How Do Backpackers Make Money? | Hikers University

If you want to quit your job and travel, you might be thinking, “how do backpackers make money?” After all, backpacking sounds fun, but how do you monetize it?

It is only natural if you have been busting long hours at a job you hate, only to save up paycheques in hopes of a crazy adventure someday. When that time finally arrives, you may step on the plane and visit Paris, Venice, Berlin, and other places you have always wanted. However, every good thing has to come to an end. Or does it?

Backpackers teach English remotely, get hostel jobs wherever they travel, freelance, or become domestic workers as a way to make money while traveling. They enjoy the perks of earning while traveling without having to go back home.

If you want to make money while backpacking, the options are endless. You no longer have to go back home in hopes of refilling your savings. Instead, your paychecks will come in while you travel the world. In fact, you wouldn’t even need savings. You can travel and earn at the same time. Sounds like a wonderful life, doesn’t it?

Here, we will introduce you to ways backpackers make money. All these are tried and tested, so you do not have to worry about validity. Stay tuned to find out more.

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How Do Backpackers Make Money?

Are you looking to earn money while galivanting around the world? Lucky for you, here is a crash course on how you can do that.

Get a Job in a Hostel

If you were aware of the number of workers a hostel requires, you would view hostel staff differently. There are loads of things to do in a hostel- laundry, bartending, walking tours, cooking, managing staff, dishes, web maintenance, pub crawls, and bookings. Basically, working in a hostel is not easy, and most of the hostel’s success relies on the hard work of its workers.

However, this also means that a hostel job is one of the best ways to make money while backpacking around the world. In fact, you may even have noticed that all the staff at most hostels have a different accent. Some of them have a posh French accent, while others greet you with a Texas drawl. This is because most of these workers are travelers looking to earn an income to continue living their dream.

If you are young and full of motivation and energy, you will have loads of fun working in a hostel as a backpacker. You will have the chance to interact with loads of people from different ethnicities. The best part is you get paid for it! Moreover, a hostel job will ensure that you have free accommodation, and with a bit of cash, you can carry on with your adventures and explore the city you are living in whenever you get off from work.

However, keep in mind that working in a hostel does not always mean wiping down windows or making beds. If you are educated or have a particular skill and have been a social media manager or accounting expert in the past, you can always choose to do better-paying jobs.

Become an Au Pair

In the past, a handful of upper-class families offered a boutique job by the name of Au Pairing to individuals. However, over the last few years, this has become an entire industry. An au pair, simply put, is a babysitting or live-in nanny. The job description entails working for individuals, usually wealthy ones, and looking after their children while staying in the same house as them.

You will have to cook meals, drop off and pick up kids from school, do housework, and help with whatever chores around the house. In your role as au pair, you will have to also talk to the children, preferably in English. Interaction is a huge part of your job as the kid’s parents are usually at work and do not have much time to interact with their kids. Initially, this job gained popularity in European countries, such as Italy, France, and Spain. However, over the years, an au pair has been needed all over the world in affluent households.

As an au pair, you can expect to work 25 to 30 hours a week. Moreover, you will get an allowance every week and do not have to worry about food or accommodation as both as provided by the household you are working at. You might even get lucky and might be able to use a car given to you. If you are a young backpacker, this may be the perfect way to make some money. All you need is some patience to get you through the job and, of course, a clean record. After all, no one wants to leave their kids with someone who breaks the law.

Teach English

For decades, backpackers have been making money by teaching English. This is because English is a language that is in demand all over the globe. Most of the best opportunities can be found around parts of the Middle East, Europe, East Asia, and Central Asia. While there are loads of places that will ask for an English certificate (that you can get after completing a 20-hour course) or a university degree in English, some places will readily train a native speaker.

Sometimes, you do not have to actually teach English. You can even get paid for just talking to kids and adults in English. When it comes to this arena, there are endless opportunities. The only thing you have to do is find them.

If you are looking for a full-time position, we would recommend getting a TEFL certificate. This will allow you to teach in schools all over the world, regardless of which country you backpack to.

Do Some Freelance Work

Over the recent years, freelancing has become incredibly popular, especially since remote work has started to become a norm that every company abides by. It is one of the best ways backpackers make money while spending most of their time on the road. You can have clients from any part of the world, whether this means working with people from Canada, China, or Australia.

As a freelancer, you can work online with the help of Skype, Zoom, and email. You can do loads of things, such as editing, consulting, social media, writing, programming, graphic design, and many others. The best part is that you do not need to be stuck in one particular place to freelance. You can work in cute coffee shops and happening co-work spaces in every corner of the world and interact with people doing the same thing as you. All you need is a good laptop and a steady internet connection.

To get started, you can browse through sites like Upwork and Freelancers. Unlike conventional jobs, the chances of you getting a good-paying freelance opportunity depends on how much initiative you take and how much you are ready to hustle. Freelance jobs are not difficult, but you will have to dedicate some hours of the day to looking for one that suits your need. All the relevant information you need is available on Google- all you have to do is look.

Work on Holidays

You’d be surprised to know how many countries all over the globe give out working holiday visas. These are great because, with the help of this visa, you can enter the country and get whatever job you feel most passionate about. It does not matter if you are not skilled or are still a student; you can pick up random jobs like bartending, waitressing, and other office jobs that do not require too much skill.

There are loads of individuals who work boring jobs in their home country and live miserable lives. A better option is to work a boring job in a random country while you backpack and cross out all the countries you have visited. Sounds like a much better alternative, doesn’t it?

All you have to do is look for working holiday visa programs- you will most likely find one in Japan, Singapore, Canada, Australia, or the UK. If you are lucky, you may even land a few in Europe. Do your research on Google, and you’ll be surprised by what you can find.

Work as a Tour Guide

If you are someone who does not have a formal qualification, you do not have to stress out. A tour guide might just be your calling. All you need is good manners, a friendly attitude, and the motivation to go on long trips without feeling too tired.

Even though English-speaking tour guides are most in-demand, you are likely to even find a job as a Spanish or Chinese-speaking guide if you look for it. There are loads of Chinese travelers who have posted about picking up jobs as tour guides in a number of places around the globe. In fact, many of them were able to settle down and get full-time roles as tour guides in international companies without having any previous experience.

The money you earn will vary, but the good thing is that most companies who hire tour guides also take care of their living costs. Moreover, the tips a tour guide earns can be handsome. If you are extra nice and become a favorite, you can expect generous tips.

All you have to do to become a tour guide is applied to the big tour companies. Don’t worry; they are always on the lookout for tour guides. If you do not want a full-time job and are looking for something less crazy, you can always choose to do pub crawls, walking tours, or day tours. This will allow you to visit different places and learn the history of each place.

Start Busking

Who said that you could not do what you love: earn some money and backpack all over the world? We admit that this sounds like a dream, but times are changing- there are many ways to earn money if you just make the leap.

One such way is busking. You can be in a bar, and if you like playing the guitar, all you have to do is play it for the audience and gather tips. Backpacking does not always mean picking up odd jobs. It can also mean doing the things you love while traveling the world.

However, you must keep in mind that every single country has different rules- you will find that some places are more generous with their tips, which means that your pay will vary in the country you visit. You can earn fifty euros in one day while you may earn nothing on some days. Regardless, the joy is not being stuck in a miserable corporate job but instead making an income while pursuing your dreams.

The next time you see a busker on the street, try being more generous with your tips. You can drop a few coins in the hats or containers that they place on the ground. You never know- maybe these buskers are far from their homeland in the hopes of making a living doing the thing they love.

After all, backpacking takes courage, especially when you set out with nothing in your pocket and aim to make money everywhere you go. It is a skill that, once learned, will change your life.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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