Make money while traveling: this is how we do it!

by Valine

Ever since I am traveling long term, every other week I receive a specific message on my Facebook chat. Every time it’s a friend or a friend of a friend, asking me how I am able to make money while traveling. Well, I decided to reveal my secrets in this blog post!

 

Make money online while traveling

earn money while traveling

My most beautiful remote office so far: Palomino in Colombia.

 

Our main source of income is the freelance work that I do online. I work as a content writer and social media manager for the website Moveria.nl. I will explain you how I came to find this job. 2 years ago I quit my fulltime job in customer service to finally start traveling. After 6 months of travel my money started to run out. And I did not want to stop my journey! I had to find a solution to earn some money on the go. I was sure there had to be a way to do this online. I started Googling and found the platform Upwork.

Upwork is a website that connects freelancers and clients for all sorts of online work. Jobs you find on Upwork include translation, copy writing, web design, data entry, customer service and much much more. The competition of other freelancers on Upwork is large, so I have to admit that it’s not easy to find well paying jobs on there. But, if you are very serious about your online work, you have some skills and you know how to present yourself online, then I am sure you can make some money there.

If you want to try it, my posts about ‘Getting started with Online Freelancing’ and ‘Creating a killer Profile on Upwork‘ will be very helpful to you!

So I made my profile on Upwork and offered myself as a customer service professional and translator (English/German/Dutch). I applied for dozens and dozens of jobs, until after a few weeks I finally got hired for one. It was a very lastminute job to create Dutch subtitles for a documentary. I accepted immediately and did not sleep for 2 nights to finish the job on time. As shitty as that first job was, it got me my first review on my profile. After that first review it got easier to get other little jobs. New jobs gave me new reviews and after about 6 months I had built a very good reputation. I no longer had to apply for jobs, but instead clients started asking me to work for them! I found two long term clients who both offered me ongoing work. At that point I realized that I could live from this. Which is what I am doing until today.

If you decide to try out Upwork, remember that you have to take it serious! Put a lot of time in creating a perfect profile. Upload examples of your work, take the skill tests, promote yourself, send a lot of applications. Know that in the first months you will have to do many low paid jobs to build your reputation. It takes a lot of time and patience. But if you want to do it, it’s possible!

One important thing to note is that in online work your competition is global. There are tons of talented people in other parts of the world, who have the same skills as you but are willing to work for a much lower rate. I solved this problem by specifically looking for jobs in my native language Dutch. Of course there are less jobs offered in Dutch than in English, but the competition is far less and my competitors are working for similar rates as I am. So if you are fluent in another language besides English, take advantage of it!

Other platforms for online work that you can try out are: Freelancer.comElanceGuruPeople per Hour or click here for a longer list of freelance job sites!

 

 

Work remote for your current or former boss

online work and travel

Another desk with a killer view

Sometimes opportunities to make money while traveling are closer than you think. What about asking your boss if you can work from ‘home’? It may sound impossible, but this is exactly what I did! In the early days of my online career, I decided to tell my ex-boss about my travel experiences. I had quit my job in his customer service center a few months earlier and I knew he had been sad to see me leave the company. I told him that I was currently in Brazil and totally into this new thing of online work. I asked him if there were any tasks in the company that I could do from a distance. To my surprise he liked the idea. He knew online work was the future and he was happy to try it out with me. After a short trial period where I did a few little jobs for him as a freelancer, he even offered me a part time contract again. This allowed me to enjoy all the securities of a steady job, while being able to travel. Not bad huh!

The bottom line is: just ask! You never know what comes out of it!

Here you can read more tips to ask your boss if you can work from ‘home’.

 

Earn money by doing jobs on the spot

earn money during travels

Crom doing what he does best (Photo: Dorotea P.)

While I am the digital girl, Crom is the practical guy. He always finds ways to make money while traveling by helping local people or businesses. When he sees a store front full of ugly graffiti tags, he offers the store owner to cover it with a nice 3D painting. When we are staying on a campsite, he helps the owners with construction work. These things do not always bring in money, but they always bring us free food and free places to stay. But again, the clue here is to just ask! Ask business owners if they need help with something, your help will always give you something back in return! If it’s not money or food, it will at least be a good experience and new friends :)

We also have regularly been using the website Workaway for this. On Workaway you can find places to volunteer in exchange for free food and housing. We always work out a deal where Crom works double hours as a volunteer (6-8 daily hours), so he earns food and free stays for the both of us. This way I can continue my online work and we can spend the money I earn on improving the van, diesel and fun stuff.

Another digital nomad couple that is very good at trading skills for freebies are the Dutch Digital Nomadz. On their blog they explain exactly how they find jobs during their travels. We can still learn a lot from them as well!

Do you have questions about making money while traveling, or do you have other tips to earn money during a trip? Then please leave a comment. We would love to hear from you!

 

 

14 comments

  1. Comment by Edith | [travel.create.repeat]

    Edith | [travel.create.repeat] Reply 16 August 2015 at 21:44

    Wat een leuk en inspirerend artikel! Mijn vriend en ik reizen een beetje hetzelfde als jullie: ik ben de digitale nerd (content writer, WordPress developer, online project manager) en mijn vriend zoekt lokaal baantjes in bijv bars en restaurants. Leuk om te zien hoe jullie samen reizen en werken! En Workaway hebben wij in Ecuador ook gedaan, maar ondanks dat ik had gezegd dat ik niet veel tijd had, was ik toch elke dag wel een paar uur bezig… Waardoor mijn online werk nogal in de knel raakte. Wat een goed idee om je vriend dubbele uren te laten werken en zo tóch te profiteren van Workaway! Ik doe allemaal goede ideeën op hier, thnx :-)

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 17 August 2015 at 08:22

      Hee Edith, wat leuk dat jullie hetzelfde systeem als wij hebben :) Ik geef toe dat ik op de Workaway-plekken moeite heb om echt achter de computer te blijven zitten. Maar ik doe het toch, af en toe mopperend 😉

  2. Comment by Elroy

    Elroy Reply 17 August 2015 at 04:28

    Do you travel to many countries? Or you just travel in Europe?

    I am a developer and I have done some of the sane things you have done. It’s getting easier to travel and work

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 17 August 2015 at 08:26

      Hey Elroy, I have traveled in South America as a digital nomad too (Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia). Since we are traveling with the van we have just been in Europe, but hopefully in the future we will go to other continents too. We just have to ship the van :) Great that you are taking your work on your travels as well!

  3. Comment by Nick Hawkins

    Nick Hawkins Reply 19 August 2015 at 23:06

    Really glad to hear others are approaching the offline world for making your way around. I’ve just started a bartering my digital skills with local businesses in exchange for the service they office, in particular accommodation. I had assumed other digital nomads were doing this too but this is the first write up I’ve seen from anyone!

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 20 August 2015 at 09:53

      Hey Nick, I did not know the word bartering until now :) I think it’s a great idea to just trade your skills for goods. Unfortunately at this point I still need money to pay off my car :-/ Unfortunately banks and insurances don’t do bartering. However, I did not ask…who knows 😉 Good luck with your project, I will follow your adventures!

  4. Comment by Un Cambio de Aires

    Un Cambio de Aires Reply 13 September 2015 at 01:48

    Hello!
    We just find you! amazing and helpful post :)
    We have been travelling since 2010. Most of time using our saving and sometimes, working on the go. Now you tell us one more option, Upwork so thanks a lot to share your experience 😉

    Keep living out the box !
    Big hug from Mexico

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 14 September 2015 at 16:50

      I’m happy that you find the post useful. So you have been traveling for 5 years, that is great! I hope you’ll have many more years to come :)

  5. Comment by Mattias E

    Mattias E Reply 9 June 2017 at 20:32

    I am so happy to understand how this works. It make me think that I one day can do something similar.

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 14 June 2017 at 06:05

      I know you can! 😀

  6. Comment by MICHELLE FERGUSON

    MICHELLE FERGUSON Reply 7 January 2018 at 19:24

    My girlfriend and I are seriously getting ready to live the nomad life. We are tired of conventional living and want something more out of life so we decided to unplug and live in the chevy cruz until we can get something bigger and better. We know it will be hard but I am researching as much as I can in order to gain as much knowledge as I can. We reside in West Virginia USA and right now the temp is below freezing. I stumbled upon this blog so thank you for tips. We both are currently working and want to know how long should we stay employed until we begin our travels through the states. Thank You for the inspiration.

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 8 January 2018 at 12:22

      Wow! What a great decision you made. It must be tough now though, with freezing temperatures. You asked how long you should stay employed before you start to travel. That really depends on so many factors! Are you employed now at a place where you physically have to be present? Can you work remote? And how are you planning to earn money on the road?

  7. Comment by Chase

    Chase Reply 15 April 2018 at 21:02

    Did you try living in a van or small place for a while before you moved into the van full time? I have been fantasizing about buying a bus to live in and work all online to travel. I’m just afraid I might not like it once I do it.

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 23 April 2018 at 11:58

      Hey Chase, before we moved into Box we both lived out of our backpacks for several years: staying in hostels and volunteering in different places. So we were already used to being flexible and living with very little stuff. If you are not sure about living in a van, you could rent one for a while? We are now in Portugal and here are many companies that rent cool campervans. It would be a good way to test the lifestyle for a while. If you have questions or need tips, just comment here or send us a mail. Good luck!

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