After more than two years of uninterrupted travel, the most common question I still get is: “How do you afford traveling all the time?” Well, here’s my answer…
Since 2015, I have been living out of my backpack, while exploring an assortment of new places all over the globe. And it is because of that, the commonest question I get is, “how do I afford to travel so much?”.
To most of the people it looks like I am having a blast (which I sure am). But there’s more to it. I’ve worked hard to make this happen. I used different sources to sustain my travel. And interestingly, even after two years of constant travelling, I am still looking for ways to make money out of it.
But first things first, here’s how I DON’T fund my travels. My parents, family, and friends don’t give a dime to my globetrotting. And there is no single company sponsoring my ventures. Though I keep finding temporary sponsors, on the way, but I do not have any one organisation, taking care of all my travels. [Click Here To Know More About How I Find Sponsors For My Travel]
Moreover, I’d like to tell you that after one year of blogging (I started blogging after 1 year of travel. So I’ve been travelling for the past 2 years but blogging for only 1 year) I’ve only reached a break-even point. But things are looking positive.
Anyway, if you’ve just started travelling, and are looking to travel for a long-term, here are some self-attested, proven ways that can help you realise your travel dreams, and these are exactly the same sources of income/funding/free-travelling that I’ve been using (or used) during my travel stint:
Freelancing is a great way to keep money inflow. From time to time I keep looking for freelance writing projects, or take part-time and location-independent writing assignments. Checkout websites like Matador and GoNomad (there are at least a dozen more like them!) that offer a great opportunity for nomads to earn a little from their travel. Recently, I’m also trying my luck as a freelance photographer, which anyone can do by simply uploading their pictures on websites like 500px, ShutterStock and YouPic.
Different websites pay differently, so read their terms and start making money from all those amazing journeys you’ve had in the past.
Build An Online Presence
Before going further, let me confess that I’m not making big money. Though I’ve scored a couple of sponsored assignments, but they’re simply not enough to bear my travel costs in full. But there’s more to it. After blogging for some time and staying socially super active among the travel community, one thing I’ve learned is that this game has more to it than just monetary benefits.
When you build some presence, and people start following you, you start getting free invitations from travel brands/tourism boards to use their services and promote them. Even freelancing becomes a lot easier. And all this when combined, helps you sustain your travel dreams much easily. So, if you want to travel full-time or perhaps want to monetize from it, build your community, start with a simple Facebook page, let people know your travel interests and wait for the opportunities come in your way.
Influencer sites connect bloggers with brands that want to raise awareness. The few main sites I use for sponsored content is Cooperatize, Webfluential and Copypress. Though they might take some time to get your first few sponsored deals, but once you start getting them, and your influencer score improves on their platform, more and more brands start reaching you out. They’re moreover all free to join, making it a total win-win for us.
Make Money by Affiliations
As I mentioned above, building your online presence is a must. Not only does it help you get free trips, sponsored by brands, but it also brings allow you to make money by affiliations. I rely on affiliate marketing big time. Though again, I’d like to claim that I am not making big bucks out of it (not yet!), but it contributes. Google a little if you don’t know what’s affiliate marketing because the topic is too broad to explain here.
I would, moreover, also like to mention that I made a big mistake for never bothering to set up an affiliate marketing system, initially when I started blogging. I was too much focused on building a brand and other income strategies. Actually, I wasn’t sure what I was doing. But later when I understood more about it, I realized that affiliations is important to make extra money. And now when I am completely into it, I recommend it to everyone, who runs an online business, to start working on it, from the very first month.
Other than money making, I rely much on saving money by travelling cheap. And because I know how to travel cheap, I can support my great travel appetite. Remember, cheap does not always mean bad. Since my budget was limited, I initially decided to finish off with my own country – in addition to some not-so-expensive neighbours like Nepal and Bhutan. I did this for two reasons. One, I was looking for more cultural and local experiences and these were three perfect countries to start with; and second, I didn’t want to spend money in flying – something that always consumes a lot of money and eats up most of your budget. I gave a proper consideration to where all I want to go, keeping my budget in mind; and when you want to do this for your life, it becomes even more crucial that you try to save every little penny in your bank account.
So before anything, find out ways that help you travel for long on a low budget. Other than going to places which are comparatively cheaper, there are other techniques too which helps you bring your travel cost to a bare minimum.
Never Buy A Paid Itinerary
I hate paid holidays. They are overpriced and offer a poor experience. But if we look at the Indian travel market, they are exceptionally popular. Even the poorest travellers would buy a paid holiday, and bleed money, unnecessarily. I think Indians have some kind of personal attachment to this entire phenomenon, or they’ve never tried independent travelling. Something very popular among Indians is a week-long tour to Thailand. Now, even if you buy the cheapest 4D, 5N trip to Thailand (which only takes you around to Bangkok and Pattaya) it costs 15 to 20 thousand Indian Rupees (including all costs, but flights). I travelled in Thailand, on my own, for 15 days, in less than 15 thousand Rupees (including all costs, but flights). My daily budget was less than 1000 Rupees, and I had the flexibility to do what I wanted, go where I wanted, and eat what I wanted.
Planning your own trip has a lot more to it and is exceptionally cheap. Use websites like Bookings.com and Skyscanner.com to book cheap flight and hotels for you in advance. This is how I save most of my travel money. In over 2 years of travelling, you won’t believe that never once did buy a paid tour and I’ve saved thousands. [Check out how I did a bike an expedition to Spiti Valley in under 5 thousand Rupees]
Money Will Never Be Enough
And then, the thing about money is that no matter how much of it we collect in our lifetime, it never feels enough. And the mental fights to acquire it more and more curbs us from doing things we always wanted to do, or from seeing places we always wished to see. “Oh I always wanted to ride a camel through the Arabian Desert, or experience Snorkelling at The Great Barrier Reef but the life was always busy”, we would say in the end. And what kept us busy? The many processes of making money. Life is too boring if you live it chasing money, but too interesting if you cherish small and timely experiences it has to offer.
After only working for a few years in the corporate world I realised that I don’t want to waste my time chasing hedonism. I decided to quit my job and travel, and blogging became a way to sustain it. Now I earn not to buy latest gadgets or drink booze in nightclubs but to sustain my travel needs, and that’s the biggest reason why I have, so far, managed to afford my travels. So understand your choices and set your priorities right. I happened to travel ceaselessly and pursue a lifestyle that many people would not even risk trying, only because I made it a priority. And if I did it, so can you.
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