How to Earn Money While Travelling?

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About this post: How to travel for a living? How to make money while travelling? How to earn money travel blogging? Jobs involving travel? How to score a travelling job? In this post, I try to sum up answers to all your questions about earning money while travelling – including location independent jobs, freelancing and travel blogging.

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.

best indian travel blogger award, Indian blogging awards, Indiblogger awards, shivya Nath
Proud moment; winning Best Indian Travel Blogger.

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.

Please read these FAQs to see topics that have been covered on the blog before, and send me your questions at [email protected] with any unanswered questions.


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.

travel blogger, indian travel blogger
Photo by Thomas Leuthard.

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.

Read: Things I Wish I Knew Before I Quit My Job to Travel

2) Become a freelancer.

travel, travel writing, earn while travelling
Photo by Thomas Leuthard.

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.

Read: How I Afford My Travels and How You Can Too

3) Take a working holiday.

traveller, travel blogger
Photo by Courtney Carmody.

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.

travelling, travel blogging
Photo by Zach Dischner.

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.

Read: Every New Beginning Comes from Some Other Beginning’s End

5) Work full time for half the year.

travel, travel writing, earn while travelling
Photo by Thomas Leuthard.

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.

Read: 10 Life Lessons from 2 Years of Traveling

6) Dabble into travel writing.

indian travel blogger, india travel blog
Inspired to write, in Shimoga.

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.

Read: Tips to Break Into Freelance Travel Writing

[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?

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Check out Thomas Leuthard’s Flickr stream; his photography is awesome!

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  1. Congratulations for the award!! Well deserved. 🙂 And some great tips there. I couldn’t agree more with the tip no.1. Been trying to crack that kind of a jackpot for a while now. 🙂

    1. Thanks Bharti! I hope you’ll find an opportunity soon 🙂

  2. Congratulations!!!! you so deserved the award!!!! and i love theses tips! This is such a helpful post. 🙂

    1. Thanks Arpitha 🙂 Glad you found the tips helpful!

  3. Congrats on the award Shivya! This was a informative post and I like your idea of opening this forum to readers for their ques…

    1. Thanks Aditi. The questions are pouring in, the next post will be up soon!

  4. Massive congrats on the award!

    Very useful post, too. I love what you say about taking stock of your talents and skills. I think this is important to do anyway, even if you’re not thinking of taking those skills on the road. It can’t hurt to remind yourself what you’re good at, right?

    1. Thank you Katie! And I agree, it certainly helps to take stock and find your bearings, no matter what you’re doing or want to do.

  5. Many congratulations… i have been following your writings for quite some time & i must say it actually inspired me to leave comforts of home & wander along with my wife. And i can not more agree with you to keep the job in order to travel easily without worrying for the money to spend… keep the magic going!

    1. Thanks! And I’m SO glad to hear that my blog could inspire you and your wife to travel 🙂 Where all has the wanderlust taken you so far?

  6. Congrats for the award Shivya. Indeed well deserved 

    Well I would say when your heart really goes out for something; Universe does bring it close to you. I too recently decided to quit my well paid corporate job of 7 years, to pursue my love for travelling. And presto…what came next was my dream job which along with my work profile, has also given me opportunity to go offbeat and almost every month 🙂 *touchwood*

    Some leisure time in hand has also given me a chance to plan my travels and go to places I always wanted to explore. All in all Iam a firm believer now, that’s it’s just a matter of time and things does fall in place. All you need is belief, determination and patience

    1. Thanks Swati!

      That’s really great to hear. Thanks for sharing your story! I’m sure it’ll inspire more people 🙂

    2. Hey, if you don’t mind can you tell me what job are you pursuing currently?

  7. Congratulations on your award!

    I have a corporate job and only travel probably 3 or 4 times a year, depending on availability of funds and number of annual leave days. I have only started blogging in Oct 2013 even though I have been writing about my travels a couple of years before (the stories had been in drafts in my laptop!). It does feel like hard work sometimes to build an audience for my blog but i’m enjoying it because I like writing. Good news is, my story on Paris was published in a lifestyle magazine in Malaysia 2 days ago. Thanks to your post..I feel more motivated now to continue blogging to build my portfolio and to simply, share my travel stories with everyone 🙂

    1. Thank you! And that’s awesome. Great start, I remember the excitement of seeing my first story published. Don’t stop, even when the going gets tough (and it will); it’ll be totally worth the adventures ahead 🙂

  8. great post, Shivya! and congratulations for the award.. 🙂

  9. Congrats on the award Shivya! 🙂
    All your tips are very practical and as you have rightly mentioned, need a lot of discipline (the lack of which stops me :).
    Great going and good luck!


    1. Thanks Pradeep! I know what you mean, discipline is hard to build, but worth aspiring for.

  10. In early 2013, I swapped a career in Psychology to become a Freelance writer. Then, I did not know if I could even write well or make a full time income as a Freelancer. I just did it because I wished to be location independent and be able to travel whenever I want. I have never had a real job and I don’t think I would ever want to live, rather be able to survive the 9-5 life.
    The journey as a freelance writer has been extremely daunting. On some days, I have to work more than a person does in a 9-5 job. Dealing with constant rejections, unrealistic deadlines, and screening out bad clients is not for the faint-hearted. Even today, it feels like a roller coaster ride. However, it has been rewarding in many ways. I get to work with some really talented people across the globe, I can work from any corner of the world, as long as I have a computer and internet, I get to pack my bags and leave whenever I want and the best part is that I don’t need to escape from the life I live, because everyday is an adventure, everyday brings something new and I’m loving every moment of it. I had dreams and I tried, then decided not to stop.
    Congratulations for the award, Shivya. I have gained so much inspiration from you and your blog. Thank you!

    1. That’s really inspiring to hear, Ankita! Thanks for sharing your journey, I identify with it and glad my blog could be a part of it 🙂 Keep writing.

  11. Congratulations Shivya. There was a time after my MBA when I had to decide whether to take up a job or travel. But being a risk averse person I am, decided to stick to a regular job and travel whenever we got a chance. Has been pretty good so far 🙂

    1. Thanks Purnendu! It’s great that you are travelling anyway. What matters is that you’re not stifling your wanderlust 🙂

  12. Congratulations on your award! You go girl! I love the indiblogger trophy.. so unique.

  13. Thanks Shivya, for yet another valuable post! I have quit my full time job and now am also a freelancer. I agree, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s not easy to take rejections. But determination helps. I didn’t know about ‘working for a NGO’ part. Thanks for sharing so many options.

    1. Wow, that’s a big step Renuka! I hope it’s started out well for you, and have no doubt that your determination will take you on more roads 🙂

  14. Roberto Amaral says:

    Congrats Shivya! You deserve it!! Keep it up!!!

  15. I stumbled onto The Shooting Star while looking for Indian travel blogs. Your story is truly inspirational, your posts are very down-to-earth and no-nonsense, and most importantly, the tips and insights you offer are very practical and useful.
    Keep up the great work! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you think so, and hope to see you here more often 🙂

  16. Congratulations once again.
    All the best , Keep blogging.

  17. I will not congratulate you for the award, I know you are the best one to receive this! Once again an inspiring post, and this time a super take away “work full time for half year”. just loved this! 🙂

  18. rohan mungekar says:

    First of All congrats and Your Blog is awesome. I want to ask you that is there any education which teaches everything about Travel because i love travelling and want to make career in it.

  19. I love the way you write, it inspires me and always tend to discuss your funda of travel. I personally would not have the guts to travel alone, well with my wonderful partner I don’t think I would ever want to. But I certainly would not like to travel for so long that it seems like a job (a very personal opinion). My heart goes out to the first generation of travel bloggers and kudos to the unique ways derived to keep it financially sustainable. Good Luck for your upcoming expeditions and like the new format of the site, keep it up.

  20. Tarushi dutt says:

    To be honest, I am little jealous.

  21. many congratulations on the award 🙂 I started reading your blog recently, it’s awesome. love the way you write- Inspiring and helpful.

  22. Shamil Romio says:

    Congratulations dear!! Even I too want to travel the world but somehow stuck between home and work. Any suggestion

  23. Congrats on your award. The best thing about this post was the fact that I saw a photograph of yours in Shimoga. This is where I live and work, and the rest of the world knows little about. Do come back and do a post on Shimoga. Reading your blog makes me want go back years and change my decisions!

  24. Congratulations on receiving the award,…All the best for the future and cheers to traveling and writing…(y)

  25. Well Everything you are doing is skyrocketing…… I couldn’t agree more, but share a thought That doing a single thing with utmost interest takes us ahead. Most of us, especially me doing other things and not sticking to one, crushes me. Yet i firmly believe the freshness and energy of dehradoon air has been inside you. By not making any ties , you certainly made millions of relations of sharing a free mind. A independent one. India and the World respects that.
    “Everyone has part of you in them. ”
    Keep giving them a reason to live

  26. Ram P. Mony says:

    Seeing as you are a copywriter, how do you manage with poor or inexistent internet connectivity in rural destinations. I’m asking you because after nearly 15 years of rural development work, in areas with limited or no data connectivity, I have now left all of that to take up freelance copywriting. But if I could get a clue from you about managing the internet requirement, I don’t mind getting out on the road again.

  27. Congratulations. You inspire me to travel. But first I am going to travel around in my country Kenya. Go on safaris and just enjoy. Have a great day.

  28. weighoutwander says:

    I’m so glad I found your site. I’m currently transitioning into a heavier travel lifestyle. Because I have massive student debt, I can’t fully eliminate all my monthly bills. BUT, what I have chosen to do is either work as an English Teacher abroad for a year, or work in my hometown for 6 months then travel for 6 months. I love the idea of work-save-travel-repeat. It makes this transition easier and less terrifying.

    Being a college grad with a degree in education, I can substitute teach for 6 months pretty steadily and save almost all my earnings by doing this from the comfort of my hometown and my parents house.

    Here’s a tip! Most of the time, substitute teachers (per diem) only need a minimal amount of college credits in any field in order to apply and be accepted as a substitute teacher. All you have to do is check the requirements for your state/country.

    Love your posts, and I hope you have time to check out my budding site It talks about my crazy adventures as a plus size traveler.

    Looking forward to more of your posts!

  29. Pulak (Instagram- pulaks) says:

    Your passion reflects in your work and words! Very inspiring for people like me who have been thinking about this for a while. Your candidness is amazing! Would love to work on projects on not for profit basis to seek experience. Gudluck!

  30. Krati Jaiswal says:

    Congrxx for the award😊😊
    You are an inspiration for me…I really admire your work your lifestyle you as well…All those struggles you went through and decided to choose your dreams is commendable…Being an Indian I get so much inspired by you….These tips are really very useful for me….Hope I would get an opportunity to meet u….All the best🤗🤗

  31. Aria Thomas says:

    I want to cry! Why didn’t I listen to my heart and just do this BEFORE I got married and before the BABIES? Now I’ll have to wait till they get married. And that’s about 25 years away at least.

  32. Krishnan subramanian says:

    Hi shivya nath
    Congratulations and well deserved award

    1. Still relevent. Quite insightful post. Always love reading what you have to say. Keep sharing 😊
      P.S – I am working and still able to travel the way I want to atleast in India . I think sometime we don’t try hard enough to have a life that we dream about.

  33. Rishabh Gahlawat says:

    Shivya maam congratulations!!! I want a life like you since my last days of school life and i am finding ways to work as free Lancer and this article helps me a lot to know about the life exactly i want..thank you

  34. Hi Shivya – many congratulations for the award! I just subscribed to your blog. Very beautiful layout and classy looking it is –! I think you can lead and influence this generation with your powerful thoughts and experiences on the right path. I wish you all the very best!

  35. I keep coming back to this post ( and a few more like these on ur blog) whenever the idea of freelancing seems too farfetched ! Such an inspiration!

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