So, you're setting out and seeking ways for earning money on the road. You're taking the leap. You have the initial cash you need, but are wondering about future income possibility while on the road. This is the place to be.
I first read from a full-time nomad (somewhere in the online universe) that all it takes to make a few dollars is a spark of creativity. I thought that philosophy sounded a bit too easy, but I'm finding it to be true. So thanks, full-time-nomad whose name I have misplaced. Here are some ideas I have gathered and/or used thusfar. Feel free to contribute with a comment on any other ways that I have missed. None of these are 'get rich' promises, but if you are budget traveling, they are real and available options depending on your skillset.
You will need to do a bit of research on the country you are headed, how strict they are about cash-in-hand jobs, if a work visa is possible for the average Joe, and what exactly requires a work visa.
Example: Using sites like Helpx, Wwoof, and Workaway gives you accomodation and meals, but usually no cash. This means that in European Union Countries, for the most part, you do not need a work visa. In Thailand, however, you must have a work visa to do the same job because you are receiving something for a service. Or you can be sneaky, but I can't recommend that for obvious reasons.
If you are serious about wanting to make money, then take out a pen and a pad, or open a word processor. Make a list of everything you have ever done that has any value in any type of work. I mean anything. Did you care for younger siblings often? Write down childcare. Did you mow your family's lawn or rake the leaves? Write those down. Did you tutur your peers in school? Awesome. Do you have experience in a restaurant, coffee shop, hotel, bakery, skating rink, anything? Were you a janitor? Are you good at math? Can you speak English or any other language? Any and all of those things can help. Try to write down at least five ideas.
The key to making money on the road has to be a personalized plan taylor-made for you and you alone. You know your gifts, talents and skills better than anyone else, and now is your time to shine!
Look at the list you have made. What stands out as something that is needed in most places around the globe?
If you are reading this, your first and most marketable skill will be your handle on the English language. Where in the world AREN'T there people trying to learn English? Many will tell you that to teach English successfully you must complete the CELTA or any other TEFL or TESOL programs. The truth is that - yes - it will broaden up your horizons in terms of job possibilities that actually pay all the bills and can turn into real savings. There are plenty of other opportunities - teaching an informal class of your own for instance, or one-on-one tutoring in a local coffee shop. You don't need teaching experience as much as you need patience, a good attitude, and a handful of learned phrases in the local language.
Teaching and tutoring English is one idea for earning money on the road, check out Dave's ESL Cafe online for possible jobs, though I think you'll have more luck searching on your own in person if you are without a certificate. Keep in mind that most of the following suggestions are for people who are able to commit to a month or two in one place to make money. Ideally, you could find a work exchange where you get accomodation and meals free for a few hours of work in the morning... then all of the money you'll make from these ideas in your free time are icing on the cake.
More Ideas For Earning Money On The Road
Here are some other ideas, though the list could be infinite:
- Tutoring other things! Math, science, geography... I'm telling you, you can make a killing, especially in a town with a university.
- Busking. If you have any amount of musical talent, this is a great way to fill your pockets, especially if you are blessed with a good stage presence. Heck, I've seen people who couldn't carry a tune at all making a good living this way. You definitely don't have to be as talented as the epic Emery Carl - my personal favorite busker from Pike Place Market in Seattle (pictured on the right). In any case, try it out! You can find tips and tricks at BuskerWorld.com.
- If you are a U.S. citizen, you can test online to join either KGB or ChaCha, answering text message questions for several dollars an hour, with paychecks wired into your bank account once a month. I did this for awhile, and while it may not pay off much if you are in Europe or North America, this could be your main source of income in developing nations. 10 cents a question for sitting in your jammies listening to loud music and answering hilarious questions like 'is Santa real?' You know you want to.
- Childcare. Babysitting, nannying, being an au pair (though then you're stuck in one place) are great ideas. To boost your chances, be sure to have copies of a background check, as well as pay the small fee to get certified for CPR and First Aid.
- Green thumb? Try mowing lawns or gardening. Find a neighborhood with some weeds and tall grass and offer to do the job for just a tiny bit less than the going rate. You'll get a nice tan in the process if you're lucky!
- Do you have organizing prowess? How would you like to go through other peoples' stuff and make their lives easier? Offer simple services to show off what you are good at - maybe help them organize that stack of papers a mile high on the desk, or help them sort their kitchen into a liveable place.
- Restaurant or hospitality skills can pay off as well. Many cafes in smaller towns may take on an extra 'on-call' pair of hands to help with dishes, cleaning up after closing time, and more. This is mostly trial and error, but it sometimes pays off, and it can't hurt to drop your resume around town (though they only call it a CV in Ireland, apparently).
- Did you do well on most English papers in college? You could advertise yourself as an affordable proofreader or helper for ESL students and their essays or term papers. A rate per page, maybe. Don't offer to write their papers or do their homework for them though, that's bad (and karma will kick your hiney in the end).
- Do you partake in skill toys such as poi, hooping, diabolo, contact juggling, flow wand, fire spinning, juggling, etc.? Offer to teach classes and advertise locally and on Facebook. These skills are rare, so market them as such. Even if you have only been learning yourself for six months or so... teach a beginner course! The best part is that you can hold sessions in a local park and be outdoors and getting exercise as well. This particular idea would work best in a bigger city.
- If you're in an area where most locals have a hard time communicating with tourists, offer to a local small business to stand out and direct incoming travelers their way for a small fee a day. This business could be a hotel, B&B, restaurant, gift shop, anything. Offer to make flyers for them in English advertising their services. This may only work once in awhile, but I've heard from a few friends that it really panned out for them.
Have I whet your appetite yet? Your opportunities are literally endless... endless I tell you! Once you set your mind to what you are good at or passionate about, you can do anything. If you have enjoyed these activities at home, imagine how much more exciting and fulfilling it will be when they begin to pay off in a new and foreign land.
Market whatever skills you have using local bulletin boards, sites like Craiglist (or the local equivalent), and by using word-of-mouth at many local shops. Try to use a skill that will be useful where you currently are or are headed - smaller towns might need more tutoring or help around the house with children. Bigger cities are best for busking, skill toys, and things of that nature. If there is a university, advertise heavily there for tutoring, helping with papers, and whatnot.
Still not convinced? If you need any other advice or ideas, feel free to comment or get in touch!