There’s one thing that all travelers dread… Going home.
But what if your vacation never had to come to an end? What if you could make money on the road and travel indefinitely?
Turns out, you can.
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever. Not only is remote work on the rise, but there are plenty of location-independent side hustles that allow you to earn from anywhere.
Most people have heard about freelance writing and teaching English online. That’s not what we’re talking about today.
Today we’ll cover some more obscure strategies you can use to keep your travel fund topped up.
As you’ll see, once you start thinking outside the box, your opportunities to make money traveling are practically endless.
Let’s dive in.
1. Talk to Lonely People
Technology allows us to instantly connect with people all around the world. But despite this hyper-connectedness, people are lonelier than ever.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), over one-third of adults over the age of 45 report feelings of loneliness.
It could be busy, busy executives that don’t have time for a social life, someone who just moved to a new city, older folks with no family or friends, or people with social anxiety disorders.
Regardless of the cause of loneliness, people want to feel social connections. They crave friendships. They need someone to talk to.
And that someone could be you.
Several platforms are popping up where you can get paid to talk to lonely people. Some are purely platonic, and others can be a bit flirty.
Either way, it’s an easy way to earn some money on the road. And who knows, you might even make a new BFF.
2. Sell Pretty Photos
If you’re into photography, there are plenty of ways to make money on the road.
One is to scope out popular tourist attractions, break out your fancy camera, and offer to take professional photos for tourists.
Think about it. Couple and solo travelers voyage across the globe to visit these places. They want impressive photos to remember their adventure (and flex on IG, obviously).
Selfies are meh, and nobody likes asking strangers to take their pictures. That almost never ends well.
Enter the expert photographer with their impressive camera. You offer to take professional photos and ask for donations in return.
Odds are you’ll get at least a couple bucks per photo, and if you bump into rich tourists, potentially much more.
This works best if you have a camera that can send photos directly to your phone. That way, you don’t have to hassle with prints. Just send them the digital file.
If you take 15 photos per hour, that’s a pretty decent hourly rate.
While traveling in Cambodia, I met another traveler who used a slightly more taboo way to earn money with photography.
She sells feet pics. That’s right. She takes photos in different foot poses, sells them online, and funds her travels.
It sounds scandalous, but when I asked her how to sell feet pics, she said the weirdness level all depends on who you sell to.
She considered herself a foot model.
It certainly isn’t for everyone, but I was impressed with her creative hustling skills.
3. Freelance Model Abroad
Speaking of modeling, you’d be surprised at how many modeling opportunities you can find abroad.
Brands are constantly looking for unique looks. And when you’re traveling in a foreign country, you are unique.
For example, many Chinese companies sell products online in the US. They want their ads to connect with potential buyers, so they need Western models.
Finding opportunities is easier than you think. This guide shows how to become a freelance model for beginners.
I’m not a model, and I don’t advertise myself as a model. Regardless, since I started traveling in Colombia, I’ve been offered three different modeling gigs — for a gym, a spa, and a dentist.
Apparently gringos with blue eyes are exotic here!
The only thing you have to be careful with is work visas. If you work in person in a foreign country, you need a work visa.
You could get paid under the table, but that would be illegal, so I can’t recommend it.
4. Re-sell Virtual Services
You probably already know how freelancing works. You work as an independent contractor and sell your services to clients.
The problem is, this means your income is capped by how much client work you can fit into each day. And if you’re traveling and exploring, that time is limited.
Enter drop servicing.
Drop servicing is like freelancing on steroids.
You still offer virtual services to clients — copywriting, SEO, graphic design, etc. — but instead of doing the work yourself, you outsource it all to a team of freelancers.
The trick is selling premium services with healthy margins.
For example, you could sell a video animation service to businesses for $1,000, then pay another freelancer $500 to do it for you.
Once you set up a team and turn your business into a well-oiled machine, your income is only limited by how many clients you can land.
5. Become a Virtual Consultant
You might think that only expert marketers and business gurus can make money consulting, but that’s simply not the case.
If you have expertise in any area in life — whether it be a career or hobby — you can package up that knowledge and sell it as a consultant.
For example, during our van life adventure across the US, we met another couple who ran a holistic health consulting business from their van. They knew all about natural health remedies, and each week, consulted with clients over the phone.
I met another girl who was an amazing singer. She used her talent to start a virtual voice coaching service. Her clients meet with her via Skype, and she helps them become better singers.
Remember, there are billions of people on this planet. And no matter how obscure your talents are, there are probably people out there who’d love to tap into your expertise.
You just have to go out and find them.
6. Take Advantage of International Arbitrage
International arbitrage is a fancy way of saying buy cheap products in one country, and then sell them for more in another.
It’s like a mini version of an import-export business.
For example, in Colombia, name-brand electronics can cost up to two times more than they cost in the US.
So, theoretically, before traveling to Colombia, you could hop on down to the Apple store, pick up a couple of Macbooks and iPhones, then resell them in Colombia. You make a profit, and the buyer saves money.
There are two concerns:
- Each country has its own customs rules about bringing new products into the country. You will probably be limited to a couple of items under a certain value.
- You need to make sure you can actually sell them.
Ideally, you’d have buyers lined up before you make any purchases. Better yet, they send you a portion of the money. If you don’t have any contacts on the ground, you can try different Facebook groups.
If you can’t find buyers ahead of time, make sure you choose a popular product. And remember, if you’re selling in a third-world country, you may have a hard time finding buyers for expensive, top-of-the-line products.
You can also use this strategy on the way home. For example, I heard of one couple who loaded up on alpaca sweaters in Peru, then resold them for 5x as much in New Zealand, their home country.
This side hustle requires some research, but it can be an easy way to pay for your trip.
7. Shop for Rich People
Some countries lack access to a variety of luxury goods.
That puts rich people in a predicament. It takes too much effort to travel to a different country to buy these luxury goods, but it’s not safe to ship them internationally either.
That’s where you come in — the traveling personal shopper.
Step one is connecting with rich people. Networking is the hardest part, but if you’re determined, you’ll find a way.
Step two is taking their order. Maybe they want a Louis Vuitton bag. Or a diamond necklace. Or an exotic puppy. I’m not really sure what rich people buy, but I’ve heard interesting stories.
My wife once met a traveling shopper who flew between Colombia and the US twice a month, transporting luxury goods for wealthofgeeksthy Colombians.
Judging by her upscale condo in Los Angelos, she must be making some hefty commissions.
As you can see, you have options.
Don’t limit yourself to the traditional location-independent jobs. Be creative. Find what you love.
New flexible work opportunities are popping up every day. And if you dream of traveling the world nonstop, picking up one of these travel jobs is a sustainable way to do it.
Mitch of Project Untethered
Mitch is the blogger behind Project Untethered, where he teaches adventure-cravers how to escape the rat race, earn money while traveling, and build an “untethered” life in his email newsletter. His advice has been featured by Forbes, USA Today, and Reader’s Digest.