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Ride the World With No Savings: Making a Living on the Road

 You don't need to be wealthy or save up money for years to ride the world!

Published on 05.03.2017
Round the world With No Budget
Going off into the unknown with zero budget can be scary, but it ends up being extremely liberating! Egle Gerulaityte, a writer and a freelance journalist, has been riding round the world since 2013 funding her travels on the go.

Finances and budgeting are usually a very big part of the conversation when you are considering a round the world motorcycle journey. How much does it cost? How much savings do I need to have? What’s my daily fuel, food and accommodation budget?

All these questions are important. But what if you don’t have any savings, aren’t independently wealthy and don’t think a Gofundme campaign is for you, yet you want to ride round the world? And not in three, five, or ten years, but right now?

When I finished my eighteen-month motorcycle journey across, around and through South America, I decided to come back home to Europe for a short while. By then, I had already realized I wanted to ride round the world indefinitely and only return home if I ever wanted to – not if I had to. And to do that, I reasoned, I needed to figure out how to make money while traveling rather than getting my old job back and being stuck in the matrix for another few years before I could leave again.

Riding Around the World with no Budget

Today, I am on the road indefinitely. Having completed an 18,000 mile motorcycle journey from Nordkapp, Norway, to Crete, Greece this summer, fall and winter as a pillion rider, I am now getting ready for my second RTW leg: North, Central and South America, before shipping my Suzuki DR650 to Australia. I still have zero savings. I don’t have any endorsements or sponsors. I don’t know enough about social media to start a crowdfunding campaign, and even if I did, I doubt that I would choose to fund my travels this way. So how am I doing it?

Volunteer

Yes, this is unpaid work, but volunteering opens up a lot of opportunities. I briefly taught English in Peru in 2013, volunteering for an organization which worked with local children living in below poverty conditions. While this was a very shocking and emotionally difficult experience, I also made a lot of great friends and got to know a lot about the local culture, local problems, and local lifestyle. And this helped me greatly later on when I stayed with an indigenous family in the Peruvian Andes helping them train and shoe their horses in exchange for room and board… see how this works? It’s all about opportunities, learning, and flexibility.

If you don’t have the time or the patience to figure things out as you go, you can always use internet resources to plan your volunteering. Alternatively, you can also work for room and board: websites such as workaway.info are a great resource to find projects all over the world.

Ride round the world With No Budget
Ingenuity, imagination and flexibility are your best assets on a round the world journey!

Get Jobs On The Way

What are you good at? What was your profession, specialty, or a beloved hobby back home? You can just as successfully use it on the road, too.

When I ran out of money in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, I found a job as a horse trainer and riding instructor. Back home, I used to own and train horses and compete in the equestrian sports, so when I realized I could use my skills and earn some money plus have a roof over my head as well as three free meals a day at the ranch, I jumped at the opportunity. Finally, having spent nearly three months training horses and teaching the owner’s wife to ride at that Argentinean ranch, I had earned enough money for another four months of traveling, plus I stayed there for free the entire time.

Horse training is a rather specific skill – but everyone has something they’re good at. Literally anything goes: from farm work to computer programming to teaching or engineering – just find out what sort of skills are most needed in the region or country you are traveling through, and don’t be afraid to offer them. Sometimes, it helps to seek out expats of your own nationality as they might be able to help you out with more skilled or technological work; sometimes, you can just walk into a bar and get a job as a bartender in a busy resort. Opportunities are quite literally limitless!

Ride round the world With No Budget
Have rare, niche skills? Use them! Training horses in the Peruvian Andes and later working as a riding instructor proved to be a lifesaver when Egle ran out of money in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

Go Virtual

If getting your hands dirty in Patagonian farms or mixing cocktails on the beach bars in Peruvian resorts isn’t your style, you can always find work online. And you don’t have to be a photographer, a writer, or a blogger: there are hundreds upon hundreds of different jobs you can do using the internet!

When my budget started dwindling again in Ecuador in 2014, I began doing translations: English to Lithuanian and Lithuanian to English. The money wasn’t great, but because I was in Ecuador, I made just enough for food, fuel, and even an occasional beer. translationdirectory.com is a great resource for this kind of work.

Upwork.com is a great website for freelancers, where you can find work online anywhere on the planet. And again, anything goes: individuals, companies, and corporations are always looking for virtual assistants, accountants, graphic designers, consultants, salespeople – the list goes on and on. So get Googling, and get going!

Become A Digital Nomad

Becoming an independent writer, journalist, and editor was what eventually set me free. Today, I am on a round the world journey by motorcycle with no return date because I finally found work which enables me to travel and which I can do from absolutely anywhere, as long as there is at least a tolerable internet connection. I freelance for a daily newspaper back home, write articles for travel, lifestyle and adventure motorcycling magazines, and edit Women ADV Riders, a new publication for female motorcycling adventurers around the globe. I have also written a book about the everyday life of indigenous tribes of South America which I got paid for and which will later bring me some modest but steady passive income.

Ride round the world with no Budget

All of this didn’t happen overnight, though, and it still isn’t a completely sure-proof way of earning money: sometimes, forgetful editors don’t pay on time, and there is a natural flow and ebb to the amount of work I get every month. Little by little, though, as I develop better relationships with editors and publishers around the world, freelance writing is getting much steadier, and I get paid better. It takes time and relentless effort to achieve this, though. When I started, I would sell one or two articles per month, and my book was rejected by two well-established publishers. But hard work, perseverance and even more hard work eventually pays off. By month four, I was already selling around 6 articles a month and had a book contract with a reputable publisher. Now, after ten months, I run my own publication, get more freelance writing assignments than ever and am thinking of a second book.

I could probably write a whole treatise on becoming a digital nomad. But if there is one advice that really matters, it’s this: Can you NOT write? Because if you can, then don’t even start. On the other hand, if writing truly is your passion, if you would write even if you didn’t get paid for it, if you would write even if nobody ever read your work – then go ahead!

Go Slow, But Go Big

Everyone has a unique traveling style, and there is no one fits all formula about how adventure riders could or should travel. Everyone has a different comfort level, a different goal, and enjoys different things. And that’s great.

Riding the World with no Budget

But if there is one golden rule that might really help you, it’s go slow. The slower you go, the less money you spend. The slower you go, the more money you can make on the road, whatever you do – be it stopping to do some organic farming in Colombia, work at a giraffe sanctuary in Zimbabwe or become a virtual assistant for some busy New York startup CEO. The slower you go, the more time you can have on your hands to figure out what you’re really good at, what exactly is it that you want to do, and how to achieve that. The slower you go, the quicker you build your own online business, figure out a way to get jobs on the go, or work remotely to support your travels!

See where I’m going with this? If you’re thinking of riding round the world, chances are, you want out of the rat race and off the beaten path. So do it slowly, but go big. Go round the world. Go round the world twice! As long as you take your time, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment, anything is possible.

Photos by Paul Stewart and Egle Gerulaityte
Egle Gerulaityte Author ProfileAbout the Author: Riding around the world extra slowly and not taking it too seriously, Egle Gerulaityte is always on the lookout for interesting stories. Editor of the Women ADV Riders magazine, Egle focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to bring travel inspiration to all two-wheeled maniacs out there.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

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5 thoughts on “Ride the World With No Savings: Making a Living on the Road

  1. Solid inspiration! I met one guy on the road in Guatemala who worked three days/ week online as an accountant for a Danish company, he’d been on the road for nine years!
    Another guy who worked about the same as a programmer, he’d been on his bike for five. The jobs almost seemed like a reward for the trade offs.
    Nice hustle:)
    Kix

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