This Is How I Get Paid To Travel The World (Yes, Really)

Get paid to travel the world
Travel is Awesome, but How do I Make Money?
Paid To Travel

After 9 years traveling the world, the most common question I get is: “how do you make money traveling?” or “how do you get paid to travel?” Well here’s my detailed answer.

Working as a professional travel blogger has been a dream come true after many years of hard work.

But I completely understand your curiosity. How am I getting paid to travel around the world so much?

From the outside it must look like I’m just always on vacation, going on wild adventures to places like Costa Rica, Morocco, Iceland, and Afghanistan — but there’s a lot more to it behind the scenes. Somehow I need to make a living!

How exactly do I make money? How do I fund my travels? Do I have sponsors? Who is paying me to travel the world?

I know it doesn’t seem possible, but it is. And I’m about to show you how.

How Do I Fund My Adventures?

There are many different ways to get paid to travel the world. For me, I make money from this travel blog you’re reading right now, which I started back in 2010.

However, I’ll share some other travel-friendly jobs at the end of this article too.

My own income sources can change from year to year, and some are more complicated than others. Attempting to explain how I get paid to travel in casual conversation usually takes a while.

Often times I’ll just throw out “travel writer” or “photographer” to avoid a lengthy discussion.

But because this is the big question everyone wants an answer to, I’ll finally try to clarify the details for you today.

You’ll learn exactly how I’ve funded my travels for the past 9 years — and how I’m able to use my blog to get paid for traveling around the world.

Making Money Traveling
Full Disclosure: This Is Not My Car!
How I make money travel blogging
Full Disclosure: This Is Not My Helicopter!

Getting Paid To Travel The World

It was 2009 when I first began planning to quit my job and travel. I was inspired by two friends. Both were traveling very cheaply, on a backpacker’s budget, living on less than it takes to live in the United States.

I was completely enthralled with their photos and stories from exotic destinations around the world. They had me reading inspiring books and quotes about travel, and I was hooked!

At the time, I didn’t realize you could travel long-term for less than $1000 a month! Budget travel was an entirely new concept for me.

My buddy Ferenc was backpacking through Southeast Asia, making money advertising with Google Adsense on his photography website.

My friend Katie was working on private yachts as a chef, island hopping around the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

I thought if they could make money traveling like this, so could I!

How I Afford to Travel
Saving Money to Travel

Saving Money To Travel

My family isn’t wealthy, and I’ve never had a trust fund. According to US statistics I was considered lower-middle class, a single dude living in South Florida working 2 jobs earning about $30k per year.

How could I possibly save money to travel the world for a whole year living on that?

The answer is I downsized my lifestyle to live on even less.

I’d just finished paying off my car, so I decided to sell it. I canceled my car insurance, gym membership, and Netflix subscription. I purchased a used commuter bicycle, a rain poncho, and a bus pass to get around.

I sold off almost everything of any value that I owned. Goodbye DJ turntables, goodbye stereo, goodbye sports equipment.

I stopped going out to bars, restaurants, and nightclubs too. I cooked a lot of pasta & rice at home. Made my own cheap sandwiches for lunch.

I rented a small room for $400 in a small 2 bedroom house I shared with 2 other people in the suburbs.

These simple (but boring) actions allowed me to save about $7000 over the course of a year. It required discipline, and it wasn’t exactly “fun”.

READ MORE: 35 Best Travel Jobs To Make Money

Getting Paid to Travel in Norway
Just Another Day at the Office!

Making Money Traveling

While I spent a year saving money for (what would initially be) a 12-month journey through Central America, I was also dedicating my free time to developing a side-hustle to make extra money that would help pay the bills as I traveled.

I worked countless coffee-fueled nights and weekends doing hundreds of hours of research to learn about and build a small online business writing and selling digital guides (aka ebooks). My social life kind of fell apart because I wasn’t going out much… only working on my side business.

But chasing my travel dreams was more important to me at the time.

When I finally left for Guatemala in November of 2010, in addition to my savings, I was also earning $1000-$2000 a month selling three different how-to guides on various topics related to the nightlife industry.

After a few years, my ebook side-income business slowed down, as much of my success was from advertising with Google Adwords, a platform that shows ads in your search results. Google made changes that hurt my business a lot.

Luckily by then I’d begun to diversify my income streams, and was earning money from my travel blog. And have continued to ever since.

How I Make Money Online
Ok, Most Days Actually Look Like This…

Current Blog Income Sources

Influencer Marketing

Companies pay me to travel by advertising on this blog and my social media accounts. It takes many forms, like sponsored blog posts, Instagram features, brand ambassadorship programs, or newsletter mentions.

I’ve built up a large loyal audience of people who are interested in travel, and these companies want access to that audience.

Examples include deals with respected companies like American Express and Momondo.

I always include a disclaimer if I’m partnering with a brand and only work with companies that I admire and trust.

How Much? With brand partnerships and influencer marketing I earn between $4000 – $20,000 per deal, depending on what’s involved.

Affiliate Marketing

Whenever I share my favorite travel gear, photography equipment, books, or online courses with you, I include special affiliate tracking links to those products.

This means if you decide to click through and buy something, I’ll receive a small commission. The price remains the same whether you use my special link or not.

Examples include,,,, and many more.

There are also dedicated affiliate networks like Affiliate Window and Commission Junction who represent all kinds of different products.

To see my affiliate links in action, check out my Travel Gear Guide.

While individual commissions might be pretty small, this site receives 500,000+ pageviews per month. Many people are clicking on those links, and it allows me to get paid to travel.

How Much? With affiliate marketing I earn $10,000 – $15,000 per month.

Freelance Travel Photography

I earn money licensing my travel photography for use in commercial marketing campaigns, or for editorial use by media outlets. Tour companies, national tourism boards, outdoor brands, magazines, book publishers and others buy my images from time to time.

I’ve even sold images to National Geographic!

Selling individual photography prints to readers is not a great income source. Most of my photography income comes from working with brands/destinations/media outlets who find me through the blog or on social media.

Learn How To Become A Travel Photographer

How Much? For travel photography I charge between $250 – $4000 for an image license depending on use.

Destination Marketing

Occasionally a country’s tourism board will invite me to visit and write about my experiences traveling through their country.

In the past these were unpaid; but flights, accommodation, and activities were covered like a traditional media press trip.

Well, now I’m getting paid to travel on these destination marketing projects. Usually, they reach out to me, but sometimes I’ll pitch a project to them too.

A campaign usually produces a mix of blog posts, social media content, photography, and video footage.

How Much? For destination marketing I charge between $10,000 – $15,000 per project.

Display Advertising

Google has an advertising platform called Adsense. By placing some special code on your blog, they display relevant ads within the content of your site.

You then earn some money each time a reader clicks on one of these ads. You can also integrate these ads into your YouTube videos, which is what a lot of vloggers do.

If your blog receives enough traffic, premium advertising networks like MediaVine (the one I use) & AdThrive pay more than Adsense. The rate varies between $2 – $25 per 1000 views depending on your topic.

How Much? Display ads on my site bring in $5000 – $7000 per month.

As a blogger, you can also get paid to travel by speaking at conferences and events around the world related to your topic. So in my case, I’ve spoken about traveling the world for photography.

Teaching others through a practical and inspirational speech is a skill that many companies will pay for. If you can build up your online brand, companies will start to seek you out for these kinds of speaking jobs.

How Much? Public speaking gigs can pay between $500 – $3000 per event.
Traveling in Thailand
Boat Hopping in Thailand

Other Ways To Earn Money Traveling

There are other ways to make money from a travel blog which I currently don’t take advantage of. Here are some additional examples.

Freelance Travel Writing

I used to write travel articles for other websites. They needed content, and I had stories and experiences to share. The Travel Channel was once one of my clients.

It can be a decent source of income for some people, for me it was sporadic. These days I’m able to earn more working on my own site rather than writing for others, so I generally don’t chase this type of income anymore.

Learn How To Become A Travel Writer

How Much? Travel writing can pay between $0.10 – $1 per word, depending on the outlet.

Link Building

In the past, I also engaged in something called text-link advertising. Companies would pay just for a backlink to their website in my older posts, or provide a full pre-written “guest post” full of links for me to publish.

Why? Because it helps those companies increase their search engine results, sending more people to their website and growing their business.

The practice is frowned upon though, because it’s against Google’s guidelines.

If you’re caught by Google, it can backfire, so I don’t recommend it. Yet many bloggers still make money this way — so I thought I’d mention it.

How Much? Link building used to earn between $50 – $500 per link.

Leading Tours Or Workshops

Some travel bloggers and photographers run their own group tours or photography workshops to exotic destinations around the world.

Some focus on budget travel, others focus on food, writing retreats, or improving photography techniques. Basically, you’re showing strangers around an area you know well, and hopefully teaching them something in the process.

Organizing a tour is a lot of work, but it can pay well too. I’m running my first one soon and can let you know how it goes!

How Much? Group tours can earn the organizer between $2000 – $15,000 per trip.

Selling Ebooks Or Courses

Selling digital products is another way some travel bloggers earn income traveling. Either travel guides about a particular destination, or books about how to travel on a budget, how to make money from a travel blog, improving your photography, becoming a better travel writer, etc.

I find it kind of funny that I was able to fund my first year of traveling in part by selling ebooks, yet don’t sell any now. That may change in the future, as I have a lot of tips to share after doing this for 9 years!

How Much? Selling digital products can earn between $500 – $10,000 per month for some people.
Cave in Spain
How Much do I Make from Travel Blogging?

How Much Do I Make Overall?

I know, I know. You want details. How much do I get paid to travel?

Asking someone exactly how much money they make is a very personal question, and it’s not something I’m entirely comfortable posting, but I’ll give you an idea.

In 2018 this travel blog made over $250,000 in revenue.

I’m not a millionaire, but I’m not living in a cardboard box either.

While I started with humble roots, and still prefer to travel the world on a budget, I’m also able to save money these days. Or splurge on some expensive experiences from time to time.

Of course, there are also many expenses with running my business. Website hosting, photography equipment, travel expenses, etc.

No one paid me to travel to Greenland for example, but independent travel like this is also part of running my travel blog.

And the reality is that even now, I actually have no idea how much I’ll make each month because it can fluctuate from month to month. It’s one downside to working for yourself. In exchange for freedom, you often lose some security.

But I’ll choose freedom over security any day!

There have been a few occasions over the past 9 years, earlier in my travel blogging journey, when my bank account was drained to its last $300…

Embracing uncertainty and risk on a quest to do what you love can be scary sometimes. Really scary!

Hey, I know what it’s like to live in a cave if it ever came down to that. :-)

I love what I do, and continue to learn new skills and work towards making this travel lifestyle sustainable, or at least until I no longer enjoy it.

I strongly believe that anything is possible with hard work, patience, and dedication.

You also can’t be afraid to take some risks or fail along the way.

READ MORE: Tips For A Successful Travel Blog

Useful Resources To Get Paid For Travel

I’m not going to sugar-coat this and tell you that making money while traveling has been easy. Quite the opposite actually. I work a lot more now than I did when I first started.

This income didn’t just appear overnight either, it’s taken me 9 long years to get to this point.

Also keep in mind that I run one of the top 10 travel blogs according to readership. So my results are not average, I’m a bit of an outlier. But I also started at zero like everyone else.

I know these big numbers can be shocking for people who don’t understand how to blog for a living. Yes, blogging can be more than a hobby. It can be a viable business if you treat it like one.

Like all businesses though, it takes time to grow.

For the first 2 years, there’s no way I could’ve survived on my travel blog income alone.

However, if you’re determined to get paid to travel, here are some more resources I highly recommend:

  • How To Start A Travel Blog: My step-by-step guide to starting your first travel blog. Or any blog for that matter (food, hiking, fashion, etc.)
  • The Best Travel Jobs: Blogging not for you? Luckily there are many different ways to earn income while traveling.
  • Ways To Make Extra Money: Not ready to quit your day job? Here are some ideas to earn extra money on the side.
  • Vagabonding: This book by Rolf Potts convinced me to save money and travel the world as a budget backpacker.
  • The 4-Hour Workweek: This book by Tim Ferriss is full of useful tips for building a location independent business.

I hope my article answered your questions about how I can afford to travel so much (it’s because I’m also getting paid to travel!).

It’s been a long and wild journey so far, and I’m thankful every day for the incredible life I’m living. ★

Have any questions about how I get paid to travel? What else would you like to know? Drop me a message in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 9 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel more with crazy stories, photography, and useful tips.
Matthew Karsten
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317 thoughts on “This Is How I Get Paid To Travel The World (Yes, Really)”

  1. I love this post! Very inspiring, I’ve actually stated a travel agency and wanted to figure out how I could make more money while traveling and get people to visit my website. This really gave me a lot of great ideas.


  2. New fan here. Thanks for sharing your success! I am an aspiring travel blogger and photographer. Glad to come across your blog. Keep writing awesomeness! x

  3. Hey Matt,

    Really, you are so generous to share this valuable blog post. I am sure this the key to success for you. Knowledge is to share with others.

    This will definitely help fellow bloggers. Keep writing :) I am following your blog.

  4. Hey Matt, really nice to see someone be so transparent — and helpful — about a question many just waft over–as if it’s actually possible to travel for free. I’m curious how growth in social media as a destination has helped or hurt your blogging business? Also, thanks for the tips re Costa Rica white water rafting; I’m headed there in a week and will plan to follow in your footsteps!

  5. Hey Matthew,

    Just a quick question. Were you experienced in photography before traveling? I’m looking into capturing my travels with a decent camera, but I have absolutely no experience with DSLRs. In fact, maybe you could tell me if its even worth bringing one on my first trip? (Mexico and Cuba ~4months)

    Thanks! :)

  6. I completely agree with all the ‘work more than ever’ points you’ve put here! A lot of ‘bloggers’ assume, it’s all rosy and all you do is get paid to have a perpetual vacation! If only more people planning to do that would realize the efforts that went into it all!

      • I have read that! And I consider it as a great resource :)
        Although I am an analyst in the IT domain, I still have to get better at a lot of things you’ve put in there…
        In 6 months I’m now a self proclaimed WordPress ninja(being an analyst helps :) ), pretty good at design and getting a hang of SEO…Maybe If I hustle long enough the press features and hiring can then follow :)

        Cheers Matt!

  7. Wow that’s awesome man congrats on achieving that kind of success with your blog!!! I hope and pray everyday my blog will do that for me someday :)

  8. Matthew, I think this has a ton of great information. I am a fellow traveler and you have opened my eyes to some new things that I can do in my travels. Thank you!

  9. Amazing tips. Thank you very much. We also travelled for a longer time without doing any work. Mainly Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. We didn’t book with any agency, just the first flight out of here. Being flexible is one of the greatest advantages.

  10. Thank you Natasha mam. I really loved receiving a reply from you. I live in India, where now a days theme restaurants are doing good. I know its not easy opening up a restaurant. I really need guidance. Having up a good team of workers which can look after instead.. will not workout according to you? Mam, please let me join you through facebook if you dont mind. Thank you.

  11. Great work Matt,
    Am a flight attendant and plan to start exploring dis year! I wish I cud meet a group of like minded individuals to travel the world with.Like pick a place and explore for a couple weeks and on a pocket friendly budget. It wud be really cool,as u can plan ahead and save up. Not forgetting it’ll be a beautiful way to travel,spend holidays and meet new people.
    Wish u cud help with that Matt, it’ll mean a lot.
    Thanx and good luck on ur travels.

  12. Really loved the article.. I’m 17 and want to travel the world. Will opening a small theme restaurant or a bar help me make money by doing nothing much? Please guide me..

    • In my experience successful people work the hardest. Take travel blogging for example. It may seem like we’re living a perpetual vacation, but that’s not reality. The travel bloggers I know who make over 100k per year are total workaholics behind the scenes.

      I have no personal experience with opening a restaurant, but don’t expect it to be easy.

    • Mukul, for the love of all things fluffy and beautiful, don’t open a restaurant to save money. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry most of my life and it’s a drain for at minimum the first five years. If you’re in the US, zoning, licenses, rent, special equipment, loans, labor costs will be the death of you. If you plan on making any money it may be easier to become a vendor for markets. Perhaps a few easy dishes (like five dishes, no more). Even if you end up doing all the work it’s still expensive. I would suggest, if you haven’t done it yet, work on the back end of a restaurant for a few years before you try to open one. If you don’t want to do that read Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw. It’s the most realistic look as to the life of a chef and restaurant owner I’ve ever read.

  13. If you ever need a photography assistant, I would love to help. I am just about to give up my 8 year studio photography business to go travelling. I have absolutely no idea where to start. I love volunteering in 3rd world countries, so may go back to this but it won’t fund me to keep travelling around the world. I would one day love a mentor like yourself. Thank you for your inspiration.

  14. It’s so easy for you people in the West to travel. I am from India and I need a visa to travel to a lot of countries. It isn’t as easy as it is for you :(

    • Very true Jwali, I frequently have to remind myself of that privilege. It’s not as easy for all citizens in other countries to travel. Not impossible, but not easy either.

      • Sorry to buzz in here, but I am always glad when someone influential admits that it is a privilege and it isn’t easy for everyone (at-least monetarily) to take up full-time travel. The initial investments are pretty huge for some!

        Cheers again! :)

    • so true JWALI! i am from Pakistan and I agree its a lot more difficult for us to follow the dream of world travel as compared to people living in the west…

  15. Hi…you are a man after my own heart. I want nothing more than to travel the world freely and without the constraints of normal daily tasks. Is there any chance you would privately share your agent?

  16. thanks for sharing guys,i have longed to be the first african to go around the world but many litations trapping me,finances and means,i wishd to ride on a motorbike around africa first then the world i m from kenya aged 45 any company and how we can start is welcomed

  17. Great post! I’m trying to figure out exactly how I’m going to travel the world, be it a nomadic existence, or something more structured, like teaching abroad. Your blog really gets me motivated!

    If you’re ever in the South Florida area, I’d love to buy you a beer and pick your brain.

  18. Hi Matt! I just found your blog and I am quite intrigued. I am 17 right now, and I am starting to save up for my travels. My dream is to spend the next several years of my life traveling the world and writing (I want to be an author-of all sorts of books). However, a major dilemma for me is how to make money while traveling. I have a blog, but I’ve barely done anything with it. Do you have any tips that you could share for getting my blog off the ground? Anything is much appreciated!!
    Thanks so much!

  19. The was an amazing and very informative article! Thanks for sharing! It is definitely help me continue to push through the beginning phases of my travel blog as well!

  20. This is a nice post!!
    someday I’ll will be successful as you’re, and i think starting with simple blog first as long as i can.

  21. I lost my faith studying my religion in academia, but I want to say that it was by fate that I found your blog because I did not plan on living much longer. It has given me a sense of wonder and if I decide to give it but another chance, I can not see what I have to lose taking a leap of faith and doing what you have decided to do with your time here. Your bravery is admirable and it brings me peace knowing that you have unlocked a part of life that not many have experienced.


  22. Hey Matthew,
    I really enjoyed reading through this post. You are doing something I hope to be able to do in the future. I currently am just taking short breaks from work to travel but would love to turn it into a full time effort. Very inspiring read.

  23. This was an interesting and inspirational article! I hope someday I can have a lifestyle like this. I’m also traveling on a budget but soon I may be at the end of my rope with coming up with money for future trips (unless I get can a legitimate work at home job) as I already work full time. Any get-paid-to blog sites are welcome, as I have many travel stories to share!

  24. Fantastico! I love your clear and simple writing style. I can’t travel around yet because I’m trying to put all 4 kids through college, but, my dream is to go to Argentina and Antarctica for 1 year and see what’s over there. I love to see the sky full of stars at night when there’s no light pollution. Stay safe Matt!

  25. Hello Matt,
    My family and I would love to buy a mobile home and travel the U.S. We have no clue how to do so. Any tips on how to raise a family on the road?

  26. Once again, thank you SO MUCH for posting your experiences and expertise. I am looking to, and will over time, make my travel blog something awesome. People like you are an inspiration. Thanks again!

  27. great blog! big help for me being new in this blogging journey. I hope it will show improvement for my site taking some of your advises and your experiences as an example.

  28. Wow, great inspirational post. My girlfriend and I are about to start traveling the world in 5 months time, and I am getting our travel blog ready in the meantime. We have been practicing by documenting and photographing our travels and places we have been to in our home town of Cape Town, and our holiday to Namibia. You are a great inspiration! Maybe we will run into each other while traveling one day!

    • Nice Francois, those are two incredible areas to start sharing with your readers. I did the same, sharing posts about Miami where I was living at the time.

  29. Great series of posts! I devoured every little advice and even made a sort of blueprint for the next few months, complete with goals! :) Thank you so much for generously sharing your expert advice.

  30. Hi Matt,

    This is amazing. Though i knew about a few, but haven’t really started implementing any. Who am i kidding, i have just started a month back. :P
    But like you said, i too lost my job, broke up and was bankrupt when travelling to the Himalayas gave a new direction in my life. I don’t earn much. But i have to keep this job just to make my parents believe that i haven’t failed. Coming from a slightly orthodox family (India), it takes a lot of guts and patience to explain my parents, my love and passion for travelling and sharing it among the others so they can see what i see.
    However i have taken my first step and promised myself to travel somewhere, in and around in India only (Once in a month).

    Once again thanks. Will start working on it soon

  31. Thank you so much Matthew to share all this! I am sure I will be using a few of them.
    Two questions: would you care to share
    1) how are you licensing your images? Through stock photo sites or other licensing sites, like PicFair, or you do it manually via email?
    2) agents? How do you work with an agent as a travel blogger? I would be soooo happy to give the tasks of sales talk and such to somebody else…
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Andrea! I don’t submit images to stock photo sites, but I know some people who do. My photography is usually sold when companies come to me with a project in mind, or find my images of specific places when searching online. So it’s done via email.

      There aren’t many agents who deal with travel bloggers yet, and understandably they don’t want two thousand bloggers pitching them via email. They’ll find you when they think you’re ready. But if you want to meet an agent, travel conferences are a good place to start.

  32. Hey Matthew, I just wanted to say thanks for providing continual inspiration to get out there and see the world. I follow this blog as well as your stuff on Instagram and it’s one of the things that keeps me believing that living the dream of constant travel, beautiful scenery, and new life experiences every day is possible if you work hard enough and stay positive. After reading this post I realized I am in a similar starting out kind of situation that you were in and with similar goals as well. I recently quit my job as a plumber in the states and am currently exploring Central America (based in Antigua) with my girlfriend for hopefully about the next 6 months until she finishes a thesis. All I left with is a duffel bag full of clothes/toiletries, 2 cameras, and a laptop. Fingers crossed that all goes well. Anyways… like I said I’m a big fan of your Instagram and was wondering if you had any expert tips on a good way to drive more traffic mine while I figure this whole “how to build a successful travel blog” stuff out??? ANY advice would be greatly appreciated for that matter :) And THANKS again man and keep it coming.
    P.S. my Instagram is @ermagoditsmike in case you wanna check it out or follow….

  33. Hey.. m sharmi… I dream of traveling d whole world every day, every second. but I don’t know where to start, what to start. please lead me a way .. what r d courses, what to do. m stuck. sometimes I feel to finish my life. bcoz if I give up on my dreams. there will b no reason to live. plz help me.

    • Hey Sharmi, a good place to start is the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. That’s what helped me get started. Plus the other links featured in this post.

      There’s always a reason to live my friend. Everyone has dreams that may never come true, even myself. That’s no reason to leave the world. Here’s a link that might help if you want to talk to someone who’s more qualified than me.

  34. Loved your post, Matthew! Thanks for putting it together.

    i started a site last year for travel with kids – I call it a site as in addition to some travel stories of my own, I spend most of my time getting other parents to share their travel stories of journeys taken with the little ones.

    I have a question – how do you find your agent? If I am honest with myself, it’s been a blogger’s agent that I am most interested in… especially as I have always been a business / sales kinda person, then a creative / editorial one… much as I do enjoy writing my own stories, my own style.

    Would love to hear back from you!

    Best, Ling Tan

    • Hi Ling, most agents (at least for blogging) don’t want people pitching them. They’ll find you! I’ve met agents at travel conferences though, those are good places to network for all sorts of reasons.

  35. Hey Matthew, I’m just a young 19 year old kid from Chicago trying to make it into photography. I’ve always loved photography ever since high school. Taking every photography class as i can, it was an awesome experience and i learned a TON! After high school, i decided it’s time to get a job so i can start paying for my college tuition. I’m currently studying Business but my lifetime goal is to travel the world and take photos. After my first year of college i bought a Canon camera, GoPro Hero 4, DJI Phantom vision 2 Drone & a Macbook air. I tried going on as many adventures as possible with friends and just take pictures. All my friends and family think my photos and video edits are amazing which really helps me keep pushing to my goal, to travel the world. I recently have been emailing my photography teacher from high school and she is amazed at my photography and wants me to pursue a career. I love taking scenic photos more than anything, but my problem is i’m kind of in a slump on what to do next. I see many people get to travel the world, expenses paid and everything and that’s all i want to do. I just love sharing my photography with everyone, their positive comments is what keeps me striving. After reading this article i believe you can help me reach my goal. Is there any way i can personally contact you ? I hope you took the time to read my story & hope to hear from you! Thanks Matt, you truly inspired me!
    -David Stacy, Chicago Illinois.

    • Hey David, making a living specifically as a travel photographer is very tough. Most of them have been building a following (and portfolio) for many years. Check out this post from my friend Brendan if you want a little dose of the reality for travel photographers these days.

  36. This is such an insightful/helpful read! So, what would be your advice for someone who is still in college and is dying to be out there experiencing the world/adventurous situations it has to offer? I’m very limited regarding what I can and cannot afford and have classes which (obviously) take place in one city. It’s bothered me for years and I’m itching to get started on something besides an all-inclusive family vacation.

  37. Hi Matthew,
    Your journey is inspirational! Have you ever considered selling a high-ticket product online that is for travel? Just a thought.

    Happy Travels!

    • I have Laurie, maybe not high-ticket, but selling an information product like I used to for the nightlife industry. In fact it seems a bit ridiculous that I haven’t done it yet.

      • Agreed Matthew! You have quite an opportunity to help your readers travel more often. And high-ticket is just a term I use, it really implies value, not crazy high prices. You have my email and my website if you’re curious to know more. There’s more than one way to travel and get paid :) it’s great that you get your message out here. Thanks

  38. Awesome stuff! You’re living the dream! I may follow in your foot steps one day… for now it’s just part time and its hard work.

  39. Hey Matt.

    This is the post that inspired me to set off on my quest to become a Digital Nomad.

    I’m showing it to people I meet who are enticed by this lifestyle.

    • Cool Will, glad you found it useful. Good luck on your journey! The life of a digital nomad is often challenging, but the freedom to do what you love from anywhere is a powerful motivator.

  40. Very interesting article, thank you. I’ve just started my blog not long ago.. and I still have a lot to learn…. but your story is very inspiring!

  41. Great article and advice! I’m a lifelong traveller but fairly new to the blogging world, so much of this will be very useful. Happy travels!

  42. Thank you for the article. I know that there are many of us who wishes to travel but with little information and the fear of letting go is what makes us stuck or stagnant with our daily lives.
    But my partner and I are ever so willing to live life beyond what we have been thought, and this has given us insight that it is possible tho live our dreams of travelling and crossing paths with people with the same mindset.
    This is just the begining for the two of us and we hope to share our knowledge and experience to others.
    Thank you!
    Namaste <3

  43. Really, really helpful posts. I’ve just written my first book about earning money whilst traveling – specifically for people wanting to do it via the yachting industry. I thought writing it was difficult but marketing it is proving just as hard! Any tips for a newbie as to how to break in. I’ve gone the road well travelled with Amazon Kindle for e-book and CreateSpace for the paperback. Doing local flyers and have a bit of a presence online. I’ve only just started so I’m not expecting great shakes yet, but would LOVE any words of wisdom you can throw my way JP

  44. wow you divulge so much great personal info. Thanks so much, i really appreciate how honest and open you are it is inspiring. Most try to hide and not allow others to know their “secrets” and it is refreshing to see how you want everyone to enjoy the splendors you do. Rad.

  45. Pretty soon I’m going to be traveling the world (or as much as i can before i hit Australia where i plan on working for a while) Originally i wanted to start a youtube channel and log my way around the world! But now I’m thinking of doing both, Vlogging and Blogging! How would you guys think that will go down? And any tips will be greatly appreciated.

  46. This is a great article. I have just begun travel blogging, but have other projects on the side that allow me to travel. I also teach English, which provides my housing currently as well as income on the side. We travel with our one year old, so our lifestyle is quite a bit different than most travelers. With that said, travel is our passion and I learned quite a bit from this entry. Thank you very much for sharing.

  47. Very authentically written article. Thanks for being so straight and not for not going in circles. I am following your blog now.
    Your photos of Iceland are also very beautiful. Lots to learn from you.

    Greetings from India.

  48. Hello Matthew,
    You really have inspired me and given me hope for my future. I will soon become of age that I no longer care about my career and plan on going on the road full time riding a motorcycle.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • There’s nothing like the open road on a motorcycle Madeleine. I look forward to following your adventures, and good luck!

  49. hello. I am shruti. I am a 12 year old, Indian. though I am very young for this, but i have been interested in travel a lot. And i believe that it’s hard work, but it’s not impossible. I can obviously not travel right now, but I have started planning. I have a doubt and I think you can help. Do you know about couchsurfing? ( Though it’s free, but at places I found that “couchsurfing is free” is a myth. I am unable to find what’s true. Please respond whenever you are free. May be you can help me. Thank you!

    • Hey Shruti

      Couchsurfing is safe only if you follow Dos and Dont. I am an Indian in Malaysia and an active Couchsurfer.


    • Hey Shruti,

      Couchsurfing is free and its safety depends on your host. You’ve got reviews on people and you basically choose people based on their profile. You can open your house to couch surfers as well, for people who visit India. That way you will meet a lot of travelers way before you can grown up enough to start traveling. :)

      Again the kind of people you accept depends on you, so let an adult in your family help you choose. Its a cheap option of travel and the best option to meet locals, travelers and learn about cultures.
      I was couchsurfing in France last month and I had both good and bad experiences. so you’ve got to choose carefully. Good luck hun! xoxo

  50. hi.
    i am looking for tips and tricks for making money on the road.
    but so far the only “globetrotters with a blog“ sustain there lifestyle with their blog.
    do you know some blogs of people who sustain their travels mainly from working in the country that there traveling through, or do you know of ways to make money on the road.

    but anyway you are a great inspiration and many thanks for all your great tips and tricks, i now am saving up for a world trip, the plan is to leave Holland in the next year to travel the world!
    greetings rob

  51. HI matt! I love to travel, I have the luck to have a pilot as a dad, so so far i have been traveling at his expenses. I am 18, starting to work and save up money. I was wondering, do you think I should wait to I am a bit older, or I should embark on the adventure of traveling the world as soon as possible?

    • Hey Ines!

      Since we’re in a similar position I think my advice would be helpful.
      I’m 20 years-old and have been traveling for the past 3-4 months. Not planning on stopping anytime soon :-)

      I would not recommend you to postpone your travel plans. If you have the time and money, I don’t see why you shouldnt go.
      Most people you meet on your way, will probably be a few years older than you though, but on the road, age difference doesnt seem to be that important.

      Long story short; Embark on your adventures as soon as possible – you wont regret it!

      Happy travels

    • I agree with Mads! Go for it. Just don’t party too hard. :-)

      You can do some travel now, and then do some more later in life too. My biggest travel regret was not starting sooner.

  52. Very usefull post, indeed! Thanks for telling your story it inspires to search some ways to become independent traveller as well! And you have done a great job and proved it is achievable.

  53. This is great information– thank you for sharing! How did you find advertisers for your blog when you were just starting out? What advice would you give a beginner blogger?? Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

  54. Hey Matt, thanks for sharing all this private info.

    You’ve gotten me hooked on your blog lately, it’s getting me all excited for my adventure in January! Just another question if you don’t mind me asking, when you first embarked on your journey how much did you take with you and what was your original budget/ did you find it hard to stick to it?

    • Hi Brittany! I’d saved about $7k, but was also earning income online every month. I’d say a good number to start with is $10k for one year of budget travel.

  55. Thanks Matthew,
    I like your honesty. Most people I know, never share, their source of income from/while they travel.
    You are inspirational.
    Happy traveling.

  56. Thank you for your inspiring, helpful and succinct blog! I have been getting goosebumps reading it and getting so excited for my big trip to SouthEast Asia and beyond. For travel blogging, what kind of photography/video equipment do you recommend for someone just starting out? I was thinking a GoPro & an unlocked iPhone5 or new Galaxy phone. I want to do some V-blogging and photography with easy uploading & posting. Thank you!

  57. Hi Matt,
    Great website and I am glad I found it! I have a quirky question… What type of BUG protection do you use? I am planning some Mexico, Belize and possibly further South travel soon and would love to know what you find works best. I am a BUG MAGNET!

  58. This is inspiring, really fantastic stuff here. This is a plan that I have for myself in the next few years and this is a wonderful jump off point. Thank you for sharing this information.

  59. I have travelled the world for 5 years and i don’t think its any issue at all to have money. I actually disagree with the belief that you need teach english, write a blog earn money. In general “Travel Jobs” or international business or expat work will pay more then back home in any professional job. And the benefit that accommodation is provided when you take these jobs, as well as a car, and sometimes food and return flights home regularly. So in-fact you can save lots of money by working and travelling. I traveled 25 countries this year alone (paid as my job requires me too travel looking after Olympic Teams as a coach), and in a general year i travel 40. I have mates in international business all earn maybe 100-150,000/yr where they would only get around 80,000 or so back home. People need to realise there is More money if you travel, not less. It’s good you let people know this. The opportunities are there, but first you have to make sure you have the specialist skills and experiences that other countries lack.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Shane! Yes, I agree. There are so many more opportunities out there when you look at the world as a whole, rather than limiting yourself to one country.

      • Hi Mattew, thanks for your tips! :)…

        What do you recommend me for copyright for illustrations? What do you usually do for your pics? Sorry if I ask too much, but I was thinking about save creative or Flickr, or publishing them under a trademark (I have registered one )… Do you think one of these could be useful?

        I would like to do what you do (travelling ) but in other kind of interests. I think I am too old and also I woman, so I really think I can t do it, but it is really nice to see you doing it! :)


    • Hey Shane!

      I’ve got expat friends who travel a lot and get paid well for it. I don’t think the motive of this blog is to travel for work. Its to have the freedom to travel where your heart wants to go and how to sustain yourself while doing so without having a real job.
      In your case you go where your work demands you to go just like a crew member of an airplane, that’s working abroad. :)

      Its great you travel for work, not everyone can has the same opportunity :)

  60. Thankyou so much for this. I’ve only just graduated, so I’m about to make the first few steps that will rock the money : happiness ratio. I’ve always wanted to travel and experience different ways of living outside the system I’ve grown up in, but it’s been quite a daydream. A student loan has so far paid for trips to Iceland and Chernobyl, but obviously that’s just a debt. It’s really inspiring and comforting to hear from someone who’s actually living it. Thankyou!

  61. I have been living in my 1998 Ford Escort Wagon. Shower at gym.. Savings add up quick. No rent, eat at church dinners, dumpster dive KFC etc. Question is/ do you think it’s safe to drive down to Panama and back to States 6 months trip ? or am I going to be be-headed and tortured and money stolen by cops ?

    • I say go for it Ben, but stay smart and research your trip a bit to stay away from rough areas. The world is a safe place for the most part. However you will probably have to bribe a few cops. Don’t worry, they won’t take too much. :-)

  62. How amazing to share your success stories with the public! I am thankful of travel bloggers like you that share those little inside tips for when I travel to new places! Believe it or not they are actually hard to find the useful tidbits that make all the difference in a mediocre vacation and a great vacation! Merci beaucoup~!

  63. Planning to start my journey in July. Hoping it becomes the last “job” I ever have. Reading every word you write as time allows. Hope to run into you in person someday Matt!

  64. Interested in your comments about ebook sales and falling foul of Google Adwords. How does Amazon get around this? One rule for one perhaps…

    • If only we knew the mysteries of how & why Google does what it does. They wouldn’t tell me what I was doing wrong, but wanted me to fix it. So frustrating.

  65. Inspiring post, and website for that matter—

    I found you via one of your videos on the epic water fights of sankran. Looks like you were having the time of your life. I’ve got my blog going, and am in the preparation stage of my entrepreneurial journey, believing to travel soon myself//.

    Thanks for your kick of inspiration!

    Maui, HI

    • Hi Robb! Yeah, I loved Songkran. So much fun to have a 4 day long city-wide water gun fight. Glad you found the blog!

  66. GREAT tips! Thanks for being so candid about how you make money with your blog. Diversifying is definitely key, as is finding a way to work from anywhere with an Internet connection. For people who see $2-$5k and don’t think they could live on that and travel, you TOTALLY CAN, especially in low-cost countries in Asia and South America. $5k/month would mean living like a king in somewhere like Nepal or India.

  67. Hey Matt! Met you at breakfast this morning – sat to your right. Really impressed with your blog, it’s re-inspiring me to continue traveling!

    I’m on a 6-month excursion, 1 month into it so far – and certainly a bit stressful as I’m funding everything through remote software work. You’ve gained a new reader, looking forward to future posts!

  68. I hope that doing this, in this time of your life is worth it. I spent years in the military and now years working as a nurse to eventually, at 55, be able to retire and travel. I don’t make a great pension, but enough to not have to worry about the $1000-1500/month to live on. Because of my military experience I can live comfortably on half that (or less). I just hope that as you get older, you will have some kind of security to fall back on. With your experience and writing ability, you will be able to earn a living writing when youthful body runs down. For now, keep going young man, your writings and journey’s are inspiring me to retire early and enjoy life. Thank you… don’t stop.

    • Thanks for sharing Jon. That’s a question I get a lot from family & friends back home. “How long can you do this for?” or “What’s next?”

      I’m not too worried about the future. As you mentioned, travel writing is something that can be done at any age. Who knows? Maybe I’ll run tours, become a travel agent, teach photography, open up a little surf shop on some quiet beach in Mexico, etc. There are all kinds of options.

      I’ve been contacted by quite a few TV producers lately too — Rick Steves makes a decent living. ;-)

    • Hey Jon –
      Age is irrelevant. I’m turning 60 this year and fund my river expeditions all over the world ( by freelance writing – sometimes from home in Brisbane, Australia, and sometimes while I’m on the road (I got my best ever writing client by email while sitting on the shores of Lake Bled, Slovenia.

      ‘Security to fall back on’ is mostly an illusion, in my experience.

  69. Great breakdown of how you do it, and how you’ve changed as time has gone on. Keep riding the wave and embracing uncertainty!

  70. Thanks for sharing! Although I doubt we’ll ever tear up our roots and travel the world as a lifestyle, we do fund our travels by careful budgeting. “Live within your means so you can travel beyond your dreams” is one of my mottoes.

  71. Glad to know the insights. I have also started with full time blogging and freelancing, so I have made a difficult decision – I also chose freedom over security.

  72. Hmm.. that photo at the beginning was rather misleading. ;)

    Thanks for the info! Always interested in how other bloggers make money. You’re one of the few travelers who started online by building websites. Many others start out by working abroad or freelancing. I featured quite a few bloggers in my travel/personal finance blog.

  73. Funny, I just did a search here because I saw you recommended Travel Blog Success on their website, and now you’ve included them here:)
    Still pondering over joining…

    • I’m a fan. Many of the questions people are asking here, or in general on other FB groups, have already been answered there. In detail. Yes it costs money, but it will also save a lot of time & frustration. As it has for me.

      Pitching companies/destinations for example. There are email templates there, as well as practical advice from the best, like Dave & Deb, and Gary. SEO tips direct from Nomadic Matt.

      • I don’t mind that it costs money, I just want to be sure that it’s worth it. There are so many courses for travel bloggers out there nowadays, and I suck at decision making:)

  74. Ha-ha good old days of e-books, AdWords, and AdSense when you could plaster your DUY web site with banners, sit back and collect the money :) … Affiliate marketing is probably the best choice for beginner bloggers, especially Amazon ( as long as you know how to do it, and NOT greedy/sketchy ). But yeah, free sponsored trips and free gear ( SWAG -shit we all get :)) were the first things I was getting when I started.

    Freelance travel writing is something I’m working on right now. I know it doesn’t pay much, but there is just something awesome about your post/article being published in a “real magazine”. Any advice on how to pitch your stories to major publications ?

    Also, I get tons of emails every day from PR/advertising agencies with requests to promote their stuff ( mostly for free, as you know :)) How do you handle these emails ? Don’t want to make this comment long, but have a few other questions about paid links/promoted posts…. Do you mind if I send you an email ? Thanks in advance !

    • As for the free-promotion stuff, I send them my own email template response:

      “If you’d like to partner together in a professional business relationship, let me know. It’s obvious you know the value of good storytelling & photography. I’d be happy to share some possible ideas about how we can work together in that respect. But if you’re just looking for free press/content, that’s not what I do, nor do I have the time.”

      And sure, you can email me.

  75. ive been following your lifestyle for such a long time.. i still have to achieve the $2000 a month income though but i hope to be close ^_^.. keep on inspiring~

    • Hi Grasya! It can take a long time, and to be honest my background in photography and web design/seo has helped a lot too. But these were self-taught, so there’s no reason why other people can’t do the same. One of the reasons I love the internet so much is access to information! You can learn anything you want to if you put the time in.

    • I send them a pitch email, something I learned a lot about in Travel Blog Success. But most of the time companies come to me actually. Building up your online presence leads to more & more opportunities. Conferences & networking help with this too. Meet the people who have the power to make decisions in person. They will remember you when they have a project.

      Build an audience first, and the money will come later.

  76. Thanks for sharing. I like that you mentioned “freedom over security.” It’s important to make that choice intentionally, otherwise security will close a lot of doors. My husband and I are attempting some similar strategies to yours over the next year, after we finish our Peace Corps service.

    • I agree. If it all falls apart, I’ll just move on to the next thing. It’s not the end of the world.

      “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: Is this the condition that I feared?” ~ SENECA

  77. Thanks for sharing this. My boyfriend and I are just at the start of hopefully an equally successful journey – saving to travel next year. I just finished the Four Hour Work Week and can recommend it to everyone who wants to live a location-independent lifestyle.

    • Awesome Brigid. Buckling down and saving is not easy at first. But once you get in the “groove”, it gets better. Having to tell friends I couldn’t go out and party with them anymore sucked. But I got pretty good at making salad and pasta!

  78. Magic stuff. Those are good figures! Impressive how you’ve managed to diversify and change your business model …

    • Glad you enjoyed it! It’s not easy, but when you love doing something, you don’t mind the work as much.