How to Become a Professional Traveler and Make Money Traveling the World

by | Oct 21, 2022

Are you dreaming about traveling the world and becoming a professional traveler, but are unsure how to go about it?

If that sounds like you, this post has got you covered.

I’ve been traveling with my family for over 11 years now and along the way have learned a thing or two!

Whether you want tips on how to travel like a pro or a list of money-making ideas to make world travel a reality, read on!

As Helen Keller said ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!

Helen Keller motivational quote

What is a Professional Traveler?

You can define the term ‘professional traveler’, one of two ways;

  1. A long term traveler who knows all the tips and tricks of traveling and is, therefore, a travel ‘pro’
  2. Someone who makes money as a professional traveler (gets paid to travel)

I’m going to be covering both aspects in this post, however I have another post detailing 16 ways to get paid to travel around the world if you’re looking specifically for ways to start a travel career.

10 Tips to Travel Like a Professional Traveler

1. Be Prepared

A professional traveler is always prepared.

  • They know they have well over 6 months left in their passport.
  • They’ve researched the visa and entry requirements to the countries they’re visiting and have completed all necessary paperwork.
  • They have spare passport photos for countries with visas on arrival.
  • They have some cash in local currency and a travel card which doesn’t charge for international transactions (see point 3)
  • They have adequate travel insurance (see point 2)
  • They’ve downloaded Express VPN or something similar to their phone (see point 7)
  • They’ve unlocked their phone so as to use local sims to save money (see point 8)

The chances are they’ll also have a pre-prepared packing list for their travel essentials and know exactly what to take for which climate.

I’ve been caught out multiple times by forgetting my contact lens solution or glasses and once I went to Spain on a trip with my Mum and forgot all my underwear!

Of course, you can buy almost anything you forget, but it’s best to be prepared.

2. Have Adequate Travel Insurance

A professional traveler will always ensure they have adequate travel insurance for the countries they’re visiting and the activities they will be undertaking.

My recommended insurance company for professional travelers is;

SafetyWing Insurance

safety wing travel insurance

3. Have Some Local Currency & a Travel Card

Although very much in the minority these days, some developing countries may not have an ATM at the airport or a way to get cash.

In fact, when traveling home to the UK during the pandemic for a family emergency, the ATMs at Heathrow weren’t working and I was unable to access cash at a major UK airport!

Luckily I had some cash reserves with me and of course my debit and credit cards, but it pays to be prepared when it comes to traveling to unknown countries.

It’s best to go to banks, credit unions, or exchanges in your hometown before traveling to the airport as airport exchanges notoriously charge more to exchange your funds.

You can exchange funds online but again the rates are less favorable.

Recommended travel cards that give you the option of paying in the local currency (using the Interbank Exchange rate, as opposed to an inflated exchange rate set by merchant), include;

Revolut

Monzo

Wise

how to become a professional traveler - revolut card

4. Travel Lightly

A professional traveler travels lightly. A couple of years back my sister & I made a 3 week trip across Nepal, India & the Maldives with nothing more than a 7kg backpack each.

I guarantee you need less than you think you do!

Traveling lightly means not having to wait for your luggage when you get to your destination country, no lost luggage issues and you have everything you need in one simple bag.

5. Take Minimal Liquids in Clear Bag

A professional traveler always ensures they have minimal liquids, pre-packed in a clear bag they can access quickly and easily when traveling through airport security.

NB: This matters less in developing countries, however, the big airports are very hot on separate liquids.

6. Know How to Access Lounges

A professional traveler knows that even if they’re not traveling business or first class, they can pay to access most lounges in airports. Therefore on a layover of 3 or more hours will likely take advantage of the airport lounges to eat, drink & freshen up before their connecting flight.

Some of the travel cards mentioned above also give discounted access to airport lounges including Revolut & Monzo.

professional traveler - Monzo

7. Know When to Board a Plane

If a flight is not busy, a professional traveler knows to wait until everyone has boarded so they can spy any empty rows or better-spaced seats to make the flight more comfortable.

If the flight is busy, a professional traveler knows to board early to ensure they can stow their bag in front of them and not get stuck trying to retrieve their bag from behind them when the flight lands.

8. Have a VPN Downloaded on Your Phone

A few years back when I arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport late in the evening I suddenly realized I had no access to Google.

There was a massive queue for taxis and unless I was willing to wait a couple of hours, I knew I needed to get to my hotel using the subway.

All the signage was in Chinese, I had no google and no way to find my hotel. Thankfully Express VPN came to my rescue and I was able to access Google and find my way across the city.

Aside from that rather stressful experience, using a VPN has come in handy on multiple occasions while traveling from viewing local sites in English, to accessing bank accounts, to getting flight deals.

I’ve tried a few VPN providers over the years but Express VPN has repeatedly outperformed them all.

Express VPN - website homepage

9. Purchase a Local Sim

Depending on where you’re from and what phone operating contract you have depends on roaming rates.

In my experience roaming rates are extortionate and there’s a far cheaper way of staying in touch and accessing WiFi while overseas.

In most countries around the world, you’ll likely be offered a local Sim as you move through the airport. If not, there’ll be a phone store not too far away!

In French Polynesia, we were sailing in the middle of the Pacific and had to get a prepaid mobile dongle to access the internet. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Depending on the kind of trip you’re taking, sometimes it’s nice to not access the internet and have a bit of a break. But if you’re running an online business as we are, then access to the web is essential.

Most local sim providers are cheap and reliable, but it pays to do a bit of research before you head to the destination country to ensure you get the one with the widest net reach.

Just make sure your phone isn’t tied to your home country contract and can be used with another sim.

10. Have the Hotel Name Written in Local Language

Either use Google Translate or as soon as you enter the country or even on the plane, find someone local who also speaks English and get your hotel name written on your phone or a piece of paper in the local language.

Trying to tell a poor Vietnamese taxi driver the name of our hotel when we arrived late in the evening, and then having to use google maps in the dark to attempt to direct him was enough for me to always do this when arriving in a non-English speaking country.

11. Learn a Few Words of the Local Lingo

A professional traveler will have studied the basics of the local foreign language, such as “hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’.

If you’re a true professional you’ll also have learned how to ask for a cold beer, but that’s another post!

When my sister and I were on one of our annual ‘sisters on tour’ trips, we’d adopted a habit of asking the airport staff as we entered each country how to say ‘Hello’.

On arriving at Singapore which is primarily an English-speaking country, my sister duly asked the immigration office ‘how do you say hello here?’. He looked blankly back at her and said, ‘Hello’.

She went a shade of pink I have never seen and we both laughed our way out of the airport.

Still, it always pays to ask!

12. Only Book 1 or 2 Nights Initially

A professional traveler who is moving from town to town or country to country in fairly rapid succession will only book a hotel for one or two nights initially to ensure they’re in the right place and that they like the area.

Arriving in Bagan, Myanmar some years ago, we found we were in the middle of a dusty building site quite a way from where we wanted to be.

Luckily we had only booked one night and the next morning while on a sunrise hot air balloon ride, I spotted the hotel I wanted to stay in from the air!

Right in the middle of all the temples and stupas, it was magical and we had an amazing stay.

It wouldn’t have been so fabulous if we were already booked and paid at the other place!

Aureum Hotel in Bagan, Myanmar

13. Research Forums & Groups to Find a Local to Be Your Tour Guide

There are two ways a professional traveler will approach sightseeing and exploring the local area.

They will likely have already booked specific trips they want to do as I detail in the next point and highly recommend.

However, they will also likely have researched forums, groups, and local tourism boards beforehand and found a recommended local driver to be their tour guide.

There’s nothing like finding someone on the ground to take you off the beaten track and create experiences the usual package tours won’t expose you to.

professional traveler - tripadvisor forums

Image source: Tripadvisor Forums

14. Have a Pre Prepared Bucket List and Book Trips Up Front

It’s a good idea to book upfront for trips or adventures you definitely want to experience as there’s nothing worse than traveling across the globe only to find they’re closed or sold out.

Use sites like tripadvisor.com, klook.com, or getyourguide.co.uk to book trips in advance and avoid disappointment.

NB: A professional traveler will never accept the first price they see without doing their own due diligence. Use the trip sites as inspiration and then see whether you can put the trip together yourself allowing for more flexibility and potentially a price saving.

Sometimes you can and sometimes it’s just easier to go with the tour company.

Get Your Guide - book trips

Image source: GetYourGuide.com

15. Tip Generously

A professional traveler will always be a handsome tipper for good service.

I always tip local taxi drivers if they’ve been friendly and fair, the hotel porter who takes my bags to the room, the waiting staff if they’ve made me feel welcome, knowledgeable tour guides, and anyone else who makes my trip more pleasant.

Here in Thailand where I am as I write this, the average daily wage is just 500THB ($15), so a 50 or 100THB ($1.50-$3) tip goes a long way!

16. Be Prepared for Anything to Go Wrong & Take It All in Your Stride!

A professional traveler knows that it’s unlikely every aspect of their trip will go swimmingly.

From flight delays to booking miscommunications to lack of internet access to language barriers, there are a lot of moving parts when traveling.

Expect challenges along the way, be open-minded to change plans last minute, and be adaptable to your surroundings and you won’t go far wrong.

17. Always Remember You’re In Their Country

Lastly, please always remember, wherever you go, you are in your host’s country. Pack away your Western privilege and be respectful of the country’s customs and traditions.

For more expert travel tips, see my post 101 Travel Tips to Save You Time and Money.

professional traveler - 101 travel tips

10 Ways to Make Money as a Professional Traveler

So now you have a handle on the tips and tricks to become a travel pro, it’s time to look at how to make money as a professional traveler.

This list is slightly different from my post on 16 ways to get paid to travel, as a professional traveler does not need to be generating an income in the traveling niche (which is what that post focuses on).

A professional traveler may even be employed by a company with offices all over the world and that’s why they’re traveling so often.

However, I am going to focus on all the ways you can generate an income remotely while traveling the world, giving you ultimate freedom to go where you want, when you want, which is my true definition of an online lifestyle business.

1. Become a Freelancer

One of the fastest routes to generating an income while being able to work your own hours from anywhere in the world is freelancing.

Simply take the skills you have amassed over the years and sign up for a freelancing job site such as upwork.com, or freelancer.com and start bidding for jobs.

If you love to write, freelance writing could be the way to go, perhaps you’re great at graphic design or building WordPress websites. If you have a variety of skills that lend themselves to all aspects of a business, there are thousands of virtual assistant jobs available covering a multitude of tasks.

The best way to get started is to simply register as a freelancer and start combing through the available jobs. You could start earning within a few days and in just a few weeks could be generating enough to give up your full-time job and become a professional traveler!

Virtual assistant jobs - Upwork

Image source: Upwork.com

2. Start a Blog

As you’re going to be traveling the world and experiencing some amazing sights, why not start a travel blog?

Blogging is a fantastic way to earn a living while traveling the world, although it does take some time to get off the ground.

Start by choosing a blog niche, such as travel blogging (although you can choose any niche you’re interested in that you believe would attract a passionate audience).

Choose your blog name, purchase the domain and hosting, and build a simple WordPress website. Then start posting!

Use a tool such as the google keyword planner or even just google search and autosuggest and look for what people are searching for in your niche. What questions are they asking? What keyphrases are they typing in google?

Use those keyphrases to create valuable content that answers questions, solves problems, informs, educates, or entertains.

Read my post on how to start a travel blog for more step-by-step details on how to get started blogging.

professional traveler - nomadic matt

Imagesource – nomadicmatt.com

3. Become an Influencer

If blogging doesn’t float your boat because you’re more of a social media maven, why not become a travel influencer?

We’ve all seen Instagram photos of beautiful waterfalls and lush marigold fields. That could be you!

Take lots of photos and use the plethora of user-friendly video editing apps to create funky videos for reels or TikTok and start posting frequently and regularly.

Share your adventures, tell stories, engage your audience and grow your following. As your audience grows, you can start to approach hotels or travel companies to get discounted stays or flights in exchange for posting videos or photos about the company you’re traveling with.

You’ll also start to attract brand deals and sponsorship and with the TikTok creator program will start to earn simply by uploading your content.

Travel Entrepreneur - Jack Morris Instagram

Image source: Instagram.com/jackmorris

4. Become a Videographer or Photographer

One step further from becoming a social media influencer is to become a professional videographer or photographer.

If your video and photography skills are such that you can start charging for your services, rather than discounted stays, companies will pay you to create advertising campaigns for their hotels and travel services.

Perhaps you’ll do a photography shoot for an online magazine or specialize in drone photography or videography.

Post pandemic travel companies will be crying out for media exposure, so now’s the time to hone your skills!

professional traveler - aerial view beach

5. Start a Print on Demand Business

Another route to make money as a professional traveler is to start your own ecommerce print-on-demand business.

Print on demand is a fantastic business model as it can be done completely on the road with no investment needed for upfront inventory or storage for stock required.

Print on demand is just that. A design is printed onto a product and sent to the customer only at the time of purchase. You, as the store owner, create the designs and with the help of clever software display your designs on products that don’t exist yet.

As soon as a product is purchased, your design is printed onto the product and sent to the customer.

There are three main routes to getting started with print on demand;

  1. You can choose to sell on a print-on-demand marketplace such as Redbubble, Zazzle or Teepublic, which means you don’t even have to create your own store.
  2. You can integrate a print-on-demand app with a front end ecommerce platform such as Etsy.
  3. You can create your own ecommerce store on Shopify or Bigcommerce.

Read my guide to starting your own ecommerce business for more details.

redbubble ecommerce website

6. Start a Dropshipping Store

If designing t-shirts isn’t your jam, another path into the ecommerce world is dropshipping.

It’s a competitive game, as is print on demand, due to the low barrier of entry, but as long as you’re willing to test and measure and start playing with social media ads, this is a very lucrative business model.

Dropshipping, much like print on demand, requires no upfront investment or stock storage requirements.

You advertise products within your niche that are available on specific dropshipping sites around the world such as aliexpress.com and when a customer makes a purchase the item is sent directly to them from the manufacturer.

You keep the difference between what you advertised the product for and what the manufacturer is charging you.

The best way to get started dropshipping is to create an ecommerce store using Shopify or Bigcommerce, and add the Oberlo or Spocket dropshipping apps. Both these apps make dropshipping extremely simple to execute.

professional traveler - dropshipping supplier spocket

Image source: Spocket

7. Become a Coach, Tutor or Consultant

Depending on your skill sets you could build your career as a professional traveler as a coach, tutor, or consultant.

Perhaps you can coach people on how to build their own online lifestyle business and travel around the world.

Maybe you consult travel or tour companies on how to promote their services and facilities better online.

You can even earn money teaching English online to students from across the globe.

If you love to work with others and help them to achieve their goals then some kind of a teaching/coaching role is definitely for you.

Check out tefl.com for teaching opportunities and sites like upwork.com come with plenty of coaching and consulting roles.

Jobs - Tefl website

8. Become an Author

If you love to write, your dream job might be writing and publishing books.

These days it’s easier than ever before to become a published author. Whether you want to sell physical paperback books on Amazon or write fast and publish a series of ebooks on kindle, the choice is yours!

You can even make money by publishing no or low content books such as journals, planners, or diaries.

The best place to sell your books is on Amazon of course and their kindle KDP platform is very easy to use. However, it’s a good idea to also explore Ingram Spark if you want your book in bookstores and you can also sell no or low content books on Etsy or as a print-on-demand product.

The opportunities are endless!

professional traveler - kindle books

9. Start an Amazon FBA Business

A slightly more challenging business to start on the road and more cash-intensive, starting an Amazon FBA business is an extremely lucrative and profitable business model.

As the business owner, you’ll research Amazon to discover which products are selling well in the niche you have chosen to pursue.

You’ll then source those products from a supplier somewhere in the world who can produce the products in bulk. You’ll add your branding to the products and have them shipped to the Amazon warehouses.

FBA means, fulfilled by Amazon, meaning they store the stock, ship the products to the customer and deal with returns, etc.

You’ll need cash to purchase the inventory upfront and although Amazon handles the storage and shipping you will want to see samples to test the quality of the products you’re selling under your brand.

However, once the business is up and running, you can easily manage it while traveling.

Check out my step-by-step post on how my husband & I generated 7 figures within a year using Amazon FBA while on the road!

professional traveler - amazon partner

10. Start a Not for Profit Business

If, like me, you’d love to make a positive impact on the world while building your career as a professional traveler, why not start a not-for-profit while on the road.

Find a cause you want to support such as microlending to women in Africa, or building schools in Haiti, and build any one of the businesses I have suggested above with all the profits being donated to the cause of your choice.

Perhaps your ecommerce store is made up of products made by local artisans supporting their communities. Or your social media influencer account is filled with stories of kids in Cambodia who can’t afford an education.

Maybe you create your own online teaching school for other professional travelers looking to make an impact.

I guarantee as you travel the world, you’ll discover communities and environments that will dramatically broaden your mind and tug violently on your heartstrings.

If exploring the world and making an impact is your priority, then pay yourself enough to live and donate the rest. Your goal would be to eventually attract sponsorship which pays the costs of maintaining the business so that 100% of income can go to the causes you support.

Not for profit organisation - societyb
Image source: societyb.com

How to Become a Professional Traveler Summary

The myth that you have to be rich to travel is just that, a myth.

When we started traveling South East Asia 11 years ago, we quickly realized it was cheaper than living full time in the UK, the US, or Australia.

The term professional traveler can mean whatever you want it to mean, whether you’re simply a pro at traveling the world or you want to earn a full-time income in doing so.

But the opportunities to earn while traveling abounds. This post focuses on starting your own lifestyle business but you can of course take advantage of the many global job opportunities, such as working on a cruise ship or getting a job within the travel industry.

You can also volunteer your way around the world, which I talk about more in my post on how to get paid to travel the world.

Be creative, open your mind to the opportunities available and just start. It’s only your fear holding you back.

Good luck!

Please share with anyone you think this might benefit. Thank you 🙂

Disclaimer: Please note this post may contain affiliate links, from which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products and services I’ve used or would use myself. If you choose to purchase from any of my links, thanks so much for your support! 😊