How I can afford a life of travel

Since you already know what I was doing before I started traveling the world, let’s now discuss how I am able to live a life like this — travelling non-stop. My article for Rappler Philippines was a big hit. However, I don’t think I included my way of travelling in the write up. People were thinking in different directions, like travel is equivalent to luxury or money.

Where I am from, people think this way. “She must be from a rich family” was one of the comments. I received e-mails from people borrowing moneyย from me with all those victim stories that goes with it. I was like, what?! I don’t even know where to sleep tonight! They thought I am splurging like an heiress, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton style to be able to travel non-stop.

Sorry, what you think is wrong. I do my best actually. I sleep wherever, eat whatever is on the table, live with my means, etc. It’s not that I don’t have money to buy food. Of course, I have that! I just really started living with what I can afford and stopped longing for material things.

So here it goes. I am going to enumerate everything I do, all at the same time (more or less) just to keep myself from going home. I am telling you that it’s not easy but I am having the time of my life and I’m keeping up. Somehow, you’ll just get used to this life.

P.S. I didn’t save anything before starting this travel. I just met a lot of people who are doing the same thing and I tried to learn it. It all worked out.

1. I work online.

I’ve been a digital nomad for over a year now and it’s the most convenient job I ever had as it is location independent. I’m a social media manager and assistant to a US-based company where I work 4 hours a day, without a specific time. My employer is fantastic because he understands that I move every three months and he knows what I am doing so there was never a problem between us. I’ve had the same job since I started travelling South America. They are actually offering me a new position (with a higher pay) but I didn’t accept it because it means working for more than 4 hours a day. I don’t want to do that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. I teach English.

I am a freelance English teacher here and I can decide a time-table when I am going to teach. I usually go to the student’s home and teach up to 2 hours per student. Here in Latin America, the salary range of an English teacher is from $12 – $30 per hour, depending in the city you are in.ย 

3. To save on accommodations and/or food, I do the following:

Couchsurfing – an online community which allows you to stay in people’s homes for free. I met most of my long-time friends through this platform and I am very thankful to the great mind who discovered this!

Volunteering – In exchange for free food and accommodation, I volunteer in hostels and bars. This method helped me a lot to improve my language skills. 4 bars and 3 hostels later, I am now fluent in Spanish. Plus, I get to work with fantastic people all over the globe who are also backpacking! I work hand in hand with Volunteer Latin America who places me with volunteering gigs.

Family Stay – If I am not volunteering, I am with local families where I get to learn about the culture and language of a certain country. This also enabled me to know how they live their daily life and do the same. I’ve been a part of many Latin families here in South America and I consider them my own.

House-sitting. It’s as simple as this: families go to a long vacation and they need/want someone to stay in their house. While they’re on vacation, you take care of the house. Do whatever you want. Just don’t invite people over and do a house party. Basically, it’s like living in your own house.

Au Pairing. An au pair helps with house work and taking care of children in exchange for food, a room, plus a daily allowance. Yes! Au pairs are paid and a lot of my friends in Europe are doing this!

4. I blog.

I started blogging because of my love for writing but I didn’t know that I will be able to monetise this website and help me travel more. This blog enables me to:

  • Stay in HOTELS FOR free in exchange for a review.
  • Eat wherever I want (even the best one in town!) in exchange for a review.
  • Take free tours/press trips in exchange for online exposure. Basically, I write about my experience about a certain tour/activity including the name of the company in the post.

Additionally, this blog also earns from advertising andย affiliate marketing.

Disclaimer: I only write about good experiences with sponsors. If I didn’t like the tour, trip, activity, or services, I have the right to refuse featuring them on my blog. All the reviews I write are my own opinions and I was never compensated monetarily to do this.

5. I do travel coaching

When you are out here, you really have to find ways to keep yourself on the road. I’ve been doing a one-on-one travel coaching sessions to people who want to leave their daily hell and start living a life of travel. I help them plan their trip, land volunteering jobs, set up their teaching abroad career, and so on. I answer everyone’s questions on a personal basis. Of course, I also write about how I do it but the consultation is personalised and you can talk to me on Skype! Find out about how travel coaching session works here.

6. I translate important files.

I do not have a professional translator certificate but I have social media clients in South America, France and Italy where I proofread their social media and blog posts in English. I also write articles in Spanish which actually pays goodย money! I encourage you to learn a foreign language if you are fluent in English writing. Translating pays very good money here.

7. I receive donations from readers.

This is the part where I have to thank everyone who donated to my Coffee Fund. It helped me a lot to travel more! Most travel bloggers put donation buttons on their sidebar saying, “Help us travel to _____.” I was being artistic so instead of doing the same, I thought of creating The Coffee Fund. Thank you so much to all who donated! This will keep me write more good stories of my travels!
ย 

So where do I spend the money I earn from working online, teaching English and travel coaching?

Fares. Buses, plane tickets, taxi — that’s the majority of my spendings. Arrrghh, I even spend more on taxi rides than street food! I haven’t ventured in tapping airlines or bus companies (is that even possible?!) to sponsor my fares in exchange of an online exposure. I don’t even know if this kind of marketing exists! It’s kind of frustrating but I couldn’t ask for more from the Universe. I was already given everything.

If I am not working in a bar (yes, volunteers get free drinks!), I spend a few drinks every now and then with my friends. Of course I can’t just to up to the bartender and say, “hey, I’m a travel blogger. I’m going to feature your beers…. blah blah blah.” All my reviews are planned and I don’t always have one scheduled. It’s more or less twice every 2 months.

I also spend on travel insurance, personal needs like medicine, toiletries, clothes etc. I also treat myself every once in a while with massage, spa, mani-pedi, and so on.

How do I manage to do all these at the same time?!

The regular thing I do is teaching English and working online. Iย dedicate 4 hours to each job so I won’t look like I am working as hard as before. I don’t know, it just happens. Today, I am au pairing in Cordoba and I have no idea how I am able to manage this kind of schedule. I guess I just got used to it.

Growing up, my mother always told me not to explain myself to anyone because I don’t need to. What I do with my life is up to me as long as I am doing it right. I’ve had mistakes in the past and travelling long-term allowed me to get to know myself better, share that knowledge and inspire other people to do it too.

It’s not easy but this is what makes me happy. I repeat: It’s not easy. But if I can live like this, for sure, you can, too.


Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isnโ€™t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha also loves extremely spicy food, pineapples, plants and symmetry. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

  1. Leslie

    24 November

    Love reading your posts! The great thing about your blog is that while it is inspiring, it never leaves us, your readers, questioning. You always share useful information on how you get to do what you do in a very interesting way. Cheers and hope to meet you somewhere on the road! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Expositions

    24 November

    I love the honesty in this post. Hopefully it inspired more people to travel long-term!

  3. Trisha Velarmino

    25 November

    Leslie, thank you. I really love what you wrote about “Courage.” I hope you’ll pursue your dreams of travelling to cities alone, just a bag, without a map. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love your writing too!!!

  4. Trisha Velarmino

    25 November

    Thank you so much for reading! Yes, that’s the main goal of the post — to encourage everyone that they can do it too!

    • Steve

      19 May

      You have an interesting story, how long can one travel for travel’s sake only? I started out with 18 and lived in five countries on 4 continents and visited ~50. On the way I picked up two citizenships and 3 “green cards”. I usually came to a place following a love, and left because of another, and I always followed the sun. In the meantime I got an education, worked, learned, and had kids in the different places (I support all of them, which is a challenge). Finally I came to PH in 2007 (as a medical volunteer initially). This is my end of the line, best place to be, not searching anymore. I do not like social media and do not have exposure on Facebook, I still travel a lot for generating income and I am working on a book, and I’d love to be one of your pen pals to learn how to bring life and travel to paper or cyberspace. Mabuhay Steve

  5. You and I are quite similar. I also travel extensively and people think that it’s magic when really, I work while abroad, I couchsurf, don’t spend money on expensive things and save like crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also work a regular job to save up. Cheers to the real world girls with a passion for travel!

  6. Leslie

    27 November

    Thank you for reading! Cheers to a lifetime of courage and travel!

  7. Trisha Velarmino

    27 November

    Salud!

  8. Trisha Velarmino

    27 November

    Cheers, Francesca and thank you for sharing your thoughts! Safe travels! Xx

  9. Doreen Pendgracs

    14 December

    Right on, Trish! When travel is in your blood, you’ll do whatever you can to make it happen. I do many of the same things as you, although I’ve not yet taught English. Travel is in my blood, too, and when I can’t go places, I am not a happy camper!

  10. Chris Nash

    14 December

    Sounds like a great lifestyle!

    I’m a bit torn that if somewhere you stay for free won’t be reviewed if you don’t have a good experience… would be great if you were allowed complete honesty so readers would be aware in advance of some truly bad places ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Ang-ang

    24 December

    Such an inspiration!

  12. Maricris Tigbao

    10 February

    Are you working for AB? =)

  13. Trisha Velarmino

    10 February

    Hey Maricris, YES! I know you are too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Maricris Tigbao

    10 February

    Yep! By the way, I so love your blog. I wish I can also travel the world like you do… I just can’t stop reading your posts… hehe… =)

    • Of course, you can! If you’re working for AB, it’s possible to travel the world! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks, Maricris and I hope you’ll travel the world, too!

      • Jaira

        30 January

        May I ask what does AB mean? ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Grace

    17 February

    Hi Trisha, ang galing niyo po. I believe your writings inspires many, and I’m one. Thank you. Love your writings. You are amazing. Love reading every page of your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yngat lage.. God bless you

  16. Jonny Blair

    24 February

    Hi Trisha. Marvellous work here and a good site. I found you through Danny Flood’s OpenWorld Mag. Glad to be connected to you through travel blogging. Safe travels. Jonny

  17. Jan Cedrick

    27 March

    So inspiring. I read your blogs and I make it as my own guidelines, I want to start traveling like you. Thank you. Keep it up!

  18. Katrina

    7 May

    Traveling is my first dream and still want to pursue it. I want to prepare myself be and be inspired before I make my final decision. Your blog is wonderful. It inspires me and gave me tips. Now I’m planning to take TEFL cert. after my software testing certification this month. And hopefully, I can live my own dream and explore the world.

  19. Faye

    9 July

    I love the last bit about your mom’s advise. I totally agree, do the things you want to do, and do it for yourself. I admit it’s hard to avoid giving in to people’s judgments and criticisms, but at the end of the day, I need to do the things that make ME (not THEM) happy.

    Great post! You’ve given me ideas on what jobs to do at a part time basis!
    Thanks!

  20. Ochi

    10 August

    This post is all sorts of inspiring! I wish I had the same courage you had when you decided to quit your job and leave everything behind. This, by far, is the most comprehensive “How do I travel” post I’ve seen in a while. Thank you for inspiring people like me! I hope to live by the same words one day. Cheers!

  21. fe

    21 September

    your a great inspiration for a newbie bloggers and travel dreamers.my BIG salute

  22. Bea

    10 February

    Hi Trisha! You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your life and some tips on traveling in your website. Keep it up! I have just recently quit my job to about to start to travel the world. I have put up my travel blog and I would be more than happy if you pay a visit http://www.mytravelitinerary.com
    See you on the road! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. chrysoula

    26 March

    Thanks for sharing your tips Trisha of how you can afford to travel all the time. I have to say it’ s not an easy thing to do. I believe that having an online job is one of the best ways to travel whenever you want!

  24. Bernard Tan

    26 March

    This is inspiring! I have never had the guts to quit my job and to travel around the world! But i am currently taking baby steps towards it!

  25. Melissa Jons

    26 March

    Thank you Trisha for being so honest, as an inspiring freelance writer/blogger I always feel rude asking how full-time nomads earn their living and you have really broken the projects and workload down. Really inspirational, feel very much like I need to up my game ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Megan

    26 March

    Some really great tips. I’ve always wanted to try house sitting. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get to travel somewhere long enough to give it a try.

  27. Erica

    27 March

    I love how our world today offers so many ways to afford traveling so much. Unfortunately, I just signed up for a full time volunteer position at the hospital which I’ll be committed to for the next six months, so I’ll just have to travel through the blogs I read online until it’s over with ๐Ÿ™

  28. Arzo Travels

    27 March

    Great post. Though I do not plan to give up my job to travel the world I always love traveling and it is great you summed it up to all those who are always jealous and think we all get everything for free ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Mags

    28 March

    Great article. I love that it is so positive and full of great real life tips. It is so easy to get frustrated with all the assumptions about people who can “afford to travel” (I know I usually am). I can’t imagine anything else in life where people feel it’s appropriate to ask, “how can you afford that?”

  30. Lauren

    28 March

    I always love learning the different ways that people afford to travel. For me, it’s a combination of working my regular job at home where I freelance and can jet off whenever I’d like….plus blogging, online writing, things like that. I’d eventually like to move fully to the work at home/digital nomad type of lifestyle, while living most of the year in Canada and traveling wherever I’m able to go. We’ll see! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the inspiration!!

  31. Thank you for sharing, definitely some things I would not have thought about before. Word to the wise, you do not owe anyone an explanation about where your money comes from or what you do with it. I went through that same mess when I was young/your age and I have come to realize with age, that my business is just that, and if nobody else is footing the bill, it is not their option to ask. In fact, it is just rude. I am sure you are just sharing because you want people to understand, but please do not let anyone make you feel guilty. You are worthy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  32. Kate

    28 March

    While this is the opposite to the life I have as a traveller and travel blogger, I really appreciate your honesty and explaining your lifestyle. I’m a part-time traveller and have a base and career in a specific city. It makes me really happy and as long as your life makes you happy, good luck and enjoy! Each to their own ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Chax

    19 January

    I fell in love with your instagram posts first, and more likely with your blog! it is so inspiring and informative like almost detail to detail. Kudos! always take care on your travel. and ur dimple is soooo cute!

  34. ikaw talaga ang inspirasyon ng buhay! Salamat!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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