Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a way to travel for super cheap or even free?” I mean, that sounds amazing right?
Traveling for free, or for pennies on the dollar, seeing all of the places you’ve dreamed of, and not needing to be a billionaire.
I had that thought, and since I like to write, and there are others out there that make money and travel as a freelance writer, I figured that would be a good job to have.
Freelance Travel Writer.
That sounds like a perfect job title. Thing about that job title, is that for freelance writers, bloggers and those who aspire to write for travel publications, it is one of the most sought after job titles, and the competition is high.
Over the last two or so years, I have been trying to figure out how to use writing and blogging as a way to travel to the places that are on the top of my bucket list. And in 2020 when the world went nearly completely digital, the opportunities to travel and work from anywhere became limitless.
However, like others who have traveled this path, I’ve found it to be a bit more challenging than I thought.
Some freelance writers do well and can actually make a living writing and traveling. But the number here is small. Maybe less than 100 people out there are actually making a comfortable living travel writing.
The rest of us are just part-time travel writers, using our side hustle to make a few extra bucks to pad our travel fund. We’ve even met other travel writers who are retired from other jobs, and just want to travel without emptying their pension.
I’ve made some money from my writing. But it turns out that when you’re just getting started, it’s a lot easier to get “freebies” than cash.
We’ve gotten discounts on AirBNB’s (our favorite was the one in Hawaii). We’ve gotten free beers at amazing breweries around the world, had meals at some of the most exclusive restaurants, and have received plenty of shwag.
I thought it would be good to put down some of my thoughts and experiences as a travel writer so that others interested in the potential of freelance travel writing know exactly how this side hustle works, and how to fund your travel until you get that dream travel writing job.
My 2 Years Working as a Travel Writer
OK. So let me take a moment to lay out some of the realities of our travel writing experiences. I think it is important to manage expectations, because the person that gets fully paid luxury trips as a freelance writer is a bit of a unicorn. And I am not that unicorn.
I’m not complaining though. That’s just not who we are, and I’m not sure that we would have the same quality of experience if all we did was stay at ritzy resorts. You see, we love to check out the small neighborhood bar, the unique cultural opportunity and the off the beaten path adventure.
In the last two years we’ve met neat people who use their home as an AirBNB, and of course we’ve found some amazing restaurants and breweries.
We budget travel. It’s what lots of people do these days. Our wanderlust inspires us, and our bank account helps us manage our expectations.
We save up for big trips, but we have found that the small trip on a budget is just as rewarding, and sometimes leads to the best hidden gems.
In the last two years we’ve quickly learned that you don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to sit by the pool and read a book, and maybe that isn’t the most relaxing way either.
With 2020 being such a mess, many of our first trips as travel writers were here at home in Colorado. Our beautiful state has so much to offer. As we started thinking about where to go, we quickly realized that both of us hadn’t seen much of the place we live.
So, our first two years were local. And drivable.
Despite being local, or relatively close to home, we have had some amazing experiences, and there was no shortage of outstanding restaurants, breweries who blew us away with their beer and their people, and some beautiful places to rest our heads at the end of the day.
These are the travel opportunities that we have had the last two years, thanks to our travel writing. However, as new travel writers, we couldn’t have managed all this fun without some additional sources of income.
Let’s chat about how you really fund your travel, when you’re just getting started.
How We Make Money to Fund Our Travels, Other Than Travel Writing
If you recall, we aren’t billionaires and we haven’t found a way to become a unicorn travel writer, so we have to find other ways to fund our wanderlust. It’s important to realize that if you want to be a travel writer, you’ll need to wear a bunch of hats.
Especially at the beginning.
However, as your experience grows you can wear less hats, and you’ll find that your time, patience, and hard work will bring you amazing experiences and a new-found control over your destiny and your income.
Your side hustles don’t have to be travel related to fund your travel. For example, my wife has a full-time job, we write for magazines, businesses and other websites.
We have our own niche websites, and we make use of our unique skill sets to make some extra cash.
Here are our five side hustles not related to travel.
- Freelance Writing
Both my wife and I are freelance writers. We have a couple of steady clients but jump at the opportunity to pick up an occasional extra writing job. Freelance writing pays small at the beginning, but as you build your portfolio and create relationships, you can make a good amount of income from writing.
If you want to make a full-time income writing, you may have to write about things other than travel, but it is possible. There are plenty of freelance writing boards on the internet with plenty of jobs you can apply for, right now.
The nice thing about freelance writing is that we can write as much or as little as we need, depending on our future travel plans. How do you become a freelance writer? Our best Resource- Freelance Writing Resource
I run three blogs in different niches. When I’m applying for writing work, I use my blogs as samples of my writing style. Ads and product sales are another way to make a little extra money from a blog.
If you want to start a blog of your own, here is the best resource I’ve found to get you up and running- Location Rebel
3. Affiliate Marketing
This is another trick that bloggers use to make some extra money. Affiliate marketing is a way to make money from selling stuff, if you don’t actually have stuff to sell.
Many companies have affiliate programs that allow you to link to their products in your blog articles, and for each sale made using that link, you get a small commission.
Want to learn more about affiliate marketing? Check out Income School.
4. On-line Personal Training
In my previous, pre-retirement life I was a strength and conditioning coach for over 20 years. I still retain a few clients from that time in my life and work with each of them a couple of times per week via ZOOM.
If you have a skill or service that you can contract out, you can use this as a way to make some extra cash.
5. Sell Your Stuff
If you’re going to be traveling more, you probably don’t need all that stuff in your house. You know, all that stuff that is shoved in a closet or cabinet that you NEVER use.
We’ve decided that we don’t need all the stuff we have, so over the last couple of years, we’ve purged our closets, garage, basement and cabinets of the clutter.
Instead of just donating all of it, we sell what we can on eBay or Craigslist. It’s not a ton of money, but it helps us fund our travel, and as an added bonus, we don’t have a bunch of junk hanging around our house.
Final Thoughts on Making Money as a Travel Writer
Making money as a travel writer isn’t easy. And sometimes it really isn’t very glamorous. However, for the patient and dedicated traveler or writer, if you work the process, you’ll find that travel writing can bring amazing trips, unique experiences, and may even pay for itself.
In my opinion the greatest reward for sticking it out, and travel writing is the people we meet. Over the last two years of traveling and writing we have become Instagram buddies with some great people, we’ve made local acquaintances that we meet up with when we’re passing through, and we’ve made some lifelong friends.
But none of this would have happened, if we hadn’t hit the road, and took a chance as a travel writer.
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