If you hope to sustain yourself on the road long term, some serious financial planning is in order. Even in places where the daily cost of living is relatively expensive, your accumulated costs will inevitably become substantial over time. So how do you mitigate it? Here are three main forms of income for the discerning backpacker.
Got a laptop? Great, you’re halfway there. The internet is an amazing thing, and access is available around enough of the globe to allow a skilled backpacker to make a considerable amount of cash online. Web design, graphic design, photography, writing, editing, translating, teaching, tutoring, sound or photo editing, data entry…the list of potential jobs goes on and on. Using email, web hosting services, Skype, and PayPal, many business operations no longer require your physical presence. Many are able to find a niche as a freelancer, expanding their client base and doing work that could be accomplished from home just as easily from a bungalow on a beach in Thailand or a guesthouse in Argentina. I call this “pantsless working,” and it’s awesome. If you’re totally at a loss you can start with sites like Freelancer and ODesk, but anytime you can make a personal connection you’ll have far less competition for these coveted jobs.
Settling down in a fun town or city to work for a while can be very rewarding. Many jobs are available year-round, like bartending or hostel positions. More commonly, there are seasonal openings for ski lift attendants, national park workers, and fruit/vegetable pickers. If you want to settle down for longer, teaching English is always a great option. Depending on what country you hope to work in, you may not need any qualifications besides a pulse and a strong command of the language. Other places will require a university degree in any topic, a TEFL certificate, and prior experience. Contracts for fulltime employees are rarely less than 6-12 months, but part time teachers may have more flexibility. Always research work permit and visa regulations to see what you can do legally. Working under the table is of course an option, but it leaves you vulnerable to problems with the law and abuse by shady employers.
Money for nothing, and your chicks for free. Making money without actually doing anything is a rare thing, but it does happen. Don’t underestimate the power of smart investing and other methods of making the funds you already have grow on their own. This is often a slow process and not viable for supporting your day-to-day life abroad, but it can make a big difference as time goes on. Setting up a self managed super fund is a great long-term plan towards financial security, especially as you grow older. The sooner you start thinking of these sorts of investments, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Besides, more saving now means more traveling for the rest of your life.
When it comes down to it, there are a lot of options for making money while you travel. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and a willingness to get out and try new things. Good luck!