Backpacking can be an incredible adventure and a great way to see the world. Yet, it does cost money, no matter how much you decrease your costs. As a result, being able to make money while backpacking is an incredibly desirable goal. If you can do so, you have the chance to extend your traveling considerably and have much more flexibility at the same time.
In practice, there are thousands (if not more) different ways to make money while backpacking. Some of these can work for pretty much anyone, wherever you happen to be. Others may be much more specific, either to a particular location or to some types of people.
Needless to say, I don’t have the space to cover every single option here and doing so wouldn’t really be practical anyway. Instead, I’m going to take a look at some of the most interesting options and then highlight how I would make this type of idea work for me.
Many of the best ways to make money are based on a skill. Yes, supply and demand still is a thing. This is true when you are at home and also while you are traveling. For example, one of the simplest ways to make money while backpacking is street performing.
For you, this could include music, art or dancing, whatever you happen to be good at. If you’re lucky, you might be able to earn enough to pay for your food and your room each night. However, the effectiveness of this idea does vary based on where you are.
For this, researching first is absolutely critical (really, that’s true for any method of making money). Local laws vary and what is entirely acceptable in one city may be illegal in another. You certainly don’t want to find this one out the hard way.
Another option for using your skills is tutoring or freelancing. You will find that many skills are in demand wherever you go and these can end up being a reliable option for income.
In some countries, teaching English is an especially good option and there is often high demand. A surprising option is haircutting. If you get permission, you could even set up shop in a hostel. You would have no shortage of customers at your feet.
You can also teach many different types of skills. This includes any type of language, musical instrument or dance. The demand is going to be different depending on where you are but people do tend to love learning new things, especially if the education is fun.
Likewise, there may be demand for many other skills, although it’s worth researching this area before you head out. After all, some skills will translate to a different country better than others.
One final option is selling photography. You can make money with your photos in a range of ways, including selling them online. As a backpacker, you may also be able to take some unusual and interesting shots, especially if you’re good with your camera.
Nevertheless, this option is best as supplemental income, rather than something to rely on. After all, there is considerable competition and most people nowadays do have at least one device that takes photos.
Even if you’re not skilled in a particular area, there are many income options that simply rely on hard work alone. For example, many countries heavily rely on seasonal workers, particularly for work like fruit picking.
Likewise, there are other positions available throughout the year, such as jobs at resorts or hostels, along with working at bars, restaurants and other such locations.
Often this type of job isn’t going to require much in the way of skills or previous experience. There are many companies that also regularly rely on tourists, so they know precisely what to expect.
The availability of this type of role is going to vary considerably depending on where you are in the world. Additionally, you may find yourself competing with other travelers for the same positions, so bear this in mind.
The other thing to note is that the work here can often be intense. For many people, especially young people with a strong desire to travel, that won’t be a problem. However, you can expect to have to work hard to make money and the amount you earn mightn’t be as much as you expect.
Even if you can’t find a specific position, you may be able to freelance just based on hard work alone. There are many tasks that people do need completed, so the options are endless. You could wash dishes, be a bike courier, stock warehouses, or work on a farm.
Nevertheless, whatever you do, pay close attention to the traditions and laws of where you are. Often, the approaches that you can and cannot take vary across the world and that variation is sometimes unpredictable.
Making Money Through A Website While You Travel
I actually do make money with a website, and have used my website to fund plenty of trips around the world, namely in Europe and China. I was an English teacher!
The thing about teaching English though, is that you really don't earn much, especially if you teach in poorer countries. You earn enough to get buy and travel locally, but buying a plane ticket on a Chinese salary can be a challenge.
At some point, I started thinking about the idea of making money online. If I could do that, I would have extra money to travel without worry about saving all the time. After all, all you really need to work online is a laptop and an internet connection. Plus, I'd be earning American money online instead of local money, which usually has a poor exchange rate against the dollar.
Making money online is a lot easier than trying to find local work as you travel because you have a better idea of what money you'll make month to month. You know your website traffic numbers, and know your previous months' income, so rather than wing it and let the chips fall where they may, you can make better plans and have a better time on your adventure.
So, in 2010, I started to really research this area and spent around 6 months doing so. Needless to say, I found many scams along the way, along with sites that couldn’t possibly live up to their claims.
But, in June 2010, I started training at one specific site. I’m not really sure what led me there but I followed their training and ended up making my first online sale within a few months. That sale was really what got me going and made me realize that making money online is actually achievable.
Online income funded my diving certification in Malaysia, a 2-month holiday in the Philippines (including wreck-diving), a 1-month motorcycle trip from San Francisco to New York City, and a beer tour up the West Coast of California to Victoria Island in Canada.
To make money online, more specifically, I mostly use a process called affiliate marketing. This approach lets you earn money from promoting products from other companies, rather than selling them outright. This means that I don’t have clients to interact with or products that I have to manage and ship. For that matter, I don’t even have specific deadlines.
I write articles and post them to my website. Within the articles, I link to recommended products and make commissions for each sale. The internet works 24/7 and articles never disappear so you can earn income 24/7 too – even while you sleep! Imagine someone in England or Australia buying something from your website!
All of those features are perfect for anybody who is backpacking or for someone wanting a more flexible income option.
Creating Your Own Business
Affiliate marketing strongly relies on having a website. Before you do that, you need to have an area of focus. Doing so is important because you end up with people actually interested in what you’re talking about. You don't want to talk about what you had for breakfast or what music you're listening too. It's too broad! This isn't blogging in the 90's.
For example, you could make a site about one of your hobbies, like vintage arcade games. Or maybe you know a lot about natural cat health, or how to grow organic vegetables in your garden. Any particular skill or interest of yours can be used as a springboard to start a profitable website.
If you’re traveling, you might even choose to focus on that and there are many travel bloggers that do make money from their sites. A site for people that travel Europe in search of excellent beer would be a cool idea, or a site for people that want to explore the mountains of Japan is another idea.
For affiliate marketing, the one thing is that you need a topic with related products that you can promote. If you were talking about backpacking, you might talk about the best brands, do price comparison, or which ones are best for kids.
Regardless of the direction you go in, there truly is huge potential online. And, there has never been a better time to get involved. Online shopping and researching online are taking off, with increasing numbers of people choosing to buy products through the internet. Think of the billions of dollars that people spend on Amazon. You can leverage Amazon to make money!
This is maybe the most exciting idea because it has worked for me and I know that I can continue to make money online even while I'm not traveling. Plus, growing your business online offers the potential for leveraging systems to make more money, rather than just trading dollars for hours as with most types of odd jobs or seasonal work.