The one question I get asked alot these days is “how do you afford to travel so much?”
Well the simple answer to this is I work my ass off to afford this backpacking life!
I don’t have rich parents filling my bank account up every month, I haven’t won the lottery…it’s just a culmination of a mixture of jobs, saving, tactical decisions and a constant drive to open up new forms of work.
And if you’ve been paying attention to my monthly budget and summary posts you can see exactly what it’s costing me!
Sure I’m now lucky enough to have an income stream through my blog – but believe me it’s taken heaps of work to get any dollar based reward from running this site (in fact in nearly 4 years I’ve been blogging only in the last 18 months have I seen any solid reward!) but it’s far from my only work.
So I thought I’d put together a list of all jobs I’ve done over the years (both in the UK and on the road) that have funded my backpacking travel dream, kept the sun on my back and lead me on this crazy adventure.
Hopefully it will illustrate how taking the time to gain random qualifications and being flexible can reap rewards in the long term…
How The Hell Do I Afford All This Travel?!
First off lets start with what qualifications I have in my back pocket to use;
- Degree in Documentary Photography
- ISA Surf Coach
- Beach Lifeguard Certification
- PADI Rescue Diver
…now those are a mixture of education and random qualifications I’ve done on the road both for fun (like the diving) and as an extension of my passions (like the surfing)
Everyone will have a different bag of qualifications – but it’s what you do with them or what you’re willing to do that will see you living the dream. In the past 4 years of travel here’s whats’s earned me some cold, hard dollar (including some links to some more posts on them);
In the UK;
- Wedding Photographer
- Portrait Photographer
- STA Travel RTW Planner
- Surf Coaching
- Head of Sales and Marketing (Surf Travel Company)
And Out on the Road;
- Freelance Photography (Australia, Swizterland, Thailand)
- Hostel Bus Driver (Australia)
- Bar Worker (Australia)
- Movie Extra (Australia)
- Assistant Surf Coach (Ecuador, Portugal)
- Dive Master trainee (Thailand)
- Head Surf Coach (Morocco)
- Dishwasher (Australia)
- Hostel Entertainment Organiser (Australia)
- Freelance Journalism (Various)
- Head of Social Media (Australia)
As you can see I’ve lent my hand at a good variety of work along the way – from the VIP Press treatment of covering festivals and events or the sun and fun of surf coaching through to rolling up my sleeves and mucking in for a spot of dish washing.
If it pays the bills and helps me travel for longer I’m open to everything.
Hell I even ended up in a nudist movie at one point – I couldn’t pass up $100 an hour!
That’s what I think is most peoples issues when trying to travel, they simply dismiss opportunities and think some jobs are beneath them. But you need to look harder at the bigger picture and the avenues jobs open up.
For example when I was working as a hostel bus driver I didn’t get paid much. However along with the job came a free evening meal each night, free bar tabs and tour discounts – so although I wasn’t earning much I was saving heaps on everyday expenses.
Through that job I also made some great contacts which led to extra work. In the world of backpacker jobs alot of it is about who you know, not what you know – so play nice!
Don’t Aim For $$$
Something I’ve touched on before is how too many travellers are obsessed with making cash.
Lets face it unless your really spontaneous or just plain stupid you’ve left home with some savings to fund the first part of your travels.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you all is to do everything in your power to not eat into it.
I left the UK with just over £5k in my bank account when I landed in Australia back in 2009 – and I managed to make that last me for nearly 8 months before I picked up any paid work.
Things like work for accommodation or trading your skills for things you need is an amazing way to prolong your time on the road. You may not see money go into your bank account – but it’ll stop money going out of it, which is just as good!
Cash is not always king!
If you want to travel long term you have to be prepared to do that hard graft to get you started and be sensible enough to embrace ways to save as you go.
But of course you can make pretty good bank on the road doing jobs like teaching English abroad – an amazing way to work and travel!
Utilise Your Time And Passions
Along my journey I’ve also extended some of my backpacker experiences into things that can help make me some cash. When I was back in the UK for a few months I took the time to book in a Beach Lifeguard and Surf Instructor Course. I love surfing so why not use it to fund my travels?!
In fact I didn’t actually use it for nearly a year, but it was there on the back burner to use later down the line.
Simply look at it as an investment. If it’s something you enjoy doing it’ll never feel like work – surely that’s the way you want to live? Even if you don’t end up pursuing it as a career it’s a great addition to your CV and more productive than simply drinking your cash away.
One thing I can promise you though is despite the hard work you might have to do and the rubbish, demeaning jobs you might have to tackle – it’s all totally worth it for all the crazy and amazing experiences it will afford you, the new buddies you’ll make along the way and the life skills it will teach you.
As my Dad always says to me – “you’ll reap what you sow”.