The most asked question is, “How do you afford to travel the world?”. Since my Instagram, @thewildindiangirl, grew to 100K+, I get this question about once or twice a day! In this blog post, I will share the different ways I generate income while traveling the world, along with tips and tricks on how you can take steps towards the same journey.
I didn’t grow up traveling the world. My first flight wasn’t until I was eight years old. My father got a job in Detroit, Michigan, so we packed our bags and flew to the United States. That was my first flight, and until I was 15 years old, that was my only flight. Since then, we have made a few trips to India, but we kept ourselves at home for the most part.
In 2010, I signed up for Miss Teen Washington and started to travel around Washington for photoshoots. This is also when I fell in love with modeling. By 2016, I made a few trips to LA by myself and even booked my first paid job. By 2017, I was ready to quit my regular job and transition into modeling full-time. In 2018, I took off on my first ever international trip without my family! I flew to New Zealand for one year, where I learned so much about myself and how much I love seeing the world. By 2021, I was working as a full-time model/content creator for brands like Rei, Backcountry, Lowes, and so many more.
Disclaimer: This is a short elevator version of my story; it wasn’t as simple and easy as you read above. I had a lot of restlessness night, and if it weren’t for my family, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Once I hit 10,000 followers on @thewildindiangirl on Instagram and started getting paid a little bit here and there from clients, I decided I wanted to try to make that my way of life. Below I have listed a few ways I generate income while traveling the world. You can see that social posts are not the only source of income. More often than not, content creators have to have several avenues of income to make it sustainable. Keep in mind this is a list that has changed over the years and there is no one tried and tested way. A lot of it is hit and miss.
Social media is my primary source of income while traveling, and it has been for the last four years. Brands pay me to advertise their products on my social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok. My first paid job was in 2016. I got paid $500 to shoot for a wedding dress company.
Generally speaking, you need some following to get paid on Instagram, but you don’t need a lot. I got my first paid job with 10,000 followers.
I haven’t done much blogging to consider myself an expert, but I do make some commission off the sales from the affiliate links I use. Another way of making money from blogs is writing for others. I have written several blog posts for clients to use on their websites, including companies like Biolite, Icebreaker, Ski Utah, and more. When I write a blog post on my website, I share products that I found helpful and love to use. When I write one for a client, I share more about the experience and how it made me feel. Here is an article I wrote for Biolite.
Sometimes brands hire influencers/creators to generate fresh content for the brand to use on their website, Instagram feed, or email marketing. More often than not, this is a cheaper way for the clients to get high-quality content than doing a full commercial shoot. Since influencers are freelancers, companies save on salaries and any other employee benefits they might offer a more full-time staff member.
My husband, Michael Matti, and I will be hosting our first-ever group trip to Bali this year! (2022) This island holds a special place in our hearts. With its incredible beauty, delicious food, friendly people, unique culture, and beautiful amenities, this island keeps us coming back each year. But this year, we want to share our love for this island with you!
As we explore rice terraces and waterfalls while soaking up some sunshine!
Click here to read more about the trip.
Another service that I am very excited to offer is “let us plan it.” This is a way for you to enjoy a trip without all the planning. Planning a trip can get overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done it before. Everything from hotels and flights to drive times is planned out for you. Click here to learn more about the process.
So how can you start traveling full time? There are tons of ways where you can make the dream of traveling full-time come true, and no, you don’t need to quit your job or become an influencer right now to do it.
Disclaimer: The full-time content creator/ model process took me 12 years to make a reality! I want to make it abundantly clear that this is a process. Making rash and uneducated leaps of faith can leave you in a sticky situation. I suggest taking this process slowly and finding the right balance.
Below I have listed a few things to start implementing into your life, to make the dream of travel a reality.
I learned my #1 frugal travel hack two years ago! I had no idea how easy it was to earn points using credit cards, and now that I know how, I can’t keep it all to myself. It is a three-step process:
Savings don’t show up overnight, so set a goal to travel for a future date and start saving for the trip; I suggest setting a date as far as six months out. I’m not suggesting that you have to be a penny pincher to travel, but you must sacrifice now if you want to enjoy a vacation later. I have learned that I don’t need much to be happy. I also prioritize travel and experiences over unnecessary material possessions. Here are four easy ways to start saving money:
CUT BACK ON UNNECESSARY SPENDING
Start by cutting back on unnecessary things like coffee every morning from a local coffee shop or going out to eat for lunch during workdays. Pack your lunches and make coffee that you take with you from home. These might seem like minor changes, however, the little things add up.
Helpful tip: if you head out to get coffee, then opt to take a cup from home. Most coffee shops have a discount for saving on plastic use.
I used to buy dresses all the time for shoots. However, that soon became very expensive. A friend told me about Rent the Runway, and I couldn’t have appreciated it more! Renting clothing allows you to be more open to exploring your style. With no commitments to the pieces and a constantly rotating closet, you will surely have fun and find exciting new ways to express yourself via clothing.
Something that kept me from renting earlier in life was that I didn’t know how RTR cleaned the pieces. Rent the runway is pretty transparent about its cleaning process. Read it here.
EAT OUT LESS
Eating out is something I struggle with often. However, when I decided to travel full-time, I realized that I could sacrifice Thai food for lunch in exchange for Thai food in Thailand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statists, an average household in America spends roughly $3,000 a year dining out. That’s an entire vacation in Bali, including flights! Imagine what you can do with even half that money!
TAKE A LOOK AT RECURRING BILLS
This might be the most lucrative way that a company gets you to spend more than you need. Subscriptions might start with a 7-day free trial, but that is how they get you. In 2018 West Monroe field surveyed consumer spending on subscription services and found that the average monthly subscription expenditure is roughly $273 per MONTH? That’s a whopping $3,276 a year. Take a hard look at your monthly spending habits and ensure you only pay for what you really need.
Any knowledgeable traveler knows that trips require a lot of planning. Countless attractions and accommodations need reservations in advance so planning early is just generally a good idea. But the main thing is that usually, you will find better prices as more things are available earlier rather than later. This is particularly true with flights, car rentals, and hotels. As the trip dates get closer, inventory decreases, and prices increase. When planning, it could also be helpful to consider using websites like Expedia, to book packages that can include flights, rental cars, and hotels all in one place.
If planning trips aren’t your thing, let us plan it for you! Click here to find out how!
Really the best way to save money while traveling is to go to a destination when most people don’t want to visit that place. This may mean that you don’t have the best weather or temperatures, but it is certainly easier to grab cheap flights and hotels in the offseason. In the northern hemisphere, unless you’re going to a skiing destination, this means traveling in the winter or early spring/late fall. Generally, just avoid traveling in the busy summer months.
You may be surprised by just how many people earn a living off full-time blogging or working remotely as a virtual assistant. Find jobs like this that let you work from anywhere or that let you take your work with you while traveling. Fiverr and Upwork are great places to find ways to make some virtual cash. Even if you currently work full-time, doing this on the side may eventually provide the income and freedom you’ve always wanted. Some other side hustles that can help generate more income include Uber, Wag, Postmates, Amazon driver, or Door Dash.
There is a big difference in what you can get with your money around the world. For instance, $10 will get you a lot more in Thailand than it will in Switzerland. Focus on finding less expensive countries to travel to. There are tons of these more affordable travel destinations around the world; Bali is one of our personal favorites. Each year my husband and I host a trip, so you don’t have to deal with all the planning. Want to join us this year?
Lastly, if you’re in the market for high-quality camping gear, suitcases, etc., these items tend to be expensive. Ask your friends and family to buy travel stuff for your birthday/ special occasion. You should also give them a list of specific products and brands you prefer. Doing this can provide peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to return or exchange anything.
If you’re excited about traveling and interested in new gear, here are some of my favorite things that help me stay organized during trips.
Traveling the world can get expensive but if you take your time and get prepared before jumping into it, you can find ways to make it affordable for you. I have been traveling the world for five years now and it is still a skill that I have to continue to work on. If you have any questions, drop a comment below. And I look forward to seeing all of your adventures!
In 2017, I quit my job and dropped out of school to set out on a path less traveled. Since then, I have ventured across the world, built a van and created a life that both scares me and fulfills me at the same time. And I’ve never looked back.