Yesterday morning I had five dollars. I spent it on packets of Pedigree for a stray dog I found wandering the streets of Vientiane. So to be honest, as I write this I’m eating peanut butter & crackers from my emergency food stash. 

*Travel Confession* I sometimes hoard snacks because I know I will eventually run out of money… or have a long bus ride or be too lazy to leave my bed… people think my backpack has clothes in it, but really it’s just a shit ton of weird delicious snacks…

dON'T TRAvel broke

Even though I have found myself guilty of jumping on the first plane/train/bus/moped to the wild blue yonder with no plan and no money and shrugging it off like it’s the easiest thing in the world…the truth is running your savings account down to 76 cents isn’t actually that awesome (unless you really, really, really love peanut butter and crackers…)

Whether you’re chucking it all to live out of a backpack and need a mobile way to make a living or you’re just setting aside money for a summer in Europe with your bestie, you’ll need some kind of a travel fund. And current broke-ness aside, I did recently manage to save 2400 for travel in just two months, so I figured why not share the secret to my success?

Success being the initial saving, not the living off peanut butter and crackers because I don’t want to call it quits and go home…

Here are a few ways to save cash for travel before ride off into the sunset- and some of them you can even take on the road with you.

5213165403_ca8d1b0a61_zGet paid to do something you’re already doing anyway, like drive around aimlessly listening to indie music wondering where your life is going. Better yet, get paid to do something you love doing, like run through fields of daisies with golden retriever puppies.

Walk Dogs with DogVacay

Of the sharing economy/working at home websites, it should come as no surprise that DogVacay is my favorite given that it enables me to make money babysitting dogs. Dogs are my favorite people, so it’s a win-win on all sides. Back home, I make $200/week just walking dogs in my neighborhood. In addition to that, I typically get one to two clients a month who need me to stay with their dogs (or new puppies) at home while they’re out of town. My rates are the same as a boarding kennel, the obvious advantage being that I’ll pay lots of attention to the pooch and he won’t be stressed out and lonely in a cement box for a week. Oh, and I’ll bring in the mail and water the plants and fight off would-be burglar assassins with my badass viking ninja nunchuck skills. 

I take my dog whispering skills on the road use them to reduce my lodging costs by volunteering free animal care services through Craigslist and  Workaway.

Sell your stuff…or other people’s stuff…on Craigslist, Ebay, and Etsy.

Now, my telling you to sell all your material crap is nothing new or revolutionary. I’m sure you’ve already heard it more than once – the selling of everything you own to finance a homeless future…erm..”nomadic lifestyle”. But it’s not for everyone. It might not be for you. So let’s assume a full-on estate sale isn’t your idea of a fun weekend and you kind of want to keep your kitchen sink…before you go, what can you sell besides your sofa?

Random things you thought were trash are actually worth money as re-purposed items.
Kudos to Pinterest, making it possible to sell empty toilet paper rolls as craft supplies since 2010. Gather up bulk quantities of reusable items like old t-shirts, glassware/wine bottles, cardboard shoe boxes, gift wrap and yes, even toilet paper rolls, and list them on Ebay. Depending on how much you’ve got-or how comfortable you are channeling your inner Hoarder and saving scraps for a few months, you can make anywhere from a few bucks to thousands of dollars.

If you’re of a craftsy disposition, re-purpose those items yourself and sell them on Etsy. For example, I once made $50 selling repainted coffee mugs from the thrift store. A friend of mine makes hundreds of dollars a month refurbishing furniture she gets from the free section of Craigslist. It’s not quick or easy, but the payoff can be huge.

Get on the freelancing gravy train (bandwagon).

Whether it’s graphic design, language translation, coding, illustration, even just a customer service background and the ability to sound pleasant on the telephone – if you have a skill or creative talent you can market from your laptop, GET ON THAT SHIT. So many people, be they businesses or individuals, need specific jobs done that they can’t or don’t want to do themselves and don’t want to hire a full-time employee for because the project just isn’t big enough. 

As a freelance writer, I’ve written blog posts, news articles, ebooks, and a cookbook. I’ve even contributed to a sex column for an adult store. (All those extra shifts I clocked at Adam & Eve turned out to be useful after all.) As an online CSR for a property management company, I spend about 10 hours a week responding to comments on social media and posted vacancy ads on Craigslist and make $400/month. Since it’s a completely virtual job, I’m able to keep it up while I’m on the road. In fact, it’s actually what I’ve been living off of in Laos. Kind of. Dear Monday, please hurry, I’ve eaten the last of the peanut butter…

I find most of my gigs through Fivver is pretty popular too, but I don’t use it much myself. I did see people selling psychic readings, over-the-internet reiki-healing, and one woman was offering to write messages on her breasts in sharpie and snap a photo.

Now, as lucrative and exciting as five dollar a flash Snapchat porn sounds… I’m just not quite there yet.

I still have 76 cents.

Sell essays and blog posts on content mills like DotWriter.

Write original essays about anything and everything you want, name your price, and sell them on DotWriter, a blog post marketplace: you write it, they sell it. I don’t make much with DotWriter, I sell roughly 5 or 6 articles a month for a whole lot less than they’re probably worth. But $100 isn’t nothing in Laos so….

I also wouldn’t recommend this site to aspiring bloggers, you’re better off focusing your creative efforts on your own blog. That being said, if you wanna bang out “100 Things You Never Knew You Could Do With a Grapefruit” for $20 because you’re broke in a foreign land, stones I would certainly not be throwing.

Tutor English on NiceTalk

NiceTalk is a mobile English learning app that pays native English speakers to chat with Chinese students in a conversational manner. You don’t have to be a teacher or have any teaching experience since the app is designed to help students practice speaking English in an everyday way – like talking to a friend. A simple video chat app, you don’t need any special equipment for NiceTalk other than a phone/tablet & a stable internet connection.

I like NiceTalk because it keeps the interaction informal. Instead of being hunched over a computer screen struggling for things to talk about, you can walk around your apartment and give your “students” a tour – show off your sweet city view or your awesome dog. Better still, play video tour guide and take them on a quick exploration of your neighborhood! Chances are, they’ll be just as excited to share glimpses into their lives and pretty soon it won’t feel like “tutoring English” at all. Plus it’ll help with the wanderlust itch, since you’re talking to people halfway around the world- probably about your upcoming adventures or the sweet places you’ve been.

The best thing about NiceTalk is that it’s consistent and it’s easy . I can do it from my phone, which I pretty much have attached to me anyway. I just open the app and there are people waiting to talk to me. I can chat from anywhere, whenever I want – WiFi willing.

The pay is $0.17 per minute (roughly $10/hour) and payments are made weekly via Paypal.

To get started, download the app here and use my invite code PS0B8MDG.
If you use my code, I get a small referral commission and you get a $10 signup bonus.

Join the sharing economy and get your car & house to make their own payments. 

If dogs aren’t your thing, you’re dead to me try pimping your ride with popular peer to peer driving apps Uber and Lyft. Now, I don’t do this myself because my car is too old and parts of it are literally held together by tape, but I have friends who’ve made Ubering into a legitimate second job and others their sole source of income. It’s more than ideal as a side hustle to drop an extra $1,000 bucks a month into your escape fund- or, at the very least, break even on your monthly car payments, insurance, and other transport costs.

You can also rent out your car with Turo, where people rent your car for their business or holiday use rather than a traditional rental agency like Hertz. Double dip and rake in the cash driving people around while you’re home and then renting your car out while you’re away. 

Similarly, you can list your home on  AirBnb, a website where you can let out spare rooms, or even your entire house, as a short term vacation rental. I met a guy recently who has condos in Bangkok and Singapore that he rents on AirBnb as shuffles between the cities for work. In doing so, he’s zeroing out his own housing costs rather than perpetually spending money on hotel rooms. He sublets whichever apartment he’s not using at the time, managing the listings from his laptop and scheduling a housekeeper to come by after each guest so it’s spic and span when he gets home.

Browse Airbnb’s listings in your city, you might be blown away by some of the cool ways your neighbors are utilizing their extra space. Backyard yurts, tricked out airstreams, attics and garden sheds turned into beautiful self-contained studios.

If you build it, someone will glamp it.

You might like How Traveling Pays My Rent by Alyssa Ramos.

 Sell T-Shirts on Facebook

You know how you always see those ads in your newsfeed for tshirts with funny slogans or sweet designs on them? Well, someone made those. I might’ve made those, actually… If you like to doodle designs or collect quotes, why not convert those idle distractions into real dollars?  Sites like TeeChip and BonfireFunds allow you to upload your designs and print them on tshirts, hoodies, and tank tops. Sure, they take a cut (usually about $10 per shirt) but they handle all of the grunt stuff like payment processing, printing, shipping & handling, etc. All you have to do it design your shirts and market them to your peers. The easiest way to do that is through Facebook. Post links on your personal profile or even create a page for your “Shop”. If you have a shop page, you can promote your tees through ads to reach a larger audience outside of your friends and family.

I put this hustle last because it’s the one I’ve been the least successful with. That’s not to say it doesn’t work and I might revisit it in the future, but it requires more effort than I’m willing to put into it right here & now. I think it’s perfect for someone with a large social media following and strong Facebook network – and a willingness to spend money on ads.

You might like How a 51 Year Old Former Radio Host Made 2 Million Selling T-shirts online

The keys to a successful side hustle are creativity and energy. 

I’m always game to try out some new app or opportunity to make side cash because long term travel is my jam. Like any “real” job, what you get out of it is directly related to what you’re willing to put into it. Some things are not going to pan out like you hope and that’s okay…but some of them turn out to be as awesome and rewarding as running through a field of daisies with nine golden retriever puppies.


This post contains some referral links and I might get a small bonus or some free travel credits if you choose to sign up through them. It’s not much, but it might snag me a cab or buy me a coffee and that’s greatly appreciated.