When a friend announced that he planned to take a year off from work and travel the world, my first reaction was – Man! You must be rich, bitch!
But as I listened to him outline his plan, and eventually followed his journey, I realized that if you are enterprising, you can make your travels pay.
Since then I have tried some of the tips below myself to creatively subsidize my trips and so can you!
If your travel project is really interesting, and/or for a good cause, you might be able to get others to help foot the bill.
Sachin Bhandary (@eccentrips), the friend I mentioned, cracked an idea to raise money to attempt 12 impossible things during his trip. For example, make it to the LTTE’s stronghold in Jaffna, and participate in a street-fight festival at Peru.
He was able to create interest amongst his friends and ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, that helped offset some of his costs.
Try this if your travels have a higher purpose, and not just a debauchery-filled trip to Pattaya.
For three months, I volunteered with an NGO, called CARPED, that works with the Lambada tribes in Andhra Pradesh and took the opportunity to discover the tribal hinterlands and the amazing lives of these people.
The NGO did not have to spend much on my food or stay, given that I ate most of my meals at the tribal homes or stayed with them. Try this if you have a sharp nose for adventure and a heart for social work.
Look up opportunities with NGOs to combine travel and philanthropy – plus stipends or free food and lodging on the side.
The Vodafone Foundation invites interns to volunteer on their projects around the world.
Piya Bose, who quit her day job as a lawyer to start the popular Girls on the Go club, suggests trying WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). This lets you volunteer in farms in exchange for accommodation and meals.
If your travels are really interesting, start a blog. Obviously this is easier said than done, especially since there is stiff competition these days, so your content has to stand out and properly promoted via your social media channels and posted on other travel sites like Tripoto.
Anindya Basu (@anindya0909), a popular travel and food blogger who has worked with brands like ITC throws in his advice, “For a travel blog, some bloggers supply important information which are helpful to the readers, some bloggers like me also add up beautiful pics which are for visual pleasure. My readers come back to see to the pictures, some offbeat stories with some trivia. I also provide photography tips as when I started photography I used to look for these tips and now I know how important they are.”
He adds, “A reputed blogger can start getting associated with different tourism boards for assignments on unexplored tourist attractions, hold travel talks, review and promote travel apps or travel companies.”
Take up a writing assignment
If you are a talented writer, chances are you could land freelance assignments with magazines like Outlook Travel or Conde Nast Traveller, etc.
If you’re not an experienced travel writer with a proper portfolio, some of these assignments might require you to offer your services pro-bono, but if you execute well, it could open up the gates to paid assignments.
Sachin, who also writes for Mint Travel and also has his own radio show on Radio One. He suggests a few simple steps for those looking to break into travel writing. “Start a blog and keep writing for at least a year. compile names and contacts of editors from the internet or magazine edit pages; etc. Send them a mail with a specific story idea and some pictures(pictures are really important). If they like it, they will commission an article.”
Building your personal brand as an interesting traveler and storyteller is the name of the game if you are looking for a travel writing career.
As Piya says,”Having your own travel blog, social media following or articles you may have written for newspapers helps while approaching hotels, tourism boards etc to attend familiarisation tours. Since traditional PR activities have given way to personal bloggers and social media influencers, this is a good way of seeing the world.”
Thinking of visiting a fantastic place but short on change and company?
What stops you from organizing a travel group? As the tour lead and the key organizer you could also charge a part as your consulting fees apart from covering the costs.
Organizing tours is hard work too as people who have done it will warn you. Piya, who has organised tours to exotic places including Antarctica, says “Being a travel organizer is a great way to see the world, though the focus will be more on showing clients around and one is bound by a schedule and there are liabilities involved.”
This works after you have acquired some amount of fame and reach.
If you have a strong social media following of your travel diaries, brands would be willing to pay you to review their hotels or wear their hiking shoes. At the least you could get treated to free food and stay.
Anindya who has worked with a bevy of brands in the food and travel space opinies that brands are open to tie-ups with popular travellers: “So if one is a successful adventure traveller then there are lots of travel gear and adventure sports companies who will look forward to tie ups. “
Not just brands, state and national tourism boards approach travel bloggers too.
“If someone loves historical monuments and archaeological marvel then different state tourism departments will approach them and so on. In recent times, Jordan government has flown lots of travel bloggers on Familiarization trip or FAM trip as popularly known as. Back home Chhattisgarh govt recently did a lot of online activity and blogger engagement to promote tourism in the state. “ Anindya signs off.
Get a jobby job
Been to Goa and seen firangs serve drinks at shacks?
The westerners have perfected the art of backpacking and they earn their way through doing odd jobs.
In India of course, we are infamous for being class conscious. But if you really want to be a true traveler, stop turning your nose down and pick up odd jobs!
Ayan Mukhopadhyay(@ayankm) who has had his travel photos featured in publications such as BBC, spent a gap year in Brazil.
He struggled initially as he did not have a source of income. Not knowing the local language stumped him. The fact that his ex-wife’s family was from Brazil helped to an extent. He started learning Portuguese, joined in and helped built up a local beauty business which was miles removed from his regular IT consulting career.
“One good thing was, I had all the time in the world enjoy life in Brazil, soak in the culture, interact with people and learn the ways of life. The experience of full-on immersive helped me learn Portuguese very fast,” he says. He was in the business for a full year before moving ahead to do his MBA.
House-sitting, as Piya advises can also be another avenue. “One can stay in the house of a family while they are away and look after their house, while availing of all the facilities in the house. Websites like mindmyhouse.com are very resourceful.”
Sachin chips in, “Acquire a skill that can be used while traveling. Get an English language teacher certification. Are you a designer? Can you work online? Can you cook? – all these skills can be used to generate revenue while traveling.”
Obviously this is not for the weak of heart, especially if you don’t have a decent sized savings to buy you some time to find some work, but the experience will definitely be worth it!