At a seaside bar in Mykonos, there's the typical conversation. Travelers are two beers deep and are swapping stories about how long they've been in Greece, which leads to how long they've been in Europe, and then how long they've been on the road, period. It used to surprise me how there was always one person, without fail, who'd been traveling for well over two years, with no real intention or need to stop and return to "real life." It just didn't seem possible that someone could travel for that long — essentially indefinitely — and find ways to make enough money to keep going, and keep seeing the world. And here's the thing: these people rarely had extraordinary, dreamy, high-paying travel jobs. They weren't professional travel photographers or travel bloggers, paid to galavant the globe and show people at home what it's like to see the mountains of Tibet or the temples of Bangkok. They were just average people with typical skill-sets who wanted to travel, and who found ways to make it sustainable.
The surprising thing about this way of life, though, is that it isn't a necessarily difficult or rare phenomenon. The more I traveled myself, the more I met people who — just like so many others — decided to spend however-many-years exploring the planet, and shared with me their own ways of keeping themselves afloat. As I started traveling on more long-term trips, I began utilizing these methods and finding my own ways of earning money to see the world (namely through photography and writing). But it was amazing to see just how quickly money added up when picking up odd jobs or putting in the extra effort to earn my keep on the road. So now, the idea of traveling for 1+ years doesn't seem like a pipe dream, but instead something that's absolutely attainable for those of us out there who want to see the world for years at a time but are scared of the daunting $$$ factor. (I mean, who wouldn't be?)
So that's where this list comes in. I've compiled all the ways any average person can make money and sustainably travel for extended periods of time. You don't have to build a lucrative travel blog or be the next big Instagram travel documentarian. You just have to get ready to be creative, put in some elbow grease, and the world is yours.
Work at a Hostel
More often than not, hostels are absolutely willing to hire travelers to help out in exchange for free board, food, and pay. It's worth asking around at the hostels that are in an area you wouldn't mind hanging out in for awhile, and see who has the best offer. In some cases, hostels have been know to milk it and won't pay staff that's just traveling through, but even if it's not paid, it's a good opportunity to lay low for awhile, save money, and focus on other ways to earn cash.
Find Seasonal Work
Earn your keep by picking fruits, vegetables, or flowers at farms that need a hand. You can do research locally once you arrive, or see what's available from the comfort of your laptop on www.PickingJobs.com or www.Workaway.info.
Tutor or Teach English
Put up ads and fliers in coffee shops, markets, hostels, and online, and offer what you can: tutoring in your native language, or on a subject you're well versed in (such as in the maths or sciences, or in an art such as photography or singing). You can also look into finding a job as an English teacher (check out www.EslCafe.com).
Become an Au Pair
The situations and benefits vary greatly depending on the kind of commitment you want, but typically you'll receive room, board, and a weekly paycheck; not to mention it's a great way to get to know a culture. Look at listings on www.aupairworld.com.
Work on an Organic Farm
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms - otherwise known as WWOOF - is an excellent way to save money while helping out locals and spending your days in the sun and the soil. WWOOFing doesn't pay, but it does offer free board and meals and supports a positive, global cause, which is not only a great life experience but also the perfect opportunity to save money while on the road. www.wwoof.net
Sell Your Art and Craftsmanship Skills
Whether you're a photographer, a painter, a writer, or a musician, utilize your skills to gain revenue. Sell your artwork in markets, in hostels (with permission), or open an online shop (such as Etsy or Society6). If you want to freelance, see what jobs are available in your area on Craigslist, and frequently peruse community boards to see what's in demand. If you're more interested in selling photography, submit photos to distributors such as ImageBrief or iStock, and get in touch with the tourism bureau of where you're traveling. If they're interested in your photos, it's a great way to make money.
Different than what I said before about tutoring: this is more for those of you who want to be even more mobile, or would rather try something more low-key than revising calculus. If you think you're good enough at yoga or tai-chi or meditation, host classes as you go, charging a certain amount and hanging fliers in hostels and community boards. If your skills lie more in the department of sports - such as diving, surfing, or climbing - see what job opportunities are available at adventure companies in your location. It may be more difficult to find work without first applying for a work visa in your respective country, but it's worth considering.
Freelance Through Elance
Elance is where companies - from big corporations to small businesses - post listings looking for freelance work, and from the thousands of job listings that are constantly being cycled through Elance, there's undoubtedly something that matches your skill set. Whether your background is in web design, writing, programming, illustration, marketing, consulting, legal work, or engineering, you will find something that can be done remotely while you're on the road. Check out www.elance.com.
Become an Instructor
Through the website Game of Shred, a new startup for holiday-goers and athletes, you can sell your skills by becoming a freelance sports instructor wherever you are in the world. Are you particularly talented at surfing, or rock climbing, skiing, or hiking? Why not make a profit! Find out more at www.gameofshred.com,