One of the benefits of living in today's world is that the internet has freed us from 'place'. Being paid to travel is no longer only an option for the lucky few!
The Great Epidemic, as I'll call it, sent millions of women home into lockdown, erased jobs from the workplace and showed us how important it is to be flexible and creative.
Those of us who love to travel know just how much it costs, and pulling the money together for a trip can be both a challenge and a relief.
But it has to be done. You can earn your money before you leave (easier) or you can earn your keep as you go (more fun).
Not being bound to a physical job location is a blessing — but it's not for everyone. It does require a certain adaptability, a willingness or ability to go out and find the work, and enough discipline to stick to it once you have the work.
While you may not fancy picking fruit or working as an au pair, there are still some plenty of travel jobs out there for the over 50 woman, both online and offline.
‘Location independent’ work is perfect for travelers: you can work before you leave and save money for your trip, or you can take your work with you and continue working while you travel - and of course stay away longer.
Or you can do both: you can start an assignment from home on Tuesday and finish it in Paris on Wednesday.
How to travel the world and get paid?
If you're thinking seriously about earning an online income, there are some significant advantages to working from your computer: you can earn quite a bit (although, as with everything in life, there are no guarantees), you can pick and choose your assignments, you have amazing flexibility (you can work at 2 a.m. if you'd like!) and, it can be great fun. Granted, it’s not for everyone, but if you're keen to try, the sky's the limit.
The bottom line is this: a regular salary is predictable (while you still have your job), while online work is unpredictable, unstable, BUT potentially lucrative. Note the word 'potentially'. Some women make very little — they might make a hundred dollars, become disillusioned and move on. Others make a decent living wage (myself included) and a few, very rare others make the kind of money you'd expect from a career professional in a traditional workplace.
Online work from home or anywhere which isn't a static workplace is a good fit for you if you agree with any ONE of the following statements (you do not have to agree with all!)
These are jobs for which you don't have to be in physical proximity to other people — for example, for in-person meetings. Communications take place via Zoom or Skype, or through email, phone or social media.
This works well for people like graphic and web designers, coaches and consultants and even therapists. Obviously you’ll need clients you can help online, but it can certainly be done. You can work full-time while you’re home and part-time when you’re on the road traveling.
How to travel and make money when you have a job that doesn't translate well to online work (chefs, massage therapists, gardeners)? This might be your chance for change. Have a look at these online jobs: is there anything here you might be qualified for? Or perhaps you're interested in retraining and starting a new career? (I was 55 when I launched this website...)
Here are some of the more accessible work from home ideas:
This is all the rage, and a great way to fund your life overseas.
People hire other people (usually women) to do work online for them. I've used VAs, as they're called, for a variety of tasks, from research to project management to accounting and writing. They can handle correspondence, appointments, social media and pretty much any task you might need online. This is outstanding work for retired women who are looking for ways to make extra money, or for travelers who need to earn extra income along the way. There's every chance a top-notch VA might be better at part of your job than you are, freeing you for the stuff only you can do.
How to travel and earn money if you don’t have a bunch of digital skills?
Transcribing takes excellent typing skills, a lot of patience, an ear for detail and blocks of distraction-free time, but if you can find a quiet place to work while on the road and know your way around a keyboard, you can likely become an efficient transcriptionist. Then you can do your work from anywhere that has a stable wifi connection — a legitimate way to earn money working from home (or the beach). TranscribeAnywhere has a free mini-course to help you decide if transcribing is right for you and which niche might work best.
If you’re someone with a knack for grammar, consider taking a course to learn the technicalities of proofreading so you can turn your obsession into a career. This free course in particular will explain what proofreading is (and if it’s a good fit for you), how you can take your passion and make money from it, and the most important thing: how to find and attract clients who need your expertise.
How to earn money while traveling and doing something you love...
For me — and this is a personal thing — writing is one of the best jobs in the world. It's also probably the most competitive, the least lucrative, and the hardest to find. Still, the joys of seeing your name in print (or screen) and your first paycheck are hard to beat. I actually framed my first newspaper byline all those many years ago...
If your goal is to make enough to stay on the road, becoming a freelance writer is definitely an option. To compete, you've got to be not only good, but you have to know what editors are looking for. It helps if you have a specialty, and most people do concentrate on a group of topics — travel (see below), tech, health or fashion, just to give you a few examples.
If I were just starting my travel writing career, I'd probably do two things: buy a copy of the Writers' Market (I still buy it) to find out what editors are looking for and what to specialize in, and I'd take a good writing course to hone my talents (here are a few in the travel genre that I particularly rate).
A good course would make my writing saleable, while the Writers' Market would tell me where to pitch and who might be likely to buy my stories. This may not be one of the world's top money making opportunities but it is a legitimate career with long-term prospects if you stick it through. Passion helps.
For me, travel writing is one of the best ways of how to get paid to travel the world.
This is perfect if you have an interest in something - a hobby, a passion, a skill: you can turn it into a money-making machine by launching a blog designed specifically to make money online.
Through trial and error, I believe the best way to do this is by learning from people who have ‘made it’ as bloggers and whose income is in the seven figures. I personally like the idea of following in the footsteps of other successful bloggers, so my top two recommendations would be Superstar Blogging (Nomadic Matt) and this revolutionary course for beginners from Jon Morrow (Smart Blogger). They both approach blogging differently, are both run by bloggers who have achieved global success, come at different price points but are both excellent.
(If travel is your passion and you're willing to build your blog yourself and learn from your mistakes without outside help, this in-depth resource on starting a travel blog will help get you on your way.)
It's one thing to launch a blog for fun or to keep family and friends informed of your life but if you actually want to make a living online, there are few ways of doing so.
For the first 7-8 years of this website, Women on the Road, I barely made any money at all. I wasn't really trying. I sold a few things on Amazon when it made sense, shared information about some courses I'd taken and loved, but that's about it. Then I 'retired' from my full-time job at the United Nations and found out the hard way that the mortgage doesn't stop just because the salary does.
I needed to continue working. My choices were: find a job (easier said than done when you're past retirement age), or find a way to make money from my passions, travel + writing. You can guess which I chose.
One of the things that jumpstarted it all was this fabulous book by Sharon Gourlay, How To Make Money from Your Blog. I've probably read most of what there is online that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but it took Sharon to show me how much money I was actually leaving on the table by not doing a few simple things; she showed me how to be a travel blogger AND make money from it.
So if you have a blog and you want to use it to earn, this is the first place you should start, bar none. I can't begin to tell you how much she has helped me!
I now make money from affiliate programs which is, in simple terms, selling things and getting a commission. If I have an Amazon link on my site and you click it, you pay the Amazon price and I get a few pennies. Those pennies pile up and can provide a handsome income — and Amazon is only the tip of the iceberg. Anyone can do this, but you already have to be online and you need an audience. It's hard work and long hours and a decent income is slow to come by but when it does, you'll be amazed. If you want to know more about how to become a travel blogger and make an income, click through to my page on affiliate marketing.
The beauty of the world is that there is always someone wanting to learn something. If you have a specific skill you can teach, you could earn a decent income by developing a course around that skill. Both Skillshare and Udemy will help you develop your course and provide a platform to attract students. They take a (large) cut but the more students take your course, the more you make. I’ve been thinking of developing a course myself.
Another option is to tutor students online. You can try and branch out on your own, using Facebook to connect with families who have children who need help in a subject, or you can join one of the many tutoring sites like Skooli. They connect you with students who need tutoring (and of course, take a cut of your pay as payment).
This is a little more specific, as it deals with teaching English only. Of course you can teach English in person anywhere (see the section below for more info on teaching English in-country) but you can also do it online. VIPKid pays you US$14-$22 an hour teaching Chinese students, grades 4-12. VIPKid has the curriculum, you just teach! (Oh, and their Beijing staff takes care of communication with parents so win-win).
You will have to be available for set times each day (which can be tricky during travels), but you set your own availability, so you can work around particularly full days. You can work as many hours as you want, piling the hours when you’re at home and opting for a lighter load when you travel.
These days, most coaches do their work online and this is a highly popular and lucrative way to make extra money from home. If you've ever dreamed of setting up a coaching practice, this might be the right time for you. As long as you have a Skype connection somewhere along the way, there's no reason you can't practice your coaching profession online. I have a friend who runs her hypnotherapy practice via the web!
This only works if you already have a skill you can coach in... and if you do, all you need is Zoom or Skype, and a PayPal account so you can be paid.
Are you creative? Do you craft? Make money while traveling by selling your handmade goods online. Soaps, wooden signs, hand sewn clothing, knitted hats and gloves: all of those are incredibly popular and make wonderful gifts and you might as well put your hobby to work.
While there are many ways to do this, Etsy is one of the most popular and accessible. You can set up a shop and sell your wares through the Etsy database. Here's an overview and guide to launching your Etsy shop and how to do it with success. To drill down, here are Etsy's own set-up instructions in detail. Remember, Etsy is also one of the first places people to go to find something handmade or customizable, so you’ll be where your audience is.
Unlike other online jobs, this requires shipping out a physical product (unless you’re selling printables or some other downloadable graphic), so you need to consider how to ship when you’re 3,000 miles from home.
This really isn’t a way to make money online, but a way to save money while doing the online shopping you already do, if you live in the US (sorry, everyone else! It’s US-based only).
Sign up here for an account and before you buy anything online, go to Ebates.com, type in the name of the shop (Amazon, Macy’s, Best Buy) and then resume shopping. Ebates will transfer you to the site you want, track what you purchase and refund a percentage of your purchase price back to you in a “Big Fat Check.” You DO have to wait a few months for the payback, but it can be as much as 20% cash back!
The even easier way to make money traveling? Share your special Ebates code with friends and family, and depending on the deal that month, Ebates will send you between $5 and $25 when they sign up and make their first purchase. (I was unable to join because I live in the EU…)
Here's how I did it.
I started Women on the Road at the end of 2006 with a company called Solo Build It! (SBI) in the days before Wordpress. What SBI did for me was teach me how to run a business online, not just start a blog. These days, there are multiple sources for this type of information but back then, resources were scarce.
SBI is a stand-alone blogging platform/website builder/marketing school/all-in-one shop. It's like an 'online university'. Go have a browse.
Throughout, I invested in myself by taking every course under the sun, attending workshops, joining mentorship groups and simply networking with other bloggers. And now, many years later, I still do exactly the same thing.
Now, I travel the world and work. I earn money in a variety of ways: through writing itself, by taking ads on this site (mortgage calls!), and through affiliate sales. But if blogging or writing aren't your thing? No worries. There's so much more out there.
I just threw a ton of information at you, so it's no wonder if your head is whirling. Let's do something fun: here's a little quiz to help you figure out which online job best fits with your interests, skills and personality. Take it by clicking the image below!
Working overseas may not have been part of your plan, but knowing how to find a job or how to make money could be a lifesaver if you're short of cash on the road or thinking of extending your travels.
You don’t necessarily have to find jobs that involve travel abroad; you can travel, and search for positions that pop up in your destination.
I've done lots of strange — and less strange — things to earn money to travel: English teacher in Brazil... Union interpreter in the oil fields of Algeria... Freelance writer (everywhere)... Office manager in Italy... UNICEF consultant in Laos... Conference hostess in Geneva... Toilet seat sales person in Montreal (yes, really)... This website, Women on the Road (and a few others)...
This section is about physical show-up-in-person jobs, some which may lead somewhere, but most designed to fill up your travel wallet.
Finding a job is hard, let's not be coy about it: it can be luck or perseverance or a mixture of both, but there are a few ways you can put luck on your side when searching for jobs with international travel. Let's start with a few general tips, followed by a section with conditions for specific jobs. Generally...
Do you enjoy teaching and have a good grasp of the English language?
Teaching English is a great example of how to make money on the road. It's a common way to make money for travelers of all ages. Being a native English-language speaker is helpful, and a proper qualification is even better.
Until relatively recently, demand was so high that many organizations would snap you up just for being of English mother tongue.
Now you need that piece of paper, which schools like MyTEFL can provide (you'll get 35% off the course if you use my promo code, SCRIBE35). Or if you'd rather, click here to find out how to choose the best TEFL course.
Good luck plays a part here too...
Demand is highest in Asia but there are plenty of teaching opportunities in other parts of the world.
Interested in finding jobs overseas as a teacher? Here are some great countries to teach English if you're over 50!
If you dream of jobs that involve travel, imagine sailing into a different port each day, sightseeing, tax-free shopping, banking your entire salary, meeting exciting people from all over the world, having several months off a year, using passenger facilities on board for free...
Sound too good to be true? Not at all. You absolutely can see the world and get paid for it — if you happen to be working on a ship.
According to Amanda Hathorn-Geary, who runs a business as a cruise employment specialist, "If you love travel, saving a ton of money and meeting and working with amazing people, working on a cruise ship will be one of the best career moves you will ever make."
Amanda knows what she's talking about. She started at the bottom as Seasonal Youth Counsellor with Princess & Cunard and over the next decade worked her way up to Human Resources Manager. She has trained thousands of crew members and now provides consulting and recruitment services to potential cruise employees through her books, her course or a Skype coaching call if you have a few questions.
According to Amanda, there's a specific profile for cruise ship staff, and before you apply you should make sure you fit it. My cousin worked as a croupier on a ship for years and only gave up her shipboard lifestyle when she started a family, so being solo can be helpful (although some cruise lines do hire couples). Just make sure you understand what cruise ship employment entails before you jump on board.
Let's be realistic: being young will be a big plus in landing a job on a private yacht but on larger, more professional vessels, experience will trump many factors. So if this is something you've done before or if you have a special skill that is in high demand for cruises, go for it! Other than being a flight attendant, a cruise ship job is one of the few jobs that require international travel.
Some of the best overseas jobs are those that involve a greater sense of purpose.
If you have any experience that can be put to use in a developing country, you might pick up some short-term work with international organizations like the United Nations or its agencies, or with charities like Oxfam or Save the Children.
Here are some areas in which you might find work — if you're qualified:
You get the picture. If you have the skill, flog it.
It can be relatively easy for these agencies to hire people for very short-term assignments (as opposed to nearly impossible if you're looking for a real job).
You can travel and work around the world in this way. The most complete job listings for UN agencies are usually found at UNjobs.org, and a good alternative is UN Jobs List. You could also look for non-profit jobs overseas or check out the boards at DevNetJobs. Let's face it: development or humanitarian not-for-profit jobs require special skills. Even so, you'll be competing agains highly skilled local people for whom the work may be essential to their survival. Just something to keep in mind... But that said, not all skills are available everywhere so you may be in luck.
Here's a great guide to getting a UN job with links to most UN agencies, making your job a lot easier!
How to travel and get paid with non profits...
Plan in advance. Look up the UN and NGO offices where you're going. Write ahead. Spruce up your CV. Or just call once there.
If you're a professional, using your skills will probably be the first thing you think about when brainstorming ways to travel.
I've been a professional writer or journalist most of my life so working with words is the first thing I look for (even if I do sometimes end up doing strange things, like selling toilet seats!) Being flexible and adaptable is one of my best pieces of advice for how to make money while traveling.
If you're a health professional or an engineer, you're lucky: you have naturally portable professions, like mine, and should be able to find international travel job. If you're a schoolteacher, you may be able to find replacement work or a real job.
There are plenty of nursing jobs (have a look at my page on international travel nursing for a few ideas), medical jobs, accounting jobs, and other professional jobs to be found in other countries.
And here's where you find them:
Let's face it, some jobs are usually more suitable — or available — to travelers in their 20s and 30s, mostly because they're physically draining, backbreaking even. I say 'usually' because I've found all sorts of unlikely jobs, and I also know some 70-year-olds who are more in shape than women half their age.
So if you can't type and the thought of teaching sends shivers down your spine, you could always consider...
One of my all-time go-to travel sites, Transitions Abroad, has a great page with advice about finding tourism and hospitality jobs.
—Updated 15 June 2020