8 Ways to Earn a Living While Traveling Abroad

Find a way to travel abroad.

This is one of the most basic pieces of advice I could give to anyone wanting to expand their view of life, themselves, and the world. I’ve written previously about why traveling abroad will be the best decision of your life and the empowering realizations you can’t afford to miss.

Still, I know that for many people the prospect of globe-trotting is a far-off, seemingly unreachable fantasy. Folks think, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had the money to do that?” or “Sigh, I could do that if it weren’t for [insert excuse here].” or “Some day I will do that, after [insert arbitrary life event].

Surprised Cat in Busy Lane

People tend to believe that traveling abroad will cost them a fortune, or else deep down they haven’t overcome a fear of entering the unknown. Well, I’m here to tell you that traveling abroad doesn’t have to break the bank. I mean, sure, if you want to live a 5-star lifestyle in a foreign country it will cost a pretty penny, but you shouldn’t want to do that. You should want to live with the people and experience the culture because that’s where the magic happens.

Between cheap flights, living in hostels or CouchSurfing, and finding ways to earn money, food, and/or accommodation while abroad, travel can cost far less than you might imagine. Here are eight ways to partially or entirely finance a trip abroad.

1. Teach English

In just over one month, I will be heading to Asia to teach English in Busan, South Korea for at least one year through the EPIK Program. English is, in many ways, becoming a universal language. There are job opportunities in countless locations all over the world, and often you only need to be a native speaker or take an online certification course (you may also need a college degree). Many programs will pay for your airfare and housing on top of a healthy salary. Google and Dave’s ESL Cafe are good resources to begin discovering your options.


This is something I’m probably going to do within the next few years. Through the World Wide Organization of Organic Farms (WWOOF), you can travel to many different countries and work on organic farms. Basically, you work for 4-6 hours per day in exchange for food and housing with a host family. This leaves the majority of your day open for exploring and other activities. With the necessities covered, you only need to pay for travel expenses. I have friends who “WWOOFed” for 6 months in Japan, and some friends of a friend did the same for about 6 months in South America.

3. Peace Corps

Peace Corps is another option I’ve strongly considered and may still do. Corps members make a two-year commitment to live and work in a developing country. Members work in the sectors of education, youth and community development, health, business, agriculture, environment, and HIV/AIDS, among others. In exchange, you receive a housing and living allowance, student loan assistance, a re-adjustment stipend of $7,425 upon completion, full medical and dental coverage, plus a few other things. I know the Peace Corps would be a profoundly life-changing experience.

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4. Work on a Cruise Ship

Recently, I went on an extraordinary Alaskan cruise with my family. While on the ship, I met a woman from London who encouraged me to check out working for a cruise line if I was interested in traveling abroad while earning money. She said she makes $1,800 per month, and her housing and food are completely covered. She also told me she was on a 6-month contract, so the job wasn’t an overly large commitment.

5. Housesit or be an Au Pair

When I was in Spain last summer, I met a girl who was working as an au pair for the summer. She was spending time in Germany, Italy, and Spain looking after different family’s children during the workday. She was then able to spend her evenings as she liked and travel on weekends. It seemed like a pretty sweet gig. Housesitting is another related option I’ve heard about. Unlike being an au pair, you wouldn’t be paid to housesit, but you would have a free place to say. Some people bounce around the world housesitting for years at at time.

6. Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

VSO‘s vision is a world without poverty. They are an organization that puts people first, and I love that. VSO volunteers work in areas of animals and natural resources, communications and fundraising, communities and social development, engineering and technical, health, business, education, and more. VSO covers the travel expenses, insurance, and day-to-day living expenses for their volunteers.

They also offer Youth Volunteering Program for young people who might not yet have the experience to qualify for one of their main volunteer opportunities. Additionally, keep in mind that VSO and Peace Corps are two among many volunteer organizations around the world that will finance your travels to volunteer abroad. Don’t be afraid to do some digging and check out others.

7. Work at a Resort

Resort positions are among the most common forms of employment that can be easily acquired by people from foreign countries. And, there are resorts all over the planet. You could potentially work as a front desk attendant, in a restaurant, or in the activity/entertainment department. You could save money, and in your downtime, experience a tropical locale.

8. Blogging/Freelance Work

I had to include this one. It’s becoming more feasible all the time to work from a remote location, and people are capitalizing on this state of affairs to become digital nomads. Chris Guillebeau and Wandering Earl come to mind. A friend of mine and her husband recently quit their jobs to travel the world and started This World Rocks as a way to document their travels and gain some funds.

Make no mistake — there are no get-rich-quick-and-easy methods of making money as a blogger or freelancer. But, there are many people who do it, and if you’re curious, you’ll find mountains of helpful info online from places like Copyblogger. If you’re looking to brainstorm more ideas for making money while abroad, check out this longer list from Wandering Earl.

Bonus Tip: Read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

If you’re serious about earning money while seeing the world, The 4-Hour Workweek is the unofficial Bible for this type of lifestyle. I recommend reading the key insights from the book for free on Blinkist.

Will You Do What it Takes to See the World?

Once you’re awakened to the reality of affordable travel experiences, it’s difficult to fall back on the same old excuses.

You’re forced to confront a difficult truth: I either want this badly enough or I don’t. If seeing the world is something you feel you definitely want to do (and it should be), you really have just one obstacle left to overcome: internal resistance.

We tend to resist change with all of our being. We procrastinate infinitely. Fear, anxiety, and distractions become ready-made reasons not to do things. We crave consistency and the eternal comfort zone, but whether we like it or not, life will change and we won’t be ready for it. That’s a fact, but you have a choice.

You can lock yourself indoors, peak out the blinds, and wait nervously for the day when life becomes a kamikaze. Or, you can dive headfirst into a foreign environment, gain invaluable experiences, and come out stronger and more capable than ever of facing life’s inevitable quagmires.

It’s up to you.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” – Moorish proverb

P.S. I’m excited to share that an article I wrote was published today on HighExistence.com, one of my favorite websites. Fittingly, it’s about one of my favorite philosophers, the notorious Friedrich Nietzche. Check it out if you get the chance — ‘Friedrich Nietzsche’s Guide to Conquering Your Existence’.

If this post tickled your fancy, consider grabbing free updates or giving us a ‘like’ on Facebook.

Note: Due to a few comments made on Reddit about this post, I want to clarify a couple things.

First, I do not believe traveling is necessary for personal development or an automatic way to improve yourself. With a curious attitude and open mind, however, I think traveling is an exceptional means of broadening one’s perspective on one’s own country and gaining a global awareness (two items which I view as vitally important for more people to gain in our world).

Second, I didn’t intend for this post to make it sound as if traveling is cheap. Relative to the average daily wage for people of the world, it isn’t. Not everyone is able to do it, so if you are, view it as a privilege and try to learn as much as possible. The point of the post was to show that there are options to make it more financially feasible for a greater number of people than is often assumed.

Finally, I want it to be clear that not all of these options will work for everyone. Some require degrees. Some would only partially finance your situation or provide a small side income stream. I’m sorry if the post was misleading in any way. It was meant to be a catalyst to get you thinking creatively and entrepreneurially about how you might travel abroad, if that is what you feel you need to do. Cheers, everyone.

Photo Credit: LASZLO ILYES

About Jordan Bates

Jordan Bates is the Creator of Refine The Mind. He loves you. In 2013, he moved to South Korea to teach English, embarking on a nomadic journey that would lead him to 29 countries. In the process he became a writer, entrepreneur, facilitator, autodidact, and rapper, reaching millions of people with his words and ideas. He’s deeply curious about how reality works, how to live well, and how to liberate all sentient creatures in existence. Befriend him and/or get his free eBook on how to exit the world of traditional work and live a radically free life. Amor fati, humans.

  • iliat Jul 13, 2013, 12:45 pm

    This is lovely. I came here after reading your article on HE, my both spiritual (lion stage) and physical journey (5th country in a month) having just begun. Discovering more and more of how much we are alike as humanity is such an inspiring route. I’ll definitely stay tuned for the new thoughts coming from you (:

    • Jordan Bates Jul 13, 2013, 3:43 pm

      Iliat, thank you so much for your kind words! Glad to hear that my thoughts seem to have come to you at a good time.

      “Discovering more and more of how much we are alike as humanity is such an inspiring route.”

      I love those words. What you said is at the heart of my view of personal growth. When we begin to understand our common humanity, we begin to know beauty and love.

      Great to hear that you’ll be sticking around. Cheers. 🙂

      • iliat Jul 13, 2013, 11:46 pm

        Well Jordan, you are welcome. And yes, I believe that this discovery has unravelled an incredible foliage & I hope to share it by writing. Cheers and rainbows!

  • Sydney Devore Jul 14, 2013, 12:16 pm

    I am also going to go teach in Busan in just over a month! What school are you working with?

    • Jordan Bates Jul 14, 2013, 2:09 pm

      Woah, awesome, Sydney! Where are you from? I’m not actually certain which school in Busan as of yet. I don’t think it says on my contract, or if it does, I may not have read closely enough yet. Are you teaching through EPIK or another program?

      • Sydney Devore Jul 15, 2013, 4:00 pm

        I didn’t go through a program, I got hired directly through the school. I will be teaching at the Geumjeong campus for Chung Dahm learning. I am from Florida and just graduated from the University of Florida.

        • Jordan Bates Jul 22, 2013, 11:51 pm

          Right on. I just graduated from the University of Nebraska. If you want, go ahead and add me/message me on Facebook. Perhaps we can grab a bite once we’re in Busan. I know I’m going to be desperate to make new friends in a foreign city. My profile:


  • me Jan 10, 2014, 9:57 am

    how can i travel if i have a travelling sickness

  • Carlos Sep 26, 2014, 4:52 am

    I enjoyed your post. It was a good read and have found many post of similar content. My partner and I have decided that we wish to come away from the 9-5 boring mundane life this place has and travel around the world to discover and see new sites. I am how ever disappointed by your notes at the tail end of this post. I dont think you should justify your post to those obviously still fighting with their fears and doubts. Me and my partner have no savings and have read many post about families that live on the road etc. I think with drive determination and passion anyone and I truly believe anyone can travel and live as a nomad if they are willing to get up and work for the way in life. This softening note for the faint hearted is not needed. And people have travelled on a shoe string. If people learn and adapt you can survive of the land with your bare hands and knowledge. Like our caveman counterparts that did it for centuries. We all have this one thing that makes anything possible…Free will!

    • Jordan Bates Mar 11, 2015, 4:24 am


      your defiant rallying cry is appreciated. i’m with you: let’s get the fuck out there and see the world before we turn to bone dust.

  • Paul Long Dec 31, 2014, 4:10 am

    If you’re thinking long-term, a job with a year-round school or university is the most stable and, with over two months of holidays, you’ll have plenty of time to travel.

    Map Destinations

  • Kristy Mar 4, 2015, 10:56 am

    Any suggestions on what cruise lines are best to work for??

    • Jordan Bates Mar 11, 2015, 4:25 am


      i think my family and i were on carnival when one of the employees told me she really liked the work and that i should look into that. apart from that, i don’t really know. good luck

  • Ashish Nov 28, 2015, 5:04 am

    hello Jordan,
    Could you please give me some suggestion to how to get jobs in abroad.

  • Kristen Dec 17, 2015, 11:49 am

    Thanks for your post! It was really inspiring. Did you have to get a certificate to teach English with EPIK?

    • Jordan Bates Jan 1, 2016, 9:01 pm


      No, I didn’t actually because those who had BAs in English or Education were not required to. I think they’ve changed that now, and everyone must have a TEFL Cert, though I am not certain. TEFL Certs can be gotten online very easily for as little as ~$50-100. The quality of the certification really doesn’t matter, in my experience. With that document, you can teach throughout Asia and much of the rest of the world.

  • Arava Glam Feb 14, 2017, 7:48 am

    Good ideas,
    I travel a lot and I tried all kinds of websites to make money online,
    What works best for me is Koocam.
    I teach my hobbies, and sells my knowledge in every field.
    So I can continue to travel and make money at the same time, it’s great!

  • Rahul Yadav Hacks Apr 29, 2017, 9:55 am

    This is very cool, pretty impressive.
    Keep on inspiring!
    Great work!
    Thank you.

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