10 Real Ways to Get Paid to Travel the World

Want to see the world, but have no idea how to afford it?
Last updated Sept. 1, 2022 | By Ivana Stoshevski | Edited By Gabriela Walsh
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Interested in seeing the world, but have no idea how to afford it? Traveling certainly is a luxury, but what if I told you that you could travel without spending a dime? That you could even be paid to travel?

Sometimes the cost of traveling makes it seem too out of reach. But good news, friends! As it turns out, there are attainable ways to travel; not only attainable, but paid ways to travel.

Think it's too good to be true?

Well, I'll let you be the judge of that. I've compiled a list of 10 ideas for ways you can earn money while traveling. Some of the best side hustles may require you to learn a new skill or make an initial investment, but I think it's definitely worth every penny if it makes your dreams of traveling come true.

Earn rewards and travel more while spending less with these top travel credit cards.

1. Start a travel blog

Think blogging is overrated? Think again!

Travel blogs are a great way to make money while traveling the world, but it takes time, effort, and dedication to figure out how to make money that pays the bills.

In fact, many travel bloggers work tirelessly to build up their online presence and following on social media for about a year before monetizing their websites. This might mean you'll have to support your blog on your own initially, but once you're really ready to monetize, it'll be like the gift that keeps on giving. Just ask Kate McCulley, who at the age of 26, quit her job to travel the world and write about it on her blog, Adventurous Kate.

2. Become a tour guide

Ever thought of becoming a tour guide? If exploring and studying different cultures while leading people around iconic places in the world sounds like you, becoming a tour guide might be the perfect fit!

Usually, tour guides fall into two categories - a location guide and a long-term guide. So which one's right for you?

A location guide typically operates in one location, so essentially, you'd stay in one location and tourists would hire you to lead them around. Job security is a bit finicky if you go this route because the position is mostly freelance. On the upside though, you'll be 100 percent in control of your schedule and able to cross places off of your own bucket list.

Long-term guides, on the other hand, tend to be more stable. Usually working with long-term contracts or even signing on full time with a tour company gives this option more stability.

Check out Tours By Locals to explore the plentiful opportunities of becoming a tour guide!

3. Teach English

One of the most popular and lucrative ways to travel and make money  is to teach English abroad.

Teaching jobs in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are abundant, and don't usually require you to speak the native language. Some don't even require teaching degrees or TESOL certification - although that would likely make your resume stand out in the sea of applications.

They mainly want to know that you're a native speaker who is friendly and enthusiastic about teaching students English.

Salaries vary greatly depending on location, and can be as high as $36,000 a year in Japan or $45,000 in the United Arab Emirates. Dave's ESL Cafe is an amazing resource for information on where you should go, how to find the best jobs, and what to expect when you get there. 

4. Work as an au pair

Do you love working with young children and would consider exchanging childcare for the chance to travel the world? Consider working as an au pair!

Think of an au pair (literally meaning an extra pair of hands) as an "international nanny" whose main responsibilities are to care for children for a set period of time in exchange for room, board, and pocket money. 

Many families don't require au pairs to speak the native language, and many even prefer if you speak to their children in English so they can improve their fluency. 

Au Pair World is a great resource to learn more and begin your search for the perfect family match.

5. Work for a cruise line

Have you always dreamed of going on a cruise? Or maybe you've been on a cruise and hate the feeling of ever having to go back to your "normally schedule life."

If this is you, you may want to consider becoming a part of the crew! Cruise companies are always looking for crew members to help run their ships. 

Along with getting paid, you'll have the opportunity to visit spectacular places and meet lots of interesting people.

Another built-in benefit of this job is that many crew members are able to save the majority of their earnings since accommodations and food are typically covered in your contract, and you can only buy so many items from the gift shop. Wandering Earl worked on several cruise ships to save money that he later used to fund his travels around the world.

As with any job though, this position does have its downsides, as well. Working on a cruise ship is exciting and no two days are alike, but the pay tends to be low while the expectations and responsibilities are high. On the bright side though, all of your expenses are handled by the cruise company, and perhaps most importantly, you'll get to travel from place to place constantly.

6. Go WWOOF'ing 

What the heck is WWOOF'ing you say?

It's the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms or WWOOF, and it's definitely not your typical organization. This organization gives you the opportunity to work on organic farms around the world in exchange for free housing and food.

The terms are flexible, with volunteers staying as for as long or little as they want. You'll be expected to work four to six hours a day for at least two days per week with anything that needs to be done around the farm. The types of farms vary as well; some volunteers work hours in vineyards picking grapes, while others tend to the pineapples trees on farms in Costa Rica.

Once your shift is finished, it's primetime for exploring your new home.

While WWOOF will match you with plenty of opportunities, they don't cover travel expenses for getting there. Once there though, it's often easy to find someone in your network to find a ride to your next destination.

WWOOF'in is one of the most unique ways to see the world while keeping your bank account afloat. How often can you find jobs that allow you to travel, help people, and make money all at the same time?

7. Become a flight attendant

Pretty much all of us have thought about the life of a flight attendant once or twice, right?

What's the job like? How many cities do they visit per week? How much do they make? Kara Mulder will tell you all this and more on her blog, The Flight Attendant Life.

Flight attendants make anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000 per year working an average of 80 hours per month. And, yes, the travel perks are absolutely fantastic. Even better, their perks usually extend to family members, too. 

So if you're thinking about a country-hopping career, you may want to strongly consider applying to become a flight attendant.

8. Work as a travel photographer

If you're camera savvy, you may want to consider becoming a travel photographer.

Competition is pretty fierce, but if you've got the skills, this is a great way to travel the world and get paid for it. 

Need proof? Check out Ken Kaminesky's blog and Patrick Di Fruscia's website. Both are talented photographers who make their full time income from capturing the world behind their camera lenses.

I'm sure both would tell you that one of the most important things to plan is how you intend to showcase and sell your photos. You could host and sell them on your own personal website, or you could list them for sale on reputable sites like SmugMug.com, iStock Photography, and Creative Market.

9. Become a foreign goods trade specialist

Foreign Trade Specialists run import-export trades on foreign goods. In layman terms, they act as the middleman who directs goods in and out of a country to be resold somewhere else. So, if you're looking to travel the world and have some capital to start your business, this may be a great option for you!

Figuring out your perfect market will require a lot of research, travel, and education, but the end result could be a booming business that nearly runs itself.You'll also have to figure out how to navigate customs regulations, the worth of goods sold, and where to find the best buyers.

Thinking about exploring this as a career option?  Find someone in your local area who is running a similar business and try to strike up a conversation to learn more. Local vendors could be someone selling hammocks from Mexico, leather from Italy, ceramics from Turkey, and so on.

10. Become location independent

Where would you work if you could choose literally anywhere in the world?

Being location independent isn't necessarily a job, but rather the type of job that allows you to be location independent. A few examples might be business consultants, writers, coaches, and more. Freelancers are most often able to work wherever they please during whatever hours work best for them.

Sound too good to be true?

The benefits of freelancing are certainly enticing, but it also takes a lot of hard work to earn enough to make a full time income. For example, while some freelance writers are able to negotiate $200-$400 per article, most mid-level writers earn between $20-$100 per article - meaning they'll be write a lot more to keep up.

The beauty though, is that when your work is finished, you'll already be somewhere you want to explore.

Interested in peeking into the life of someone who is location independent? Check out Natalie Sisson from The Suitecase Entrepreneur.

And because I'm feeling generous today, how about a bonus way to travel and earn money?

11. Become a scuba diving instructor

If you read through this list thinking "Hmm, there has to be something even more adventurous out there!" then look no further.

Scuba instructors typically earn less than some of the options I mentioned above, but their day to day responsibilities couldn't get any more adventurous than this. Think about slipping on a pair of fins, diving deep into the ocean, and swimming alongside sea life, coral, and more.

There are a few non-negotiable steps to becoming a scuba instructor. For instance, you have to get certified. Luckily, there are certification courses available in most cities that run along the ocean. NAUI Worldwide offers several certification options in Florida, as does the Ocean Adventures Dive Co. in California, Bali Diving in Bali, and Dive the Reef in Australia.

Second, you'll likely be expected to stay in one place to instruct novice divers for at least a few months before moving onto your next destination. All in in all though, becoming a diving instructor is a very adventurous career choice that will give you all sorts of new experiences.

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Author Details

Ivana Stoshevski Ivana covers personal finance and culture for FinanceBuzz. She is a visual storyteller and lifestyle photographer.