It really is no secret that I am deeply passionate about travel. Meeting new people. The sights.The experiences. The sense of adventure. These are just some of the things that draw me to the lifestyle of travel.
Since returning home from traveling for just over a year, I have received the following question on countless occasions:
How did you have enough money to travel for so long?
Also, One night, whilst I was out having a few beers at my local pub, I was asked by a stranger what I do for a living. Following my response that I had just returned from travelling and was unemployed, the comment I received was astounding:
‘You probably have rich parents.’
At first I was a little angry at this comment. Our family is comfortable yes, but we are by no means rich and I definitely did not take hand-outs from my folks to achieve my dream of travel.
I do understand what people are thinking, though. Some people just have a narrow world view and don’t understand. They see travel as a guilty pleasure: ‘We must work hard and then at the end of the year we can reward ourselves with a two week holiday to Bali where we will do nothing but sit on the beach at an expensive hotel drinking cocktails.’ Yea sure.
In the backdrop of the above questions and comments I decided it was time to write a post about how exactly you can fund a lifestyle of travel, including both personal experiences and observations along the way.
There are plenty of posts out there telling you how to fund a travel lifestyle. Many will list countless jobs that you can undertake to fund your travels, from working the odd job as barmen or a cleaner, to working for accommodation in a backpackers, to even launching a blog. Admittedly launching a blog is a long terms strategy and making money takes time.
I want to take a different stance on this matter. I not only want to show you what jobs are at your disposal whilst traveling (trust me there are thousands and I cannot hope to cover these all in this post). But I want to give you tools and tips to get that job.
Ultimately we as travellers are there for the sights, the people and the experiences and I would like to think that what job you undertake isn’t nearly as important as having a job in the first place.
Save! Save! Save!
There are people who firmly believe that you really do not need that much money to start travelling, over and above your flight tickets. All you really need is your backpack, passport, some clothes, and flights booked. There is much truth in that as I have found whilst traveling.
However, I am of the belief that it’s always good to have a few thousand dollars in hand after you have paid for your flights, particularly if you travelling for the first time. Indeed, this is what I did.
Living and working in South Africa, I managed to save close to R100 000 ($90000-$10000 at the time) over a year and a half period.
In hindsight that was a little much, but I managed to do quite a bit of traveling and book additional flights before I needed to start working. Being able to explore freely and not worry about money for the first months of your travels is a fantastic thing – particularly if this is your first solo backpacking trip.
So save. Commit to an amount each month. Cut down on expenses that are unnecessary. Make sacrifices, such as reducing your ‘social appearances’. Go out less. Spend less. Sell things that no longer serve you. If you want it bad enough, saving that cash won’t be hard.
Now at some point my savings ran out (and yours will too unless you have stinking rich parents and are happy sponging off of them your entire life), so how does one continue to fund a life of travel, knowing this?
The Power of Connections
Make connections and use your connections. Don’t be scared to chat to fellow backpackers and ask them if they know of anyone hiring in and around the area.
Consider if you know people in the country that you are traveling to and see if they can help you. My uncle immigrated to New Zealand a while ago and I contacted him to get some Dairy Farm experience – more on that below.
Working For Accommodation
When you visit a hostel you will see fellow backpackers cleaning. What they are doing is working for free accommodation. So ask management if there are any openings. And if there aren’t get yourself on the ‘waiting’ list. After all people do not stay in a backpackers indefinitely.
Sign-Up to an Employment Agency
Admittedly I have always been weary of employment agencies, but they are there to get you job opportunities. As a backpacker, these will very often be short term jobs to start. I saw this with a fellow Canadian friend, Matt. In the beginning, they would call him for odd jobs. He was always available and over time he got more work because when they called, he was available and they knew they could count on him.
Grab the Local Newspaper.
I spent four months living and working in Queenstown, New Zealand. How did I get a job? Well, I arrived in March 2014, scoured the local newspaper, updated my CV and sent my CV out to several companies.
I didn’t hear back from everyone and was declined on several occasions. I did, however, receive one job offer and ended up working as a driver/cleaner/customer service representative for four months from June to end September.
Also don’t be afraid to drop your CV off at places of interest. If anything this shows greater willingness to work than someone who pumps out 10 CV’s a day.
Do Some Research
If you like preparing and doing a little planning before visiting a country, do some research on prevalent industries. New Zealand, for instance, is big on dairy, fruit and sheep farming. And they always need part time labour.
I actually got an offer to do fruit picking via an agency that I had applied for (I turned it down as I already had a job).
Using my connections, I contacted my uncle. I stayed with him for a few weeks with my Singaporean friend, getting experience working on a dairy farm. I then applied for a 2-month dairy farm job online via a backpacker website (see below) and got it.
This was a totally new experience that paid really well. The accommodation was free. Money was very good. And because you are isolated you are able to save quite a bit.
Use Backpacker Sites
Many countries will have sites dedicated towards part-time employment, specifically for backpackers. Look for them. Backpackerboard.co.nz is one such site.
Many of my friends did this and I actually looked into this before traveling to Thailand but decided that I was just going to travel for a month and worry about cash when I got to New Zealand.
I knew a guy who cut hair for $10 a pop. Another lady walked around offering massages for $5 (no, not the kind with a happy ending you dirty bastard). A Canadian friend was even a busker. I recall one night that he made over $200.
Perhaps you have a unique skill that can be applied no matter where you are. Maybe you are a photographer? Or you can offer yourself up for modelling? Writer perhaps?
Start a Travel Blog
As alluded to earlier this is a long term strategy. But over time you can build a community around your blog. Aside from blogging about something that you love you can over the long term make money through affiliate links and various other products that you have created. And once you have an established blog you might even find that you don’t need to work the odd job.
All in all being able to travel for a lengthy period of time is all about mindset. It is a lifestyle that you must want. This was highlighted in an interview that I did for feature Fridays by a Mother and Daughter Living the Simply Nomadic Travel Lifestyle.
Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to ask people questions. Connect with people at backpackers. If you want it bad enough, put in a little effort. You will find that things really just work out for the best and that funding your travel lifestyle is not that hard after all.
And remember don’t let the uncertainty of the journey stop you from pursuing your dream of travel. Trust that things will work out when you step out of your comfort zone. Because they will, I can assure you.
Are you planning on traveling for the first time? How do you plan to fund your travels?