Earlier this week, I arrived in my hometown Dehradun, to find a big box waiting for me to open. I was overwhelmed to find a sparkling trophy inside, engraved with my name – a physical testimony to the “Best Indian Travel Blogger” award that I won at the Indian Blogger Awards 2013, held by Indiblogger! A big THANK YOU to everyone for your support, especially those who spared a moment to write a testimonial for this blog.
My inspiration to blog is back with a vengeance, and I’m opening the floor to questions and topics YOU want me to write about. I promise to share honest views on travel, places that I’ve been to, and blogging (and life, if you really want my warped perspective). I also hope to open up the discussion to all of you and seek your inputs in the comments, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO EARN MONEY ON THE GO?
Over the last 2.5 years, I’ve experimented with the following different ways of earning a living on the go. The one thing that stands out from these experiments is that it takes hard work and discipline… unless you’re exceptionally lucky at casinos; I’ve tried and I know I’m not.
1) Keep your corporate job.
I won’t lie to you. A corporate job that let’s you travel is probably the path of least resistance. Your family will be happy, your bank balance will be happy, and while it does mean sacrificing the flexibility of choosing your dates and destination, you are never likely to wake up with a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering where your next paycheck will come from (which does happen, by the way). Recently, a friend of mine who graduated from IIM Calcutta, scored a job with a multinational bank that involves him travelling to different offices for 7 months of the year. With some careful planning, he can be spending one weekend in Thailand and the next in Australia. He might not have the time of a slow traveller, but he certainly will have the financial resources a full time traveller never will. So keep your eyes and ears out, and jump at the chance of a well-paying job that lets you travel.
2) Become a freelancer.
It’s almost fashionable to be a freelancer these days, but I can say with certainty, it’s not for everyone. It takes a strong heart to frequently accept rejections, pick up your pieces all by yourself, and prepare for more rejections. I don’t want to discourage you, but I’ve seen freelancers fade away within months. The only reason I survived my first year as a freelancer was because I managed to score a yearlong project from a Singapore-based company, that gave me enough cushioning to slowly learn the ropes in the brutal world of freelancing. As a social media consultant and copywriter, I’m finally finding my feet, learning to say no, and building the discipline to deliver what (and when) I promise.
By all means, take stock of your talents and skills – writing, coding, whatever it is that you do best and can do on the go – and start testing your potential to take rejections and work from home on deadlines. And when you feel like giving up, read about a place that you really yearn to travel to. It works for me.
3) Take a working holiday.
I know, I know, the damned Indian passport doesn’t allow a working holiday anywhere in the world. But we have no right to complain until we’ve done a working holiday in India itself. Each state is a world waiting to be discovered, with such diversity of landscapes, lifestyle, culture, festivals and food. So base yourself out of one state at a time, and explore it to your heart’s content. Offer work of value to a local NGO, write for a regional newspaper, wait tables, do whatever it takes. You don’t need visas or too much money; give the country a chance to surprise you.
Read: The Joy of Slow Travel
4) Work for a travel company.
The last few years have seen a surge of boutique travel companies, especially in India. Many of these startups operate on the go, and if you can prove to be an asset to them plus have the discipline of working while travelling, it’s a win-win.
But I want to add a caveat here: on a daily basis, we receive emails from people wanting to work for India Untravelled because “they love to travel”. They don’t bother researching the kind of work we do or how they can fit in to the company and add value. No one’s running a charity, and if your introductory email creates the impression that you just want to leverage the company to travel yourself, forget about it. Even the role of a tour leader, which does need you to be extremely passionate about travelling, needs you to demonstrate that you’re a people’s person and can pay attention to intricate details. Put yourself in the company’s shoes before you apply.
5) Work full time for half the year.
Working on the go feels like hard work? I know people who work hard for half the year, and travel for the other half with their earnings. Seasonal travel companies and contract positions tend to give you such freedom, and while it constrains you to only half a year of travel, it rids that half year of pressures that full time travelling comes with. So if you can land a seasonal job, take my saving tips, and put yourself on work, earn, travel, repeat mode.
6) Dabble into travel writing.
I’ve saved what might be the most obvious option, for the last. Because travel writers are popping up by the minute and unless you really have something exceptional to offer, it’s a tough game. I currently earn less than 20% of my income through travel writing (most publications pay peanuts), and among all the freelancing work that I do, it pays the most untimely.
[Update September 2015]: Soon, I’ll be writing about how I made the transition from being a freelancer with multiple streams of work to fund my travels, to earning 80% of my income from my travel blog.
Your turn, how do you earn money while you travel?
Check out Thomas Leuthard’s Flickr stream; his photography is awesome!