After more than two years of uninterrupted travel, the most common question I still get is: “How do I 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 still get is, “how do I afford to travel so much?”.
To most 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. And interestingly, even after two years of full-time travel blogging travelling, I still struggle most months in a year to make money from travel blogging.
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, from time to time, I do not have a particular organization taking care of all my travels.
[Speaking of sponsors, read this detailed blog on Finding Travel Blogger Sponsorships for more details]
I Had Enough Savings To Start With
Blogging is a slow process and takes time to eventually grow into a full-time revenue-generating business. Even if you’re exceptionally good at writing content and have a fair knowledge of how SEO and digital marketing work, expect no monetary benefits during the first year of your blogging stint.
So one thing I did right, as I always advise others, is that I had enough money to sustain my initial one or two years of full-time travelling, until my blog started generating revenues. This helped me afford travelling in the initial years before I actually started making some money from blogging.
Having some financial assurance moreover helped me keep pushing. And as with every business, with blogging too, if you survived your initial couple of years even without any revenue generation, you’re eventually going to succeed.
Further Reading: Tips For Becoming A Full-Time Travel Blogger
Surviving The Initial Year Of Travelling
Though I was using a big chunk of my savings during the initial year of travelling, I used different ways to make money and contribute to my lifestyle while on the go. This included:
Freelancing: Freelancing is a great way to keep money inflow. During my initial year, I kept looking for freelance writing projects or took part-time and location-independent writing assignments.
Check out freelance writing marketplaces like Upwork, or online travel magazines like Matador and Go Nomad that offers opportunities for nomads to earn while on the go. Those into photography can try their luck as freelance photographers, by uploading and monetizing their pictures on stock photography websites like 500px, Shutterstock and YouPic, among others. Please note that different websites pay differently, so read their terms and start making money from all those amazing journeys you’ve had in the past.
Travelling On A Budget: Other than whatever small bit of money I made, I relied totally on budget trips during the initial year of traveling to make sure that my money lasts as long as possible. And because I knew how to travel the world without spending much money, I could support my travel appetite. Hospitality networks moreover helped me travel across Europe by spending literally no money. So before anything, find out about different ways that can help you travel for a long period of time on a significantly low budget.
Avoiding Paid Itineraries: 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 low-budget travellers would buy a paid holiday and bleed unnecessary money.
I think we 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 Bangkok and Pattaya) it costs around 20 to 30 thousand Indian Rupees (including all costs, but flights). I travelled in Thailand, on my own, for 15 days, for less than 20 thousand Rupees (including all costs, including airfare). 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 makes your travels exceptionally cheap. Use websites like Bookings.com and Skyscanner.com to book cheap flights and hotels for you in advance.
Since I’ve become a nomad, never have I bought a paid tour. And this is how I save most of my money and afford my travels.
How I Make Money From As A Travel Blogger
[Update Jan 2019: I’ve written an updated version of How I Make Money From Travel Blogging. It has some major changes to the following mentioned ways of making money from blogging that I used back in the day. Comparing the two articles will give you a fair idea about how I keep juggling with my money inflow resources — and this is not just my story, but most of the full-time travel bloggers’ out there]
Travel blogging is all about building your presence online. Once people start following you, it becomes easier to start making money. For example, now (as I write this blog in March 2018) after two years of travel blogging I’ve become a fairly known blogger in the Indian travel blogging industry. More than 75,000 people follow me on my social networks combined, including Facebook and Instagram, among others. My blog, moreover, gets a fairly good number of hits every month, making it easier for me to find opportunities. Yet speaking of how I sustain my travel needs, at this moment, here are a few ways:
Brand/Tourism Partnerships: Partnering with tourism boards and travel brand make for most of my earnings. Brands pay me a fee for their services to be advertised on Footloosedev’s website and/or social media accounts in order to reach out to my audience. So far, I’ve worked with over 50 Tourism Boards and Travel Brands in Europe, Australia, and Asia, most of which were paid campaigns.
Please note that finding a paid campaign is a matter of luck and chance. Sometimes brands pay, and sometimes they only offer free travel and/or travel products.
Getting Help From Influencer Sites: Influencer sites connect bloggers with brands that want to raise awareness. The few main sites I use for sponsored content are Cooperatize, Webfluential, and Copypress. Though they might take some time to get you your first few sponsored deals, once you work with a few brands, and your influencer score improves on their platform, more and more brands start reaching out. These platforms are free to join.
Making Money by Product Affiliations: Sometimes when I share my favorite travel gear, photography equipment, or things I recommend, I include special affiliate tracking links to those products. This means if you click on that link and buy something, I’ll receive a small commission. The price of the product, however, remains the same whether you use my special link or not. There are many companies including Amazon.com, Booking.com, WorldNomads.com, Skyscanner.com, and others, that offer affiliate programs in the travel industry.
Blogging Workshops: Teaching my fans about the art of travel blogging, but not doing it for free is another way how I make money from time to time. I also speak in colleges and travel forums as and when I get an opportunity.
Hospitality Business: I have also started a boutique property business in Manali recently (as of November 2022, I now own 2 properties) that further adds to my revenues. Check the FootlooseCamps Instagram page for more about the properties, or to book a holiday.
And with that, I conclude the list of all the different ways I make money and afford my travels. But not before I share…
A Golden Tip: 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 a bit more of it curb 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 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 spend it chasing money, but too interesting if you cherish experiences.
After only working for a few years in the corporate world I realised that I don’t want to waste my time chasing hedonism, and I decided to quit my job and start travelling. And blogging became a way to sustain it. Now I earn not to buy the 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 remember, if I could make it work, so can you!