I’m willing to bet that most of you out there have asked yourself, “How can I travel when I don’t have much money?” or, “How can I travel if I have kids?” or maybe your biggest fear isn’t how will you make money on the road, but what would your family and friends think of you if you went on the road?
Chances are these very thoughts have indeed crossed your mind (they cross all of our minds at some point!) and there’s also a chance you haven’t found any answers. As a result, you’ve still yet to take that first step, and start traveling, and as time passes by, you start to wonder if you’ll ever see and experience any other place other than your hometown. Many of you though, live by the “What ifs?” instead of the “Why nots?” Before you know it, ten years goes by and you’re suddenly in your late thirties, wondering, “What the fuck happened?”
We have the tendency to think that though others are capable of accomplishments, for us it just wouldn’t work. “If only I were younger,” “Well I have three kids,” and “I need to rely on a steady paycheck” are some of the most common walls we build up around our amazing human brains. We as humans – are armed with the same grey matter that tamed wild horses, built ships to cross the Atlantic and shuttles to the moon – have yet to find a limitation to what our imaginations can accomplish.
Committing to realizing a dream is an unattainable act for many of us, because of the very nature of our dreams: they are easier to sleep through than to write down when we wake up. Why not follow our hearts? What is the worst thing that can happen by pursuing our dreams? Failure? No big deal… at least we can say we tried! And in the end, we’ll have no regrets.
The primary difference between people, who are doing what they love to do and those who are stuck in jobs they hate in towns they’re bored of, is actually doing something about it. Of course, comfort can change, and as much as your home and your 9 to 5 income provide you with a sense of security now, the feeling of being responsible for your own fate, of being flexible with your monthly bills, and the waking up to the snow capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, as your own personal real life painting, you will find comfort in this if it’s truly your passion to pursue. Fulfilling a lifestyle where every new day is to be spent at your leisure is a REAL possibility.
The term “vacation lifestyle” should not be taken lightly, though, because more than any other common thread, us wandering workers share one thing in common: we are ready and willing to create our own work. The lifestyle is not just for hippies. It’s not exclusive to vagabonds, and you don’t suddenly become a hobo, because you no longer have a home with a fixed location – though the term hobo actually does mean “traveling worker.” You instead follow in a centuries old tradition of traveling while finding work, which when combined with our modern technology, opens up the doors to more than just bards, migrant farmers and Italian explorers. From Columbus, to Lewis and Clarke to Kerouac, every great traveler has had at least one thing in common: an entrepreneurial spirit.
Face the fear! There are always opportunities for the resourceful and intrepid traveler. There are a plethora of ways to earn the cash you’ll need for gas, beer, and pizza in every state in the continental U.S. Sure, most of us would like to be famous rock stars or writers or actors or famous for whatever it is that Snooki is famous for. Unfortunately, the world will always need more gas station attendants than it will Presidents, so begin looking at your life as a whole, rather than your job as your definition. You might be a great people person but only an okay artist, well by all means, get a job running a social media business (People make a living posting on Facebook everyday!) for galleries, painters and musicians and in between replying to tweets and liking things on Facebook, paint until you’ve figured out how to allow that to take over your Internetly duties. Einstein was a janitor. Columbus swabbed decks. Snooki wanted to be a vet. We don’t remember any of these people for those positions though; they were catalysts, and steps up on the way to doing something they actually loved. Become one of those people who “don’t see any end in sight.” Find that place you simply love and, often having seen nearly every county in every state, decide on a place that gives a more traditional sense of where you are supposed to be.
One day, I suddenly realized working so hard just for more money didn’t seem like it was worth the stress if it meant that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to experience travel and life. And I don’t have to worry about spending my life savings. I learned to never let work be a barrier to travel: If you do it right, you can take your work with you.
I quickly became proponent of slow travel; it gives me a chance to discover a destination slowly and organically – while also staying on top of work – instead of tearing through a new place as a tourist, and then collapsing somewhere from exhaustion and needing time to recover and catch up. My biggest challenge that I faced was the feeling of guilt that I harbored for working and not getting out there and discovering all those exciting things outside my window. But then again work is work regardless of where I am in the world. When my work is done for the day I close my laptop, look up, and realize I’m in a completely different place in the world. That’s when the fun begins. This is the perfect example of why living on the road is not only rewarding for all of the Yellowstones, Pacific Oceans, and San Francisco’s I get to call my backyard for a few weeks, or months at a time. That’s the beauty of this lifestyle, there is neither a time limit, nor do I commit myself to it for life.
Okay, enough of my ranting on and on. Lets say you decide to set out on a full-time vacation. You reach into your pockets; you dig deeper, finding only receipts and pocket lint. All you really have left are some smelly socks, an overdrawn bank account and an unquenchable thirst for adventure. Like so many others you’re constantly holding on to a little fire inside your belly, one that wanted to come rushing out of those homely human hearths and spread wildfire across the country.
Being on the road with very little or no cash may seem daunting at first, but the challenge of using your imagination to provide for yourself will make the experience all the more exciting and valuable. When you begin to look at a paycheck more simply the number of digits and their assigned value, you begin to understand that fulfillment in your job is worth significantly more than a growing bank account, and only then can you really begin to appreciate that the dollar amount of your salary is relevant only to how you want to spend your newfound ample free time.
“Oh! But I have kids. I can’t travel,” is what most of you are saying right now. Congratulations! For families traveling with children, there is no doubt about it that the experience is very different from those folks who travel solo or with adults only. Of course, the exact same thing is true of your life at 555 Fixed Address, Your Hometown, America. The moment you first decided – or for many of us, made the “miraculous mistake” of – having babies, your life changed forever. The path you follow with those little ones, however, did not. It’s still as open as ever, and all you’ve got to do is walk it.
Living on the road gives you the ability to switch up your job very regularly, and makes travel your career. It’s amazing what people are able to do when they’re doing what they love and once you get on the road, your expenses can dramatically decrease. Your rent becomes completely malleable, you can spend $300/month on a spot to rent, or with the right set up, absolutely nothing by boondocking in free camping spots which, while sometimes tricky to locate, are ready and willing to be found with just a little bit of online research. Here’s a link that will save you some time: http://www.freecampsites.net/ You can find campsites all across the country, some free, some you have to pay, but it’s never more than $12 and some let you camp up to fourteen days.
Today, some full-timers call RVs their homes while others find hostels, couch surfing opportunities, or even rent an apartment for a few months at a time. After a while, most learn to appreciate slow travel, where you take all the time you need in a location to both experience it more like a local than a tourist and make plenty of time for work, too.
Consider these innovative options for funding a life on the road:
Resort Jobs, Freelance Work (The only way to survive as a freelancer is to do exceptional work every time you get a gig.) act in Films & Television (people are always looking for extras.) Any kind of Blogging, Haircuts, Massages, Bartending, Cafe/Restaurant Work, Construction Work, Travel Writing (It’s not an easy business, but, there are opportunities out there to write about your experiences and the destinations you visit) Edit English Signs/Menus, Busking, if you know how to dance teach a dance class, Be Creative! Put on your thinking cap, brainstorm some ideas and don’t be afraid to get creative! You don’t need to be an expert to land a job; you just need to be better than those who have never tried.
I really do hope that this has helped you realize that you can travel no matter if you have kids, or even if you don’t have thousands of dollars saved, that earning money on the road is not as impossible as you once thought. The only thing certain is that we have the ability to manipulate our own future to whatever we want it to be. If it were impossible, there certainly wouldn’t be so many people, from countries all around the world, traveling and working as they explore this land of never ending adventure.
Of course, there are many more ways to earn money while traveling, so if you have anything you’d like to add or share, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.