The single most popular question I get is “How can you afford to travel?”
I must answer this question in one way or another about 20 times everyday… so this blog post is long overdue! Keep reading to find out all my tips, tricks and secrets for how I afford to travel full-time.
My goal in writing this is to tell you that traveling is cheaper than you may think, and show you that it’s not hard to travel full-time if you set your mind to it and take advantage of the opportunities around you.
First thing’s first: No, I am not rich. No, I don’t have rich parents. And No, I don’t have a huge savings account.
Yes, I make all of my own money to fund my travels, through hard work, patience, taking advantages of opportunities and being a smart money spender.
I want you all to understand that I am just a normal guy from Arizona. I don’t have a movie debuting on the red carpet of Hollywood. I don’t have a top song on the radio, and I don’t have a best-selling book on Amazon.
But I have figured out a way to subsidize my expenses (i.e. travel for free) and make traveling my full-time job. And as of this year (2016), I am starting to make decent profit.
Find out below how I created this lifestyle for myself, and how you can do it, too.
I primarily make money in 5 different ways:
1. Travel Blogging (#1 source of income)
2. Sponsored/Press Trips (#2 source of income)
3. Social Media Campaigns (#3 source of income)
4. Snapchat Collaborations (#4 source of income)
5. Teaching English (#5 source of income)
Before I dive in to each topic, I will first provide you with some general tips which are necessary to understand if you want to travel full-time. Please take note of the following:
5 Best Tips for How I Afford to Travel
1. Be Flexible – You simply can’t be constrained on exact days and times to travel, beacuse you can get killer cheap flight deals by being flexible. Opening up your schedule is something you have to do if you want to travel full-time.
2. Be a Smart Money Spender – If you want to travel, then prioritize it. You gotta stick to consuming only the things that you need, not what you want. This means stop spending money on new rims for your car or a that expensive jacket that you don’t need (for example). I only own a small amount of possessions like clothing, my computer, iPhone, GoPro and a few other things… that’s about it.
3. Look for Study/Work Abroad Opportunities – When I studied abroad in Prague during my Junior year of college, I visited 20+ European countries during my 5 month semester. Likewise, I visited 20+ Asian countries when I taught English in Korea for 18 months after school. If teaching English isn’t your thing, don’t worry beacuse there are tons of other jobs that you can find abroad. Discover these opportunities at the end of this blog post.
4. Get Rid of Big Commitments – This one is hard for many people, and understandably so… But if you want to make the big lifestyle change, then you need to let go of the big things holding you back in the past and move on to the future. Sell your car, get rid of your housing payments and car payments. Let your friends or parents take care of your dog. If you’re in a miserable relationship, you have to let go and move on with your life.
5. Stop watching TV – Do you realize how many hours of your life that you waste by watching Netflix? I recommend starting a blog (or something of that nature) and use those precious hours towards something that can benefit your future.
For the remainder of this post, I’m going to describe in detail the 5 ways I make money (in order with #1 being the most profitable):
5 Ways I Make Money to Travel Full-Time
1. Travel Blogging
Believe it or not, I make a living from this travel blog, and my original blog called Hungry Partier, which I started in 2013 when I moved to South Korea.
Travel blogging requires a lot of patience, hard work and dedication, but I’m telling you right now, it’s entirely possible and reasonable.
*My ultimate secret is to get a job teaching English overseas and start a travel blog on the side. That’s exactly what I did, and I had plenty of free time to put into my blog and build it up to what it is today.*
The 2 major ways I make money from travel blogging are through affiliate links and sponsorships.
Affiliate marketing is when a business rewards affiliates (i.e. bloggers) for each visitor brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts (i.e. on their website).
For example, if I am an affiliate for Amazon, then I can link to some of my favorite items on Amazon in a blog post. If someone clicks my link and purchases the item(s) I recommend, then I get a small commission.
My biggest affiliate is with a TEFL Company that I recommend called MyTEFL, so every time someone buys that class, I get paid $35 at no additional cost to the person buying the class.
Get it? It’s almost as if I am a salesman for that company. If I sell something, I get paid.
The other way I make money is through Sponsorships.
These are when a travel-related company or brand pays me (~$400-$1000) to promote them on my blog and on my social media channels. Keep in mind that I always write my own opinions and give advice/recommendations based on my experiences with the product or service.
Be careful though. You don’t want to be a “sell out” and only go for the money, beacuse then you will lose trust with your audience very quickly. I see this happen all the time with new bloggers.
2. Sponsored/Press Trips
A sponsored trip is when a tourism board invites me to their country and I promote my experience on my blog and social media channels.
Some recent examples of sponsored trips are when I went to Germany with the Germany Tourism Office and when I went to Suriname with Suriname Tourism. Both tourism offices sponsored a trip for me to go around their country and promote it on my blog, Snapchat and Instagram channels. Not only do I get free flights, hotels & tours, but I also charge a fee for my services.
Press trips are not as common as I’d like, beacuse they take a lot of planning, and frankly, many tourism offices don’t have the budgets to sponsor trips.
3. Social Media Campaigns
A social media campaign is when a travel brand or company pays me to promote their product or service on my blog or social media channels. It’s called product placement, and it’s the same concept for how Nike used to pay Tiger Woods to wear their logo on the golf course (although that was a multi-million dollar contract).
I have worked with a variety of brands in the past, most notably Shotka Vodka, and I have an upcoming campaign with Citizen Watches.
Whenever I post about using these products, I always do so in a very natural and fitting way. I try to avoid being “spammy” or “commercially.” Of course, there are so many travel brands out there who have money to spend on marketing, so it’s in my best interest to get a hold of them (I pitch myself a lot).
4. Snapchat Collaborations
This one might come as a shocker to many of you, but I actually make a full-time living just from Snapchat. How on earth is this possible?
I got a head start of growing my Snapchat channel, when I realized the potential of the app while on a 2 month trip around India in early 2015. I wrote this article for how to market yourself on Snapchat (it’s way outdated now but still relevant), and it has opened the door for many opportunities in the Snapchat space.
Specifically, big brands pay me to do Snapchat Takeovers for their account from around the world. Companies are interested in working with me beacuse I am both a content creator, and I have a large following that they can leverage to grow their audience as well.
In the past, I’ve done Snapchat collaborations with Tripit, Lonely Planet, Bleacher Report, Germany Tourism and Yahoo Travel — but these opportunities are starting to die down as Instagram is taking over as the King of Social Media. (*Hint* focus on growing your Instagram account.)
5. Teaching English
Teaching English is the BEST way to find a job overseas and start traveling full-time.
I taught in South Korea for 18 months after college and I loved every second of it. I couldn’t possibly recommend it more to anyone reading this. It changed my life in more ways than I can explain.
Teaching English is really the safest way to take that first big leap abroad, beacuse it’s essentially risk free once you’ve locked in your job. Just think about it, you are literally getting paid to teach people your native language, which is so easy that it barely requires you to think.
I’ve already written numerous blog posts about this topic like: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Korea and How I Traveled to 17 Countries and Saved $3K, so please refer to those post for more information.
To be applicable to teach English abroad, you must meet these basic requirements:
– You must be a native English speaker
– You must hold a passport from an English Speaking Nation
– You must have a bachelors degree from a University
– You must obtain your TEFL Certificate (Teach English as a Foreign Language)
You are NOT required to speak the local language of whichever country you go to, and you are NOT required to have any previous teaching experience. I studied economics and entrepreneurship in college.
My starting salary teaching English in Korea was about $2,000 USD per month. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, trust me, it goes a long way. Especially considering the amazing benefits like: free rent, reimbursed airfare, no taxes to pay on paychecks, no expenses except phone bills, free lunches, health insurance, 4-week paid vacation, etc.
And after my teaching contract ended, I was given about $6K in bonuses which I put directly towards my travel funds. I used that money for about 6 months after teaching, on big trips to India, The Philippines and Europe.
If you have any questions about teaching English, don’t hesitate to contact me!
So, how much money do I really make?
It varies month-by-month. Some months I’ve made $8K, others about $1K. The more work I put into it, the more I get paid.
The travel benefits are just as precious.
It’s not just the money that I make that enables me to travel — it’s also the freebies and travel benefits, which allow me to travel longer.
I’m talking about all those free flights, hotels, transportation, tours, etc.
I get this stuff for free, because I work with the companies and tourism boards to promote them on my blog and on my social media channels. But these companies don’t always find me — I find them. I just spent 50+ hours over the last 2 weeks pitching myself to hundreds of travel brands, companies, tourism boards, hotel chains, etc, to get deals for 2017.
I am confident that as long as my following continues to grow, the amount of money I make will increase because I can start charging higher prices when more people are consuming my content.
So you want to quit your job and life a life of travel. How can you do it?
The most difficult part is to start.
It’s so easy to really want to do something, and then find every possible excuse not to make it happen. I’ve seen it so many times.
My biggest piece of advice for a starter to take the leap abroad is to find a job teaching English and start a travel blog from day 1. If you dedicate yourself, then I promise you, within a year or less, you can already start making a decent living form your website and freelance work.
I am living proof that this is possible. It’s not a maybe, it’s a 100% yes this can happen.
But If you are not qualified to teach English, then don’t panic, because there are may other jobs that you can find to make that first big leap abroad.
Here are some other jobs where you can make money and travel the world.
– Work on a cruise ship
– Work at a hostel
– Work at a restaurant or be a bartender
– Be a tour guide or instructor for your passion (rock climbing, scuba diving, etc.)
– Be a freelancer for things you’re good at (check out Upwork, Elance and Fiverr to find work)
– Maybe your current company has branch overseas that you can move to?
No matter which job you take abroad, you should still start a blog and get your voice recognized to the world. I can’t even tell you how many new doors I’ve opened from starting this blog, and it’s only getting started.
The opportunities are out there. It’s just up to you to make it happen.
I truly hope that this post inspired you and now you understand how I can afford to travel. It’s not luck, but rather a lot of hard work, patience and smart decision making.
And from there onwards, the possibilities are endless.