were the nicest.

They didn’t treat me any different from other guests, everyone treated me with the utmost respect from staff to owners which makes a huge difference. Apart from painting, I gave them shoutouts wherever I could. My experience was so good there that I’m still thinking about going back which would give me some time off from ‘how to be making money while traveling’.

It was not a random cafe that I approached, I used to eat there often and also worked out of their cafe for hours so I already liked the place and the food. Being able to work there was great.

Carpe diem painting

With the main wall art

5. Freelance writing

Location:

Remote Work

How I got the Project:

Multiple sources

My Experience:

I used to do freelance writing during my college days. It barely paid anything but it was still extra money which I appreciated. So I take up freelance writing now whenever I have the bandwidth to.

I don’t enjoy it as much because I already do a lot of writing for myself but the freedom to do this from anywhere makes it perfect.

Girl by river

Writing anywhere with inspiration

6. Transcription

Location:

Remote Work

How I got the Project:

Looked it up online.

My Experience:

I keep applying for work for hours when I need for making money while traveling is intense and that’s why at times I have no idea where the work came from.

I transcribed audio files for someone which means I heard a conversation and wrote it verbatim in text.

It was time taking as I didn’t have enough experience in that area. So, I had to research quite often about colloquial words used in the audio.

It pays well if you find a good contractor but the time it takes to make it to a good team may not be worth it. Also, a lot of people hire only native English speakers which makes finding good work a challenge.

7. Filled surveys

Location:

Remote Work

How I got the Project:

No idea

My Experience:

Like I mentioned earlier, I apply for jobs for hours on certain days. It involves going to random sites. I must have filled something somewhere and this new company started sending me surveys. I didn’t believe it would pay but it did on multiple occasions. At times it paid better than writing articles.

They don’t have surveys anymore.

Girl with laptop

Always on my laptop

Also Read: https://thesolespeaks.com/budget-travel-tips/

This not only serves as a list of odd jobs I took up in the last three years but for me, it’s a reminder of a million things I have failed at. Each of these remote jobs takes hours to find. At times I take up things only to gain experience and it barely pays anything.

I did a lot of painting for free before I drew a line and decided no more free anything. No matter how much I love a wall or crave to finish an unfinished work, I choose to paint for money.

This certainly should not serve as a list of things one can do for making money while traveling, there are other ways to do it and pursuing one thing definitely helps.

Making money while traveling is not as difficult as it appears from the outside especially if you can speak in English, have decent exposure to different cultures, However, if you put filters on it like the people you want to work with, the region you would want to live in, the kind of work you want, the pay, the commitment time, and if it’s creatively draining, then it does become difficult.

Every day, every new strategy is an experiment. Some work, most don’t.


Manisha Singh

I'm an HR (IT) Consultant by profession who loves traveling to keep from getting caught up in the monotony of regular life. I quit my job in Oct 2016 to take a career break. I'm using my time to travel around South America. When not traveling I love spending time volunteering for various activities ranging from Art to corporate citizenship. I love Running (5k mostly), reading (interest keeps varying here), playing TT (something I picked up recently), and open to just about any new experience.

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