Seeing the world--or at least one or two particular foreign locations--is an item on most people’s bucket lists.
However, as appealing global travel might be to you, many of us have a certain limitation when it comes to hopping on the plane and taking off into the great unknown: our bank accounts.
For many, the cost of travel seems to be simply too high. There’s the cost of flights, food and lodging and the reality that as you pay for these things you’re steadily emptying your savings. Ideally, there would be ways to not only travel at no cost, but to actually get paid to fulfill your dreams of seeing exotic locals.
Luckily, there are ways to do just that. Here are some creative ways to get paid to travel.
Though some will require time or labor commitments, depending on your skills and personality, you should find a method that will get you to where you want to go and put some cash in your wallet, while affording you a fantastic time abroad.
#1. Harnessing Social Media
Social media is an incredible thing. In the last two decades, numerous social media venues have developed, all of them offering opportunities to not only connect with friends and loved ones, but to also create revenue for yourself.
Depending on your personal talents or interests, you can start a blog, create an Instagram presence, Twitter feed and more.
If the goal is to travel, work to create an online brand or persona that focuses on either travel in general or a specific form of travel or location. If you’re relentless and creative, you should be able to build a substantial following within a year or so. This is important because if you have a large audience, you can begin harnessing your platform to bring in revenue.
The most common way of generating revenue through social media is through Adsense and Affiliate links. Google Adsense puts ad links on your blog or website and pays you a commission when products are bought through your links. Affiliate links work in a similar manner, though with those you have a little more control over the products you’re promoting, as you choose the products and place them within the bodies of blog posts or articles. If you’re looking to travel, focus on curating links to products that are related to travel.
Adsense and Affiliate links are a good start, as they’ll put some money in your bank account to help fund travel.
However, the real payoff is when you generate enough revenue through these methods to attract Brand Partners.
If you’re successful enough, a brand might approach you and offer to fund a trip so that you can further advertise their brand or a specific product they sell. You can also court brands by showing them your blog traffic numbers and other data and offer to be their Brand Ambassador if they send you to different locations where you can further highlight their brand.
In these scenarios, the brand that partners with you will usually cover the cost of travel and also pay you a stipend or commission for your work on their behalf.
If writing and blogging aren’t really your strong points, social media can still be harnessed to get you similar perks.
Instagram and other photo sites can be utilized to fund your travel.
Talented photographers are constantly in demand, and if you’re good with film, you can channel your love for images to pay for your trip and fill your pocket book. Market yourself as a travel photographer, and if you prove your worth, you could get hired by tours and magazines to take pictures for them. You can also hop on growing travel trends, such as destination weddings, and offer your services. Even if you’re not hired by a company, you can still make your trip pictures work for you by selling them through stock photo sites.
Piggybacking on social media, if you do really enjoy writing or film, you can set yourself up as a freelance writer or filmmaker and potentially be paid to travel while you work at something you love.
It will take a lot of determination and patience, but if you work at it, you can get hired by magazines, newspapers and publishers to be a travel writer or documentarian.
Many news sites such as BBC Travel will pay you for pieces on different locations, local color and exotic cuisines. You can also sell your work to existing travel blogs as a guest writer. While it’s not guaranteed that you’ll sell everything you create this way, if you persevere, it is possible to make a name for yourself, at which point you could get sent to locations by a company as a writer. Keep a copy of everything you write, especially when you get a bi-line, so as to build up a portfolio that can be shown to prospective employers.
You can also write travel guides, either in conjunction with a publishing company or to sell as eBooks. EBooks are in high demand these days and if the volume and quality are good, they could fund your trip and add a little extra to your bank account at the same time.
This form of writing could be punishing as you may find yourself putting in lots of work for low pay, especially in the beginning. A tip would be to do most of the groundwork before your trip, researching and writing the location and attractions extensively.
This way, you’re not spending most of your trip writing and can focus on visiting places that will add color to your guide. This will create a more rounded travel guide that should market itself better and provide a better payout.
#3. Getting a Travel Job
There are more stable, sure-fire ways of earning money in exchange for travel than the dicey world of social media and freelancing. That is to get a job that actively takes you places. There are a number of travel jobs on the market today and depending on your travel goals they can be amazing options.
The key is to find a job in the travel industry that actively pays for you to travel.
Though it might be out of your reach to become a pilot, most people can easily qualify and get training to be a flight attendant.
Flight attendants get to see the world while getting paid $30 an hour to do so. The hours might be difficult, and you’ll have to deal with tired, sometimes cranky fellow travelers, but with airlines opening flights to new, exciting destinations all the time, this could be a lucrative, fun travel opportunity and career.
If you don’t want to commit your entire career to traveling, or only want to travel seasonally, look into signing on to work for a cruise or tour.
Both are constantly hiring and depending on your skills and background there are a plethora of jobs to choose from. Cruises look for people to do things from lounge singing to waitressing, to cleaning rooms.
If you’ve got a particular area of expertise or knowledge, such as yoga or tennis, cruises are willing to pay you to come along and work as an instructor. You’ll be traveling in style and getting paid while you see the places you’ve always wanted to visit. And since you won’t have to worry about expenses like food or hotels, you’ll be able to stash away what you make and come home with a nice nest egg.
Tours also look for instructors to add to their roster, as well as tour guides, translators, babysitters and chaperones. If you speak fluent English, know a second language, are good with children or are knowledgeable about a specific place or culture, companies will pay your airfare, food costs and lodging, and if you plan your schedule right you’ll be able to have plenty of time to explore on your own and enjoy the benefits of foreign travel.
Tours also look for instructors, especially instructors who are into sports or other outdoor activities, such as kayaking, whitewater rafting, surfing, hiking or scuba diving.
#4. Working Vacations
If you’re interested in traveling to a place and completely immersing yourself in the language, customs and culture, and want to simultaneously make some pocket money, consider applying for a job abroad. Many foreign countries will pay top dollar for English teachers, especially ones who are certified to teach English as a second language. If you’re looking to teach in another country, the best options are private and boarding schools, as they’ll pay the most and offer the best benefits.
If you don’t have teaching credentials but are strong in your faith, you can sign up for mission work. While some missionaries work for free in exchange for food or lodging, there are trips that pay. These are often connected to fundraising or educational projects.
There are also labor/work exchange programs, specifically farming programs that will pay you a minimal stipend to help with jobs. Even if you don’t want to sign up for an official work program, you can look on craigslist and other community job post boards before you travel to find part-time or short term work that will cover your travel expenses and possibly add a little more green to your account.
Completely free travel can be difficult to secure, and even cheap travel deals will put a hole in your savings. So for those who yearn to travel and see the great sights this planet has to offer, tapping into travel options that pay you to go on trips is a worth the investments of time and labor you might have to put in.