Travel Blogging, Travel Inspiration
Comments 95

How I’m Funding My Adventures Around the World Through Travel Blogging.

DSC04289

I started 2015 on a private island in Panama, with 150 rupees ($2.5 USD) in my account.

That’s the lowest my account balance has ever been since I quit my corporate job over four years ago. It was just one of those weeks when every single payment I was expecting got delayed. I had no idea how I would pay for my meals and transfers – they didn’t accept credit cards and my alternate debit card wasn’t working – but instead of panicking, I immersed myself in the Nat Geo-like setting of my hideout (think sting rays doing backflips, dolphins swimming with their kids, bioluminescent algae lighting up the waters).

shivya nath panama, how to make money from travel blogging

At my private island hideout in Panama.

As luck would have it, by the time I checked out and went to an ATM with my host, one of my payments had *just* come in! PHEW.

The life of a travel blogger (or a freelancer)  is just as adventurous financially as it is in other, more envy-evoking, ways.

Since I last wrote about how I afford my travels, three things have changed:

How do I make money through travel blogging?

travel bloggers india, making money blogging

Writing and travel – my two loves.

When I first re-jigged this blog with a focus on travel over four years ago, I never imagined it would turn into an actual profession. I was clear from the start that I didn’t want to do ads; I wanted this to be a space for my personal travel stories, written with creative freedom that freelance writing often doesn’t allow.

My perspective changed as I travelled more, followed the work of international travel bloggers, and attended a couple of blogging conferences. I started to embrace the idea of working with travel brands that matched my travel philosophy, and of being fairly compensated for my time, effort and reach.

Although the income is unsteady, I have managed to fund 80% of my travels in the last 1.5 years through travel blogging – that includes epic adventures in Central America, Europe, Georgia, Jordan, the Caribbean and of course, India! What hasn’t changed is staying true to my travel style, and never recommending anything to my readers that I haven’t personally experienced and loved.

Current sources of my blogging income

digital nomad, indian travel bloggers

Making a living on the road has its challenhges, like working at a remote monastery in Ladakh.

Long term / repeat partnerships with travel brands I love

As a travel blogger, I often get approached by travel brands wanting to reach out to my readers. 95% of these offers are either irrelevant to my travel style, or expect me to work in exchange for freebies or exposure – and over the years, I’ve learnt to be thick-skinned and say no without getting frustrated.

But gradually, I’ve found brands that I’m not only happy to advocate for, but who also see value in working with me. In 2015, I signed my first year-long partnership with a travel brand, offering opportunities for my readers to travel across the world. I’m also doing some exciting work with Airbnb; I absolutely love the platform and have used it everywhere from Georgia to Trinidad & Tobago.

Destination-based travel campaigns

In the past, travel bloggers and travel journalists worked the same way – we got invited to a free press trip and were expected to write about it. And I’ve done my fair share of those in my early days. But the travel blogging industry has evolved, and most savvy tourism boards recognize that professional bloggers can build and produce interesting campaigns with high reach and engagement, and must be compensated for their time and effort.

I was invited to be part of some big campaigns this year, including an iAmbassador campaign for the European Travel Commission and the Must Love Festivals project. And the one I loved most was the one I created myself – #NotJustBeer for the German National Tourist Board. While these campaigns can be challenging, they’ve helped me learn and grow immensely as a blogger.

Branded content

I don’t allow guest posts on my blog, but once in a while, I’ll allow a brand to sponsor a blog post that I want to write and is relevant to my readers, in exchange for mentioning their on-going campaign. For instance, I tied my “Simple Ways to Travel More Responsibly in Ladakh” post with a shout-out for Fox Travel Channel’s birthday offer, and my “Secret Ways to Experience Singapore” with Mercury Travel’s Singapore campaign.

Social media partnerships

Social media is a big part of blogging – and of my traveling life. This year some exciting partnerships came my way on Twitter. The most recent was a travel chat for National Geographic Channel India, on their #DayofExploration. Occasionally, I’ll do a shout-out for a contest or campaign that is interesting to me and relevant to my followers.

Freelance work

Although I’ve reduced my freelance work to a minimum, I still want to stay in the game and work on unique collaborations. Most recently, I did a series of articles for the World Travel and Tourism Council on sustainable travel, a subject close to my heart. I also have an ongoing freelance project with a Singapore-based company, which helps me pay my gigantic student debt bit by bit. The thing to note though, is that almost 100% of my freelance work assignments have come via my blog.

How do I save money to travel?

DSC03704

Recently, a friend who’s been making big bucks at a corporate job, told me how expensive traveling is and how he has no idea how I afford it. When we got down to numbers, it turned out that his everyday life – a fancy apartment, drinking out every weekend, latest gadgets and such – are what is so expensive. I’ve said it before, and I say it again: It all comes down to priorities.

I have no “regular” expenses

Since I hit the road indefinitely over two years ago, I don’t have to pay rent or the costs that come with a house. I rarely shop, not just because I hate the process, but also because buying anything new means having to throw something out from the limited space in my backpack.

I don’t travel like on a luxury holiday

I’m not a backpacker or hardcore budget traveler, but I don’t splurge like a luxury traveler either. I pour in hours of research into finding experiential yet affordable accommodations, try to travel to more expensive places in off season when costs are lower, and choose public transport whenever possible.

Money is not the goal

I want to laugh when people who have been saving their money in fixed deposits their entire life, tell me that I’m lucky to be able to travel so much. I work hard to earn my bucks, and I spend pretty much everything I earn on traveling – it’s a conscious choice I make everyday, and anyone who really wants to live that way can get ‘lucky’ too.

How much do I really make?

DSC04426

I make good money in some months, and nothing at all in others. But if I average it out over the last year, my monthly income comes out to INR 1-2 lakhs (US$ 2,000 – 3,000).

The challenge is that I can never predict how the next few months are going to be financially, but the road has prepared me for misadventures. I’m also comfortable hitchhiking and trust I can crash with friends I’ve made along the way (hi Raquel and Roberto!)😉

The road ahead

DSC03516

It’s been a good year for me financially, and I’m making dedicated savings for epic trips as well as some new projects. My income is still unstable enough for a sleepless night every now and then, so I’m looking to work on affiliate marketing and videos for a more steady inflow.

Expanding my team

So far, I’ve been running the show alone. I want to delegate some of my daily work to someone who is passionate about travel, social media and writing, so I’m hiring my first employee at The Shooting Star – read details here and help me spread the word!

[Update: This position has been filled; thanks to everyone who applied.]

Understanding my readers better

With more time at hand to dedicate to my blog, I’ve opened up my first READER SURVEY. I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on how I can make my writing more inspiring, informative and relevant to you. As a thank you, I’m giving away vouchers worth INR 2,000 (30$) each to two lucky respondents.

[Update: The survey is over; thanks to all you lovely people for your feedback.]

The thing that matters

DSC04064

I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m not doing what I do to earn a lot of money; what I earn now is nothing compared to what I’d make if I were still employed full time. But I would never trade the life I live now – waking up to new horizons with that priceless feeling of freedom – for spending my twenties at a desk job that doesn’t inspire or excite me.

And if you really want to, I know you can do it too.

Have you found creative ways to earn money while you travel?

Join me on InstagramFacebook and Twitter for daily travel musings.
Subscribe to my monthly newsletter to receive travel inspiration in your inbox!

ALSO READ:
How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World
Saving Money for Travel: 9 Practical Tips
How to Earn Money While Traveling
Unexpected Ways Long Term Travel Has Changed Me

Featured on YourStory: How India’s Top Bloggers Make Money Through Blogging

95 Comments

  1. This is, by far, the most honest and inspiring piece of writing I have come across in a long long time Shivya. It’s fantastic that you’re living the life you have always wanted to live, unlike many who are only dreaming and scared to take the leap-myself included. (want to study disaster management at late twenties, don’t know how to break this to retired already-worried parents😀 )

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Shreyasi, I’m glad you found inspiration in this piece! Disaster management sounds like quite a niche – save up to fund it and have a plan in place, I’m sure your parents will ultimately support you. All the best🙂

      Like

  2. Gunjan Sharma says

    Hi Shivya,
    Thanks for the informative post.

    I like your style of writing a lot.
    I find your blogs very interesting and soulful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. wow, you are my idol. you can also do paid workshops for future travel bloggers , i would be interested to join if the dates are right🙂 love your blog.

    Like

    • Aww thanks! I would love to do that in the near future. I’m keen to support would-be bloggers just as a pay-it-forward for all the bloggers that inspired and supported me when I was starting out. Shall plan something and keep you posted🙂

      Like

  4. Again you provided me strength when my bank balance is depleting due to frequent travel,people reminding me about the same and I am getting a bit apprehensive …. Go on. Live your dream, Inspire other. Thumbs Up!!!

    Like

  5. SHIVYA …Always a delight to hear and so much to learn the way you have lived your dreams !! Keep going stronger and wishing you an even more interesting 2016 !!

    Like

  6. Nice post, and thank you for sharing this. I’m also hoping to earn a bit of money through my blog in 2016, so it’s always helpful to know how others do it. Location independence can be scary, but it’s also so fulfilling and rewarding when you manage to make it work.

    Like

    • All the best to you Andrea! I think it’s a lot about figuring out what kind of work excites you, because you tend to balance those things better even with money involved.

      Like

  7. One inspiring post and I am glad I read it. I really loved it when you said you have not compromised on your style. We travelers should enjoy what we do and why should anyone else decide rules for our own work.
    Best of all is ‘money is not the priority’.
    After I quit my job, I have taken up freelance writing for my travels.Working for a few sites and sponsored posts only around places I have traveled are sustainable.

    Like

    • Thanks Manjulika! I’m glad we agree on those lines. Many people end up compromising their style of travel for money, and then it just becomes a big, unexciting mess.

      Like

  8. One inspiring post and I am glad I read it. I really loved it when you said you have not compromised on your style. We travelers should enjoy what we do and why should anyone else decide rules for our own work.
    Best of all is ‘money is not the priority’.
    After I quit my job, I have taken up freelance writing for my travels.Working for a few sites and sponsored posts only around places I have traveled are sustainable.

    Like

  9. Every time, I reach this domain, best thing I admire is the way you right.
    Hardest part is to give up the job and then make use of the funds the way you do. As I am also a freelancer (Freelance Developer) and even I have minimized the work I do as freelancer. Right now I am only focused on getting decent money I need, then pack-up for some place.
    You are person who inspired me to kickstart my journey, however I am just a newbie, this is blog is really helping me out in many ways.

    Keep writing such inspiring posts, people like me are in critical need🙂

    Like

    • I’m so glad to hear that I played a small role in kickstarting your journey! Sounds like you’re really making it work. Hope our paths cross sometime🙂

      Like

  10. Me Passionate Traveller and Photographer Too.Currently under executive level of CS .But after completing this CS what Gonna Get It From It Six Digits Income and One Wife ? Nah I Don’t Want life like this. Like Robot ,Wake Up at 7Am come Home at 6PM Then Dinner and sleep tomorrow with the Same schedule..More than this weekend yeah that weekend, but i can only get One day Fir Me and I think that day i have to Spend With my Wife so at the end i think i have no Time for me if i choose this life.Honestly say This Type if life is Nit for me I am Traveller and wanna travel this whole world and i think this is the time to move on.you Said above that wanna expand your team is any Place for me on your team ?😛

    Like

  11. Hi,

    Oh, I can’t tell you such true words are hard to find nowadays. You kept almost nothing hidden. I always admire your choice of being traveller over corporate junky. I see them every evening complaining at bars, social media and next morning getting ready for work.

    I am not writing this for gift voucher thingy but just few suggestions in general.

    First, people are able to make out from your photo that you are girl who is travelling so do not need to mention it separately. I find it weird, sorry but really I find it strange.
    Second: Its actually not possible for everyone to quit there jobs and travel. So try not radicalise the significance of quitting job and travelling. Most people need push to travel not to quit job, be that push.
    That’s it for now. I ll write if something comes up later
    Thank you

    Like

    • Thanks for your feedback Karan. I try to balance both the pushes, because even as these comments stand proof, people need both. As long as they are making an informed choice!

      Like

  12. An Honest and inspiring write up. How I wish to do the same. But am not good at penning down my thoughts like u do it. So no one may hire me or offer me free lancing or offer to support their travel ads/blogs

    You are blessed child Keep it up. God bless

    Like

    • There are so many ways besides writing that you can make it work. Read my post on how to earn money while traveling – some practical examples shared there!

      Like

  13. Hi Shivya,

    After our short communication over email,stopping by this honest post about sharing your personal finance system to travel is where you have proved you are way beyond rat race.This year has been the best for me with no full time job , actually from 3 years and then helping women empowerment through travel..Many times we are mistaken between fam trips and personal trips ,finance used for both..Whatever I have known you as online personality with this article ,I have started to have a different warm thoughts about you. GLAD YOU have gone way ahead…then any Indian Travel blogger…I know ..However I admire Only INTERNATIONAL travel blogger because of their honesty, no bitchiness and clear thoughts…I think you have attained a great approach towards travel blogging ..

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good on you for living the life you choose! Starting out as an early web entrepreneur I too had the same problems with bills to pay and payments being late. I never overspent though and eventually built a buffer of savings to deal with payment delays. Fifteen years later, I’m still dealing with payment delays but they’re not as stressful as they used to be🙂

    I like how you’re keeping your work honest and ad free. We’re moving in a similar direction as well.

    By the way, where is that picture of the laptop with the mountains and white buildings from? Looks like an amazing place!

    Like

    • Love your story and how far you and Zara have come (literally too!). I have a savings buffer, but honestly, dipping into them is more stressful than not having money😉

      That picture is from Thiksey, Ladakh – where I was desperately working to get some last minute stuff done! Looking forward to catching up with you guys soon.

      Like

  15. Hi Shivya,

    That is incredible. As a blogger who wants to fund travel, we are always looking out for ways to be creative to earn the money. This is almost like running your own business so a little bit of entrepreneur ideas help in being unique. You have done some really exciting projects. Big congratulations for it.

    Like

    • Thanks you guys! I’m sure you’ll find your footing soon enough, there are more avenues out there than we think while starting out🙂

      Like

  16. Tushar says

    Hi Shivya,
    Have read many of your blogs.This one is also a great one.
    Just curious about that STEP. When you finally decided to start this nomadic living of yours.
    What all went behind that leap you took when you quit your job,left home and stepped into the uncertain?

    Like

    • I think it’s that 2 month travel sabbatical I took from work that really pushed me over the edge! Read more in my post on the story of how I quit my job to travel🙂

      Like

  17. Adam Iqshan says

    A big shoutout for you shivya,
    You are living the life which am always dreaming of and love the way you are. I know lavish money doesn’t required to enjoy one’s trip. But family commitments and shoestrings you earn a month makes you think that ‘Is there a necessity for a trip now’?. You haven’t mentioned your family background here. I would be glad to hear if you don’t have any commitments to look after.

    Like

  18. Manohar K says

    I have found your blog almost 2 years before and I personally think that you are currently the most successful young nomadic blogger from India. (what with all the visa regulations, student debts, societal pressures)

    But I have a personal question, if it’s not too much to ask. I have a feeling that in some significant amount of your travels you are accompanied by *that special gentleman* you talked about some time back. Do you concur? With all the amazing pictures you post – I truly suspect it!

    Like

  19. Pingback: Lessons of life, Ola safety issue, and more… | links from the web

  20. Very informative post Shivya!

    I have a blog too (www.RashCha.com). It’s a Food & Travel blog. I hope I can see as much success as you some day.

    Keep inspiring🙂

    Like

  21. Vishakha says

    Hello free soul,
    Your blog has definitely not only been a peek in a tough & an adventurous journey ,but also boosted the goals I am trying to figure out! It is indeed worth my time to read .I was only wondering if I could render assistance to you which may provide me an experience for travel writing.
    Best luck ahead & hope to read from you sooner:)

    Like

  22. Pingback: Here Is How Travel Bloggers Fund Their Trips - Headout Blog

  23. Hi, Shivya. The above post was hugely inspiring for me.
    A little about me – I quit advertising after 27 years of working. And chose the life you are leading – being a traveller who makes destinations desirable – through images and words. That was 5 years back!
    Today, I write and provide images for some decent publications! The money is nowhere near what I used to make, but I am a happier person now.
    Your post reminds me of a comment someone had shared – “Learn about confidence from birds. They do not save anything for tomorrow but go out and get what they need, as and when.”
    Thanks for sharing! I am taking the liberty of sharing it further through Twitter!

    Like

  24. I have a little travel blog.So far I have only got 1 Paid Sponsorship post via my site, but I am trying.I really think that with big time bloggers like you, when you share it helps us keep going.
    Thanks

    Like

  25. Lovely! It’s almost been two years on my blog, but I have hardly made anything..apart from one or two sponsored posts..and a few articles that have gone viral. Well done on your travel blog!

    Like

  26. shiva says

    I would like to start travel. But don’t know how to start. Any suggestions???

    Like

  27. Very honest insight one can get from a travel blogger on their earnings and all. You are enticing people, me to leave corporate jobs and start travelling.

    Like

  28. Pooja Pillai says

    Shivya, this was a lovely honest write up helping genuine travelers. I just started my solo travels this year and loved every bit of it. Thank you for being one of the few travellers who practice what they preach. To many more places visited and amazing blogs! Thanks and please never stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Liniya Jain says

    You are an angel and an inspiration. I look up to you. I wish I could do that too with my life.
    Leaving Corporate life is a big decision. Hats off to you.

    Like

  30. viren says

    hi this is viren! m just 16 and a fresher i would love to talk to u and take some advise on how can I start if we could contact on emails…

    Like

  31. Sumil says

    Hi Shiya, You are quite an inspiration to lot of people, including me. Wish you good luck for all your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I am 43 and though I have visited a few countries around the world, I have started travelling and exploring on my own terms only this year! Better late than never. In fact am headed back to Uttarakhand this July for another week. No agenda. Just being.
    I don’t envy girls like you. I just feel proud of people like you. You are making it easier for women and young girls to step out of their comfort zone and explore the world.
    I hope you always have enough money to continue to travel.

    Like

  33. Praveen says

    Really Awesome to read all this……all the best for further journey……

    Like

  34. Being a backpacker, My focus is normally finding budgeted accommodations. Also I have never been much bothered about the stay. There are some interesting points in this post which will be useful for my future trips so thank you. My plan is to try visiting as many places possible in India before stepping outside the country🙂

    Like

  35. Mayank says

    really inspiring work but “the shooting star” means the star is dead.
    just kidding btw

    Like

  36. i read this topic twice and my experience say by deep mind for its 200% sure because so many words are heart touching so practical one. keep it up Shivya

    Like

  37. Vagabondesss says

    I loved this article! Thank you so much for sharing this information, I think it will be very useful. I would love to earn an income through travel blogging, so I’m bookmarking this post!

    Like

  38. I just love to read this post, it’s still really hard to achieve the sufficient fund traveling only a passionate traveler could get and manage this.

    Lilly, UK

    Like

  39. Do you camp sometimes to save money? We bike…which does require energy but can save some money even if it takes longer. It’s a different experience along the way..

    Like

  40. Hi shivya,
    This is the most inspiring, and honest confessions I have read till now. Way to girl. I am truely admire you. All the best for your future endeavours.

    Like

  41. Hey Shivya,
    whenever i started reading your blogs until it end i don’t leave my chair for drinking water, in your writing have that grip which every writer needed, today i am hungry too🙂

    Like

  42. I would love to do the same thing as you but there is soooo much I would like to do… so idk but You are very inspiring and motivating to hold on to my travel wishes though I have like no money. But I have time🙂

    Thank you so much and God bless

    Like

  43. No doubt your opening up to the readers will motivate them to be able to make money without getting into the rut of 9 to 5 cycle. Only lucky few get to make money and enjoy life also. Congrats.

    Like

  44. Hi Shivya,

    What an awesome person you are.. love your articles way too much . They are very inspiring . Being an amateur blogger I would like to know how can I approach the travel brands to start with the initial level like freelancing . Do suggest me with the ideas to start with as til now it is just my personal space.

    Also will be happy to receive a feedback on my blog mybirdjacket.com. Can you please check it out.

    Thanks
    Love Richa

    Like

  45. Milind Khanzode says

    Hi Shivya
    How does the earning process model work? Once i publish my blog and have followers; who pays for the blogs and if there is some way to invite or to get in touch with prospective payers?

    Like

  46. Hi Shivya,

    Very inspiring and informative writing. Very courageous of you to take certain challenging steps in your life in such an young age. Your story will be inspiration to many young generation people and even to old like me. I myself am a passionate traveler, who have covered quite a bit with my 15 hours plus career life. Now that I am retired, I would like to listen to my heart’s calling thanthat of the brain.

    John

    Like

  47. Pingback: You can actually make $10000 a month sitting at home. Learn from these top, self-taught bloggers - YourStory.com | blogklot

  48. Hi Shivya,
    Your adventures have been a source of inspiration for many, and the honesty behind your blogs make them even more inspiring. Keep traveling and sharing.

    Like

  49. This is really really awesome Gal. I always wanted to travel but I do not know where to start. I blog on technology and blogging stuff but my core lies in the wanting that I want to travel the world. But I would be much more interested to know how can I start traveling and how did you start? I am in a desk job right now, not so well paid but whatever I get that is just fine for me to spend a whole month but I can not travel much. Any help would be much appreciated. I have read that save for one or two years and that would suffice for your world travel but then I think is that how it really works? Thanks for your help and suggestion in advance.

    Like

I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s