How to Make Money While Traveling
I typed these words into Google in the Spring of 2013 and got sucked in immediately. It opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Who doesn’t want to make money and travel the world?
More than ever, it seems that people are quitting their day jobs and moving to some far off land. This is all nice and dandy but what happens after 4 months when you’ve partied a little too hard and your bank account is all dried up and your only chance at survival is to scrub toilets?
Well, you probably go back home to that familiar daily grind and the cycle repeats itself.
I’m not here to do that. I’m not here to explore for a couple months and pack it in. I’m here to make some money doing whatever it takes and enjoy my life while I’m at it. So that’s what I’m going to share with you here—some awesome ways that you can earn a living while actually living.
But let me explain how I got here…
I was in my second-to-last semester in college and was not enjoying the endless finance meetings and networking events that were geared towards schmoozing with industry professionals in order to get jobs that I didn’t care about.
I was distraught, discouraged, and bored, but the words “digital nomad” and “location independent”—those magical terms I had just recently discovered—kept popping up in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I stumbled upon some blogs like Location180 and The Art of Non-Conformity and I read and read and read. I was introduced to the 4-Hour Work Week not too long after and devoured the book in a single day.
There were guys out there really doing this. Working and traveling and making an income—in some cases a LOT of money—all on the Internet.
Why can’t I do this?
I realized how much of noob I was for not having seen this stuff before. Most of these guys had gotten off their feet and started living this dream back in 2008-2009—now regarded as the “heydays” of the online blogging world—but I was determined to do the same.
The idea of traveling while making money has always been a dream of mine but jumping on a plane to new lands and not worrying about a job back home always seemed so far-fetched.
However, not long after trying out the corporate world I knew it wasn’t the lifestyle for me so I figured I’d give the whole digital nomad thing a try.
I left New York and came straight to Guangzhou China and so far it’s been pretty great. I’ve been able to go on some awesome trips and experience some crazy stuff, but when I think about it, I’m still not “location independent.” In fact, I’m tied down due to my obligations to teach English.
How the fuck did that happen? That wasn’t part of the plan.
Dreams of China
I originally came to Guangzhou because it is the trading hub of China and I wanted to see what product development opportunities existed. I quickly realized that it wasn’t something I was interested in—at least not yet. I also needed to start making cash quickly and teaching English is about as easy as it gets if you speak English and are white (yes, the Chinese are prejudiced in this regard). So I jumped on that bandwagon and slowly forgot the whole reason I came out here—up until a couple weeks ago.
My buddy Carl and I got to talking about why we jumped ship in the first place and it became evident that although we’ve been living in China for months now, we still haven’t explored shit.
And that’s a problem.
Considering how large China is and how culturally rich this country is, it’s a tragedy to be cooped up in one city, especially Guangzhou…
We came here to see ALL of China, to walk on the Great Wall, to eat dog meat (JUST KIDDING), and meditate with Tibetan monks!
Our conversation brought back much of the the lost excitement that had lit that fire under asses back in the states.
Although there isn’t anything wrong with having a home base—an awesome city you can cruise back to and relax—Guangzhou is definitely not that place for me. So, Taipei is in the talks for now. Possibly this summer my friends…
Anyway, at this point we are starting to see the fruits of our labor and making a bit of cash online. It’s not a lot yet, but like anything that is pursued with diligence and consistency, it will only get better.
The current goal is to have our income from online work surpassing our teaching income by the time July rolls around, and at this rate I think it’s completely feasible; just need to keep my eye on the prize.
Make that Money
In this next section I’ll break down some of the ways that I’m making money online and some other methods that you can use to make money while traveling.
- Computer Programming/Web Design: To me, this is one of the most obvious ways that you can start making money on the Internet. If you are already tech savvy, understand how websites and different softwares work, and know how to write the code for them, you’ve won half the battle. There are sites like Upwork and Freelancer which are invaluable in getting yourself those first paid gigs. Once you establish yourself and build a network, it’s quite common to start getting substantial referral-based work, which pays mucho más $$$. Soon you’ll have so much work you’ll be turning clients away. I have several friends who have put in the time to learn these skills and they are making upwards of $50/hr with just them and their nifty laptops.
- Blogging/Copywriting: This is the area that I’ve jumped into as it’s the fastest way to start making a buck online. People who are involved in this type of work write the web content for websites, products, or blog articles that engage users and get them to take some sort of action—whether it’s signing up for an email list or pushing the “purchase” button on Amazon. Personally, I’ve been doing everything from writing SEO optimized website content to blog articles for small businesses and copywriting for Amazon products. You can make a decent income too. In fact, at the end of this month I am going to write a post detailing all of my income and expenses here in Asia, so stay tuned for that.
- Teach English: This seems to be the go-to option for the wanderlust seeking individual who can’t deal with their corporate job. Read any blog nowadays about teaching abroad and the experiences and stories seem to overlap. But there’s a reason so many people are writing about this. Because it works. You can come to Asia and make $35/hr with virtually no experience. Sounds too good to be true? Well it’s not because I’m living proof. Although I only teach part time, thousands of people move abroad to become full time English teachers and end up saving thousands of dollars in just a couple of months. With super cheap flights around Asia, an English teacher can bounce around from country to country enjoying a variety of different cultures and experiences. If you have no idea what you want to do but you know you need to get out, this is a good place to start.
- Work for an airline or cruise ship: If I told you that I haven’t looked into both of these career paths then I’d be lying. As a flight attendant you can fly all over the world and explore a new culture almost every other day. Life on a cruise ship sounds pretty damn exciting too. Yeah, I’m sure some places are not all that sexy to visit but when you get round trips to Europe or Southeast Asia for $100 I’d say that’s not a bad deal. And it’s not bad pay either; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for flight attendants in 2014 was $42,290. This might be a bit more of a traditional career path than some of the other options but it still offers all of the opportunity for adventure with the added bonus of security.
- Odd jobs: I know this sounds vague but hear me out. Lots of people move abroad with no plans and end up finding work doing a bunch of random shit. A common thing to do is to hit up a local hostel and see if they will let you work in exchange for free accommodation. Considering that accommodation is one of the larger expenses in life, this is not a bad gig and many hostels will happily agree to this arrangement. Also, at least here in China, there are job boards that post literally hundreds of jobs per day with requests ranging from models and go-go dancers, to club promoters or IT professionals. If you’re motivated enough and looking to get work, you can find it here.
Take the Leap
Well all those ideas seem feasible but it’s just too hard.
No, that’s just your brain being a pussy. If you really dislike your situation and you’ve always fantasized about traveling the world and working from a laptop, it really comes down to one thing.
Just fucking do it.
Pull the trigger, take the leap, spark the blunt, or whatever cliché idiom is gonna make you buy that ticket.
Just listen to Shia.
Most people are scared. Most will make up 1,000+ excuses as to why they can’t do it and it’s all bullshit. I know that because I was making up the same excuses. But I can tell you that the moment I actually made the decision to quit my job there was nothing that was going to stop me. I had an incredibly strong conviction come over me that no matter what, everything would work out. That belief was all I needed.
Once you make the decision and actually believe that it will happen, everything else falls into place. This type of laws of attraction, positive vibes in the universe mumbo jumbo has been talked about to death—and now I can kind of see why.
Everything you can imagine is real – Pablo Picasso
You want to make money, travel the world, and experience some things that will make you feel alive. The decision is up to you.
You’ve just got to take the leap and make it happen.