Looking to make some extra cash while on the road?
You’re in luck.
There are plenty of unique side hustles that can help you fund your travels and live the digital nomad dream.
Whether you’re a freelancer or a social media guru, there’s a side hustle out there that can help you make extra income while exploring new destinations.
That said, sometimes you need to think outside the box.
Yes, things like freelance writing and social media management are popular for a reason. But there are so many other options.
Here are a few interesting travel side hustles to wet your imagination.
Like meeting new people and making new friends?
If so, becoming a virtual friend might be the perfect side hustle for you.
As an online friend, you can connect with people from all over the world and help them feel less lonely.
One popular platform offering this service is RentAFriend.com. It technically lets you offer both in-person and online friendship, but for travelers, online is the way to go.
This can include chatting, playing games, practicing languages, or even just watching movies together.
You can also offer advice and support to those who need it, helping people who are going through a tough time or just want someone to talk to.
It’s a great way to make a difference in someone’s life while earning some extra cash, and you may even learn a thing or two in the process.
Importer and Exporter
The more you travel, the more you start to spot unique products around the world that make you think, “Hmmm this would cost a fortune back home!”
That, my friend, is a business opportunity knocking on your door.
As an importer and exporter, you buy products in one country and sell them for a profit in another.
This can include anything from handmade crafts to specialty foods to fashion accessories.
For example, if you find a unique piece of jewelry in India that only costs a few dollars, you could sell it for a much higher price in the United States or Europe.
This can be just a quick way to make some extra cash, or you can turn it into a large-scale, ongoing business.
If you’re just looking for ways to cover the cost of your next flight, I’ve (virtually) met some travelers who packed a suitcase full of affordable alpaca sweaters in Peru, then resold them for 10x the price back home in Australia.
I’ve also met traveling entrepreneurs who visit Colombia to make connections with coffee growers.
Keep in mind, to make this into a legit business — more than just a suitcase full of sweaters — you’ll have to find reliable suppliers and study up on customs regulations, shipping processes, and tax laws.
But with a bit of research and a willingness to take risks, this has the potential to turn into much more than a side hustle.
If you have a knack for sales and marketing, affiliate marketing could be the perfect side hustle for you.
As an affiliate marketer, you promote other people’s products and services, earning a commission for each sale made through your unique affiliate link.
The beauty of affiliate marketing is you don’t need to create your own products or services.
Instead, you focus on promoting products that align with your interests and values.
For example, if you’re passionate about sustainable travel, you could promote eco-friendly travel gear or tours.
When done with integrity, affiliate marketing can create a win-win-win opportunity for affiliate marketers, customers, and companies.
You make a commission for promoting products you believe in, customers discover products they may not have found otherwise, and companies increase their sales through word-of-mouth marketing.
When you’re traveling in different countries, you may seem exotic to the people in that country.
That means when it comes to modeling opportunities, you have an advantage.
For example, I am no model — far from it — but during my travels, I’ve been asked not once, but twice to act as a model for different companies. One spa, and one gym.
I wasn’t even advertising myself as a model. The owners just came up and asked me.
If you were to actually go out and promote your services in a country where you look “exotic”, you’re likely to get lots of bites.
That said, you need to be careful about working in person in countries if you don’t have a work visa. Make sure you research the laws and regulations before accepting any modeling jobs.
If you can’t work for money, you may be able to “trade favors”. Like a free gym membership in exchange for some photos.
Becoming a virtual assistant is probably one of the best ways to start making money while traveling — especially if you’re unsure of what else to do.
That’s because you don’t need any special skills to get started, and the bar to entry is low.
But once you’ve got your foot in the door, there are many opportunities for growth and specialization. Best of all, you can test the waters with different niches until you find something you’re passionate about.
As a VA, you can offer a variety of services like email management, scheduling appointments, social media management, website maintenance, bookkeeping, or even managing other VAs.
Really any type of task that an entrepreneur or small business owner wants off their plate.
You can also specialize in a particular industry or niche, such as real estate or e-commerce, to increase your earning potential.
Or you can laser down even further and specialize in one service for one specific industry — like graphic design for e-commerce companies.
The possibilities are endless.
Like I said, you don’t need any specialized training to get started. Just identify a virtual service you want to offer, then market yourself until you find clients who need help with that service.
This can be a bit intimidating for some, especially if it’s your first rodeo starting an online business. For extra handholding, you can always follow a virtual assistant course to cut down the learning curve and avoid costly mistakes.
Seasonal Activity Instructor
This type of job is perfect for active travelers who don’t mind settling down in each location for several months.
For example, we met some friends while traveling who spend their winters working a season at a ski resort as ski instructors in popular destinations. Then when summer hits, they head to tropical islands to work as surf instructors.
You don’t necessarily have to choose seasonal jobs, either.
I’ve met other travelers who spend part of their year as scuba diving instructors in one part of the world, then the other part as yoga instructors in another part of the world.
If you’re passionate about a particular activity, you could turn it into a profitable side hustle. Not only will you get to travel, but you’ll also get to share your love and knowledge of the activity with others.
Similar to working as a model, if you’re working in person in a foreign country, you’ll likely need a work visa to do so legally.
Traveling Personal Shopper
As a traveling personal shopper, you can travel to different countries to buy and transport special products that people order.
For example, my wife once met a Colombian lady who traveled to different countries to buy luxury items for rich Colombians. Since these specialty items weren’t available in Colombia, her clients are willing to pay her to travel to get the items for them.
This might sound like a dream job in theory, but in practice, it requires planning, organization, and contacts.
You’ll have to build a network of wealthy people who trust you to run their errands.
If you’re interested in becoming a traveling personal shopper, start by reaching out to your network and letting people know about your services.
Then, make sure to give them an awesome experience so they recommend you to their friends.
I actually did this once on a very small scale.
My wife’s friend wanted some new Apple products that weren’t yet available in Colombia. He paid us upfront, and we picked up his order in Miami as we were passing through.
In Colombia, electronics like Apple products are taxed heavily and expensive compared to the US. So even after charging my wife’s friend a few hundred bucks more than what we paid, he still got a killer deal by Colombian standards.
You don’t have to be a fancy business or marketing guru to make money as an online consultant.
If you have knowledge that other people want to know, you can earn as a consultant.
For example, our van-life friend earned a holistic health certification and now offers consulting over the phone while traveling the US in her van.
Another friend I met is a virtual voice coach for singers.
Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box.
Virtual consultants can work from anywhere in the world. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can also set your own hours and work as much or as little as you like — although you’ll likely need to work within the time zone of your clients.
To get started, think about what you’re good at and what people might be willing to pay for.
Remember, you don’t need to be the #1 world expert on the subject. You just have to know enough to be able to help your clients achieve what they want to achieve.
If you don’t think you’re “qualified”, start by helping a few people for free. If you get good results, you’ll not only grab some testimonials, but you’ll also gain confidence in your skills.
As a traveling chef, you can work with hotels, resorts, cruises, and private clients to create unique and delicious meals.
You can also offer cooking classes to travelers who want to learn how to cook local cuisine.
To become a traveling chef, you’ll need to have experience in the culinary arts and be willing to travel. You can start by building a portfolio of your work and networking with potential clients.
- Offer your services on websites like EatWith and Cookly.
- Partner with local hotels and resorts to offer cooking classes and private dining experiences.
- Attend food festivals and events to network with potential clients.
There are no requirements to work as a traveling chef other than the ability to whip up tasty meals. That said, a degree or certification in culinary arts definitely won’t hurt.
As a traveling chef, you’ll have the opportunity to explore new cultures and cuisines while making money.
Just make sure not to pack your knives in your carry-on!
Video Game Streamer
To make money streaming video games, you need to build a following on platforms like Twitch or YouTube.
You can monetize your streams through ads, sponsorships, and donations from your viewers.
The key to success as a video game streamer is to be entertaining and engaging. You need to keep your viewers interested and coming back for more.
This means flashing your charismatic personality, being knowledgeable about the games you play, and interacting with your audience.
As long as you’re willing to pack your video game setup and stay in Airbnbs that have a comfortable place to play, you can stream from anywhere with an internet connection.
BONUS: Content Creator
You can turn any of the above jobs into a second income stream by building a “content business” around it.
By that, I mean creating content — whether that be blogging, Youtube, podcasting, social media, etc — around the ways you are making money while traveling.
You better believe there are others out there interested in following in your footsteps!
For example, if you went the blogging route, you’d write guides optimized for SEO or social media sharing.
The idea is to get as many interested eyeballs on your content as possible. I share some of the best ways to do that in my Fat Stacks review, one of my favorite blogging courses.
The best part is, all you’re doing is documenting the things that you are learning and doing in your life. You don’t have to be an expert — you just need to know enough to help someone who is a step behind you.
With a content business, you can make money by adding advertisements to your content, recommending products that could help your audience, offering consulting services, or even creating an online course teaching everything you’ve learned in your line of business.
Billions of people use the internet. And you just need to siphon a teensy fraction of them to create a hefty side income.
The opportunities are truly endless.
There’s no reason to settle for what everyone else is doing.
Find something you’re passionate about.
Think of how you can adapt it to travel.
And start hustling.
About the author
Mitch is the blogger and Youtuber behind Project Untethered, where he teaches adventure-cravers how to escape the rat race, earn money while traveling, and build an “untethered” life in his epic email newsletter. His advice has been featured by Forbes, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, and Yahoo Finance.
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