From Korea to Guatemala I saw them. They always looked so clever clicking away on their laptops.
“So you actually make enough money online to travel?” I would ask, squinting with incredulity. “Yea, it’s really not too hard once you get the hang of it,” they would reply, taunting me and my dumpster diving ways.
I didn’t think it was possible. I didn’t believe a drop out runaway like myself could ever do it. But the more people I met the more I realized the potential of the Internet as a means to fund my travel addiction.
Today I know it’s definitely possible. And you don’t have to be a nerdy genius or loaded from the start to do it. You don’t even need to be great with computers. All it takes is drive, discipline, a good idea, and an unyielding desire to make it happen.
With that in mind, below are 5 ways that backpackers I’ve met have harnessed the internet to fund their travels.
1) Become A Traveler Blogger
The truth is, making money from travel blogging isn’t easy. It requires a lot of traffic and a lot of work to acquire that traffic. There’s also an insane amount of competition out there.
However, it’s definitely possible. If you find a unique niche, network a lot and consistently post quality content, you can make enough to travel indefinitely. To see how I did it, check out How To Become A Travel Blogger.
2) Sell Internationally On Ebay
Selling goods on Ebay to customers back home is one way many expats help fund their time abroad. The key to making money is all about finding a unique or undersupplied product and offering it at the best price. For example, in Egypt I met guy selling Hookas on ebay for a fraction of the price that you would find it in a US store. Although he didn’t make a fortune, it was his own business and provided enough to live off of.
3) Play Online Poker
Like any kind of gambling, online poker is a risky endeavor. To make money you’ve got to be willing to put down money, and if you’re not careful you can easily blow your budget.
However, online gambling can be potentially lucrative. I’ve actually met a few guys generating sufficient income through it. They say that key to winning is all about how fast you can do the math and how much ‘virtual luck’ you have.
4) Become A Day Trader
Day trading, like online poker, is a risky yet potentially profitable business. It also requires a lot of practice, capitol and nerves. To become a day trader you’ll want to spend a lot time playing the markets with fake money. Only after you’ve developed a strategy that delivers more wins than losses should you invest. Check out my day trading friend Wandering Trader to see how he’s doing it.
5) Freelance Anything
The internet is full of websites that connect services to the people that need them. If you’re a graphic designer or programmer you can sell your skills on a site like freelancer.com. If you are fluent in a second language you can translate documents for cash on gengo.com. There are literally thousands of ways to make money. For more ideas, check out fiverr.com where people offer everything from singing you a song to accepting a dare for 5 bucks.
The internet is an incredible medium where you can make money from anywhere with a decent connection. There are so many money making opportunities out there and you don’t need to be a computer wiz to take advantage of them.
There are also many potential online business waiting to be created. Who’s to say you can’t come up with the next big social media site? Regular people can and do come up with million dollar websites. Keep on the look out for niches yet to be filled. Or scrutinize current sites and see how they can be improved. Then hire a freelance programmer to turn it into reality. Anything is possible if you believe it so.
Let Me Know What You Think!
Ron | Active Planet Travels says
Great list Leif. I once met a guy in Southeast Asia who spent his time traveling around the world finding interesting stones and selling them to collectors. You can make a living doing just about anything if you put your mind to it…even if it is selling rocks! X-D lol
The Runaway Guide says
Hey Ron, thanks brother. That sounds like an awesome business. He must have collected rocks as a kid. It’s true, even more so if you’re passionate about it too.
I have followed the freelancing (web designer) and travel blogger route, which I am really happy with. I am shocked that people can really earn with online gambling! I don’t think I’ll give that one a try though… it’s not my strong point ;).
The Runaway Guide says
Hey Kate, cool! Yea, me too. It’s kind of enticing but as they say, “the house, or website, always wins.”
All definitely good ideas some riskier than others if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The Runaway Guide says
Agreed! Gotta really want it or know what you’re doing.
Good article man! Yes, having an online business is actually essential for long-term travel if you really want the freedom to go anywhere, anytime and to be relatively comfortable.
However, its not at all easy to get to the point where you’re making enough money online to fund travel. Many people work hard at it but don’t succeed, and even those that do succeed usually require months or (more likely) years of work to achieve a decent income. So folks should be realistic about this. There’s a luck element involved, as well as a lot of hard work, and when you are talking to people that made it big with their online business, remember, you are in some sense looking at the ‘lottery winners’ in life.
In particular, I would not recommend gambling [ (3) or (4) ]. I have experience with gambling, and I know that its very hard to succeed !
The statistic is that 95% of those who try poker or trading will lose money, no matter how hard they try. And even for the winners, it usually takes months or years to develop a winning strategy. So folks, don’t try this unless you think you are in the top 5% of the population academically, and you are prepared to put in a lot of time!
I would say that (1) and (2) are more realistic for most people, and definitely possible, but still quite difficult, because of the competition.
I think (5) would be easiest for most people – (5) is the best option on the list I think. I know that this one is achievable, because I was a free-lance English editor online for 3 years (from 2007-2010). I edited academic papers for the big Korean universities – I used to make over $US 2 000 per month, and worked around 4-6 hours per day, 6 days per week.
The Runaway Guide says
Hey! Thanks for commenting! It’s totally true, any online business profitable enough to sustain world travel takes time and a lot of effort to develop. I agree about gambling too, though it is an option if you got the brains! That’s really a lot of money, at least enough to travel well on. Maybe I’ll get in touch with Yonsei and do some of that ;)