A family gap year is all well and good if you’ve been saving hard, sold all your stuff, or come into a windfall that means you don’t need to work. But for many families out there travelling around (us included!) we need to supplement the savings through working to bring in the cash.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked how we make money while travelling – well we wouldn’t need to work! The reality though is that it can be easier than you think to have an income on the road, with a nice balance between travel and bringing in the dollars.
In many cases, as long as you’ve got an internet connection, you’re good to go. We’ve worked from cafes, beside a swimming pool, hotel rooms and restaurants, airports, on trains and planes, it’s amazing how adaptable you become!
I reached out to some of my fellow bloggers to get some ideas for how they make money on the road, or side-hustles you can get into to boost your savings before you leave.
Here’s a list of the top 16 ways you could make money while following your travel dreams.
- 1 Blogging
- 2 Freelance business writing
- 3 Teaching English online
- 4 Working as a virtual assistant
- 5 Taking surveys
- 6 Creating itineraries, guidebooks and vacation coaching
- 7 Writing an e-book
- 8 Investing in the stock market
- 9 Renting out your home while you travel
- 10 Dropshipping
- 11 Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) writing
- 12 Sell classroom worksheets online
- 13 Selling photography
- 14 Freelance IT work
- 15 Matched betting
- 16 Rent your home on AirBnB
- 17 Freelance Travel Writing
Did you know that this very blog you’re reading helps us to keep travelling like we do? Would it surprise you if I said we make several hundred dollars (sometimes even into the thousands) per month?
Blogging is an amazing way to make money and we absolutely love the freedom, flexibility and stimulating challenges it gives us. It’s such a fabulous way for us to combine our travel passion with making a living. We obviously blog about travel but there are thousands of people blogging about whatever floats their boat – lifestyle, fashion, gardening, parenting, DIY, finance – you name it, there will be a blog out there for it.
The main sources of income we make from this site are from advertising placements, commissions from products and accommodation that we write about and people buy and book (known as affiliate marketing – the beauty is it doesn’t cost the customer any extra), sponsored posts (where we receive income in return for reviewing a product or accommodation, or host other company’s blog posts on our platform).
If you’re wanting to get into blogging yourself, then we highly recommend you take a course to learn the ins and outs of how it all works. Don’t expect overnight success – it does take patience and lots of hard work, but if you’re in it for the long-haul then it can certainly be lucrative.
We highly recommend Sharon Gourlay’s Build Blog Freedom course if you’re wanting to get serious about blogging and get on your way to earning money. We’ve completed the course ourselves, it’s taught us so much and set us on the track from turning our blog from a hobby into a business. (p.s – that’s an affiliate link right there!)
Last month, we earned over three hundred US dollars from sponsored posts alone. If you’d like to learn more about sponsored posts and how they could work for you, check out this free chapter from Sharon’s book ‘How To Make Money From Blogging’.
Freelance business writing
The other way we make money is by providing freelance writing services for companies back in New Zealand and around the world. We have one client who we do a lot of work for, including website content, business writing, newspaper columns, authoring brochures and flyers and basically anything else they want us to do!
I am able to access systems remotely, and often jump onto a Skype call with my boss. I’m very lucky that they accommodate the time differences, however I go out of my way to be flexible too. It didn’t matter that I was relaxing at a 5-star resort recently, the work needed to be done and I took a brief at 8am on a Sunday morning. I’m more than willing to do this however to maintain the flexibility of our lifestyle.
Unless you’re an established writer, you may need to take a few low-paying jobs first to establish a portfolio and get some good reviews. Check out platforms such as Upwork for a list of freelance jobs.
Teaching English online
If you have a good grasp of English (ideally if it’s your native language) then there are millions of Chinese parents out there all wanting their children to learn English.
We know many travelling families that live off teaching English online this way, earning up to $22 USD per hour. It can be very lucrative if you’re willing to put in the hours.
Requirements vary by platform – some require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, some employ only native American speakers and others will require a TEFL certificate. You also need to factor in timezones – if you’re in the Americas it can mean getting up at 4am to reach Beijing after school hours, however it works very well with European timezones.
Here’s how some other travel families bring in the cash…
Working as a virtual assistant
I was able to support my family’s travels by working as a virtual assistant for my former Sydney-based employer while we travelled through Mexico and Spain. Leveraging existing or former employment relationships is a great way to start building an online business as trust is already established.
In my case, I kept in touch with key contacts through social media and made it known to them that I was open to remote work on any scale and at any skill level (meaning I was willing to do regular admin level work, even though I’d left the company at management level).
Initially, that meant a few small jobs here and there, but it culminated in a 20 hour per week contract to migrate an intranet system. Due to the nature of the project, I was required to be online at least part of the time my Sydney colleagues were online. This meant I’d put my son to sleep at 7 pm in Mexico and work until 11pm each night. For this, I was paid $35AUD per hour which was lower than the salary amount I’d received as a full-time employee but also reflective of the less challenging (and more suited to travel!) work I was doing.
I was able to earn enough to support our living costs (food, accommodation, entertainment) in Mexico, meaning our savings only had to cover travel costs (flights, transport etc). This allowed us to stretch our initial 6-month trip to a whopping 15 months.
Leveraging existing relationships is the best and simplest way to get started as a virtual assistant, so definitely don’t burn any bridges if you quit your job to travel – you never know when those contacts will come in handy!
Emma, Aussie Money Mum
An easy way to earn money on a family gap year that’s works very well around the demands of travel and children is completing surveys. There are many surveys out there that you can complete for cash and, while the hourly rate isn’t always as high as you would get in a job, you get paid well for something you can do at any time without any skill set. In fact, I have managed to earn up to $500 in my best months.
I did this by signing up to many survey sites (here’s some great options) and using any downtime I have. One of the pros of this way of earning extra money is that you can do it even while waiting in line or in transport.
If your kids are older, some survey sites allow kids to join up as well so they can earn some travel money too.
Suzi, Survey Suzi
Creating itineraries, guidebooks and vacation coaching
One of the ways I earn money while travelling is by selling Yellowstone itineraries, and guidebooks, and by helping people plan a Yellowstone vacation. Our family spent a year travelling through Europe and now we travel about half the year and call a small town just north of Yellowstone National Park home the rest of the time.
I have spent years guiding trips, teaching science education, and hiking the trails in Yellowstone. I know the park well and have the experience to help people make the most of their visit, so I can easily write about the park and coach people on their vacations regardless of where I am in the world. It took some time to write and plan the itineraries and write a family-friendly hiking guide, but now that they are up, they can sell any time of the day or year and I don’t need to work on them other than update annually.
Additionally, I have a general travel blog, which makes money off of sponsored posts and serves as a “store front” for my freelance writing clips. It is a combination of money-making activities (and having sold our house in Montana), that allows us to travel as much as we do.
The only downside of this plan is that I am constantly keeping on top of a variety of work projects and trying not to let anything slip through the cracks. Mostly, it works out really well.
Mel, Yellowstone Trips
Writing an e-book
One of the best ways to make money from home is by passive income. You do a job once and get paid over and over for it. That’s what happened when I created my first ebook. I only invested around $20 in total and the return was fantastic.
I make anywhere between $300-$600 USD a month on a low priced ebook. If you were to sell a more highly priced product your income would be a lot higher.
To create an ebook, you first draft out a rough copy of your contents on a word document and then transfer it to a free tool like Canva to create a pdf copy. Then use another free platform like Adazing to create a professional looking ebook cover (the premium version is only $12 USD). I used SendOwl to handle payments securely for $9 USD/month.
You can promote your ebook on a blog or share it on social media – Pinterest is the best in my opinion. Another option is to create an affiliate program so you have an opportunity to reach a larger audience.
Saranya Ramanathan – One Fine Wallet
Looking for inspiration on how to create your own e-book? Check out this FREE Product Brainstorm Cheat Sheet to get started!
Investing in the stock market
One of the ways we use to earn money while traveling around France is by investing some of our savings in the stock market. There are different types of investments, from long-term shares to swing trades so you can decide how to invest depending on your availability to be online.
However, trading is not for everybody and before investing your first dollars online you really need to understand how the stock market world works and the risks of investing in the stock market. Also, it is very important to be very informed about what’s going on in the world so reading newspapers and watching the news almost daily is essential. Because trading is a risky field and sometimes also a very stressful activity, it is essential to set your own rules and boundaries to protect your money and your sanity.
One of our golden rules is to invest money that we don’t really need because eventually if things don’t go well, you could lose it very fast. We also have set a minimum and maximum amount of money to invest per thread.
Renting out your home while you travel
If you own your own home or apartment, one of the best ways to generate an income stream while travelling is to rent it out. Even if you have a mortgage, there are several ways you can use your home to generate income while you travel with little effort required.
The first way is to find someone to rent your home for the duration of your trip. This was our choice when we set off on our family gap year. A long term rental is best suited for those traveling for a longer period as it generally means you need to move your belongings in long term storage and bring it all back in when you return.
You will need to find an agent you trust and ensure the rental fee covers your mortgage, the agent fees and any fixed costs like rates in addition to an income for your trip. While this is by far the easiest option in terms of set and forget, it will also earn you less than the second option.
The second way is to advertise your home on private rental platforms such as AirBnB and Stayz. This is a great option for people travelling for less than 6 months, but it can also work for those travelling long term.
You will need to hire someone to manage the changeover between bookings and may still need to move some of your belongings out, but this option has the potential for significantly higher earnings than a long-term rental.
This is a particularly good choice if your home is close to the city, universities, hospitals and corporate office areas, as short-term rentals are always in high demand in these areas.
For many people their home is their largest investment, so why not make that investment work for you to purchase your gap year travel essentials and spend on your trip?
Rachel Rodda, Adventure and Sunshine
An interesting way to earn money while travelling is dropshipping.
What is it? Basically, it’s selling physical products online without having your own warehouse. Your job is 100% online, as you are outsourcing all the things like packing the product, shipping, managing the returns etc.
There are many companies that will do it for you, Amazon is the most popular in the world. They will manage the entire logistics for you. Your task will only be to sell products, talk with costumes, and take care of the feedbacks. The best thing about it is that you are your own boss. The smarter you work, the more money you earn. You have no limits. In fact, you can outsource everything, work only a few hours a day, and earn as much as you want. Some people make a fortune on e-commerce business.
It’s a great way to make money online for couples and families. You can do it all together. If your kids know the products, even they can reply to the customers’ messages from time to time.
Karolina Klesta, Lazy Travel Blog
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) writing
SEO (Search Engine Optimised) writing is something I’ve made my career over the past years, and it’s funded many of my travels; most recently an adventure through Europe! SEO writing sounds daunting, but it’s just a way of writing content so that it ranks higher on Google.
The best way to learn is to complete a course in SEO writing, which will give you the tools you need to succeed. However to begin with you should probably have good writing and research skills. Once you are trained up in SEO, start advertising your services online, there are several FB groups where you can do this. After that usually clients will find you through word of mouth. I’m now booked out far in advance and my regular clients book me for articles up to 12 months out.
The wonderful part of all this? It can all be done from anywhere provided you have internet connection – so you can even do it whilst travelling. Of course the downside of this is also that you can do it from anywhere – so sometimes its hard to switch off as you can work from anywhere and at any time. However, I’ve found this an absolute wonderful career choice for me which not only funds my travels, but also provides me with the flexibility to travel as much as I like.
If you’re looking to earn some money whilst travelling, SEO writing is the perfect opportunity.
Melissa Delaware, Thrifty Family Travels
Sell classroom worksheets online
With a background in education, I knew I wanted to use this skill to help support our family and help us afford to travel with our young kids. That’s what I decided to start a blog that helps kids learn an important skill, computer coding! I make money on the site through a variety of methods including ads, affiliates, and worksheets.
I created tutorials to help teachers teach kids coding in the classroom and added worksheets for purchase that students can use to complete the lessons during their class. In order to be successful with worksheets, you need to know what teachers want for their classroom and how to break down challenging concepts into small pieces. Especially with coding, it’s important for students to learn in small chunks!
If you don’t have a blog, you can still sell worksheets to use in the classroom on a site like Teachers Pay Teachers. I sell my worksheets directly on my own site.
Kate, Teach Your Kids Code
Stock photography is a great way to make a little spending money while on your family gap year. And it’s an income stream that’ll keep coming in long after the trip is over. The sooner you start the better, because it does take some time to build up a portfolio. But, if you’ll be photographing your travels and your family anyway (I mean, I assume you’ll be recording your gap year adventures, right?), why not post some for sale online?
That said, prepping your photos (i.e. editing and keywording them prior to uploading them to your stock sites) can be a bit of a time-suck. But it’s a one-time thing – once that work is over, you’re done. The photos can sell over and over without you having to touch them again. I now make sales daily, and one of my best-sellers is a photo of some rapids I took over 10 years ago (before I even knew what I was doing)!
Depending on the time you’re willing to commit, you could eventually expect anywhere from $20/week to $200/week – or more! If photography is something you enjoy doing on your travels, think about taking the next step and selling them.
Mary Beth, MB Sees
Freelance IT work
I.T. jobs are always in demand now-a-days, but one of the great things about this profession is that it can really allow for a ton of freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. For example, my husband is able to run a freelance website design and web hosting business on the side as long as we have access to internet.
As a highly experienced software engineer, we have the classic case of “you get what you pay for.” So, if you are newer at building websites, it might be understandable to make some good side hustle cash. On the other hand, my husband has such a long list of credentials that he can be picky in who he chooses to take worth with, making for a great income without the full time desk job.
Unless there is serious coding being done, he can work right in the hotel or vacation rental rooms with the kids right at his side, making it a perfect option for making money while travelling as a family.
LeAnna Brown, Well Traveled Nebrasken
One of the best and easiest ways to make money online and while travelling is through matched betting. Before you stop reading, let me point out that this is not gambling, this is a totally risk-free way to win every time.
Matched betting is a very simple way to make money by taking advantage of free bet promotions that are run by sporting bookmakers.
They run offers like ‘Bet 5 get 30 in free bets’, by matching these bets with the opposite outcome on a betting exchange we can earn around 80% of the value of the free bets, so in this example, we would make around £24 profit.
To do this takes around 10 minutes so it is a pretty good hourly rate, it is a very simple process that is based on maths not sporting knowledge so anyone can do it (don’t worry you use a special calculator so no maths knowledge required either!).
The only downside to matched betting is that it is not available in all countries (very popular in UK and Australia, not allowed in the USA) and you will need to use a VPN whilst travelling.
To find out more about how it works, how to get started and how much you can earn (it’s lots!), please check out our matched betting made easy post.
Chris, More Life In Your Days
Rent your home on AirBnB
If you are looking to go for an extended period of time traveling with your family, hosting on Airbnb is a great way to generate a stable income while you are away. You can either host people for longer stays, like I did this winter for our family trip in Asia during 3 months.
One family rented our flat in Spain for exactly the same period we were away. It’s the best because you can meet the people who are going to stay in your property and you can manage it yourself. To find someone for an extended stay like that, I advise you to advertise your Airbnb listing in Facebook groups. There are always new comers looking for a place to stay before finding their own place. Otherwise, you can have an Airbnb sitter or manager you trust – be sure to have tried their services while you are still close by!
They will take care of the check-in and check-out and the cleaning process. Usually, their fees are around 15% + cleaning fees. To do this, you don’t require any extra skills, you need a clean and well arranged place without clutter in an area where people might be interested to rent. You will need to have all the essentials to host people.
Doing this will enable you to pay for your property mortgage, your utilities bills and even get some extra cash monthly while someone is taking care of your house! Be sure to have an insurance to rent though in case!
Freelance Travel Writing
When I took a year off to go backpacking with my husband ten years ago, I decided to put my marketing and project management experience to good use by trying my hand at travel writing.
I got my first break by winning a travel writing competition for a travel magazine. After that, I was commissioned by a number of travel websites to write articles for a small fee. I was able to use these links to pitch for more projects. I soon secured a remote freelance role writing for an adventure travel company. This led to more magazine travel writing as well as some travel website copywriting.
After having kids, we decided to move to Australia. I now write regular paid family travel features about Australia for a travel magazine and I have a monthly lifestyle column too.
As a freelance travel writer, you need a number of skills. Writing and grammar are a big part of it but there is also a lot of desk-based admin involved (keeping track of your pitches, planning your trips, managing your finances, collating interviews and images for list posts, editing images…)
Anybody can become a freelance travel writer – you just need to learn how to structure a pitch, be persistent, follow up your pitches and write every day to develop your skills.
The pros are that you get paid to travel and often get hosted for incredible travel experiences. The cons are that travel and travel planning take up a lot of time so you need to maximise income from every trip by getting multiple commissions. Also, press trips can involve cramming a lot into a short space of time so it can be busy and exhausting with very little downtime.
Karen Bleakley, Smart Steps To Australia
There you have it! 16 different ways to make money while travelling. Have you got any other ideas? Let us know in the comments below!