How I Can Afford to Travel

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The single most popular question I get from my followers is:

“How can you afford to travel?”

And I’ve literally written thousands of emails, tweets and Instagram responses, all giving the exact same answers to this question.

No, I am not rich. No, I don’t have rich parents. And no, I don’t have a huge savings account.

Yes, I make all of my own money through teaching English and travel blogging, to fund my travels around the world.

So, I’ve decided to write this detailed blog post which explains all of my tips, tricks and secrets for how I afford to travel as my full-time job.  And I’ll also show you ways in which you can do it too 🙂

My ultimate goal in this post is to inspire you that living a life of full-time travel is entirely possible, and to encourage you to make the move to do it. 

Because if I can do it, then why can’t you do it, too?

I make money in 5 different ways:

1. Teaching English (#1 source of income)
2. Travel Blogging (#2 source of income)
3. Social Media Consulting (#3 source of income)
4. Freelance Writing (#4 source of income)
5. Paid Social Media Sponsors (#5 source of income)

Before diving into each point above, it’s important to think about how your potential clients (or travel brands) will benefit from working with you.   Put yourself in their shoes and ask, how can I bring value to them?  Cloudbeds, a hotel software company, wrote a great article about what it’s like to work with travel blogger from a business perspective that you might find interesting.

For the remainder of this post, I’m going to describe in detail each way that I make money: 

1. Teaching English

Teaching English is the BEST way to find a job overseas and start traveling full-time.

It’s the safest way to take that first big leap abroad, and it’s essentially risk free once you’ve locked in your job.  Just think about it, you are literally getting paid to teach something so easy that it barely requires you to think.

I’ve already written numerous blog posts about this topic like: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Korea and How I Traveled to 17 Countries and Saved $3K, so please refer to those post for more information.

I had an incredible experience living and teaching English in Korea for 18 months, and I couldn’t possibly recommend it more to anyone reading this.  It changed my life in more ways than I can explain.

However, to be applicable to teach English abroad, you must meet these basic requirements:
– You must be a native English speaker
– You must hold a passport from an English Speaking Nation
– You must have a bachelors degree from a University
– You must obtain your TEFL Certificate (Teach English as a Foreign Language)

You are NOT required to speak the local language, and you are NOT required to have any previous teaching experience.  I studied economics and entrepreneurship in college.

My starting salary teaching English in Korea was about $2,000 USD per month.  While that doesn’t sound like a lot of money, trust me, it goes a long way.  Especially considering the amazing benefits like: free rent, reimbursed airfare, no taxes to pay on paychecks, no expenses except phone bills, free lunches, health insurance, 4-week paid vacation, etc.

And after my teaching contract ended, I was given about $6K in bonuses which I put directly towards my travel funds. I still have some of that money left over right now, even after spending 2 Weeks in the Philippines, 7 weeks in India and traveling around the USA for two months.

If you have any questions about teaching English, don’t hesitate to contact me!

2. Travel Blogging

Yes, believe it or not, I make a living from this travel blog.  And I only started blogging 1.5 years ago.

It does require a lot of patience, hard work and dedication, but I’m telling you right now, that it’s entirely possible for you to do it too.

*My ultimate secret is to get a job teaching English overseas and start a travel blog on the side. That’s exactly what I did, and I had plenty of free time to put into my blog and build it up to what it is today.* 

I haven’t really written any posts about how I make money from Travel Blogging, so here it goes.

The 2 major ways I make money from this travel blog are through affiliate links and sponsorships. 

Affiliate marketing is when a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

For example, if you were an affiliate for Amazon and linked to some of your favorite books in a blog post, if someone clicked on the link and purchased that book, you get a small commission.

My biggest affiliate is with a TEFL Company that I recommend called MyTEFL, so every time someone buys that class, I get paid at no additional cost to the person buying the class.

Get it? It’s almost as if I am a salesman for that company.  If I sell something, I get paid.

The other way I make money is through Sponsorships.

These are when a travel-related company pays me (usually $200-400) to promote them on my blog and on my social media channels. Keep in mind that I always write my own opinions and give advice/recommendations based on my experiences with the product or service.

But I’m only able to work with these companies because I have about 45K monthly visitors to my blog.  You must realize that this is a result of hard work and dedication, not sitting around picking my nose all day long.

That’s the biggest misconception that us bloggers get.  We don’t deserve enough credit for all of the hard work that we put in, because it’s tough to see it from the outside.

3. Social Media Consulting

Over the last year-and-a-half, since I started my travel blog, I’ve basically worked 30 hours a week building up my following on social media.  I consider myself a professional social media guru by now.

I wrote a useful post a while ago called, How I Got 10K Followers in 7 Months, and to this day, it is my second-most viewed post that I’ve ever written.  It has been read over 50,000 times.

I also recently wrote a version 2 of that post called, How I Got 35K Followers in the Last 4 Months. And I am working on version 3 as we speak.

My expertise with Social Media Channels (in order) includes Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus.

I teach other travel bloggers and companies how to build an engaging following, and help them how to use their audience to leverage their business. I provide top-notch strategies that are proven to work, and I never use black-hat tactics.

I typically charge $20-40 per hour for my service.

4. Freelance Writing

From time to time, I get paid to write articles on big publications.   These opportunities come and go, but I always jump on them when I get the chance.

Sometimes, I pitch myself to find writing gigs, but in most cases, people find me and I accept.

The price that I get paid depends on the article.  I have received $500 for a blog post, and I have also received $30.  Whatever works.

5. Paid Social Media Sponsors

Given my audience of 80K combined social media followers, companies pay me to shout them out on my networks (mostly on Instagram and Twitter).

When you think about it, it makes sense because if the company doesn’t have many followers, they can leverage my audience to bring new faces to their product or service.

It’s a similar same concept for how Hanes sponsors Michael Jordan in their commercials, or how Nike sponsors LeBron James to wear Nike gear.

Sometimes, I do sponsorships as part of a “package deal.”  For example, when I work with Client A, I’ll write them a review/blog post AND promote them on my social media channels for a set price (usually $300-500).

But other times, companies just want a shout-out on Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter, so I charge a hefty fee for them to use my audience.

So how much money do I really make?

Well, it really ranges month by month.

My best month, I made over $4K.  Other months, I’ve made under $500.

It all depends on which clients that I have the opportunity to work with, and timing is everything,

But one thing is certain.  As my followers and readers continue to increase, the amount of money that I make will increase because I can start charging higher prices for companies to work with me.

In 6 months from now, I hope to consistently be making $5K per month.

But the travel benefits are just as precious

It’s not just the money that I make that enables me to travel. It’s also the freebies and travel benefits, which allow me to travel longer.

I’m referring to free hotels, transportation, music festivals, museums, etc.

I get most of this stuff for free, because I work with the companies to promote them on my blog and on my social media channels. I also work with tourism boards for cities around the world.

But in order to get all of these freebies, I relentlessly pitch myself to all of these companies.  It’s not like they randomly find me when I get off the plane.  I do all of the work months before my trips.

I would say that 90% of the time I get something for free, it’s because I pitched myself to the company and they accepted.   After all, isn’t selling the most important part of any business?

For example, on my upcoming Eurotrip from July 1- October 1, I have been contacting hotels, tourism boards and travel tours to get free stuff in each city I go to.

As a result, I have gotten free hotels in nearly every city, free tickets to Sensation Amsterdam and Tomorrowland in Belgium (both are huge EDM Music Festivals), a free Eurail Pass which lets me travel to any destination via train, and free food tours.  Of course, I will be promoting all of these companies on my blog and on my social media channels for compensation.

It’s really a win-win for both parties.

How can you do it too?

So you want to quit your job and life a life of travel.  How can you do it?

The most difficult part is to start.

It’s so easy to really want to do something, and find any possible excuse not to make it happen.

My biggest piece of advice for a starter to take the leap abroad is to find a job teaching English and start a travel blog from day 1.  If you dedicate yourself, then I promise you, within a year or less, you can already start making a decent living form your website and freelance work.

I am living proof that this is possible.  It’s not a maybe, it’s a 100% yes this can happen.

But If you are not qualified to teach English, then don’t panic, because there are may other jobs that you can find to make that first big leap abroad. Here are some ideas off the top of my head

– Work on a cruise ship
– Work at a hostel
– Work at a restaurant or be a bartender
– Be a tour guide or instructor for your passion (rock climbing, scuba diving, etc.)
– Be a freelancer for things you’re good at (check out UpworkElance and Fiverr to find work)
– Maybe your current company has branch overseas that you can move to?

Also, Grabr.io is a new travel + shopping marketplace allowing you to make money anytime you travel by delivering items on your route! Everything you deliver is personally purchased and the shopper pays in advance, so it is totally safe! Join the global community at: i.grabr.io/drew

But no matter which job you take abroad, you should still start a blog and get your voice recognized to the world. I can’t even tell you how many new doors I’ve opened from starting this blog, and it’s only getting started.

Opportunities are out there. It’s just up to you to make it happen.  I promise there is a way. 

I hope you all understand now how I make money to afford my travels.  And the next time someone askes me how I can afford to travel the world, I am just going to direct them to this blog post.

I truly hope that this post inspired you that YOU CAN life a lifestyle like I do. Because it’s really not that difficult.  You just have to be smart about the decisions you make.

And from there onwards, the rest is history.

Curious how other travel bloggers afford to travel? Check out my friend Megan’s ultimate travel hacks!

49 thoughts on “How I Can Afford to Travel

  1. Drew, thanks for writing this article. Since reading your blog, I have decided to quit my job within the next year and start “slow travelling” for a living. Thanks for all the inspiration you provide. Tom!

  2. I’m 17 years old, from germany and next year I’m going to do my A-Levels. After that I plan to do a work’n’travel year in New Zealand. I didn’t know what to do after that, I first thought “I just want to travel, meet new people, see the world.”, but also thought that this is just childish, naive and impossible. And I didn’t know, what else I should do. What should i do? What should I do? There’s no job where I think “I would love to do that!”. And now there are you! I want to do the same!!! The imagination of me doing this, makes me so happy. I’m glad i found you/your page(s). Unfortunately I never travelled much (just 2 trips to croatia when I was a kid), but I have to change that asap. I hope I can and will do this. Thank you so so much!!

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING ABOUT WHERE YOU TRAVEL TO IT IS TRULY MOST PEOPLE’S WISH TO DO AND SEE WHAT YOU ARE I LOVE TRAVELLING THE WORLD IT’S A GREAT WAY TO GET RID OF THE TUNNEL VISION THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE BORN WITH THE PLACES YOU GO TO ARE TRULY AMAZING AND TO SEE ALL THE PEOPLE THAT ARE KIND ENOUGH TO LET YOU INTO THERE LIVES IS ONE OF THE MANY WAYS THAT I EXPERIENCED TRAVEL AS WELL AS BEING AN ENGLISH TEACHER IN ASIA AND TO REALLY MAKE THE EFFORT TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR TRUE CALLING IN LIFE IS

    1. Drew. You are unique. Congratulations on your blog. Thank you for sharing with us your passion. You have a fan. Happy May 1st, enjoy you next destination.

  4. You are amazingg!!!!!! Im sooooo hooked. What an amazing blog and the tips are soooo good they feel doable!! Thank you thank you!! Im gonna get to work on this, and i hope that we become friends!! You have a fan! 🙂

  5. Thanks so much for this awesome sight! It’s gonna help me big when I plan my first solo trip ever……to Seoul!!! So excited!

  6. Thanks for he frank and to the point article.
    This has given me lots to think about! 🙂
    And keep up the great pics on instagram! 🙂

  7. always love how straight-shooting your posts are! inspired by your ability to save cash while teaching abroad, that honestly sounds like such a perfect setup!

    thanks for always keeping it real 🙂

  8. hi, I was wondering if you can tell me more about how you got into affiliate marketing. for example..how did you decide who to contact? ..etc

    1. I just google searched “best affiliates for travel bloggers” and I found some. Also, I talked to some other bloggers who told me which ones are good.

  9. Honestly, you do not HAVE to be a native English speaker to make a living teaching English. English is my second language yet I am fully bilingual and speak and write the language better than many native speakers. Have had no problems whatsoever getting work as an English teacher abroad.

  10. Hello Drew! Tak you so mucho for this post, i lovede it. And you have realy given me the last push to realy go tarveling, in the fall of 2016 i sure will be on my way!
    Hope to see you one day, much luck.

  11. Taught ESL in Japan in 60’s. Have visited Japan 56 times, also 28 other countries. Thank you for spelling out how to support a travel addiction.

  12. Awesome post… Its great to hear about people making the world their home. There is so many ways to make money on the road…

    Keep up the good work…

  13. Awesome. I just started my travel this year but just around my country, and I can’t wait to visit other countries. Yay! How fulfilling would that be?! Thanks Drew, you are really inspiring. Earning while travelling is just awesome. Hands up!

  14. Hello Drew! I just started reading your blog early today and this was the first post I read. Now that I understand some more of your work here I came back to ask a few questions, as I’ve seen your very open to it.
    Firstly let me say that for the first time I could actually understand how people can afford to travel as a living. I always knew it was possible, but I’ve never seen anyone get into detail about this.
    I’d just like to understand one thing. You said teaching English was your number one source of income. You talked about how you taught in Korea for 18 months and how much you made back then, but I didn’t understand if you are still teaching English and if that is still a source of income. It wasn’t clear to me if this is still how you make most of your money or if it’s #1 source because it was the first way to make money. I don’t see how you would still fit teaching in your travel schedule.
    Also, as a suggestion (maybe you’ve already written about it and I didn’t see), you could write more about your experience and mainly how you learnt how to teach English, since you didn’t have any experience with that. See, I’ve already taught about traveling around the world and working but I always think that I wouldn’t make a good teacher. I’d like to understand more of how the teaching process works to see if it encourages me.
    Thank you very much and congratulations on your work! Your writing is very pleasant and didactic.

    1. Gabriela — I saved several thousand dollars from teaching English which took me around the world for while. Please send me an email about the specific questions you have about teaching English, and I’ll be happy to help 🙂

  15. Great post! We love seeing more and more people doing this. We were able to fund our traveling by teaching english in Korea as well. We are considering going back for a year to save and travel more! One thing though, we didn’t need a teaching certificate for our job! So for those who still want to teach english but don’t have a teaching certificate have options available! We also love some of the points you made including the hardest part is actually starting. It’s hard to take the leap of faith and make such a big life change, but we haven’t regretted a day since left. Good luck on your future endeavors!

  16. GREAT POST!!! Thanks Drew for sharing this! I’ve been planning to start a blog, gotta say the start is a challenge but yeah i’m gonna stick with it and see it coming.

    Have fun traveling!

  17. Helpful post again. I need to get learn more about affiliate marketing. I bartend and freelance for my travel money, but have been thinking about teaching English. Thanks again. I’m actually going to go back a reread you social media post.

  18. Great post Mr.Drew. Loved it . I have never been outside india and i have not even traveled around india properly. But i always wanted to. I work as a wedding photographer in chennai, southern india. Thank for all the insights and encouraging us to travel . Hopefully i will start my travel adventures soon. Thank you Mr.Drew.

  19. Reading this post just made me even more excited about starting my traveling lifestyle!

    I’m 19 so I just started college but I’ve always known I’ve wanted to travel, it’s just been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Portugal so you can say I had an amazing opportunity to travel as a kid, but now that I’m back in the US it’s definitely been a lot harder to. Reading this just gives me so much more drive and hope that I can just go out there and do what I love most, and being able to do so while the same boat of what I want in a career as well, being a teacher.

    Thank you so much for sharing how you’re able to do this lifestyle so that people such as myself who want a similar one can do it!

    Going on my first big trip without a family member (just me and my good friend) to Japan and Korea next year around April so wish me luck! Maybe we can meetup in the midst of traveling someday!
    Also, your blog is really great, it really helps for newbies like myself who have no idea where to even start, so thank you so much.

    1. Thanks so much Anna! I’m glad that I inspired you!

      You are at a perfect age right now to get into blogging. I started when I was 22 and I wish that I started earlier. Let me know if you need any advice!

      And that’s AWESOME that you’re going to Korea and Japan — my 2 favorite countries in the world! Have you already planned your trip? I can help!

      Cheers,

      Drew

  20. Hey Drew,

    I founded cnqr.co, we’ve featured you a couple times on Instagram. I really enjoyed this write-up my friend. Even sparked a couple cool ideas.

    If you want to take a look at what we do (we’re an online mind, body, life upgrade academy, growing fast) and shoot me an email, maybe we can work out some very cool long term stuff.

    Thanks again for this awesome, real post!

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