How I Make Money to Travel the World

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This is Part 2 of a two-part series on my life as a travel blogger.

Life as a travel blogger

It's a question I get all the time: How do you afford to travel so much?

A valid question, for sure. If I was on the other side of this whole travel blogging thing, I would be curious, too.

In fact, before I started traveling a lot and blogging seriously, I was convinced it wouldn't be possible for someone like me. Someone without a trust fund. Someone who doesn't rely on mommy and daddy to pay for everything. Someone was hasn't sold a start-up or won the lottery.

Basically, I didn't think it was possible for a “normal” person like me — with a crappy job and student debt — to travel the world.

But guess what? I was wrong. It's TOTALLY possible.

Monument Valley
Sis and I in Monument Valley

The really boring answer to how I fund my travels is: I save up money, and then spend it on travel. I also get some help from professional finance advisers  like iva help and have my finances sorted for my travel.

I know — probably not nearly as exciting as you thought.

But the good news? ANYbody can do this. You just have to get creative with your time and make travel your #1 priority when it comes to saving and spending your money.

Let's look at how I've funded my travels in the past, and then take a look at what I'm doing now:

The beginning

Job: Copy editor at a small, local newspaper
Income: $21,000 a year after taxes were taken out
Living situation: I was renting a one-bedroom apartment for about $550 per month (including utilities)
Where I traveled to: Hawaii, New Zealand, and a US road trip

Wanaka, New Zealand

How I did it:

  • I would put at least $50 from every paycheck (sometimes more) into a savings account set aside solely for travel.
  • I planned to stay with friends in some places to cut down on costs (and I also did my US road trip with my sister).
  • I ended up moving into a 2-bedroom apartment with a friend in order to cut down my monthly bills by about $100 per month.
  • I took advantage of paid vacation days, holidays that I could save up and use later, and even took 2 weeks off unpaid after clearing it with my boss.

The middle

Job: Graduate assistant (and I suppose graduate student)
Income: Less than $20,000 per year after taxes (though my tuition was covered through my assistantship, and I also took out student loans to cover some of my other grad school costs)
Living situation: I was again renting a one-bedroom apartment for about $625 per month (including utilities)
Where I traveled to: Iceland, mainland Europe (x2 and for multiple months at a time), Canada, Alaska, Belize, Costa Rica, another US road trip

Isle of Skye, Scotland

How I did it:

  • I took advantage of the time I got off school to travel as much as possible (i.e. during Spring Break, the Christmas holidays, and during the summer months).
  • I tucked away money I made from my assistantship, again putting it into a travel savings account.
  • I worked seasonal jobs — including retail for the Christmas season last year.
  • I signed up for an airline credit card with a nice mileage bonus in order to score a free flight (and rack up more miles for more free flights).
  • I started doing more freelancing online — mostly copy editing, since that's what I had been doing in my former job.
  • I started making some money from my blog by selling advertising and working with sponsors to offset the cost of my travels (though it's worth noting that these sponsorships have never accounted for more than 40-50% of my total travel costs).


After grad school ended, I decided to take a leap of faith. First, I went traveling again. And then I decided I would try to make a go of things on my own — self-employed and location independent.

If you read my Life as a Travel Blogger post, you'll know that I keep myself pretty damn busy during the week in order to keep my head above water. But I'm doing it. I'm now making more money than I ever have before (well, not a TON more, but still a little bit more) and I have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.

But, being a self-employed freelancer means that I have to wear many, many hats every single day.

How I fund my travels

In the past year, I've done the following:

A remote job — In early 2014, I applied for an internship with a company called LKR Social Media. I started out working a couple hours a day, helping them out with some blog and social media tasks. That internship then morphed into a nearly full-time position, working to help promote Edgar, a new social media management tool. I worked at Edgar for a year and a half, handling everything from customer service to PR to educational webinars.

Website management — For about two years, I was the managing editor for another travel blog. I basically communicated with contributing authors, set up the editorial calendar, formatted posts, added new pages when needed, updated plugins, and basically made sure the blog ran like it should.

Currently (as for January 2016), I'm doing the following:

Freelance writing — This is a mixture of one-off assignments and ongoing writing gigs. In an average month, I write anywhere from 3 to 10 freelance posts.

Branded content/advertising — I still sell the occasional ad on A Dangerous Business, but I try not to bombard you with sponsored posts and links. I'm more selective now when it comes to advertising, and only accept branded content when it fits in with my blog, would be interesting for my readers, AND pays a decent rate. I usually limit it to two branded posts on my blog per month.

Affiliate sales — I don't do a ton of affiliate advertising on this site, but I HAVE upped my Amazon affiliate game in the past year. I include Amazon affiliate links to products I use (like in my travel packing posts), and when someone clicks on these links and buys something, I get a (very) small commission. I have also been experimenting with Amazon CPM ads, and occasionally will join one-off or seasonal affiliate sales, too.

Blogging course — In November 2015, I launched a blogging course in conjunction with Travel Blog Success that focuses on teaching travel bloggers how to pitch and successfully work with travel brands and tourism boards. This was really exciting for me, because teaching is something I enjoy, and this is a way I can do it while still enjoying a remote lifestyle. Check out the course here.


A lot of hats, hey?

But the variety is what I love most about my work life right now. No two days are ever the same, and I still have the freedom to travel frequently. If you ask me in another year how I fund my travels, this list could look totally different. But that's half the fun!

The truth is, I got to this point the same way you would work your way into any career: by working at it and never losing sight of what I was after. Being a full-time blogger/freelancer didn't just fall into my lap; it's been a slow progression over the past 4 years.

BUT, of course you don't have to be a travel blogger in order to travel the world.  😉

Did I leave something out? What else do you want to know about my life as a travel blogger?



"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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54 Comments on “How I Make Money to Travel the World

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  1. Any suggestions on where to look for freelance writing gigs? Thanks!

      A lot of times it’s luck, or people finding me through my blog. But if you’re actively seeking out work, you could try looking for freelancer Facebook groups, and making portfolios on sites like Contently. I know many freelancers also use sites like Upwork to find work, but I’ve never tried that one!

    I love that you’re honest “I save up money and spend it on travel.”
    I do the same thing – and I prioritize travel over a lot of other things because it’s so important to me. Cheers to all the adventures!

      Exactly, Jenni! Travel is my main priority most years; simple as that!

    I just started reading your blog and thank you so much for posting your income when you just started. Even though a lot of people hate doing that, I think it’s important when you’re helping to inspire people. Nothing irritates me more than seeing people who make 40k a year complain that they’re poor or “you don’t have to be rich to travel”. I make about 21k a year and anything over that is kind of “rich” haha. The point I’m trying to make is that I’m glad to see someone with a “normal” income traveling as much as you do. Thanks for the post.

      Just trying to keep it real! 😉

      But yeah, I totally believe that if you want to travel badly enough, you can absolutely make it happen. It may take some time and some penny-pinching, but it just comes down to smart saving.

    […] Yet here I am now, with a new skill set and a pretty kick-ass blog (if I do say so myself) that I’m really proud of. Yes, it plays to my wordy strengths. But if I had never tried it, I wouldn’t be where I am today, making a living from blogging and writing. […]

    Great post, Amanda! Many people mistakenly think travel bloggers earn money just by lying on a beach all day sipping tequila sunrise and blog whenever we want. While that is part of it, travel blogging is so much more – it’s actually really hard work (but also totally possible)! Thanks for the reality check and inspiration on how to follow your dreams.

      Thanks, Miriam! And yes, there are definitely misconceptions about how much travel bloggers work (or don’t work). The reality is often far from what people expect! But the freedom is definitely worth it.

    Seems like your are putting a lot of work into your blog, but it definitely shows. I hope for you that from your to year your business will grow, because it gives me hope that maybe one day I can also make myself location independent. I know that travel blogging doesn’t make you rich in money, but it makes you rich in experiences and that is what I am going for!

      Yes, that’s definitely true, Marta! I’m not rich monetarily, but my life certainly is rich in experiences.

      I put a TON of work into my blog and the other work I do, but it’s all worth it in the end.

    I love reading your post Amanda and let me say that I like your style. I also prefer to write about my travels when I return, and I too write the day before I publish LOL!

    “The really boring answer to how I fund my travels is: I save up money, and then spend it on travel.” This statement is so hilarious but also so awfully true. It’s so true that people don’t believe it. We’ve just returned (yesterday) from a month around Asia and our friends think we’re buried in money! Why? Because, within the year I have already travelled to England and Poland, and now Asia, and we’re only halfway through the year! I’m a teacher. I save. It’s as simple as that!

      I know! People assume that I’m rich or something. But that’s not true at all!

    Great advice!! Would love to become a full time travel blogger 😀

      It takes a lot of work, but I really love it!

    Wow Amanda, that’s still a lot of hats. I do enjoy seeing your posts and photos on facebook too. Do you keep an editorial calendar? If so, how far in advance do you lay out your calendar? How do you balance your need to work (put up posts, email, etc) with exploring an area while you are on the road?

      I SHOULD have an editorial calendar. But I really don’t. I try to work ahead, but I’ve found my best writing is usually done at the last minute (it’s a deadline thing borne from journalism school, I think). Unless it’s a big, in-depth post I’m working on, I often write my posts the day before I’m going to publish them!

      When I’m traveling, I usually end up posting a lot less, simply because I’d rather be actually experiencing things!

    Hey Amanda, thanks for this post, very inspiring..! I’m currently at a full-time job, but who knows what the future holds..;)

      The thing is, you NEVER know! Even just a year ago, I had no idea I’d be where I am now, working for myself from home and traveling so much.

    Um, so basically, you’re the coolest.

    And yes, variety is the key for me. I could never sit at a desk and do the same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY. And freelancing means I get to do whatever I’m doing from wherever — like right now, I’m sitting in a traffic jam outside of Seattle. Not ideal, but at least I can also “work”!

      Yeah, the variety is great. It HAS been an adjustment with this new customer service job, since I can’t really just up and disappear for a month without making some arrangements/figuring out how I’ll work when I’m away ahead of time, but I’ll take it! Still gives me so much freedom.

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