Learn how to fund your travels around the world by making travel money from your laptop, camera, cell phone & clothes. Master how to pay for your travels through your own adventures, stories and more. Uncover ways to save and pay for your travels from hiking, talking, renting your stuff, fishing & more. Explore these unconventional methods I have used to pay for 21 years of travel……..
If you don’t have the time to read this extensive TRAVEL MONEY GUIDE
How do you fund your travels? How do I afford to travel? How do I pay for travel? What do you do that lets you travel so much?
Traveling since 1998 these are the number one questions I or any long term traveler will have to answer. I can wake up every day telling others to seize the day, conquer their fears and leap into the great unknown. But for many… those aren’t the biggest hurdles to living a life of travel. The most difficult hurdle is funding and paying for a life of travel, or finding your way to fund “a” life of travel. This is the most common question any travel blogger is going to get, and it’s unfortunate that not a lot of effort is put into answering how to pay for your travels.
People look to travel bloggers for answers, and a lot of travel bloggers answer this question with hypothetical possibilities. So today I am going to try and answer this question “How to pay for your travels” once and for all. For all of those dreaming of their big trip, or currently out living a life a travel hopefully this will help you find a way to fund your travels & pay for your adventures. This isn’t going to be your usual “how to pay for travel” post listing off a bunch of useless cashback alternatives, penny saving ideas, or my personal favorite ~ selling your stuff ~ DUH!!!
You mean I shouldn’t carry this piano across the mountains of Africa? Thanks expert traveler for your eye-opening advice.
This is going to be a long read. This is a small book and took me over two decades of travel to write, edit and perfect. I was hesitant about sharing some of my experiences below, but after reading other travel blogs who share useless ideas on how to save or pay for travel I felt you needed more. I felt you needed more then just a list of 5 buzzwords that make you click on a link, and a more in depth description of ways to pay for your travels around the world. So here is my attempt to help you fund your travels, explore the world, save up for your big trip and afford all the adventures you can handle.
Hope you like it, and there is one particular method that I am sure everyone will love. Remember this is a long read so bookmark this page to make it easier to find later on, and if you have questions about any of the methods below shoot me an email [email protected]
This is probably the biggest part of the pie chart when it comes to ways globetrotters fund their travels. Unfortunately, to take advantage of this you need a website, traffic to your website and an engaging community. Usually takes about a year for this to be built up, but how many other jobs can award you financial independence in 12 months? When you finally do get there the revenue from advertising alone can range from four figures to six figures A MONTH!!!!!
Advertising can be anything from a small banner ad at the bottom of your page to a full-blown header ad, or even a line of code within your blog post that crawls a users browser cookies to display products they recently searched for. Some companies will even pay you to write an entire blog post on a product or company, or even work out a special price for all the fans you send their way. Advertising is a very lucrative and appealing solution to fund your travels, but beware if you become too involved you may loose fans or brand authenticity.
If your good at pitching or cold calling companies you may be able to pitch a “Brand Ambassordship.” Where a company will pay you to wear their clothing line or travel with their gear to create exposure and awareness. I have only come across one traveler that has been able to secure this type of travel income, and they wore brand specific clothing for a five figure a month check.
Advertising is big business, and advertising agencies are always looking for new ways to benefit their clients & out do their competition. You can send out a thousand emails delivering your pitch, and fill your inbox with rejections. But it only takes one acceptance email to fund your travels for years at a time.
Have you used advertising to fund your travels? Tell us about in the comments below.
Not all of these options are going to be ways to fund your travels, but they will all focus on ways to keep you on the road longer. Before I started traveling I shopped for name brand clothes, always had a nice apartment with fancy electronics and lived beyond my means. It’s the American way right? When you start traveling you’ll have moments of reflection of way back when… when you purchased a belt for $300 or shoes for $200, and now you’re looking at a train ticket across 23 countries for $318. You need belts & shoes, but do you need $300 belts & $200 shoes?
Being a ski bum trained me to be a world traveler and I didn’t even know it. Ski bums follow their passion, and they are a dedicated community doing whatever it takes to get them on slopes when the snow flies. Before being a ski bum I had heard of dollar stores, and the goodwill but they were never option “A”. After one season living with die-hard ski bums, I found out just how invaluable these two stores are. The dollar store has all your basic needs, and then some at a fraction of the cost. My first month at Crystal Mountain I spent over $300 on groceries. My 2nd month I spent just under $100 and didn’t need to refill until month three.
Goodwill has all the name brand clothes you want at the cost of a couple of bucks, but whether your traveling or ski bumming no one cares who designed the pants your climbing up a mountain with. No one cares about the tag on your shorts that your snorkeling in the Caribbean with. And I guarantee you literally no one cares about the brand name of the bag your backpacking through Thailand with.
Find out what your needs are then find out how to obtain them in the cheapest way possible. Had I continued along my ways that first year at Crystal Mountain I would have spent over $2,000 on groceries in one season. Instead, I spent just under $500 and used that extra $1500 to travel back up to Alaska at the end of the season. Where I hung out for another 5 months catching salmon, and running from bears.
I would love to hear how others have cut back on luxury items to fund your travels in the comments below?
This one seems like a no-brainer to fund your travels especially for you females out there. You can either sit in a cubicle answering phones, punching time clocks, avoiding annoying bosses and paying taxes at a $12/hr job. Or you can watch cartoons with the neighbors’ kid and collect a paycheck!!!!! Don’t have any neighbors, or don’t know anyone in your area with kids. No worries check out Sittercity this site is perfect for anyone looking to make some side money, or turn it into a full-time gig while traveling the world.
Obviously, there is going to be a SUPER STRICT screening process since this involves strangers and kids, but the potential to have a cash paying job anywhere in the world is there. Right now most listings are for the United States, but this is only going to get bigger and bigger as more people catch on.
The first time I used this company I landed a $24/hour babysitting gig for a 14-year-old. The parents were going away on a conference and wanted an adult while they were away to watch their child. Two days later when the parents arrived and found their kid alive they cut me a check for over $1200 tax-free! And all we did was eat pizza, play video games & watch SportsCenter per the parent’s instructions. SCORE!
This isn’t something I would like to do full time,but once or twice a month at $600 a day pays for a lot of travel.
Anyone else use SitterCity to fund their travels?
I can already see you rolling your eyes, but if you have any talent what so ever you can be a street artist and fund your travels. Even if that talent is speed reading you can be a paid street artist!! I’m not lying. I know a kid that makes $200 a week tying people shoes on a New Jersey boardwalk in the summer to pay for his travels.
Seriously, he has a microphone. Makes a bunch of loud noises to gather a crowd, and then he calls people out with untied shoes. After he gets them squared away he makes sure everyone knows where the tip bucket is. That’s his street act.
Seems like you could only perform that so many times before it gets played out, but he has been doing it for 6 years. His plan is to do it for 10 years, and then travel the world. He has saved every penny he has ever been given and put it into a high yielding savings account. He currently has around $55,000 from tying peoples shoes. You might want to read that last sentence again. Roll your eyes at that. In four more years, he will have over $100,000, and be able to pay for his travel from the interest alone. From TYING SHOES!!!!!!!! So if he can do it anyone can be a street artist.
Do you know anyone that is a street artist, or ever thought of street performing while traveling abroad?
Laptop jobs are becoming rapidly popular among long term travelers. I have never done online bookkeeping, but I have heard people making around $60/hour on average to do someone else’s books. It is an exciting time because the entire employment layout is changing from brick & mortar building to an electronic device you can bring anywhere.
In the bookkeeping and accounting world technologies are allowing accounting firms to change their business model, and offer their clients an added value that streamlines the entire process. You can find classes to become an online bookkeeper at Udemy, or various other websites. You can find online bookkeeping jobs at Upwork, PPH or any of the freelance websites. I recommend PPH because a lot of jobs posted on there pay you in British Pounds giving you even more travel money depending on the exchange rate of your current country. One British pound equals 44 Thai Baht right now, or 2,600 Thai Bahts if you were getting paid 60 pounds an hour!
If your going to be a freelancer do it on PPH were the exchange rates gives you a bonus for each job you complete just for converting your money. Got any tips about your online bookkeeping adventures leave them in the comments below so we can all learn.
The most appealing travel funding opportunity is blogging because it costs less than $20 to get started, and in the most simplistic form essentially all you have to do is write about what your travels. However, blogging takes time to build content, audience, social media & google rankings.
Only after you have those four can you think about monetizing it. To get those four takes an incredible amount of work. Most travel bloggers spend 60-80 hours a week working on their blog, and most blog posts take about 5 hours to create. You need to spend countless hours doing keyword research, and competitor analysis. You will have to become an expert in SEO, search engine optimization. You’ll also need to become a social media guru, self-promoter, and expert networker.
As a blogger, you will have to pitch sales ideas, promotions & partnerships to strangers. As well as negotiate prices for advertising, guest blogging, link building, article writing & promotional events. Blogging is like a business and you will be responsible for creating streams of revenue from content, products, networking and various other sources. As a blogger, you will also be responsible for either learning to code or hiring coders. And it took me 8 years to find a coder that could actually deliver what I wanted, but still has accountability issues. Coders are fickle, unreliable, expensive & often times more headaches then they are worth. The number one lesson I have learned from 8 years of sifting through coders is you get what you pay for. On top of all of that, you will also be responsible for moderating comments, emails, and defending against hackers and spam.
If you do decide to blog think about blogging as a store, and each blog post is a product. The posts you create is your inventory, and the inventory is what you are selling to the visitors of your website. Whether that is information or products you are using this inventory to generate money through direct sales, advertising or indirect sales that you get a commission from.
You didn’t have to buy this product, but you have to write an informative piece that somehow focuses on your websites message as well as the product. If you want to monetize it you have to find out where others can buy it so that you can create an affiliate marketing link to it, or find a relevant advertiser for that post. An entire other skill set you have to master from the ones listed above.
So depending on what you want to sell dictates on the topics you will write about, or at the very least how you will write about them. The easiest inventory to sell will be digital products that can be delivered to your users immediately. Getting a commission from your affiliate links is exciting, but eventually you will want to build up an inventory of your own products to sell to your fans. Things like hats, mugs, ebooks, bags, whatever as long as it’s yours and your brand. This means you get a bigger piece of the profit then if you were pushing someone else’s product for a commission. Blogging isn’t easy, but it’s very rewarding!
Need help starting a blog to fund your travels let me know in the comments below.
One of the most creative ways I have ever encountered to fund long term travel was relayed to me by a guy in a Thailand nightclub. This is one of my favorites because it is literally FREE MONEY if you know how to do it, but I am hesitant about posting it. Well…..because I don’t want the credit cards to close the loophole, and it might be considered really shady. But it’s literally the same thing as mile hacking, and there are a lot of travel hacking blogs out there showing you how to accumulate points & miles to use for travel. So……
I ran into a guy in Bangkok that has a different method. His method is max & discard instead of max & pay. Meaning he maxes them out and then throws them away. My first response was the same thing you’re asking yourself right now. How do you pay them back? He doesn’t, and he never gets penalized!!!!
Wait a second… how is that possible??? My question exactly, and we were at a bar so I thought for sure he was about to hit me with some drunk logic like: “I’m left-handed and drive a purple car so there’s a government loophole that a guy I know says I don’t have to pay them back.”
Instead, he tells me this. Your credit report gets reset every 7 years from the date of last payment. Which is true, unless it’s a student loan then it can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years and is also eligible to garnish your tax returns until it is paid off.
What he does is max everything out before he goes on his trip giving him a pocketful of cash. Then he closely monitors his credit report disputing every negative black mark until it is off his credit report. Most of his disputing success comes 2-3 years down the road after the account has been bounced around third-party collection agencies enough to bury the original creditor’s name & account details. Making it easier to win a dispute when a third-party collection agency responds with inaccurate information. This gives you an automatic win.
Most items can only be disputed annually, but there is no consequence for disputing an item multiple times a year or multiple times until it is removed. So his motto is dispute dispute dispute until it is removed, & if you can’t be removed then you just wait seven years.
He also says that creditors have to respond to disputes in a timely manner or they forfeit their ability to keep reporting their negative account to the credit bureaus. This is true. The Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) suggests the time frame is around 30-60 days. His last go around he said he got 9 delinquent accounts removed a month after they were reported because they didn’t respond in time.
So after everything clears his credit report he opens up a secured card. Then he says the quickest way to build credit and unsecured accounts is to max and pay off multiple times a month with the credit card companies money. To do this he buys prepaid credit cards to use them to purchase money orders to deposit into his bank account to pay off the credit card. The classic credit card mile hacking that millions of websites teach us how to accrue miles on the credit cards own money. He says he loses about $10 per round trip purchase in fees, but $100 to get $5,000 worth of free money seems worth it to me.
In doing this method he says the credit card companies will increase your limIt’s without you requesting, and usually takes about 3-4 months to get cards moved from secured to unsecured & up to a limit of $5,000 or more. Unaware of this trigger one summer I got my lines of credit bumped 3 times for maxing and paying off daily expenses.
After he gets one card up to $5,000 he accumulates as many credit cards as he can, and then maxes them all out in the hopes it will fund his travels for the next 7 years. Apparently, he has done this three times now. This last year he had 28 different credit cards all with a limit of $4,000 or more giving him over $100,000, but he says once you reach 15 open cards lenders become more cautious then if you only had 5 open revolving accounts.
He has never been to court, and he’s never had his wages garnished since he’s never had a job. He’s also never had his taxes garnished because he’s never had a job. He said the worst thing that has ever happened to him was a bunch of phone calls, emails & paper mail when he gave out valid contact information his first time around. All total he says he’s used this credit card hack to accumulate more than $200,000 to travel the world in the last 23 years, and has never paid back a cent.
There are easier ways to get your money then buying prepaid credit cards and money orders, but I would strongly suggest doing your research before voluntarily signing up for a mountain of debt to fund your travels. If you can create a life of travel for 7 years this may be an option for you, but if your thinking of just going for one year not sure this should be option A. I love the creativity behind this, but STRONGLY DISCOURAGE THIS AND URGE YOU TO SEEK OTHER ALTERNATIVES. It would be a complete nightmare to come home to $30,000 of credit card debt 10 months later.
Let us know if you have used this travel hack to fund your travels in the comments below.
Becoming a laptop freelancer is the most common variable among every long-term traveler I have ever met, and in today’s world with the resources of the web, anyone can land a laptop job in as little as 3 months. Through coding boot camps, online classes, mentorship programs, affordable online courses & youtube gurus there is a platform out there that you can learn from to become a laptop business.
If you have no coding skills this one is going to be hard to incorporate into your travel life. Fortunately, though you can learn to code for as little as $25 a month at TREEHOUSE, and coding is a skill you can get paid for anywhere in the world. Definitely wise to have in your toolbox. If you don’t want to learn how to code you can always hire a freelancer off of PPH to do the coding for you.
How will coding help you fund your travels? WordPress represents 25% of the world’s websites, and Joomla isn’t far behind. Between the two of these coding structures over half the world’s websites are built on them. If you can build a WordPress or Joomla theme you can sell it to other designers, freelancers or private web owners. Most themes go for $50 and have an average of 1,000 sales a year. Once you build it there is nothing more to do than offer a portal to pay and download it. Same goes for a plugin.
Did you know that the WordPress media library doesn’t have any type of organization? If you built a WordPress media folder plugin you would get over a million downloads in the first month. Even if you offered that for as little as $1 that’s a million tax-free dollars in your pocket in 30 days. If you built a Joomla component that transformed the dashboard into something more streamlined like WordPress….. Joomla would take over the internet, and your component would be behind that global migration. 10 million websites at even 50 cents would put $5 million dollars in your pocket.
Those are plugins or components that a superstar coder would have to build, but if you built something as simple as a social media slider like I did for the everyday user to incorporate onto their site you could sell that plugin or component for around $30, and expect around 1,000 downloads a year. My plugin only got 872 downloads last year, but that’s the third year it’s hit triple digits.
A clean, good looking fully functional template for Joomla or WordPress could be downloaded thousands of times a week. If you built something that either of these communities would like to see you could create a passive income that could fund your travels for the rest of your life. And it wouldn’t be hard to find out what these communities want just head over to their support forums.
Take a look at a component called Easyblog for Joomla. I was one of the first users to use that component when it was free back in 2012, and now they charge $79 a year for a subscription. That’s $6.50 a month for the 512,000 people that have downloaded that component! How far could you travel on $3.3 Million dollars a MONTH?
It may take some time to build up the reputation or the following for the digital products you build, but once you get there it will be an automated stream of revenue that you can rely on to fund your travels for years to come. And Treehouse has courses specifically focused on WordPress or Joomla themes and their perspective accessories like plugins & components. With Treehouse only being $25 a month it’s hard to think of better ways to spend that money.
Looking for other ways to fund your travels with coding skills leave a comment below, and I will show you how to become a digital landlord renting out your website to local businesses for a steady stream of monthly income.
Long-Term Travelers Charge Their Devices At Work
This isn’t going to make you any money, but it will save you about $30 month. That’s two weeks worth of lodging at the Happy House Hostel in Cambodia. These are the type of things travelers think about, and implement them into their daily life. If your planning a big trip these are things you should be thinking about as well to stretch your travel funds as far as you can.
This one has two ways to make money. One we already talked about above in the affiliate marketing section, but you can make a $100 a day doing some of the easiest tasks alive. I once moved a washing machine from one side of the laundry room to the other side, and got paid $500. I had to go to home depot to buy some flex pipe, and a couple of zip ties to make it work. But I would gladly spend $26 to get $500 any day of the week. You will find people are willing to pay for anything. Raking leaves, washing their boat, walking their dog, bringing trash to the dump, hooking up their cable box after getting a new TV, installing a modem, winterizing the RV yadda yadda yadda. It doesn’t matter Craigslist Gig section is filled with easy money. I don’t even understand why your still reading …. there are thousands of paid gigs on craigslist right now.
This is also a great way to pick up laptop income for the older crowd that doesn’t know how to find freelance websites. When I lived in Arizona I made over $200 a day for 6 months configuring email accounts, creating Facebook pages and installing WordPress(It’s a 1 click install) for website owners. Don’t have a craigslist section for your city or area I am sure there is a facebook group created by a local that’s equal to or better than the craigslist section. Check out my free camping guide to figure out how to find these groups.
I have been funding travel through the craigslist gig section for years. If you need help finding this easy travel money let me know in the comments below.
A fun way to pay for your travels is to go treasure hunting in your own wallet. If you go to Coolserialnumbers you can find a list of dollar bills people are trying to collect based on their serial numbers. Depending on the rarity depends on the value, but most bills on this site are valued between $1,250 & $2,000 for a $1 bill. So stop reading and go check your wallet. If you don’t have one of the rare serial numbers you can always throw an ad on craigslist for a finders fee or try your hand at flipping. Buy low sell and sell high on Coolserialnumbers.
Let me know what rare bills you found in your wallet.
My favorite long-term travel funding ideas are usually the cheapest to get into, but always the weirdest. Did you know depending on the type of worm you can make up to $235 a day? In the state of Maine, the bloodworm and sandworm account for over $5 million dollars a year in worm harvesting by paying 24 cents per worm. That’s a lot of worms. Places outside of Maine the pay is around 8 cents per worm, and that is for the popular night crawler that bait shops across the country demand. Nightcrawlers usually pay by the pound around $34-38 and takes about 350-400 night crawlers to make a pound. After developing a relationship with a local bait shop or store your wages may increase, but this is a perfect travelers job. No boss, no required hours, no uniform, no time clock & no quota.
I only tried this one time and it was in the midwest after a rainstorm. With beer in hand & bag full of beers, we walked the sidewalks collecting little brown wiggly creatures that we later sold to a local bait shop for over $300. If I hadn’t drank so much I might be able to tell you how much we collected, and how much we sold them for. But all I know is we had a $300 check to split between the two us for 10 hours of walking the streets of fishing town “X”.
Insider tip that I later found out from professional worm hunters: Use a hose to simulate rain, and make the worms come to you. Three hundred dollars a day could fund a lot of adventures. How many worms would it take to pay for your next big trip?
This may sound intimidating to fund your travels through a POD, but actually it is pretty easy. All you have to do is provide the photo, and you have a store. Take a look at this google search for POD sites like ZAZZLE Redbubble or Society6. A POD was originally set up for artists to monetize their work by diversifying their available products. Over the years POD’s have morphed into Tshirt & branding opportunities for all kinds of businesses & individuals. The real appeal to POD’s is much like a blog you don’t need any money to start up. You don’t need to buy any product, ship any product or deal with any customers. All you have to do is provide a photo and virtually place it on a product. The websites take care of all the payment, design, inventory, shipping & customers. It’s the perfect online business because of how little it costs to get started.
Obviously, it will take some time to build up an audience & become a millionaire. But once you do imagine all the products you can sell around social events like: the latest star wars movie release, newspaper headlines, political events. Anything that causes a stir in mainstream creates instant demand for material product, and all it takes for you to create this material product is a photo. How easy is that?? Way better travel funding advice then stop buying $5 coffee’s right?
The best advice I can give any new PODer is be rare or be trendy, but don’t follow the crowd or you will get lost in the shuffle. Promotion costs money lots of money, but a cheaper way to promote is a PBN. Private blog network. Only costs $3 a month to create a website, and the more websites that point to your POD store the more people that will be looking at your products. Plus you can add affiliate links & advertising to your satellite websites with all the content you’ll be creating. Who knows this could be the first branch of your digital empire.
Need help starting your POD store to fund your travels let me know in the comments.
More and more people are turning to Youtube and other online sources for education. Mechanics are becoming Youtube stars. Self-paced tutorials are popping up on blogs all over the internet. Colleges, brick & mortar or online, are seeing a drop in admissions. People are turning to figures they consider authoritative on certain topics and asking them to teach. People are tired of spending thousands of dollars at Universities to get the same knowledge they can get from Hank in Arizona for free off of Youtube. Millions of people are signing up for Kendras learn to code class on Udemy for $2.99 instead of lining up at MIT to pay a $45 application fee to see if they qualify to accumulate thousands of dollars of debt over the next 4 years.
The internet is quickly transforming the education industry, and Udemy is rapidly becoming the powerhouse online institute. The best part is you don’t need an educators background or even a degree for that matter to create a course. Seriously, there is a course for $10.99 on How to be Happy. So if you have enough knowledge on any topic you can create an online course at Udemy.
You could teach a class on how to build a tree house, or how to canoe across a lake without getting eaten by a giant worm. The choice is yours, and the possibilities are endless. Udemy has a step by step breakdown on how to get started creating your course, but here is a great cheat sheet on how to make a successful online Udemy course.
There are travelers making $5,000 a month in passive income teaching others how to………….
What do you have knowledge about? This is a great opportunity for any long-term traveler looking to live a life of travel through a passive income. This blog posts could of easily been a 90 part series on how to fund your travels, or laptop income, or creative ways to fund your life at $7 a video thats $630 per student for the life of my Udemy portal.
Creating an online course can be fun & exciting as well as fund your travels around the world. I would love to hear about your online courses in the comments below.
You’ve heard of Kickstarter or GoFundme right? These are the two most popular Crowd Funding sites on the web. You pretty much create an account, and ask a bunch of strangers to donate to your cause whatever that may be. Kickstarter doesn’t allow “fund my life” projects like fund my trip to Thailand, but if you create a project that warrants you to go visit Thailand it’s pretty simple to get around that rule. There is a crowdfunding website just for travelers called Fund My Travel where you can make all the “fund my life” projects you want.
With any crowd funding campaign it isn’t simply a matter of “build it and they will come”, It’s more about creating awareness, momentum, and adequate rewards. Just because you ask for $1 to fight breast cancer doesn’t mean your going to reach your goal if nobody knows about your campaign. The same goes for your “fund my travel life” request. Here are some tips on how to make a successful crowdfunding campaign.
I have met many travelers that have found success with this. The number one thing I got from all of them is treat it like a job application, and pay attention detail when answering all the questions & filling in the fields. Try to find other campaigns similar to yours to get ideas of what to say, what rewards to offer, and what type of media to create or include. Don’t be the pioneer of your type of campaign, but don’t get lost in the crowd either. And the number one bit of advice rally friends & family to share your campaign with others. The more people that know about your campaign the better chance of success you will have. It’s the core requirement for any internet business.
Brittany from Ohio told me she raised $25,000 for her AROUND THE WORLD trip because a neighbor who she never talked to found out about her dreams. He’d always dreamed of doing the trip himself, but never found the time. So he decided to fund Brittany’s dream so she wouldn’t be wondering with regret some day. You never know who your travel angels will be, or what chord you struck to trigger their generosity, but without travel angels some adventures would never get out of the starting gate.
Share your crowd funding campaigns in the comments below.
This one is pretty obvious right, but the first step in taking your dream trip is starting down the monetary path of financial responsibility. Travel is the most amazing finance professor you will ever have, but travel gives the test first and the lessons second. With all the advertisements showcasing fancy hotels, and bottomless drinks by the pool. If you don’t follow a budget your going to have a short travel life. This can be difficult for new travelers to become orientated with especially on their first trip. Be aware partying is the quickest way to kill a budget.
So cutting back on spending is going to be a skill your going to have to hone before you get out on the road. Cutting back isn’t necessarily getting rid of, but more like finding a creative solution at a cheaper rate. For example you can get rid of your home internet and TV provider, but still watch all your shows on the big screen in your bedroom.
How you ask???? Well if a family member has the same TV package, all you need is their login credentials & a chord. Before traveling I used to spend $80/month on home internet, and another $150/month on TV. Now I give my brother $20/month and have access to all my shows, and with a USB-C to HDMI chord I watch them on any flatscreen TV with an HDMI input using my cell phone. My brother who once had a bill now makes $50 a month from 10 friends & family members piggy backing off of his utilities. It’s the family plan that the cable and internet companies won’t tell you about. It’s the $240/year plan versus the $2760/year plan for the exact same product!
There is no way to cut back on spending unless you know where the money is going, and the only way to do that is to meticulously track all of your spending. This can be fun too if you let it. I met a couple from a Canada a few years back that realized they were spending way to much money on designer coffee in the morning. So they learned how to make it at home, and now every morning they enjoy their designer coffee at a drastic discount.
My mother who is not a traveler asked me for ways to save money. Swapping her new car for an affordable used one got rid of her monthly payment, expensive full coverage insurance & better gas mileage. We also got her an audible account instead of buying books, put her on the family TV plan, and added her cell phone to my plan saving her over $20,000 in one year.
Spending is personable and cutting that back is emotional. What works for some may not work for others. You just have to keep trying until you find what works for you. Quitting smoking, stop going to bars & avoid parties you will give more travel money in your pocket. But what else can you adjust to put more money towards your big trip?
Tell us what you have cut back on to save for your big trip in the comments below.
Funding travel is a creative job in itself, and any long term traveler will tell you the job doesn’t matter it’s just a means to the end. Whether thats washing dishes or selling tree burls it’s funding your travels, and thats all that matters. If you have never heard of a tree burl before thats OK. Neither did I until I ran into this guy from the Pacific Northwest who was on his 9th year of travel. The girl sitting next to me blurted out, “How do you afford that?” When he responded with, “Selling Tree Burls.” I had to chime in.
Tree Burls are deformities in a tree forcing the grain to grow in a exotic pattern. Usually found on the trunk, base or underground they form a rounded wart in the tree that can be as small as a few inches or as large as vehicle depending on the tree. Caused by stress, injury, fungus, virus, insects or even mold causes this prized tree wart. This deformity causes the tree grain to grow in an exotic & beautiful pattern helping woodworkers create amazing furniture or wood art. Making these outgrowths highly sought after, and very lucrative if you find the right buyer.
Matt from Washington makes over $100,000 a year cutting out tree burls and selling them to private furniture makers. The real art here is finding a vendor to buy your burls. As elusive as burls are so are vendors that are willing to pay for your finds. When you do find a vendor you can expect to be paid around $0.75- $1.50 a pound depending on the size, tree & design. To find vendors in your area check with the DNR or local woodshops. Here is a list I found for possible MN burl vendors through google. And wood magazine has a great article on how to harvest a burl to sell later.
I am including this as a way to fund your travels, because I learned it from a fellow traveler. But mainly because the cost to get into this is less then your monthly cell phone bill, and all it takes is some research & log time. Literally! There is no season, special permit, or singled out tree requirement to make money off of selling burls. Pretty straight forward, and any able bodied individual can take advantage of this creative travel funding “adventure job“.
Need some more tips on how to find tree burls to fund your travels ask in the comments below.
When I first started traveling cell phones weren’t ever part of my travel budget let alone how to tweak them to extend my travels. I probably should have mentioned this when I was talking about spending, but cell phones are in a category all by themselves today. Here in the states we have the big four: ATT, Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile. J.D. Power recently published the average cell phone bill is around $73 a month or $876 a year. Most of the people I know have a cell phone bill thats double that.
If your a powerhouse cell phone user there’s nothing I can do for you, but if you can break your habits or control your habits there are cheaper alternatives. I am always on the hunt for ways to keep my lifestyle at a more affordable cost, and when I discovered Republic Wireless I broke out the happy dance. With a coverage map that stretches from coast to coast & uses 2 of the strongest networks in the country you concede nothing, and gain everything. On Republic Wireless your annual bill should be less then $300 a year, and on one of the name brand carriers your annual bill will be closer to $2,000 then it will be $1,000 a year for the same phone service!!!!!!!! With Republic Wireless you can get unlimited talk, text & data for $20 a month making it a pretty easy decision to switch to Republic Wireless.
Switching carriers isn’t always an option, but every carrier out there has basic plans starting at $10 a month. If you don’t need unlimited text, talk or even data maybe this is the way to go. You will have to be more selective about how and when you use your phone, but if your diligently proactive this is a very viable cell phone option.
Prepaid phones can save you even more. Working at seasonal jobs or being a long term backpacker it’s hard to stay connected with people you meet along your travels. At one point my phone didn’t ring for three months. Which is why I switched to a prepaid option through Tracfone. For $125 I got 1500 minutes and 5 GB of data that lasted me 14 months while traveling around the United States back in 2010.
Even in today’s world of shareholders and profit margins many cell phone companies still offer a free phone to use their services. These won’t be the most hi-tech fancy model, but if you just need a simple device that makes and receives phone calls consider this option to save you even more money.
Speaking of free cell phones. Ever heard of google voice? You can call anywhere in America for free with google voice. Send/Receive unlimited text messages for free, and you even have free voicemail. The only catch is you need Wifi or internet connection. I used an old ATT phone I bought at a pawn shop for $5 to use google voice for 2 years, and my total bill was $0.00. It takes effort and a bit getting used to, but once you figure it out It’s a free phone that you can use anywhere. Using either one of these options can put thousands of dollars a year back in your pocket!
I still have my google voice number, and use it every time I embark on long term travel. Mainly because it’s free, but it forces me to interact with the locals for information instead of relying on google or other data consuming travel resources. Google Voice also has a “block caller” option that comes with a handy little feature that says this number has been disconnected when they call it. I haven’t had to deal with a telemarketer in years!!!
Let me know if any of these travel funding tips helped you out in the comments below.
Once upon a time I got fired from a restaurant job for a traffic violation that happened 20 years prior, and the worst part about it was the time of year this happened. Anyone in the restaurant industry knows the worst time of year is January & February. While sitting around cursing my luck I eventually landed a delivery gig for a company in Minneapolis while waiting for the restaurants to pick up. Driving roads covered in ice & snow during rush hour traffic in harsh Minnesota winter months isn’t the most appealing, but receiving a weekly $1500 paycheck cancels out a lot of the annoyances.
After a few months of racing around the city delivering boxes from business to business I stumbled upon a reality show called Shipping Wars. Shipping Wars highlights the skyrocketing popularity of the gig-economy right now. Cost of living is rising, and a liveable wage is hard to find. So people are turning to the gig economy to combat this. Whether thats playing taxi, landlord, or freelancer people are finding second incomes in all shapes and sizes thanks to the internet. One that is completely transforming the shipping industry is USHIP.
USHIP is a unique website that allows users to find discounted shipping alternatives to deliver everything from cars to couches. A user will post what they want to ship, and drivers will bid against each other trying to win the contract. For example: John Doe from Iowa needs his dog shipped to Seattle. Hundreds of Ushippers will logon and bid on the gig. John will pick the winning bid, and set the money aside in an escrow account. Ushipper “X” will pick up the dog and upon delivery in Seattle the funds will be released out of escrow. Some contracts will pay upfront, and others will have a down & final payment. Thats all worked out in the bid negotiations.
I did this for one summer with a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder delivering couches, chairs, birds, golf clubs, stereo’s, hockey equipment and whatever else people wanted to ship. With the help of Rudy (my 1998 Nissan Pathfinder) I made $18,000 in 3 months delivering miscellaneous items across the country. It’s a very easy way to make a decent living.
Best advice I can give you is find a second driver, and all you “vanlife” travelers this is a great way to delete your fuel costs from place to place.
Need help funding your travels as a delivery driver leave a comment below.
Tragedy happens everyday, and there are thousands of people in desperate need of blood or plasma. Donating blood can get you as much as $200 month, and donating plasma can get you as much as $400 a month. Think $600 a month is good for 20 minutes of lying in bed, how about $1000 a month for donating sperm. Thats $1600 a month for donating blood, plasma & sperm. It’s not the most glamorous or readily available, but $1600 is serious travel funds in third world countries.
Lately I have been using a site called Etsy to fund my travels. Etsy is one of the greatest platforms of our geneartion. If you are a creative person that likes to make things with your hands you have to start using this platform. Etsy is like Ebay, Amazon & Craigslist all in one spot. You can only sell handmade items on Etsy, and there are thousands of people shopping right now for your product. Never heard of a sander? Grinder? Don’t know how to crochet, or draw a stickman? Neither do I, but I made $7,300 in one month off of Etsy by selling homemade stuff I found on Craigslist, in Goodwill, Pawn shops, garage sales and other thrift stores. You don’t need to know how to build stuff you just need to know how to buy handmade built stuff and flip it for a profit!! I love Etsy and I love the ski bums from Crystal that introduced me to Goodwill because without them I would have never known how to flip used handmade goods that cost less then $10 to buy.
Flipping free or drastically discounted items is one way of making money, but if you have a creative side Etsy is a gold mine. You can even buy the materials you need from other Etsy users to make the creations you want to sell. Reclaimed barn wood & pallet wood are hot items right now, and there are 1,300 different vendors selling: Reclaimed Barn Wood, Pallet Wood Canvas, Reclaimed Wood Canvas, Pallet Wood for Signs, Blank Wood Signs, Pallet Wood Sign, Burnt Wood Sign, Blank BlackWood Sign, DIY Pallet Wood Sign and many more blank wood canvases for less then $7 a piece!!!
Slap an inspirational travel quote on there and flip it for $50 plus. Seven dollars, 20 minutes of cursive writing & shipping gets you $43 towards your big trip. Something you can do over and over and over. Pinterest is filled with creative things you can make to sell on Etsy. Facebook garage sales are great places to unload your Etsy creations. Consignment stores in your area would love to add homemade inventory!
With Etsy you can be a creator, supplier, flipper, designer or even a middle man to generate travel funds! Let me help you build your Etsy Empire by leaving comments below.
Finding free money is always my first choice to pay for travel! Back in 2011 when I was cleaning out my RV I found a 3 year old money order that I had never given to whoever I was supposed to give to. I went to the bank to see if it was garbage or if I could get my money back. The lady told me that it was in the states unclaimed money fund. She gave me the necessary paperwork to fill out, and a link to the government’s unclaimed money site. I found that I had over $4,000 in unclaimed money. Between landlords and companies not cashing my money orders they all went into the states unclaimed money fund. My mom & brother also found out that they had over $1,000 in unclaimed money waiting for them too. It costs nothing to check, and is a great bonus to fund your big trip if you win the “Found Lost Money” drawing.
How much money did you find when you checked?
Long term travel will teach you creativity, ambition, patience & humbleness to lengths that will test you on a daily basis. One of my favorite things to do to make travel money is flipping freebies. Craigslist is like the ultimate thrift store. People give away valuables all the time. You can logon to your area’s craigslist right now, and find 100s of Free Couches. If you are near a college campus each one of those couches is a $25 bill. I would strongly stay away from couches, beds and other furniture unless it’s in great shape. It’s bulky and hard to get rid of when there are so many freebies to compete with. Sometimes this takes time, and you can’t get your money back same day. But flipping freebies is quick and easy money.
From Craigslist “Free” section you can find hot tubs, RV’s, campers, dishwashers, heaters, fireplace’s, animals, coolers, grills, furniture, cars, building materials, houses, landscape materials, plants, yadda yadda yadda. You name it you can find it in the free section. Some things might take longer to flip then others, but your ROI is always a POSITIVE since you got it for FREE!
Take this to next step and use it to stock your Etsy store! Have you ever heard of hydro dipping? Hydro dipping is a way to custom paint anything without actually painting it. The Rolls-Royce hydro dipping equipment will only cost you $5,000 to get set up with your own business. Don’t have $5,000 thats OK you can get a kit for less then $200, or you can do what my brother did and use a bathtub to dip your creations. Theres Youtube videos showing people using a kiddy pool that you can pick up for cheap at Wal-Mart or for pennies off of Craigslist. Why am I telling you this because all the free stuff you can pick up from craigslist can be dipped and flipped on Etsy.
They are selling hydro dipped coffee mugs for $35 on Etsy. All those used fridges, counter tops, grills or coolers dip them in a popular sports team like the Yankees, Bulls, or Patriots logos and you’ll have more demand than you can keep up with. The possibilities are endless, and your customer can now brag he is the only one with Patriots car rims or a Yankee toaster. Hydro dip an old wine bottle in a gold leaf pattern, and I’m sure some bride to be or wedding planner will buy that used wine bottle for more then it cost when it was full. Hydro Dip any wood furniture with a wood grain pattern and flip it like it was new! Dip that used counter top in a river rock pattern and watch people fight over a used a counter top!
Craigslist free section is literally the epitome of, “One mans trash is another mans treasure.” If you ever get a store front put a dumpster out front welcoming people to drop off their junk. It’s just free inventory. Ever seen a skull covered microwave? Now you can make one, and sell it to the masses! Travel will teach you to be creative whether you like it or not I promise you.
Tell me what you found in the craigslist free section to fund your travels in the comments below.
When your looking for ways to fund your travels sometimes there’s no avoiding the old saying, “Sometimes it takes money to make money.” Forex is a foreign exchange currency trading website. It comes with all the risk of trading stocks, bonds and other non-guaranteed investment options. So why am including this in ways to make money for a traveler? Because Forex provides two options for it’s users: Real & Demo. I am not a stock guy, but I’m trying to be. I bought two, yes you read that right, two stocks of facebook. I am glad I did, but who buys 2 stocks? I’ve obviously made a profit from that investment, but the point is I don’t like to risk my money on volatile investments.
Which makes Forex perfect. It allows you to do your research, and then implement your research into investments on it’s demo version. Where you can learn the ins & outs of foreign currency exchange without risking any of your money until your comfortable doing so. I love it. I wish stock trading websites would implement this into their websites.
This is why I love Forex it allows me to invest in my future with a safety net, and slowly build a reoccurring monthly stream of revenue out of minimal investment. It’s not for everyone, but Forex provides a risk free way to learn foreign currency trading.
Whats the most you made trading currencies?
Foreign Services provides the opportunity to work and experience cultures, customs and people of different nations around the globe as well as a paycheck for doing so. This is probably one of the most lucrative ways to fund your travels because the average Foreign Service Officer in the United States earns around $85,000 a year.
A Foreign Service Officer is an unbelievable opportunity for someone who enjoys travel, likes to learn about other cultures and is passionate about public service. Granted the screening process is extensive, lengthy and not everyone will qualify. But for those that do this is a comfy way to fund your travels around the world, and it comes with a pension. BONUS
Please comment below if you have worked as a foreign service officer to fund your travels.
One form of travel hacking is the art of collecting flyer miles, and redeeming them for free travel. Unfortunately, you need a decent credit score, and a little bit of money to take advantage of this travel hacking method. The biggest expenses for any traveler is going to be flights and lodging unless your a camper like me. This is a topic I’m not well versed in, but doing a google search for ways to accumulate frequent flyer miles will result in hundreds of thousands of websites offering tutorials on how to do this.
I am not a frequent flyer miles guy. I’ve used them in the past, but I just don’t fly enough to explore this option. This isn’t my expertise I’m more of a driver then I am a flyer. But NomadicMatt shows you how to hack 1 MILLION FREQUENT FLYER MILES A YEAR, & The Frugal Travel Guy will show you how to travel hack with poor credit. And if you would like to educate me some more on how to fund my travels with travel hacking I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
The world is filled with ways to gamble your money away, and ever since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Texas Hold’em has taken the world by storm. Party Poker & Empire Poker were the pioneers of online card rooms that paved the way for poker players to find a game without ever leaving their home. I used to spend 10-15 hours a day dragging virtual chips to my side of the computer screen. I was one hand a way from winning a “STEPS” tournament, where you have to win 5 multi table tournaments in a row for a free entry into the Aussie Millions tournament, and I’ve won my fair share of multi table tournaments through out my poker career. I never took it seriously until I moved to Arizona where I couldn’t find a job to fund my travels, but there was a card room 17 miles away.
Gambling is a game of luck. Texas Hold’em is a game of patience. Literally all you need to know to be a winning poker player is know what beats what. From there all you have to do is sit and wait for the card gods. It’s boring, uneventful & sometimes frustrating because all you want to do is take advantage of the idiot sitting at the table across from you playing every hand. Unfortunately if you want to be a winning poker player you have to sit on the sidelines until the card gods decide it’s your turn.
You can easily make $400-$500 a day playing $1/$2 No limit poker at any card room in the world. Don’t make any moves! Don’t bluff! Don’t try to out play anyone! Card rooms are filled with players with pipe dreams & stubborness. All you have to do is wait. No one is paying attention, and the ones that do will get out of your way. Majority of the players at any poker room don’t know where the fold button is. So you make them pay max dollar for every card they want to see. Loose the minimum win the maximum. It’s an easy formula, and one that I have put into practice many of times. I can walk into any poker room anywhere in the world that offers $1/$2 NL Hold’em and walk out with a profit.
In 2011 I couldn’t find work when I moved to Tahoe for ski season so I turned to Harvey’s and the Monte Blu. In five months I made over $40,000, and the bulk of that came during Christmas break when families came to town for their annual ski trip. No employer! No annoying co-workers! No needy guests, or ridiculous uniforms! Ski all day, and shuffle chips all night. What more could a ski bum want? With card rooms sprinkled around the globe this is an easy way to fund your travels, and you can sit down with as little as $100 to get started. It’s not gambling if you don’t take any risks!
Need some poker guidance to fund your travels leave your questions in the comments below.
Another creative way to fund your travels is to become a search engine evaluator. With the internet becoming more and more prominent in our daily lives this is an easy gig to land. When i worked as a search engine evaluator I made between $12-$15 an hour working as an independent contractor for Bing, Yahoo & of course Google. I averaged about $700 a month from each of these companies, and was able to work anywhere I could connect to the internet.
You’ll have to pass some tests to qualify, and maybe even do a phone interview before you can start evaluating search results. But once you get set up you work where ever you like, whenever you like, as little or as much as you like, make more then minimum wage and learn a lot about the world. Some of the disadvantages are paid once a month, responsible for your own taxes, becomes tedious & hard on the eyes.
The companies that I used to land search engine evaluators gigs are:
Sometimes there isn’t always work. Some weeks there were as little as 15 hours a week, and other weeks had over 60 hours. I was introduced to this gig by a lady that held this position for over 4 years that I met while traveling through British Columbia. Combine this source with inbox dollars, and you could have a nice little stream of revenue each month.
Inbox dollars is where you get paid to take surveys, watch videos and more. It takes a lot of time and energy to earn enough money to warrant the effort, but if you have some free time and need a few extra bucks here and there it’s easily worth it.
Have you worked as search engine evaluator to fund your travels?
Traveling around the world has dramatically changed. Especially in the last couple of years. With the emergence of the sharing economy or better known as the gig economy travel has become easier, cheaper & more connected. The gig economy allows for travelers to connect with locals, get off the beaten path, save money and even make money!
The share economy or gig economy are reinventing the way we travel around the globe. In years past we had to find a motel, hotel or some other form of commercial lodging. Then avail ourselves to fluctuating prices due to destination demand and proactive property managers. Nowadays when you log onto any booking site after you give them your dates they give you the price for one night in a “bait & switch” tactic to gain your business. Another reason why I stay far away from the commercial lodging industry. Which is why I highly recommend Couchsurfing, AirBnB or VRBO whenever possible.
One of my favorite share economy platforms is Couchsurfing, and it has single handily revolutionized the travel industry. With Couchsurfing travelers gain the ability to meet and stay with locals, and really connect with a place like other generations of travelers weren’t able to do. Couchsurfing is a game changer when it comes to long term travel, or even short term travel for that matter because it is a community full of travel angels waiting to share an authentic experience with you. With the ability of traveling to exotic destinations while staying in private homes, apartments, boats or even RV’s for free. Travel has become easier, cheaper & more connected through Couchsurfing. With over 14 million users couch surfing is a vibrant community connecting travelers with local accommodations, local meetups, local travel advice, local things to do & local culture. Making it the #1 LOCAL travel resource for any traveler.
Much like couchsurfing AirBnB connects travelers with locals and provides a unique authentic experience you can’t get staying at the local hotel or motel. AirBnB offers short term rentals for private accommodations around the globe. These unique short term rentals can range from private residential homes to floating research vessels in the middle of the ocean. From Treehouse’s to Trains I love AirBnB because of the amenities, spaciousness and they are usually cheaper then a hotel. They are also great for solo travelers because your host can offer advice and conversation you can’t get at a commercial lodging option. Unless you want to annoy the front desk agent at check out time.
Another reason I love AirBnB is anyone can be a host and turn excess bedrooms, houses, or property into a passive stream of income. Thousands of individuals have actually created an entire industry by being an AirBnB landlord purchasing apartments in desired locations around the globe & renting them out as short term rentals. They hire a management company to take care of the check in/ check out aspects, cleaning & emergencies. All of which is a tax write off come tax time. Through AirBnB you can create a stream of revenue, continue growing equity & be hands off while you travel the world.
I met this girl in Idaho who owns an apartment in Seattle where apparently the housing demand is completely absurd. She rents out a 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Seattle for $450 a night with an 80% occupancy rate !?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!? Making her over $9000 a month for doing nothing but changing sheets & washing a few dishes. Which she actually pays her neighbor to do in between guests.
The gig economy has harnessed the power of the internet, and circumvented the bureaucratic nightmare of unnecessary regulation to provide us convenience or income. Through the gig economy we can generate income or make our lives more convenient, and all we have to do is logon to browse our options. In the gig economy, you don’t have to come up with a ton of cash, the way you might as an entrepreneur, or deal with the hassles that come with running a business. I am a big fan of the gig economy because of it’s deregulation & simplicity.
A few years ago I was invited to be a taxi driver near a National Park in America, but after looking into the requirements I passed. This small 3 block town wanted me to get special insurance, bonded, background check, relay all rides into the local sheriff before picking up, and spend thousands of dollars to have my vehicle equipped with a special meter and paybox. All this to drive drunks home from the local bar, or pick up tourists from the airport & drive them to their hotel. All of 7 miles away? Hmmmmm
Instead I applied with Uber, and skipped all the regulatory hassle. I now use my Uber & Lyft account to drive people in whatever city I am located in. It’s one of the simplest jobs I have ever had. Whenever I am leaving I simply logon and wait for Uber or Lyft to provide me a fare. When I first started with Uber I was making close to $1500 a week in a 3 block town that doesn’t even have a stop light. Nowadays, if I am in a high volume tourist town its closer to $750 a week. I have a friend that drives in Las Vegas for both Uber & Lyft, and after his expenses he brings in around $1750 a week.
The convenience factor more then makes up for the money you might leave on the table somewhere else, but I love being able to bring my job where ever I can bring my cell phone. The gig economy is here to stay, and as time moves on more and more options will unveil themselves to us. I’ve already talked about SitterCity, Uship, AirBnb, Uber, Lyft, EatWithalocal, but there are hundreds of sites that fall into the Social Sharing or Gig Economy Category that you can make money with.
Some honorable mentions:
And plenty more. Check out this list of the Top 100 Social Sharing Websites Tell us how you are using the gig economy to fund your travels in the comments below.
Just like tree burls I had never heard of this one until I worked in North Carolina for a summer where I met Russ. Who introduced me to a plant called Ginseng & Ginseng Hunting which can be traced back all the way to the Daniel Boone era. Ginseng which has been harvested to extinction in Asia has now migrated demand over to America. Where hobbyist and professionals spend the autumn months of the year treasure hunting for this herbal plant. Which can fetch thousands of dollars per pound.
You can’t just walk out in the woods, and scoop up thousands of dollars of plant roots though. Trust me I have tried. You have to know what your looking for, be in the right area, legal & responsible. There’s an art to harvesting ginseng, and even the most seasoned ginseng hunter can still come up short. When it comes to Ginseng hunting It’s all about location, and unfortunately if you live in Western America your going to have to do some traveling.
Ginseng grows mainly on the Eastern side of North America. From Quebec to Georgia and as far west as the Mississippi River. Some of these states have no regulation, season or permit so do some research to see what your state requires. For example Maryland requires a $2 permit, and the season runs from September to Decmeber. But then you have states like South Dakota where you can’t find anything that says whether there is a season or even permit required. Check out this list of Ginseng Regulations sorted by state.
After you have found out your states season, permits & other requirements it’s time to go treasure hunting. Your going to want look for North facing slopes covered in shade & made up of a moist loamy soil. Think of deciduous forests with rolling hills, banks, embankments or anything that makes the ground rise and lower producing North Facing Slopes in the terrain with an overhead canopy providing a shaded forest floor. Would be the ideal conditions for finding Ginseng. Look for old growth forests with Black Walnut, Oak & Hickory trees. With ferns, jack in the pulpit & bloodroot plants. These are companion plants & trees often found close by to wild Ginseng. You can also find Ginseng on East, West & sometimes even South facing slopes, but general rule of thumb is to look for North Facing Slopes. And usually the bottom third of a slope as the Ginseng seeds roll down hill to replant themselves under fallen leaves from the canopy above. It’s also wise to stay away from the summits as Ginseng is rarely found on mountain tops or in real damp conditions.
The perfect conditions for ginseng are soil that is rich in organic material such as leaves, mold & other fallen tree debris like bark and branches. Situated on North or East facing slopes with 75 – 85% shade from deep rooted hardwood trees like oak, walnut & poplar. If your in area with coniferous trees and shallow rooted trees such as maples this presents too much competition for good ginseng root development so you probably won’t have the best of luck in this environment. Ginseng is elusive, and requires a lot of ground to be covered before you hit your travel payday.
During the autumn months Ginseng can be easier to spot with it’s yellow leaves or red berries. Once you find the plant don’t let your excitement get the better of you. Before you can start harvesting you need to identify which plants can be harvested, and most states have strict guidelines for this. Minnesota requires the Ginseng plant to have at least two 3 prongs clusters before it can be harvested. This ensures that the plant is at least 10 years old, and has had plenty of time to spread it’s seeds. After digging up the root Minnesota also requires the harvester to replant the Ginseng seeds before moving on. This is as easy as removing surface debris & digging a hole 3/4″ to 1″ and recovering with leaf debris. Research shows this can help the ripe Ginseng seed reproduce as much as 8 time more then any other method.
After you have found your Ginseng now It’s time to get paid. There are quite few ways to do this. I have found the best prices are closer to the Appalachian mountains then anywhere else. In years past I road tripped out there to get the best prices for my herbal plant roots because prices in the midwest range from $60-$150/pound where places like Tennessee, NY & Virginia prices range from $350-$850 for the same pound of Ginseng root.
Depending on the size of the root & age of the plants it usually takes about 6 roots to make a pound, and the average Ginseng hunter harvests about 50 pounds a season. Some harvesters will hold onto their roots for up to 2 years while they wait for the prices to come back up. This isn’t legal in most states, but very hard to enforce if properly stored. In 2012 prices for Ginseng roots fell to $50 a pound and then skyrocketed to over $1800 pound in 2015 in some place so you can see why some “sengers” will hold onto their lot. In 2013 I made over $15,000 from walking in the woods in September & October before heading out for ski season. Making me a happy funded traveler!
Have you ever tried ginseng hunting to fund your travels?
I’m sure the last thing you thought you were going to read on this “how to fund your travel’s post” was to go fishing, but there’s an old fishing saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” There’s a lot of truth in that saying, but how many of us can actually pursue a career doing something we love? So many of us get caught on the treadmill of life it’s hard to get off no matter how hard we try. Because there are bills that need paying, and family that needs feeding. Growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes if I could have figured out how to make a living from fishing I would have never left home.
Those memorable days of biking out to my secret lake, and casting lines in the hopes of landing a whopper are forever ingrained in my brain. There were no bills to pay, no drama to deal with, no employers to satisfy or customers to greet. Just a kid & his fishing rod hanging out on the banks of the lake waiting for the bass to bite. If I could have hit pause and lived in that moment forever I would have.
Fortunately for you I took my adventures on the road, and dipped my toes in waters sprinkled around the globe. While living in Sandpoint, Idaho this last year I got paid to go fishing for Northern Pikeminnow. I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across this travel funding option, but the state of Washington will pay you $5-$500 for every Northern Pikeminnow over 9 inches that you catch from May – September on the Columbia River. Check this website out to find out all the details on how to get paid to fish for Northern PikeMinnow.
Basically it breaks down like this. Fish from May-September and get paid:
$6 per fish for 26-200 fish on the season
$8 per fish for 201 or more fish on the season
$500 per tagged fish (DNR releases 1500 tagged fish a year)
Last year the top 20 anglers averaged 3,530 fish during the five month season and averaged a payday of $30,000. Thats roughly 24 fish a day. The top angler brought in over $80,000 in 2017 catching Northern Pikeminnow. I had never heard of this, but trust me on my days off I was casting lines and I got paid $6,800 for catching fish on my days off. I wish this was in MN were I could just post up with the RV, and hang out with childhood friends. But this reward program probably wouldn’t last long in state full of long time anglers. In any event this is on my radar for the upcoming summer, and looking forward to it. My goal is to triple my catch, and combine this with White Seabass & lobster season in Catalina, California with a friend I used to work with on a zipline in Alaska.
Another way to get paid from fishing isn’t quite as easy as buying a can of corn or a bucket of worms. Popular in the U.K. is a “pay to play” program where people pay to go fishing in stocked waters. Not something I would ever do. You need land & a body of water to stock with fish, but this last summer I came across multiple individuals that use this as their sole source of income. One couple from Missouri told me they started out in 2004, and made a whopping $180,000 from a 2 acre pond they’ve owned for 5 generations. Since then they have branched out, and created a dozen more pay to play ponds that they say nets them over a million dollars a summer. Another couple I met from Tennessee says they bought 5 useless acres that was on the market for over 8 years. Turned it into a pond, stocked it, marketed it & now make close to $60,000 a summer letting families fish out of it.
This takes some money to get into, but this is a hands off steady stream of income that anyone could manage once it’s set up and ready to go. Maybe I’ll catch enough Northern Pikeminnow this summer to buy my own pond. Have you ever paid for travel from fishing?