How to Make Money while Traveling

January 15, 2017

One of the most common questions I’m asked as a freelancer is how I make money while I travel. Until recently, this was fairly straightforward: I wouldn’t have work waiting for me in the US. I’d seek out opportunities abroad and stay in one country for a year or two. While this certainly led to adventures like living on a Buddhist monastery in New Zealand, it wasn’t sustainable. These days, I’m able to maintain more of a balance with travel with certain types of jobs.

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Gambling

My guilty little pleasure abroad and the way I can gain or lose money quickly is on the felt of a blackjack table. I won’t lie: I’m probably about even right now, losing several hundred dollars in South Korea, Macau, and Sri Lanka, while gaining hundreds in New Zealand. It’s dangerous just how addictive and fun some of these casinos can be. One great example of an online casino is Casino.com.

Teaching

There is no easier way for native English speakers to work in foreign countries than applying to be an English teacher. Although this usually requires a one-year commitment, the qualifications are minimal, the pay is high, and the experience is well worth the time. When I first made the decision to move to Japan, teaching was how I provided for myself until I found a job with a biomedical company in Kagoshima. I’m reluctant to sign on for another year’s contract teaching in Asia, so I’ve been looking for short-term opportunities in the US. I’m currently a teacher for a Korean winter camp program in San Francisco.

Acting

I’m not just referring to being in front of a camera or on stage when you’re an actor abroad. On the contrary, that’s probably the least likeliest outcome for foreigners. More often that not, there are jobs specifically tailored to white men in Asia: the Chinese company that hired a white guy to be their public face; Japan looking for white men with beards to unofficially officiate weddings. Modeling and acting opportunities are certainly possible, but the alternatives are far more entertaining and educational.

Writing

Finding sustainable long-term work as a freelance writer is my ultimate goal. I currently write for the Underemployed Life, Matador Network, Airbnb Hell, and Travel Visa Pro. Let me stress: these connections were not the easiest to make. I know some bloggers who post for years and have trouble finding enough advertisers and writing gigs to raise enough income abroad. I’ve written for Matador since the beginning, but most of the others I found by happenstance or through recommendations from friends.

Peer-to-Peer Delivery

Experimenting with new apps has been useful on the road. Word Lens may not be ready for the Asian market, but it’s a lifestyle in European cities. In addition, I’ve signed up for apps like Roadie and Airmule to try and alleviate the financial pressure of my biggest expense: plane tickets. These websites give travelers the option of carrying items across the country and across the ocean to deliver them right to the door of the recipient. I randomly came up with this idea of shipping some time ago, but I’m pleased to see it’s already been developed.

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