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Means to an End: When You Just Have to Make it Work


Back when I was still traveling in South America, sustaining a travel lifestyle was the biggest challenge. Money always run out and online jobs don’t often work out. It was a high-stress situation but rather than worrying, I stayed focus and studied my options.

To those thinking of traveling long-term, this might be a helpful post.


That’s what I have been telling myself these days but I am sure as hell that I don’t want to go home, not just yet anyway. Apparently, a choice has been made.

Knowing how to survive on the road is something any long-term traveler is dealing with on a regular basis. It’s not just about money running out, but also, health and safety concerns. But among those 3, money running out normally causes the most stress.makingitworknomatterwhat

You have no stable job or any means to earn money, so yes, it is a no-brainer that money will run out eventually and you find yourself worrying about how you will pay for basic necessities once your bank account says INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.

When you’re about to reach this point, calm yourself because what you do with it or how you handle it will be the key. And besides, it’s not the end of the world, you just need to pull your shit together and device a sustainable plan.

In any situation, there’s always an easy way out and for this instance, going home IS the easy way out. In the duration of my travels, I have met several travelers who were at the end of their vagabonding because their money ran out, scheduled to go home, work for a few months then leave the country again to continue traveling.

It’s like 6 months in and 6 months out. I don’t judge their travel lifestyle because if I have the same privilege of earning dollars and euros, strong currencies especially when you travel in South America and Asia, I would probably do the same.

But for me, going home is easy but it won’t really solve anything because I will go home broke and unemployed; now, how depressing will that be? Heaps.

Anyhow, since I don’t have the luxury of going home, to work and earn enough money for a short time to allow me to travel again, and also considering that home is on the other side of the world, I told myself that by hook or by crook, I will have to make this work. I JUST HAVE TO.

And so, I created my own sustainable ‘survival’ plan:
  1. Make a list of your strengths and weakness, what you have and don’t have. [Note: include MONEY under the ‘don’t have’ list.] Also make a list of your monthly expenses (i.e. hostels, bus tickets, food, misc.), so you will know how much you need to earn.
  2. Utilize resources that are available to you. In my case for instance, I have a TEFL certification, a running blog, and active memberships in Workaway and Online jobs.
  3. Once you have everything listed down, match your list of strengths and weaknesses to the resources available. Think of it as a SWOT analysis of your current predicament. In my case, I came up with the following:
    • use my TEFL certification to land volunteering gigs through Workaway and online teaching jobs
    • use my blog as reference in applying for writing jobs through Onlinejobs
    • actively publish articles in my own blog and work on building foot traffic and eventually, earn money from it.
  4. When choosing volunteer works or online jobs, make sure you have the right qualifications and the right tools so you can deliver. Also, don’t sell yourself short or overstate your capabilities, hence, the importance of knowing what you can and cannot do to help you choose wisely. And don’t just think about money but also time availability and travel plans.
  5. After you have your options figured out, sent those applications immediately and wait patiently for feedback. If you get none, don’t be disheartened; maybe it´s just not for you, so, just try again and never lose hope. What’s the worst thing that could happen anyway? Die of hunger? That is highly unlikely.
  6. Also, choose to volunteer long-term (i.e. a month or more) while you’re currently looking for income-generating options because that would help you save money in accommodations, one less worry to think about, and at the very least, you won’t be homeless.

I considered teaching English online. It pays good and I was already hired but I decided against it because  it’s not really ideal when you are always on the move. Not to mention, high-speed internet is a requirement and I can’t guarantee that in every place I would go to.

I also considered applying for a paid teaching job in a school or institute, but again, decided against it because schools and institutes would normally require a 3-month commitment (minimum), and staying 3 months in one place is a bit too much for me.

From the people outside looking in, know that traveling is not all fun, rainbows, and breathtaking views. We, as long-term travelers, encounter so many road blocks and challenges but because we choose this kind of life and we love the life that we live, we make it work, we work around with what we have and we survive.

What I learned from this is, ditch your travel plans and stay in one location for 6 months to a year because that will give you enough time to get you back on your feet. Make that sacrifice as it will help you pull your shit together and save money. Learn to prioritize so you won’t have to be back in the same situation over and over again.

1 Comment

  1. Mariela

    Hi Cecilia!

    I have the same dilemma! I need a raket to fund my future travels in Chile and Argentina (won’t be there til maybe May or June as I’m still waiting for my fiance to join me) but still hasn’t found any yet. Maybe cos I’m not trying hard enough haha. Unlike you, I don’t have a TEFL certification and a nice blog so I’m relying on online jobs for some moolah. I’m still waiting for my big break. *fingers crossed*

    Also, I’m writing to you cos I think we have a common friend named Miquel. Tall, incredibly nice Dutch guy. He mentioned you to me. I found you on twomonkeystravelgroup. Small world!

    Goodluck to your travels! Maybe one day we might bump into each other 🙂

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