Tourism is too expensive and too difficult for most Americans. With only a few days of paid vacation, most would rather stay at home.
But who would turn down the chance to get paid to travel?
We’ve come up with 15 ways to live the dream and spend weeks or even years in exotic lands while raking in cash.
If we missed any or you know how to do it better, let us know in the comments.
Max. pay: $200 plus cost of gas
A classic gig that faces growing obstacles from car insurance, driving someone else's car is a cheap way to travel and great excuse for a road trip. Don't bother applying unless your own driving record is perfect.
Cost of gas for a drive from North Carolina to DC is the best we could find on Craigslist at the moment, but there are definitely better deals out there. Find someone who offers to pay for motel stays on a long trip... then sleep in the car and you've got your $200 profit.
Max. pay: $30 plus cost of ticket
After wading through scam sites and paperwork, certified secret shoppers can find work in any sector, including travel. You won't have much control over when and where you travel, but you will get there for free and get paid for easy work.
For instance, you could have been one of the secret shoppers who recently flew around England and exposed discrimination against disabled passengers.
Max. pay: $40 per hour, plus expenses (for certified guides)
Certified guides earn impressive wages for sightseeing with groups, especially if they find work as an long-term escort.
Uncertified guides can also earn money by pouncing on unsuspecting tourists. If you speak the language and know your way around, you might give it a try. Chances are you'll give a better tour than many of the sketchy locals.
The other option is to look for a gig as an expert guide -- in other words, a professor or talking head who gives after-dinner speeches on cruise ships. For instance, you could join former attorney general Michael Mukasey on the National Review Cruise.
Max. pay: $6 for a 5-star hotel review (Craigslist)
The raw amateur looking to get paid to travel may consider writing reviews for a cooperative website. You won't break even -- expect to lose several hundred dollars on that 5-star hotel review -- but there's no reason not to grab a bit of cashback.
Sites like ReviewStream.com offer a steady $2.50 per review, though you can find better gigs on Craigslist. We've read that Tripr.tv pays 33% commission for video reviews, but their site is down at the moment.
Max. pay: Food and accommodation
Green thumb travellers may work a few hours a day on participating farms in exchange for accommodation, home-cooked food, and a great way to see the land.
Although the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms does not pay for travel costs, WOOFers don't mind hiking or hitching a ride.
Max. pay: $400 a day
Someone's got to move that million dollar yacht from Back Bay to the Bahamas. This sweet job belongs to delivery captains, who can be anyone with a good enough sailing resume and a good enough price.
Coast Guard certified master captain Steven Wiseman, for instance, offers to beat all other professional captains' bids to deliver a boat.
Max. pay: Enough miles to buy another, more expensive flight
Mileage runners book long and inexpensive flights to run up maximum miles. They scour travel sites for ticketing errors and special deals that give them insane mile payouts. They dream of the famed round-the-world flights.
For some milerunning ideas, check out the forum at Flyertalk.com.
Max. pay: Over $1,000 per month, plus cost of ticket
Anyone who speaks English can get a job teaching English abroad. TEFL certification and an impressive college degree may be enough to secure a position that pays travel and accommodation, as well as salary.
The best-paying jobs are in kindergartens and boarding schools, according to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. If you want to stay mobile, you could probably find work as an English tutor at the drop of a dime anywhere in Asia.
Max. pay: $2,000 per month plus cost of ticket
A lot of missionary work is unpaid and requires fundraising in the church community. But it can pay well if paired with an educational program (like the $2,000/month job we found).
On the other hand, you could travel far and wide as a bible salesman.
Max. pay: Cost of travel plus royalties
Researching destinations for a guidebook is the brutal variety of travel writing. Researchers bolt from hotel to hotel and hit up dozens of restaurants and bars a night to collect facts and write short paragraph summaries.
Pay is down in recent years due to competition from websites and less interest in the ruminations of travel writers. But hard working writers can still make a living, according to Lonely Planet writer Simon Sellars.
Max. pay: High
Obviously there are many jobs that involve travelling. Flight attendants, for instance, can earn up to $46 dollars an hour and book free flights and overnight stays in exotic cities.
But we're going light on this one because a job that involves travelling is still a job.
Max. pay: $2,500 plus cost of ticket
Cephalon recently paid 427 patients to fly to Paris and test out jet lag medication.
More jobs like this are out there if you search medication testing sites. For every new malaria drug, hundreds of people of patients get to travel around the third world and try it out.
Max. pay: £20,000
Phileas Fogg bet £20,000 he could make it around the world in 80 days, and that was in 1872.
Fun and lucrative bets are still out there, if you think you can beat travel time expectations.
Max. pay: High
Now we're not saying you should transport a station wagon full of cocaine across the border to Texas, but if you did you would score a huge cash payout.
The more legal approach is to be a modern-day Marco Polo. Pick up artifacts from craftsmen in the outer regions of the world and sell them for a nice markup to stores and collectors.
Max. pay: High
If you can write the next Green Hills of Africa or Innocents Abroad, you'll earn a fat check in royalties and contracts. More recently, Eat, Pray, Love was a cash cow for writer Elizabeth Gilbert.
For the less ambitious, a 500-word travel article can earn anywhere from $10 to $1,000, according to TransitionsAbroad.
The best part of travel writing is the lifestyle. An established author or travel writer can travel to their destination of choice with all-expenses paid and a paycheck in the works. Of course, many travel writers will never get published and never see a cent from their essays.
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