10 Women On How They Turned Traveling into a Career

Michaela Steakley
Apr 1, 2017 · 6 min read

We live in a world where you can make money simply by traveling. Here, I use the term “simply” very loosely, because while making a career out of traveling is becoming increasingly popular, it’s not something that happens overnight or with little effort. These 10 women know firsthand what it takes to “make it” in the travel business and have offered advice through their websites, social media and interviews about how they turned traveling into a career:

1. Liz Carlson, Young Adventuress

In a blog post about becoming a travel blogger, Carlson wrote about a few ways she learned about the industry and got her blog started. She wrote, “I joined in at the BlogHouse in Spain where I spent a few days being mentored by top travel bloggers as well as joining and participating in Travel Blog Success. Recently I have joined the PTBA, the Professional Travel Bloggers Association as a way to gain new industry contacts and be a part of the movement to “legitimize” blogging as an actual profession.”

Carlson built up her blog enough to quit her job and travel full time. How does she pay for it all? In an interview with BBC Travel, she said that most of her income “comes from partnering with like-minded brands, helping to share their story on my blog and on social media.”

2. Kate McCulley, Adventurous Kate

Kate McCulley developed her website while traveling in Southeast Asia for six months. Upon returning to the United States, she realized that she was making almost enough money to support herself, so she “ramped it up” and began traveling full time.

On her website, she mentions six ways that she earns money to travel. They are affiliate marketing, campaigns, branded content, products, freelance writing and consulting and public speaking.

A few words of advice? “Know this: making a full-time living as a travel blogger is an extraordinarily difficult thing to do. This is in no way passive income — it requires an immense amount of time, work, and networking.”

3. Lesley Murphy, The Road Les Traveled

After appearing on ABC’s The Bachelor in 2013, Murphy moved to Argentina, where she worked for a luxury hospitality company. She used that experience to start her blog, The Road Les Traveled.

As for making money, Murphy has a few sources of income.

“I’m very fortunate to partner with hotels, airlines, tourism boards and brands in order to fund my travels. I work with companies all over the world that align with my brand and my goals,” she wrote in a blog post answering frequently asked questions about her career.

She also works as a freelance journalist and advises brands on social media marketing and online content strategy.

4. Kirsten Alana

Kirsten Alana started out as a wedding photographer. After going through a divorce that put her in debt, she decided to start traveling. In an article for BBC News, Alana wrote about how she struggled to find work at first and was told by travel editors that she had no chance of making it as a travel photographer without also providing the writing. She started blogging, which she was eventually able to do full time.

In the article, she also credited her use of Twitter and Instagram, which she said became free marketing for her blogging and photography.

5. Kiersten Rich, The Blonde Abroad

Kiersten Rich left a job in corporate finance to travel the world, and she has since created a travel empire. On her website, she lists the ways that she is able to make money while constantly traveling. These include “affiliate programs, consulting, social media marketing and digital content creation.” She also cites press trips and her Blog Mentorship program as sources of income.

She told Paste Magazine that as she was starting out, she sold almost everything she owned and moved back in with her parents. Another hard fact to swallow? “The reality is that it takes years of unpaid digital work to build,” she told Paste.

6. Alexandra Baackes, Alex in Wanderland

Alexandra Baackes is a New York native who had a big goal: “I wanted to travel forever.” She started out by selling some of her belongings, living frugally and, she admits, accepting a contribution from her parents as a gift for saving them some money by earning a scholarship to pay for college.

To maintain her nomadic lifestyles, Baackes has worked as a freelance graphic designer, a photographer’s assistant, a videographer and a blogger, as well as some odd jobs, according to her website. She also outlines opportunities for advertisers to capitalize on her audience, such as press trip, sponsored posts and app and product reviews.

Apart from that, she doesn’t have to worry about the major expenses that drain an average person’s bank account.

“I have no long term expenses nor debt haunting me. No mortgage, no student loans, and no rent/bills to pay each month (ah, the benefits of homelessness),” she wrote in a blog post about affording long-term travel.

7. Janice Waugh, Solo Traveler

Janice Waugh started Solo Traveler in 2009 because of “a love of travel, personal loss and an empty nest,” according to her website. Like the title of her website suggests, she travels solo and shares her experiences.

She wrote in a blog post about solo travel on a tight budget that despite the perks of being a travel blogger, it’s still expensive and she has to be smart about it.

To sustain her travels, Waugh does public speaking and she wrote a handbook for solo travelers, which is available on Amazon.

8. Marie-Eve Vallières, To Europe & Beyond

Marie-Eve Vallières moved from Montreal to London at the age of 19 and fell in love with traveling. As she wrote on her website, “Travel wasn’t just a finite adventure anymore, with a departure point and return date; it was a way of life, a calling.”

Since then, Vallières has continued to travel with her husband… to Europe and beyond.

To sustain this lifestyle, Vallières does translation, photography, copywriting and sells advertising on her website. In a Q&A with coach and bus travel company Busbud, she said, “I have to wear many hats in order to have a roof over my head and food in my fridge.”

She also has two city guide e-books available through her website: one for London and one for Montreal.

9. Rachel Jones, Hippie in Heels

After graduating from The Ohio State University and becoming a nurse, Rachel Jones realized that the “real world” wasn’t for her and she decided to see the world on the road instead. She now lives in Goa, India and makes money as a travel blogger.

In a blog post about how she makes money, Jones cites travel blogging as her main source of income. This involves many components, including press trips, ambassadorships for companies she loves, travel planning, freelance writing and consulting.

10. Anna Phipps, Global Gallivanting

Anna Phipps left the UK to travel “indefinitely” after saving and planning for months. In a blog post about how she is able to travel full time, Phipps wrote that she “sacrificed everything, sold all my possessions and saved like mad for 18 months to buy my freedom.” In the post, she also pointed out options for getting the most out of your money, like going to countries where your American Dollar (or British Pound, or Euro) will go a long way.

In an article for The Huffington Post, Phipps points out the cons to travel blogging, like the time and dedication you have to put in to start making money and how it can often lead to travel burnout. However, it’s worth it, she wrote, because “my travel blog has allowed me to share my experiences and to connect with and inspire others to see more of our amazing planet, to open their minds and by doing so maybe even change their lives. For me, that’s what really makes it worthwhile.”

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