Are you thinking about Travelling Australia full time? Wanting to quit the 9-5 and live an alternative lifestyle? Already on the road and seeing your savings shrink, but want to keep travelling?
Good on you! You aren’t alone. It’s the new Aussie Dream. Forget the Quarter Acre block with a house, the real dream now is a big 4WD and a caravan or camper trailer, combined with endless new experiences and landscapes. Read on for our foolproof guide to making money on the road.
There’s no Magic Solution
If there was something that was super easy, anyone could do it and make it big while living on the road. Whatever course you choose that’s right for you, expect hard work and lots of effort to be involved. We are going to go through some options and solutions for you below, from Easiest to Hardest, with a few Don’ts along the way.
I’ve deliberately chosen the “boring” options as the easiest, because they simply are! People successfully travelling fulltime , including us, also generally have more than one of these boxes ticked!
1. Spend Less
It may be really obvious, but a lot of people want the latest and greatest setups before they leave to travel. If you can afford it, it’s nice to have some of these things, but you can also get surprisingly good setups 2nd hand. Don’t be influenced that you need a $300,000 chopped Landcruiser or RAM and a $150,000+ caravan to enjoy travel life. Most people with those setups are few and far between, and are either running on credit, have sold their houses etc or are spending up in retirement. We have even met a couple with a RAM 2500 and Zone caravan who had a budget for 2 years of travel and had completed it. At the end of the 2 years they had the crappy choice of selling their beloved rig and downgrading everything to keep travelling, or to stop travelling and go back to work. Not a choice I envy them! This also goes along with your budget on the road, and ties in with the FIRE movement (look it up if you haven’t ever heard of it, Financial Independence, Retire Early)
2. Have Investments
Easier said than done of course, we fall into this category as we have an investment property in our old town of Darwin. It doesn’t make us much, but keeps us on the “property ladder” and acts as an inflation hedge. I also have money invested in the ASX (Stock Market) that I invest, this is money for our future though, rather than our immediate needs. A lot of other travellers rent out their home while they are gone, to both pay the mortgage and give them some spending money.
3. Sell Assets and Stuff
This can be anything from your pots and pans at home to vehicles, businesses and houses. Personally we sold a lot of our household possessions before hitting the road. We kept a spreadsheet of everything in our house that we wanted to sell, advertised it all on Facebook and Gumtree for the 6 months before we left, and sold a bunch of it. The added bonus is you also don’t have to store it! The spreadsheet with totals helped to keep us motivated to deal with the hassle of selling stuff, and we ended up selling over $11,000 worth of “stuff” not including vehicles. Our vehicles and toys added another $42,000 to this total. Add this to your kitty and that’s a full year of travel paid for. Other travellers we have met have happily sold their homes to fund their lifestyle, with many taking advantage of recent price rises and booms to sell out of Capital Cities in favour of moving to the country once they finish their travels.
4. Move your current job online
If you can make this work for you, it’s by far the easiest way to keep making a steady income, while travelling on the road. Luckily COVID has meant that a lot of employers have figured out that their employees can be anywhere with internet access and still successfully do their jobs. We have met a variety of people travelling who have done just this, from medical accounts and management, to Call Centre operators working for major Aussie insurers, to bankers. This can be a really easy way to become Location Independent (not homeless 😛 ) Internet reception can become the biggest thing you have to worry about for your commute to work. (Which we have the solution for if you haven’t heard already lol).
5. Get/keep a job that lets you transfer around the country
We’ve met a few travellers that do this, for companies like BigW, Bunnings and even Centrelink. You will have to adapt your ideal schedule to work with them, and of course it involves actually turning up to work, but it can be a great way to top up the kitty around Australia, not to mention experiencing different ways things are done, to broaden your career diversity. You may even be able to score a promotion when you stop travelling with the wider experience.
6. Do Seasonal or Odd jobs
This is the one that we recommend if you have a trade, hospitality experience, or just a can do attitude, and you want to only work a little bit during your journey to keep the kitty topped up. Again, we have met lots and lots of people doing this. Some examples from the obvious of a plumber who subbies out to Plumbing businesses in area’s for a daily rate, to seasonal fruit picking, someone who does handyman and odd jobs for Caravan Parks (and negotiates to include their site as part of the package) even to a friend who recently did 2 weeks harvesting Marijuana for a medical cannabis company! Opportunities are endless out there for a few weeks of work in a spot to top up the kitty. Even on minimum wages, you are looking at about $160 a day, and most people will be able to find work for much more than that in regional area’s with skills shortages.
7. Continue your existing business
Obviously you have to have one to continue it, but a great lady we met recently has a family photography business. She decided to continue the business remotely while she was away travelling. She employs someone to do the actual photo work, while she does all the back end marketing, accounting, editing, customer relations and everything else that comes with running a small business. This way she has an income while away, and also a business to come back to if she chooses to stop travelling. This is also one of the categories that we fall into, I am a Landscape Photographer who sells my work as Art for your wall. We had a gallery in Newcastle before COVID ruined my dream! We moved it to online only, and the sales naturally dropped, but our overheads from the business are also low, so it has worked out for us.
8. Start an online business (A real one)
I’ve written ‘A real one’ in the title, because this section does not include any ‘business’ that includes Multi Level or Network Marketing. If you are creating a product and selling it online, that’s a real business. (and this is how heaps of travel products have come into being!) If you have a great idea and think you can execute it while on the road, this can be a good way to go. Be aware though, anything to do with business involves risk, so don’t spend more than you are prepared to lose if it all goes downhill, and don’t rely on it providing you income for at least the first 12 months, most businesses take at least 12 months to turn a profit. At least with online businesses you have low overheads!
9. Start Social Media accounts and become an influencer
This one is up at the harder end of the scale. We started Overland Exposure originally to promote my Photography business, Daniel Courtney Photography. Everyone has heard of Trip In a Van and what they have done in this space, along with a bunch of others. Don’t expect to make much money if you have less than 50,000 followers on Insta/Facebook, and please, please don’t “buy” followers to artificially inflate your account. It just doesn’t work and is clearly obvious to anyone that’s in the business. In fact it can kill your accounts as they drop your follower engagement rates causing the platforms to un-promote you.
Most of the money you can make through these platforms and influencing, is in the form of free products to promote, and affiliate marketing links. Ie. Use our discount code of OVERLAND10 to save 10% off your order with xxxx shop! This is a win win, the customer gets some money off, and we get a little kick back. It’s usually 1:1, if the customer gets 10% off, the influencer will usually get 10% of the customers order value. Don’t expect this to generate much revenue, we get bits and pieces here and there from it, however as we don’t need the money, we only promote products we personally use and are really happy with, like Apricate sand free towels! (See our recommended products here).
We also have an odd affiliate marketing deal, in that being a communications expert, I created the Overland Exposure Internet Kit in conjunction with TelcoAntenna’s, with it being specifically suitable to caravaners and full time travellers. We make a small amount each time someone buys our kit. We do spend significant amounts of time answering questions about remote internet though, in exchange. We mostly do social media because we genuinely love helping people!
10. Start a Blog or YouTube Channel
Are you a sucker for punishment? Like spending endless hours behind a computer screen for very little reward? Dealing with inappropriate comments and people giving you their 2cents all day? Welcome to the world of Youtube and online blogging (websites like this one) In all seriousness, Youtube is littered with travellers starting a travel channel, dreaming of making it big and travelling for ever on their Youtube income. Most give up after a few weeks of producing video content, when they realize just how much work is involved. Amanda, who edits together and does all of our Youtube video’s, spends on average about 20 hours of editing per 20-30 minute episode. This doesn’t include social media time, comments etc, or any of the other miriad things that go along with it. Youtube requires creators to have at least 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours in the last 12 months before they will let you monetize your channel. Just as an example, it took us 9 months of weekly uploads to reach 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours. That’s 9 months of 20 hours a week unpaid work before we could make any money at all, and that’s assuming that you are able to reach those figures. We have 20,000 monthly views, with 3,000 watch hours and 3,500 subscribers to earn $260 for the month. It’s better than a kick in the teeth, but suddenly working for someone for 2 weeks @ $200 a day once a year doesn’t sound too bad does it? And that’s not to mention the equipment costs for Camera’s, Go Pro’s, Mounts, Drone, Editing Laptop, Editing software, music licensing and internet costs!
A website is the second income source here, and can be easier, however you have to be a good writer, and have experience or expertise to share. (and you have to get people to somehow read it too!) We started ours early on because we wanted to share some reviews of places we have stayed at, and some equipment we have used on our travels. Websites can be monetized by Google Adsense (the ads you see on this page) and we get paid each time a reader clicks on an ad. This can be from 20 cents a click right up to $1 or so. The good thing about a website is that you create the content once and it generally sits there and gets read by people without you doing much except linking the article if people ask about a topic you have written an article on. If you write a really good article, google will even pick it up and you will get website reads through people’s Google searches on the topic of your article.
To finish up, there are lots and lots of ways that you can make money on the road to travel. Obviously we least recommend Social Media and Youtube as methods, and that is purely because the payback for time spent is really, really, really poor, compared to just doing some actual work.
If you have any success or failure stories, please feel free to put your story down below in the comments for everyone else to get inspiration or lessons from!