dani working in palolem

Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by Dani

Maybe you have a healthy lump of cash set aside for you to deplete at will while you backpack your way around the globe, or perhaps you are independently wealthy and if this is you, congratulations! For the rest of us out there, at some point, picking up work along during our around the world adventures is inevitable. A romantic notion of working as you travel has traditionally included work as bartenders or service staff at hotels and restaurants, while a less romantic but more lucrative option has been to teach English or other languages at schools or language institutes. Until the widespread reach of the internet, such work would have been the easiest way for most travelers to finance an extensive round the world trip, but tends not to be as carefree as originally intended. But now that everyone is connected at all times, everyone has a smartphone, data is cheap, and WiFi is faster than ever before in most parts of the world, it is easier than ever before to earn money online while you travel.

Working online while traveling has gone from niche to mainstream

Most companies have now realized that highly skilled workers are more likely to work for you if you allow them the freedom to work from anywhere rather than tying them to a desk, which is why there are now more online jobs available than ever before. The advantage of working online is that instead of earning local currency in the country you’re traveling in, you’re earning in Dollars/Pounds/Euros, which exponentially increases your spending power. That in return translates to nicer places to stay, more specialized tours or adventure experiences and much better food.

Even if you love the rough and tumble of super budget travel, the greatest advantage of working online while traveling is the absolute freedom it affords you. You work from anywhere you want, whenever you want. If you meet a group of travelers who ask you to join them in a pick-up to the next destination on your path, you can pack up and hop in without quitting your job. If a town that used to intrigue you enough to stay for a while suddenly bores you to death, you can easily pack up your bag and head on to the next location.

In theory all you need is a laptop and wi-fi. Wireless internet is available in almost every hotel and hostel for free, as well as in restaurants, cafes and even in most central parks. There are plenty of inexpensive lightweight laptops available these days – if you’re strapped for cash, there’s no need to invest in a fancy MacBook Air. In fact: it can be risky to travel with Apple products, as many digital nomads can attest who got stuck somewhere with a broken Apple device, but no Apple store anywhere to be found. A shiny new Apple product can also make you a target for theft: a friend of mine had her MacBook stolen from under her hands as she was typing away in a coffee shop in Buenos Aires. Here are some good lightweight laptops you might want to consider if you are planning to work online while traveling.

Of course, you need to have basic professional skills that lend themselves to successful online freelancing, and the most common jobs are in web-design, copywriting, editing or translating. Another common type of remote work is a gig as a virtual personal assistant, voice over work, or digital marketing and SEO consulting. If you consider anything that involves talking on the phone or recording audio is that you will have to be able to guarantee that your wi-fi connection is good enough to maintain reliable high-quality Skype phone calls and you’ll need to invest in some decent audio recording gear. Make sure to find lightweight and compact equipment if you’re planning to travel long-term.

earn money online while traveling
I carried my laptop with me on the Camino De Santiago

If you have the skills, the laptop, and the wi-fi, then the next step is to sign up on a reputable freelancing website. There are several websites that offer quality jobs enabling you to work online while traveling.

The best websites to use to earn money online while traveling:

People Per Hour

When I went freelance in 2009, I built up a good portion of my clientele through People Per Hour in the UK. Freelancers bid on projects, and the bidder with the right balance of skills, experience and salary get the job.

Even more popular is the US-based, which has a much wider spectrum of available jobs and is rated much more highly than People Per Hour. has well-paid projects for highly-skilled professionals in three areas: technology (e.g. websites, programming), creative arts (graphic design, writing, translating, photography) and business-related (admin support, business consulting). lets freelancers bid for projects in areas such as web design, writing, marketing and programming.

As with the rest of the website, the jobs section on Craigslist is loaded with possibilities. Jobs offered range from art/media/design over SEO and webdesign to writing gigs, but as Craigslist offers such a broad choice of services and is not specifically for freelance work, the quality of the posted jobs varies.

Tips for bidding for freelance work online

1. Bid high, or at least higher than you think

According to People Per Hour, 90% of bids on their website are won by the mid to high bidders, not those who try to bid as low as possible to win a job. Having been both the ‘employer’ and the bidder on these sites, I can concur that when I receive a bid from a freelancer which is far below average, I immediately assume the bidder is too inexperienced to complete the project to a high standard.

2. Fill out your entire profile page

Find a nice picture, fill in your work history and show some personality so that a possible employer can get a feeling for you and your work. Often times, freelance websites also allow employers to search and actually invite you to bid, another reason why having a full profile is key. It is up to you whether or not you are clear that you are traveling the world or not.

3. Do work for free if you have to, but only at first.

At first you might take jobs that don’t pay for the purpose of boosting your portfolio. This is especially common with writing or web design gigs. In theory, it is useful to take on the free work to boost an initially thin portfolio. However, it would be possible to spend 40 hours a week writing free content online and you are not a volunteer! The successful digital nomad must learn to write winning bids which bring you better, higher profile clients and better pay, so only write for free if it brings you something of value. I used to write for free on a weekly basis for a very hip London publication. Doing this brought me referrals, writing gigs, cool free stuff like tickets, passes and heaps of street cred which helped when pitching the bigger publications.

 4. Bid only when you are ready to work

Employers who place job ads on reputable sites like and do so because they want to reach a top-quality pool of available workers. Many jobs require you to start within a day or two.  If you are going to be trekking for four days through the Brazilian jungle, don’t bid for a job that is looking for you to start straight away, even if it seems perfect. You might think that you include in your bid that you can’t start until a week from today, but keep in mind that every job you bid for has between 10 and 100 bidders willing to start today. If you worked in an office, you wouldn’t tell your boss that you’ll hand in the report next week after your jungle trek, so you can’t expect these employers to accept that either. 
work online while traveling

5. The key to online freelance success = Discipline

Ultimately, even if you have a good wi-fi connection, a super laptop and you have signed up and filled out the profile pages on all relevant freelance websites, the key to successful working online while traveling is to have discipline. No boss breathing down your neck is certainly a relief, but means that you are solely responsible to balance the freedom that working remotely affords you with the ultimate freedom of being a world traveler. Even though you can hop on a bus to anywhere at a moment’s notice, once you get there, you still have to make yourself sit down and finish your work before you join your new travel buddies for a night of debauchery. It takes discipline to combine travel and remote work, and you may find it hard in the beginning, but you will get into rhythm of working and traveling eventually. And with those hard-earned pounds or dollars, you will be able to enjoy many of these crazy nights, or stay at that nicer hotel, or go scuba diving yet again, without worrying about depleting your savings.

working online while traveling
Working on the train in Italy

Have you successfully become a digital nomad – are you working online while traveling? Are there any other reputable freelance sites you would recommend?  Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.

Tags : digital nomads


  1. That’s a really useful, comprehensive list of freelance sites. We have been lucky that Simon hasn’t had to do any marketing or bidding on sites like these – he has managed to get web design/development jobs via word of mouth and search engines. If work dries up though we will definitely look at these sites. One concern (at least with elance) is that the rates seem low.

    1. @Erin First of all, glad Simon has been so lucky, that’s great. Word of mouth is certainly the best, and even if you use online freelancing sites at first, you almost always get recommendations out of it, too. You’re right that pay can seem low, but again it depends on what jobs are online and when. I made a boatload of money from one job I won through an online site, and another ended up giving me a client for over a year with a strong monthly salary which was enough to cover my costs at least. As I said in the post, bid high. It’s hard to know what to bid, but bid what you’re worth, and you’ll lock in clients.

  2. I would also recommend Demand Media… You submit a writing sample, and once you are accepted you can write as many articles as you wish for a flat fee of $15 per piece. More experienced writers in certain areas make more.

    1. Hi Emily, I’ll definitely check out Demand Media too, sounds like a great system, and a secure way to know where you can pick up extra cash if you need it. It’s not a huge amount of cash, but reliable side income, it seems! Thanks for that recommendation!

    1. Hi Juergen, I suppose you could see it that way, but on the other hand it doesn’t hurt if the digital nomad trend grows – maybe more and more employers will see the benefits of hiring happy freelancers to do their content writing or other work. Plus – these sites aren’t that easy to deal with, you have to work hard to get consistent work, so it’s still survival of the fittest out there. Thanks for your comment, and happy travels!

  3. This is fantastic, thanks so much for the information. I freelance in magazines, primarily, and an online mag I’ll have to give up once I’m traveling. Anyway, querying magazines is hard because of the lag time between proposal and reponse. I love these resources because they are quick and direct. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Kim, Glad you found it useful. There are some definite Cons as well as Pros to using these sites, but they will definitely result in work. You just have to really be vigilant and follow-up like mad. It might be best to start working on building a profile on these sites before you go, so when you leave and really need the cash, you have a trustworthy profile. Oh, and I know what you mean about the lag time with mags. Between pitch and publication (ie, payment), a recent magazine article of mine took one year!

  4. This is an amazingly helpful post. Thank you so much for putting it together. I mean, the list by itself would have been incredibly useful. But the clear, concise descriptions are a real time saver. Then, adding the tips means this one post is a really valuable guide to successful freelancing on the road. I really do appreciate this information, because I went looking for a little info and I feel like I hit the jackpot.

    1. Hi Rebecca, glad you found this so useful! It’s a good way to start building reliable relationships to increase the your chances of surviving as a long-term digi-nomad. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need anything else!

  5. Good information. This is a very useful guide with us who are still starting to make money online while travelling. A great deal for ambitious person who wants to become rich so fast without leaving computer at home and while enjoying in travel.

      1. No worries! It’s nice connecting with you! I have adopted a travelling lifestyle myself and really enjoy your blog! My site is for anyone else who is interested in ways of earning online whilst travelling! Happy travels and maybe we will cross paths along the way! 🙂

  6. Just to add a thing, another great way to make money post travel is to blog about your travel adventure.

    A great tip would be to mention all the places you’ve been to with links to their website or Facebook page. If you’re lucky, they might give you great deals or free stuffs in exchange for the feature.

    This happened to us one time in Thailand, and we were given an extra day free for our next return. Great deal as well.

  7. my boyfriend and i are traveling and when i found this i couldn’t help but think this would be a great way to work while we travel america

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