How to Make Money While Traveling


Mention the idea of nomadic living — while simultaneously earning a living wage — to your parents, some of your colleagues, even your friends, and you may be met with stares of disbelief or perhaps a chuckle at your expense. However, the idea of having it all — both a nomadic, traveler’s lifestyle, and a good salary — is becoming more and more attainable for a multitude of people. The misconceptions surrounding make money while traveling, from the misconception that you’ll always be poor to the idea that you can never save up for a retirement without grinding away in an office each day, are slowly being brushed away to reveal the true opportunities available to today’s modern workforce. 

More workers are taking their careers on the road (Photo: Perzon SEO/CC BY 2.0)

A study by And Co and Remote Year confirms combining work and travel is a lifestyle trend that’s increasing in popularity, with new remote workers more likely to be working from a foreign country, traveling around the world thanks to their newfound freedom. Additionally, the study explains that, while only 7 percent of workers who’ve been remote for under a year earn over $100K, this number jumps to 18 percent for those who’ve worked remotely for 7 years or more. Of these remote workers, 24 percent describe themselves as “digital nomads,” and 17 percent of those travel to five or more countries each year. Unsurprisingly, remote workers reported that, the longer they work remotely, the more they love it. 

With all these benefits to gain — money, job satisfaction and freedom — you may be wondering how you can join the nomadic workforce. Making money while traveling is proven easier than it seems, but there’s no step-by-step guide telling you how to leave your job and immediately make up your salary in other forms of employment or work. 

However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t an abundance of options at your disposal. 

Working for Your Destination

WWOOFing in Norway (Photo: Emma.Maria via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

Quite possibly the closest thing you can get to traditional employment (which there’s nothing wrong with; some people just like the structure and guidance this provides) is working on a temporary basis for an employer in your destination. 

There are many different ways you can do this, based on your skill set, and this type of employment is often very well suited to those with limited skill sets and individuals who have not yet built up a diverse resume. 

For example, hostels are often looking for enthusiastic travelers to man the front desk, coordinate social activities and generally keep an eye on things. In some cases, you will receive a salary and, in other cases, you’ll receive room and board. With the case of the latter, often you’ll have enough free time to pursue other money-making pursuits, without worrying about the cost of your living arrangements. is just one example of a job board that advertises these types of opportunities. 

In other instances, local attractions often seek out seasonal employees to lead tours, assist guests and perform other tourism-related duties. 

Similarly, those with a background in agriculture or even just a passion for the organic movement and sustainability can find employment opportunities in destinations that feature a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) host. Through the WWOOF program, individuals stay with a host farm or producer and receive room and board in exchange for assistance with agricultural projects. 

“WWOOF’s mission is to connect people, create educational experiences and grow the organic food movement…” said Samantha Blatteis, membership program manager, WWOOF. “WWOOFing is an especially great fit for those with a nomadic lifestyle because it allows one to be a member of a community for a flexible period of time while experiencing many different regions, cultures, climates and adventures.”

“WWOOFers get to explore new places, learn new skills and meet agricultural communities and fellow travelers. Hosts are excited to share their knowledge and expertise, which leads to an awareness of the social and environmental impacts of organic farming. There are myriad ways to connect, share, learn and explore, whether you are 18 or 70!” she continues

While the WWOOF program exists all around the globe, in the United States alone, there are more than 2,300 hosts across all 50 states. Many offer opportunities for nomads all year-round. 

“For a nomadic traveler, WWOOF is an invaluable resource,” Blatteis adds. “While WWOOFing, hosts provide visitors with free lodging and meals for the length of their stay, in addition to education and training. In exchange, WWOOFers help out for about half of each day they are visiting the farm. The other half of the day is free to relax, explore the area or pursue personal projects. The only cost to WWOOFers is a $40 membership fee plus any travel costs to the farm. The length of stay on each farm is flexible and is determined by the host and WWOOFer. WWOOFing is a way to plug into a community or lifestyle for anywhere from a few days to a full season. Nomadic travelers similarly offer much to the WWOOF hosts, who often don’t have the ability to leave their farms and animals to travel and meet new people. Instead, WWOOFers bring the world to the farm for an educational and cultural exchanges that flows both ways.”


For a more traditional way to provide an educational and cultural exchange, teaching opportunities abound for qualified nomadic workers. If you have a skill (even something as basic as speaking English), there’s someone out there who will pay you to share it. 

While you may imagine nomadic teaching jobs abroad as your typical English-teaching position at a school in Asia, there are now many other opportunities for you to travel and teach at your own pace, wherever you dream of traveling. 

Virtual job board FlexJobs reports that education and training positions is one of the most popular forms of employment for digital nomads, second only to writing. When surveying a selection of its users, FlexJobs also found the average digital nomad using the platform is a married female Gen Xer, who is an experienced employee working at a company at least 40 hours per week, in writing, education and training or administrative career fields. This representative of the average individual has health insurance, is saving for retirement and has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

FlexJobs also reports that more digital nomads are employed by a sole company than a conglomerate of freelance clients or just themselves. 

Given this, it’s easy to see that teaching abroad or remotely is hardly something now reserved for just-out-of-college young people avoiding entering the traditional workforce for a few years. It’s a real opportunity for professionals of any age, which provides traditional benefits like healthcare and retirement savings, while also offering the freedom of the nomadic lifestyle.

Case in point: FlexJobs offers dozens of teaching positions that are either semi-remote or 100 percent remote, and many require high proficiency in the subject of your choosing. 

“We exclusively list only flexible and remote jobs, so people interested in being remote workers or digital nomads can come to FlexJobs and find a curated list of thousands of jobs that match their lifestyle interests. Instead of spending hours sifting through traditional jobs posted elsewhere, they cut down their research time tremendously when they use FlexJobs… We’re truly a one-stop-shop for people seeking a better way to work that supports their lifestyle,” says Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist and coach, FlexJobs.


Getting into a more specialized form of income, tech is an industry which is consistently moving toward the gig economy. Graphic design, video editing, photo editing — all of these are popular options which require very specific, fine-tuned skill sets, for which you can charge a pretty penny. 

While you can easily set up your own business to provide these skills, a simpler way to get started and begin making money to fuel your travels faster is by using a freelancing platform like some of the most popular choices, Upwork and Fiverr.

Both platforms differ heavily, though. On Upwork, freelancers search through posted jobs according to work required, level of proficiency preferred and budget. Then, they bid on jobs and, if chosen, turn in work and receive payment all through the platform (with Upwork taking a small cut of your earnings). The benefit to the freelancer is that there is always a guarantee of payment and no chasing unpaid invoices, even if the client decides to ghost you. 

Upwork’s tech-related jobs range from software development to web design, IT to video editing. 

Fiverr puts even more power in the hands of the freelancer. 

“Fiverr’s marketplace is entirely digital, meaning a freelancer can provide his or her services from anywhere in the world (assuming there’s internet),” says Fiverr rep Sam Katzen. “The frictionless nature of the marketplace is designed with freelancers in mind by flipping the relationship — freelancers list their services for clients to choose from rather than bidding for client work, allowing freelancers to spend more of their time working and less of their time trying to get clients. That makes it a whole lot easier for those who are traveling constantly.”

“Fiverr’s marketplace is all about eliminating friction while lowering the barrier for freelancers to offer their services,” he continues. “By having freelancers list their services rather than bidding on open jobs, freelancers spend far more time working than trying to get new clients. That leads directly to efficiency from anywhere. The marketplace is also expansive and global, meaning that a freelancer who has chosen to spend time in Bali has access to a market that’s far larger than just the island. With so much opportunity, it’s significantly easier to build a business that’s bigger than any one locality.”

Browse Fiverr at any time and you’ll see services posted for app building, WordPress design and more. 

If you have a tech skill, these two resources alone provide an almost endless array of potential work.


For those whose skills lie in social media and communications, influencing is a relatively new way to earn an income. It’s received some controversial press in the past year (as some influencers take advantage of their status to try to get free products and services), but, done correctly, it can be just another revenue stream to fuel your journeys. 

 A recent study by marketing agency Clever found that 71 percent of influencers’ income is almost exclusively from sponsored content, versus e-commerce, affiliate links and display ads. What’s the going rate for these sponsored posts? According to one Forbes article, if you have a following of 15,000 on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you can charge $700 for a single sponsored post. Generally, you can begin charging for posts once you have a following of 10,000. However, in order to get those sponsored content deals with brands, one must first build an audience that marketers are willing to spend money on. 

This is done a variety of ways. Firstly, you have to actually build a following. This requires you to treat your social media platforms much, much differently than you normally would. You have to switch your thinking from social media as self-expression, to social media as a business. 

This means watching what your consumers like and demand, and then meeting those demands in order to ensure their loyalty. It means targeting a niche and staying within that niche (i.e., if you are building an influencer brand around travel, you wouldn’t throw in a random post all about your political views, as that’s not what your consumers are there for.) 

Once a social media following with a valuable ROI is obtained, you can begin opening your doors to partnerships with paying brands. 

Labor-Free Income

If you already live in a desirable location, you could leave it behind by renting out a room in, or your entire home (Photo: Airbnb)

Yes, there actually are ways you can make an income while traveling, that take little to no labor on your end. However, you do need something valuable that is translatable into a living wage. 

This could include, for example, a house. According to a study by SmartAsset, the average Airbnb host brings in an annual profit of $20,619, when they rent out a two-bedroom apartment or house. This number, of course, rises and lowers according to the amount of times a house is occupied through the year and where the house is located. However, this amount of money is certainly nothing to shake your head at. If you have a property that you know you won’t be using while you’re traveling around the world, renting it out on Airbnb and paying a service to complete the cleaning and maintenance is an easy way to bring in a good chunk of your income, with no labor required on your end, beyond answering a few emails and monitoring transactions from afar. 

Is the nomad lifestyle right for you?

I know what you’re thinking. All of the above is great and all, but I can’t possibly make enough for a nice lifestyle and a cushy retirement by just relying on my Instagram account or an Airbnb rental. And this is true. Taken separately, each of these income opportunities seems risky. However, given the limited amount of time each requires to be successful, most, if not all, are easily combined to create a quite attractive annual income — not to mention, long-term specialization in any one of these options can lead to a larger income as your value to employers increases.

No one said the nomad lifestyle was for the faint of heart, though. It takes a lot of grinding and faith in the gig economy and one’s own grit. It takes quite a bit more than just popping into an office and phoning it in every day, but the rewards are far more, well, rewarding. 

Just ask the high percentage of digital nomads who’d never go back to life in one singular location, now that they’ve found a way to bring in a satisfactory income while living on the go. 

The world is their oyster and they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

By Holly Riddle