How to make extra cash on the road

Rocinante With a cash overlay

For most of us who are not retired, traveling for an extended period requires that we make extra cash to increase the quality of our travel and to extend it.  Here are some techniques, organizational tips and a variety of ideas to bring in some extra money while traveling the world.

Get Organized!

Since people need a lot of things done and are willing to pay to have the help it is pretty easy to go out and drum up work. However, our time is finite and valuable, so the challenge is to maximize what we get in exchange for our time.  The best way to do this is spend a little time taking an inventory of our skills, estimating their value and portability before going out to find work.

Here is one approach:

  • Write a list of your unique skills, all of them. Identify the ones that are portable. For example:
    • Construction skills
    • Editor, this skill is very marketable and can be done remotely.
    • Mechanical or fixit skills, people and businesses always need help repairing or maintaining equipment and vehicles.
  • For the skills that you have identified as portable, list the specific industries and businesses that require that skill.
    • You may have a very focused skill set in a select industry. If so, this will allow you quickly identify businesses who are willing to take you on as a remote contractor.
    • Ask for input from a friend. It is too easy to be overly familiar with a segment of business and overlook where your skills may overlap.  A fresh set of eyes can help uncover new opportunities.
  • Research how best to contact these businesses and if they are located in places you plan to visit.
    • Utilize contacts from your friends and work networks.
    • Use Linked in and Facebook to research similar business and develop contacts.
  • Prepare to approach businesses and people based on the skills you will be marketing.
    • Update your regular resume, make sure it is relevant to the work you are looking for.  You might want to have different versions if you have multiple skill sets.
    • Have examples of work you have done.
    • Have references available, and let them know they might be contacted in regards to your employment.
  • Contact these businesses and get to work!

Working fire Old School Approach

Sometimes we just need a little money to get us over the hump.  The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to make extra cash. The bad news is the pay may not be that great.  When I was in my twenties traveling around Northern California another traveler told me about a good trick. They told me that when they were really short on cash they would take a squeegee from a gas station and wash peoples windows. Then they would buy a new squeegee and replace it once they made some money.  This seems sketchy but if you don’t get put in jail for stealing, it could get you a tank of gas or a meal.

Here are some more ideas:

  • There are physical bulletin boards at laundry mats, coffee shops, libraries, gyms, community centers and school campuses.  These often have temporary work or gigs.
  • Have some business cards printed up with your cell phone and email address.  These are super portable, and are more effective the longer you think you might stay in an area.  I have used VistaPrint.
  • The idea of migrant workers is not new, (nor is the bad connotations). There has always been a large population of citizens who travel to work. Our new economy coupled with the technology that drives it has created new marketplaces for workers. It has also made it easier to find seasonal or temporary jobs.  Check out Workampers for more information and ideas and this New York Times article.
  • Go to small businesses or even houses if they look like they could use some help. Door to door cold calling is still effective and is a great way to make extra cash.
  • There is an entire economy that revolves around trade.  This is because in trade you can maximize value. Often what you need has less value to the person who is willing to trade you for it.  Conversely, what you are offering has more value to the person willing to trade for it.  In light of this, trade is a truly win-win proposition, and it creates an opportunity to make new friends and widen your network.

Use Technology

  • Never underestimate the awesome power of Craiglist to make extra cash.
    • I have picked up gigs for moving fifth wheels, tutoring struggling engineering students and have landed engineering contract jobs through craigslist.
    • Craiglist is a great venue for buying and selling.  For instance if you have a specialty on collectibles, equipment or are able to fix or refurbish things, Craigslist offers the opportunity to buy low and sell high.
  • There are forums for almost everything. Take some time to identify forums and bulletin boards that are relevant to your your skills list, then monitor them for opportunities.
  • Network, network, network, use the contacts you have built up over your lifetime and reach out.  Let them know what you are doing and let them know you are looking for supplemental income.

A Few More Random Ideas to Make Extra Cash:

Make Extra Cash by Starting a Blog

There is a lot of information about this on the internet and the ways to monetize a blog are constantly evolving, but he fundamentals remain the same.

  • The quick buck: there are many ways to game the system, to drive users to your site to get clicks on advertising links.  There are even more ways to spend money and time figuring out how to do this.  There is tremendous competition in the quick buck world and as new holes are discovered in the algorithms that drive searches, the ad companies figure out how to close them.  This approach also drives clutter, poor and duplicate content, and is one of the worst parts of the internet.
  • Add value, this is fundamental. One way to do this is to develop unique content that adds value to peoples lives.  If you do this consistently, people will read your stuff, follow you and eventually give you money for what you do.

Become a freelance writer, or photographer or both.

  • Good writers are hard to find.
  • There is a strong market for stock photos. This is because people developing content for blogs, business, technical writing and news need photos to highlight their content and illustrate their points.  So if you like taking pictures and have a lot of them, selling them on one of the many stock photo outlets might be a lucrative option for you.

Become a web developer with Word Press or other Content Management System

As you are developing your blog, taking pictures and posting them and figuring out how to market all of this you will develop valuable skills.  So while you wait for your blog to become wildly successful you can contract out some of the these skills.  The best part of doing this is you get to learn on someone else dime.  A wise man told me he took every opportunity to hone his skills at someone else’s expense.



1 Comment

  1. I think this is a creative list of ideas to tap into, especially if one “yearns for the journey!” Thanks!

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