If more people knew how to make money while travelling Australia, I reckon there’d be loads more people out there exploring this great country of ours. How to make money while travelling Australia is a hard nut that many would love to crack!
Although it sounds impossible, there are actually a multitude of ways you can earn money on the road while travelling Australia. It may be taking a business on the road with you, or stopping for work along the way. Many people have a skill or trade they can utilise on the road in some way, it’s all about thinking outside of the box.
As cliche as it sounds, one of the most common questions I would get asked was “how do you fund full-time travel in the first place? How can you afford it?” The funniest question I ever got was, “who pays for your fuel?” Of course I replied with, “ahhh… me!”
Here are some tips and ideas to get you started for how to make money while travelling Australia.
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Why Travel Full-time?
Let’s get real for a minute, the vast majority of people would love to be out exploring Australia every day. Instead, we find ourselves going to work, taxiing the kids to and from school, soccer and dancing, plus all of the other everyday things that we do in a regular week. Of course it would be amazing to just drive away and go on one big endless holiday, but that’s not reality… right?
I’m a pretty firm believer in that our reality is whatever we make it. Our ‘normal’ is whatever we create for ourselves. However that doesn’t mean that a complete lifestyle overhaul is easy, cheap or fast! There are always the logistical, physical human needs that have to be met.
In Australia, our basic needs are generally:
- Clean water
- Toilet and shower amenities
- Vehicle registration & insurance
- Education for the kids
- A roof over our heads
Then you move on to secondary needs that enhance our life in some way:
- Toys, books & entertainment
- Technology & gadgets etc.
You can probably see where I’m going with this.
As we plod along through life, it’s human nature to be looking towards the next thing. The next prize that we’ve set for ourself. When we first blossom into adulthood, the set prizes are generally a qualification or a good job, a car, a house and a couple of kids. Then the next obvious step in the process is to upgrade our possessions to a better car, a bigger house and maybe a fancy holiday here and there. Travelling to improve mental health is another huge benefit that often gets overlooked.
These things generally keeps us busy working towards goals for a good few years. Eventually though, many of us get to a point in our lives where we ask ourselves, “what’s the point in all of this? What do I actually want to be doing with my life? What’s my dream?”
Less Is Actually More
I know I’ve wandered off on a bit of a tangent here, but my point is actually rather simple. What we really need to live a happy and fulfilling life is very much less than what we’ve been led to believe. It really comes down to making sure we have access to all of our basic human needs, then adding in things that bring you happiness and contentment.
Before you go ahead and start trying to figure out how to fund travel across Australia, the first step is to assess what your actual needs are. We’ve been programmed from the time our little feet hit the Earth that the key to an abundant life is to earn as much money as we can and buy all of the things.
Rather than always striving to earn more money, change your habits and lifestyle to be happier with less.
For me, I live by looking at it from the reverse angle. Instead of running myself into the ground to earn more so that I can have more, I’ve cut out many of the things I don’t truly need (or want) so that I don’t have to earn so much money to live a contented life.
What are you wasting your hard-earned money and precious time and resources on, which are really not bringing you joy? Are there things in your life that you can cut out, in order to make room for more travel?
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How To FUND Full-time Travel Around Australia
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Unfortunately I didn’t have any long-lost aunts leave me an inheritance or have any lotto wins to pay for the lifestyle. So, I had to come up with some other ways to make money while travelling Australia.
You came here for the cold hard facts on how to fund full-time travel around Australia, so let’s get into it. There are a range of different ways to afford travel and the sky really is the limit. But here are the most common ways that people are doing it.
Save, Save, Save
Saving up is the most obvious way to fund travel in Australia. Many people set a goal for a 12-month lap of Oz and save hard for years to make it happen. How much you actually need for an extended trip varies so much and will be different for each situation.
As well as putting aside as much money as you can afford, there are loads of areas where you can cut costs to help add to the kitty.
Ideas of ways to cut costs while saving:
- Sell anything that you don’t need anymore
- Make your own gifts rather than buying them
- Write a shopping list and stick to it
- Have BBQ’s and Pot Luck nights instead of going out
- Repair what you’ve got instead of buying more stuff
- Make your own coffee at home
- Balance transfer your credit card, cut it up and pay it off!
- Cook one, eat twice – leftovers are the best!
- Eat what you’ve already got before buying more food
- Turn off lights and appliances that aren’t in use
- Borrow books, DVDs, magazine etc. from the library instead of buying new
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
- Take a packed lunch rather than buying out
- Buy preloved items instead of new (op shops, marketplace, garage sales, eBay)
- Do online quotes to make sure you’ve got the best insurance deals
- Quit shopping as a hobby (only purchase what’s necessary)
- Downsize your house or car and pocket the change
- Swap and trade for goods and services instead of using cash
- Make use of free events, courses and activities locally
- DIY home beauty – e.g. pluck your own eyebrows instead of getting them waxed, dye your own hair, shave your head with your own clippers, paint your own nails
- Carpool when you can save on fuel
- Service your own vehicles (if you’ve got the skills)
- Buy cheaper brands and buy when on special for necessities
- Make your own cleaning and beauty products
- Replace Foxtel or going to the cinemas with Netflix or Stan
- Cancel the cleaner and mower man – do it yourself
- Quit wasting money on disposable items and replace them with reusables
I highly recommend reading the Barefoot Investor for more simple money organisation. Check out the Barefoot Investor’s step-by-step guide to see what it’s all about.
BIG LAP Budget Spreadsheet
You can easily work out your expected travel Australia budget and costs with our Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet.
Bonus – you can even work out how much your initial set-up will cost you, plus how much income you can budget for while travelling (if relevant).
We chose to sell everything to fund our travel set-up and know of many others who’ve done the same. We didn’t want the stress of a high-maintenance rental property, so we decided to ditch the lot. That allowed us to be stress-free and debt-free, while enjoying our travels a lot more.
The proceeds from our house left us with enough to pay out the mortgage and buy our caravan outright. We still had to work to transform our set-up into the off-grid ‘home on wheels’ that we set off with, but it was well worth it.
For me, there were no regrets with the choice to sell up and since we ended up going our separate ways in the middle of our travels, it made things a bit simpler. However, I wouldn’t recommend that path for everyone.
If you plan on relocating after you’re finished travelling, then selling the house and not having property to deal with in the meantime could be pretty freeing. If, like us, you plan on travelling for an indefinite amount of time, then selling may also make sense for you. For others, having the security of knowing that you’ve got a house to go home to is a very wise decision.
If we had only planned to travel for a year, I wouldn’t have been inclined to sell the house because I would certainly have wanted to go back to it.
Some people sell the house and use travel as a way of finding a new town to fall in love with, while putting their stuff into storage. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, but one worth pondering.
*I’m not a financial planner, so please take my words with a pinch of salt.
Rent The House (or Spare Room) Out
If you’re lucky enough to be in a position where your rent would fund some or all of your travel, then go for gold! That would be a fantastic way to make money while travelling Australia, even if just for a short while. Have a chat with some real estate agents and research online to get an idea of how much rent you might expect for your house and area.
Another way to make money is to rent out a spare room or space in your house if you’ve got it. Share housing is certainly not for everyone, but it’s a growing trend and you might be able to offer something that someone else needs.
If you live in a scenic, popular or touristy region, you could put your house on Airbnb (particularly during the peak seasons) for some extra cash.
Keep in mind that any income you make from your house will be considered taxable income at the end of financial year.
Use Long Service Leave or Entitlements
If you know you’ve got a bulk amount of Leave From Work owing to you in the near future, why not work that in with your travels? You may be able to take more leave than what is owed to you and live on a reduced weekly wage, but over a longer period of time.
Long Service Leave along with savings and selling what you can will bulk up the travel funds nicely.
How to MAKE MONEY While Travelling Australia
Not everyone hits the road with enough money to fund their entire trip. But do not despair, there are literally hundreds of ways to make money on the road!
Don’t feel like you’re bound to your usual trade or career when you’re travelling, people put their hand to many different jobs they’ve never done before. You might even be taking a pay cut, but the experience and opportunities are well worth it.
Some people plan their travels around where the next job is, while others only look for work based on where they plan to travel to next. There is no right or wrong way, you’ll soon figure out what works best for you.
Here are some common ways on how to make money while travelling Australia, but you’re certainly not limited to just these options.
Continue Your Usual Career Along the Way
The main way that we made money while travelling Australia was by stopping for work as we travelled.
You might be surprised to learn that we hit the road with just $2,500 to our names. Within the first two months, my partner had picked up a job in Emerald, Central Queensland as a Truck Driver (his usual career). So, we lived in The Gemfields for 6 weeks, while working and fossicking for sapphires. It was a fantastic experience!
About four months later we stopped again in Townsville for a three month work stint (more truck driving). During our stay there we lived in a Caravan Park for half the time, then got a House Sitting gig for the other half.
Resources for Finding Work on the Road:
It’s handy to have a few job search apps on your phone, so that you can always be on the lookout for positions in nearby places as you travel. You can also plan your route around work that you find along the way.
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Follow the Harvest Trail
Many people follow the Harvest Trail while they travel or do general fruit picking around Australia. You can literally follow the harvest work around the country, moving from one season to the next, doing sightseeing as you go.
While fruit pickers are the main occupation produce farms are trying to fill, it’s not the only role available. A good example is in North Queensland when the sugar cane properties are needing extra help with harvesting the cane and getting it transported to the mill during the hectic harvest season. If you’ve got machine operating tickets, you can find all sorts of farm work.
Harvest Trail Jobs:
- Fruit Pickers
- Machine Operators
- Farm Hands
- Tree Planters
- Shed Workers
Another great opportunity for earning money while travelling Australia is to take up a gig as a station hand. Again, there are many roles to be filled, not just the usual physical farm labour.
Stations are often looking for people who can help out with the kids, cook for the workers and clean the homestead and/ or station hand quarters. All of these tasks take precious time away from being able to run the station.
Other jobs include operating machinery, keeping on top of the never-ending fencing, maintaining the vehicles, tending to the animals, building new structures… the list goes on and on.
Various Station Jobs:
- Cook/ Chef
- Caretaker/ Gardener
- Building & maintenance
- Station duties
- Animal husbandry
- Machine operator
Where to Find Station Work:
There is plenty of mine work spotted around the country and while it’s not always easy to get into, it can be a great way to pay for your travels. If you’ve already got the qualifications and tickets required, picking up work in a mine might come easily for you.
I’ve met a few families on the road who would set up and stay in one location, while the partner flew to work for each stint. Then the partner would fly back to where the family was, where they’d explore together and travel to the next location.
Although it meant their travels were a bit stop-start, it’s not really any different to stopping for three months work here and there to top up the bank account.
Take a Business on the Road
Some people are lucky enough to have an established business that they can take on the road with them.
You can advertise yourself from your car and van, picking up business through other travellers. In addition, you could have an ad on Gumtree and just keep changing your location as you move.
With the internet, there are so many businesses that could continue to work with existing clients through zoom and email.
Some businesses that could work on the road:
- Various trades
- Mobile Coffee Van
- Yoga Instructor/ Personal Trainer
- Nail Technician/ Beauty Therapist
- Massage Therapist
- MLM consultant
- Health/ Life Coach
- Alternative Medicine/ Reiki/ Psychic
- Artist/ Musician
- Nannying/ Pet Sitting
- Online business/ Internet Marketing/ Blogging
If you’ve got the type of job that can be done anywhere with a laptop and WiFi connection, see if you’re able to take the work on the road with you.
One couple we met was doing just that. From Monday to Friday the guy would work from the caravan during normal business hours, then of an afternoon and weekend they’d explore the area before moving on to the next place.
With the world turning much more into a ‘work from home society,’ there are tonnes of jobs that can literally be done from anywhere in Australia. Have a talk to your boss about your plans and see if they might be able to accommodate a location change for you.
If writing is your thing, there are plenty of publications out there that are always in need of Freelance Travel Writers. The good thing is that you get to work as much or as little as you like.
The best way to find the work is to email an expression of interest to a variety of different travel magazines (both online and print versions).
Something to consider here is that you’ll need to be taking lots of high resolution photos of the places you visit and be willing to hand the content and rights over to the media outlet. Besides that, all you need is a laptop and internet connection to get your work done.
Many people end up dabbling with freelance writing to make money while travelling Australia. I must admit that I gave it a go too, but in the end, I much prefer to write for myself!
A Digital Nomad is the broad term given to someone who can work from anywhere in the world, as long as they’ve got their laptop (and in most cases a WiFi connection).
If you’re tech-savvy, it might be worth looking into some of the jobs listed below and see what work you can get started for yourself before you hit the road. By the time you start travelling, your income can be all set.
Some Digital Nomad Jobs:
- Graphic Designer
- Website Developer
- Affiliate Marketer
- Virtual Assistant
- SEO Specialist
- Online Tutor
- Financial Planner
- Social Media Manager
- Data Entry
- App Developer
- Dropshipping Online Store
- Online Course Creator
- Online Customer Service/ Tech Support
- Travel Agent
If you have a creative or musical flair, you can very well take your creativity on the road. Artists can sell their wares at local markets, fairs and festivals, as well as online. You could do portraits for people or even paint local landscapes for people to take home as a memento. Another quirky idea is paint caricatures of people’s travel set-ups.
Musicians can busk as well as line up gigs along the way. Campers would be more than happy to throw some cash into a hat for a ‘free show’ at happy hour of an afternoon.
Put Your Skills to Use
I met plenty of people along the way who made extra cash by utilising their existing skills.
Some travellers make their own products and sell them from the van (crochet, knitting, revamped clothing, jewellery etc.). Maybe you love animals and could offer pet-sitting for people who want to do day trips to national parks and attractions where pets aren’t allowed.
Consider if you have a certain skill that you could offer through classes. Many travellers would happily pay from $10 per head to have a bit of fun and learn a new skill with their fellow campers. You could also advertise through social media and on Gumtree to draw in locals.
Possible Classes You Could Offer:
- Belly Dancing
- Guided Mediation
- Exercise sessions
- Drawing/ Painting/ Crafts
- Basic Car Mechanics
People on the road and in remote locations don’t often have access to these types of services and will often jump at the chance to do something new.
Another unique way to make money while travelling Australia is through gold prospecting. If you’re good at wielding a metal detector, you may find some worthwhile items along the way, which could convert to travel money.
Become a Caravan Park Caretaker
This is something else I’ve put my hand to during my travels. Through word-of-mouth we picked up a caretakers position in a caravan park in Glen Innes, NSW. The park was fairly quiet and mostly consisted of permanent residents.
Our job was to book in travellers as they came through, keep the toilets clean and attend to anything else that popped up. It was pretty straight forward and gave us some great experience as Caretakers. Our position wasn’t a paid one, but we got a free camp site with power and water for our stay.
Quite often caretaking is a paid position, but the conditions vary for each role.
Many councils are often looking for people to caretake the local RV Camp. This job usually entails keeping track of who’s at the camp and that people are generally abiding by the rules. It also gives travellers someone to chat to about local businesses and attractions. The caretakers usually get to stay for free with power and water provided.
The Julia Creek RV Camp is a good example of a council park that has full-time Caretakers in exchange for a free camp with resources.
Although some Caretaker jobs are an exchange rather than a way to make money while travelling Australia, they can lead to some great opportunities. Plus, the fact that you’re not paying for accommodation is a great budget saver! If you can manage to get some paid work while you’ve got the free accommodation, then it can be the perfect chance to bank some money.
Vlogging/ Film Making
Creating a YouTube channel and Vlogging as people travel Australia has grown into a huge trend over the last few years. Once you’ve got 1000 subscribers on your channel, you can turn on ads and start monetising your content right away.
While it’s not likely to fully fund you travels for quite some time (if at all), it’s definitely a great supplementary income. Be aware, that vlogging is actually incredibly time-consuming and will most definitely take a lot of time away from your family and travels.
The bonus to having a YouTube channel is that your videos can continue to bring you an income, even after the travels have come to a close (as long as you continue to meet the YouTube monetisation conditions).
There will also be an outlay for at least some basic camera gear to get started with as well. A GoPro with a microphone and tripod is a good starting point. Then you can add in a drone and all sorts of extra gear if it takes off and you want to continue.
If you already have an aptitude for film making, media publications are often looking out for Freelance Videographers who can provide great content for them. Reach out to some travelling, 4wding, camping and adventure companies and see if you can pick up some work.
There is a reason that I’ve left blogging until last, as a way of making money while travelling Australia.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Blogging is a LOT of work with little to no return for quite a long time.
A new website takes 8 – 12 months to rank properly with Google and even then, you need to have a lot of content on the site for the bots to crawl and for people to find.
Having an engaged social media following can help with website traffic, but it really only provides traffic for up to 24 hours after you share each post – meaning that social media traffic is massively short-lived!
Making money through a blog is much like running a physical store. The more foot traffic (or web traffic in this case) you’re getting, the more money you can potentially make. It’s all about getting people to your website. To do that, you need to immerse yourself in the world of SEO (search engine optimisation) and learn how to actually get your content to rank well with Google. Without that, you’re basically talking to an empty stadium.
The general pre-requisites of becoming a blogger are having a passion for writing (obviously), computer skills, an aptitude for design and some basic photography skills.
Unless you love this stuff and are in it for the long haul, I wouldn’t bother trying to make money through blogging while travelling Australia. You’d make more money by doing a work stint somewhere.
That being said, I absolutely LOVE blogging, being the nerdy writer and organiser of information that I am. If you can stick it out for the long term and become really good at what you do, there’s no reason why you can’t make money through blogging (eventually). Heck, it’s my full-time job now and yes, I do live off my multiple blogs! But, bear in mind that the first few years of blogging for me was purely a passion project.
So, how does one make money through blogging? Here are my three main income streams on this blog:
I’ve created a range of digital products to help others with their own travel planning journey. Included are packing checklists, budget spreadsheets, planners and guides.
Check out the full OZ BIG LAP Travel Resource range.
If someone uses my code or link to buy from any of the businesses below, I get a commission.
Advertising on blogs is big business these days. Having ads across the website drives a fair chunk of my income. It also helps to cover the costs of running a website in the first place, without the reading needing to spend a cent.
Some bloggers also make money (or earn free products) through doing sponsored content. I have dabbled in this area, but it’s personally not my thing. Basically, a brand will pay bloggers and vloggers to try out their product and do a written and/ or video review of the product. This could include reviewing accommodation, clothing, travel gear, accessories and so on.
How To BUDGET For Full-time Travel
Your biggest general expenses on the road will be food, fuel and accommodation. In addition to those, you’ll have eating out and other experiences along the way. I also included all insurances, registrations, phone bills, roadside assistance, Netflix and so on into our weekly costs.
If you’re doing a once in a lifetime trip, there will no doubt be lots of experiences around the country that you won’t want to miss out on, making your expenses higher than that of someone who lives on the road and doesn’t do all of the touristy stuff in each town.
By travelling slowly and mostly Free Camping, our first year average (including all bills) was $750 per week. For families who mostly utilise caravan parks, the general average is more like $1000+ per week.
How much fuel you go through depends entirely on your vehicle, what you’re towing and how far you travel each week. If you have a set itinerary and know the kilometres of where you’ll be travelling, as well as the average fuel consumption of your vehicle while towing your caravan or trailer fully loaded, you will be able to work out a rough cost of fuel expenditure.
This cost is really something you might not be able to calculate until you get going. There will be mountain ranges and headwinds to take into account, which will suck the juice like there’s no tomorrow!
Use your weekly grocery costs at home as a guide, then add some. Our shopping bill went up when we hit the road, since everyone was now ‘home,’ rather than going off to school/ work with packed lunches.
Grocery prices are higher in remote and outback regions, so that’s also something to take into consideration.
Your accommodation costs largely depend on your type of set-up and what style of travel you plan to do. The cost of caravan parks can range from $20 – $70+ per night and the majority of them charge an extra $5 – $15 per child.
Free Camping as much as you can will literally save you hundreds of dollars a week. Check out the following post on tips for Free Camping.
We spent $7,000 on a great solar set-up before we left and it well and truly paid for itself within our first six months on the road. We didn’t need to connect to power at all and could even run the washing machine off-grid (saving money on Laundromat costs).
On-board we had our own toilet and shower, plus we could carry up to 300L of water. Once you get the hang of emptying your toilet cassette at local Dump Points and topping up your water, plus heating your van off-grid, you can pretty well remain self-sufficient with a well-planned set up.
Our main source of accommodation was Free & Low Cost camps (< $15 per night), which we found via the WikiCamps App. Because of this, our average accommodation costs for the first year were just $34 per week.
There’s no point travelling Australia if you’re not going to see anything along the way. Many towns offer amazing things for free or a small cost. Other things can be super expensive. It’s up to you which activities you want to do along the way, it might even be worth coming up with a family ‘Bucket List’ so that you don’t feel like you missed out on anything.
The best advice I received was…
“You can’t do everything so don’t bother trying.
Just focus on the things that you really want to do and don’t sweat the rest.”
On top of the travel costs there are the other bills that we can’t really escape. Vehicle and trailer registrations, insurances, phone, internet, roadside assistance and anything else you may have.
We had a designated ‘Bills Account,’ where all of our bills were automatically debited from. That way, we always knew that everything was being paid. We didn’t have to worry about paper bills coming in the mail or not having internet reception when a bill was due.
The best way to do this is to work out how much all of your bills come to each year and divide that figure by 52 (weeks in a year). That is how much you need to put aside each week to cover all bills.
You can either put that money across for the entire trip before you even hit the road, or you can prepay your bills up front. Another way is to set aside the correct amount every week or fortnight to go across into the designated account to cover everything.
Tracking Your Costs
The best thing I ever did towards our ongoing Travel Australia Fund was create a spreadsheet to track our running travel costs. The spreadsheet gave me a much better insight into how much the lifestyle really was costing us and where exactly all of the money was going.
Knowledge is power and following your spending patterns helps with future planning and budgeting.
You can download our Expense Tracker for yourself and join the thousands of other travellers who are using it. In fact it’s proven to be one of our BEST SELLING travel resources!
Travel Expense Tracker
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Hopefully you’ve now got some good ideas towards raising the funds for your travels and possibly even some inspiration for how you can keep topping them up on the road.