Make Money Traveling – How to Support a Digital Nomad Lifestyle

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Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means we will earn a commission on the products or services you purchase using the links. There is no additional cost to you and the earnings help keep this website running. Read the Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.

There are many ways to make money traveling the world. This is how we support our digital nomad lifestyle and how you can do it too.

“Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.” – unknown

“What do you do for work?”

That question or some variation of it will inevitably make its way into a conversation when we meet people on the road. We could be pumping fuel, pulled over at a scenic overlook or grabbing a bite to eat and someone will spot our rig and strike up a conversation.

Most people assume our rig is for weekend adventures, but once they learn that it’s our full-time home I can see the wheels spinning and anticipate the next question. The one I still chuckle at is “did you cash out of a tech startup and retire early?” The answer is no and we’re not independently wealthy either.

When Kait and I decided to live this lifestyle beyond the original year that we had planned, we needed to figure out a way to earn a living. While we considered applying for remote jobs, our entrepreneurial spirits were strong and we decided to make a go at building our own thing.

We’re Full Time Content Creators

For us, it naturally turned into full time content creation which started with this blog. Now we also produce content for our YouTube channel, I’ve self-published two books and Kait is getting ready to publish her first cookbook.

How to Make Money Traveling

The next question that follows is usually along the lines of “how do you make money running a blog and YouTube channel?”

The primary ways we earn money are advertising, affiliate programs, sponsorships, product sales and a membership program. There are many ways to monetize your blog and YouTube channel, these are some of the ways we do it.

As long as we can get good internet access, we can run our business from anywhere in the world. I remember standing at a scenic overlook in Tibet waiting for the sun to rise over the Himalayas and thinking to myself how glad I was that we transitioned to this type of lifestyle.

If content creation isn’t your thing, there are many other ways to earn a living while traveling. Since we hit the road in 2015, we’ve met people from all walks of life who live this lifestyle and they’ve figured out different ways to travel and earn a living.

  • HR consultants,
  • customer support reps,
  • authors,
  • seasonal workers, and
  • traveling nurses to name a few

As more and more people embrace the nomadic lifestyle, there are also more resources available for those who are interested in making a go of it. This is a breakdown of our main revenue streams to give you an idea of how we support this lifestyle as content creators.

This video explains some of the different revenue streams that allows us to make a living while traveling the world. Keep reading for the breakdown.


1. Advertising

By enabling advertising on your blog, you can monetize the content based on the number of views or impressions. The more traffic to your blog, the more advertising dollars you can earn.

To monetize your blog, look at joining an advertising network such as Google AdSense, Mediavine or AdThrive. The benefit of going with an advertising network is they manage the advertising piece of the puzzle which means you can focus on creating good quality content for your readers. In exchange for providing this service, they take a percentage of the earnings. Alternatively, you can build your own advertising program by contacting companies directly and working with their marketing team.

We started with Google AdSense and switched to AdThrive once our blog reached over 100,000 pageviews a month. Some of the benefits have been great customer service from the AdThrive team, higher earnings per thousand impressions, and better higher quality ads. Do your research before signing up with an advertising network and make sure to read the fine print.

2. Affiliate Programs

There’s a good chance that the companies making your favorite gear have an affiliate program. If not, you can look to see if the gear is sold on sites such as Amazon, REI or Walmart which have their own affiliate programs. When you write about your favorite gear on your blog, you can use an affiliate tracking link for that product. This means when a reader clicks on the link in your blog post and makes a purchase, you will earn a percentage of the sale.

Affiliate commission programs have a wide range of how much they’ll pay out so it’s important to look at the details of each program to understand how much you can expect to earn per sale. This will also help you decide which affiliate link to use. For example, your favorite off-road recovery boards may earn you 10% commission through the manufacturer’s affiliate program or 4% with a popular online reseller. Affiliate programs also have their own terms of service which you’ll want to read in detail to make sure you don’t violate them.

There are so many ways people support their nomadic lifestyle and the great news is there are a lot of options out there.

Learn more about Amazon Associates or Learn about Ethical Affiliate Marketing through Smart Passive Income.

3. Selling Products Online

Books and merchandise are popular items that you can sell online without having to carry the products with you and shipping them out. You can turn your blog content into an ebook and sell it as a digital download on your own site or through a platform that allows authors to self publish books like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. There are other options such as iBooks, Nook, Kobo and even book aggregators like Draft2Digital.

My first two books were published through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and I plan to use it for my third book as well. Kait is looking at selling her cookbooks directly on our blog through an e-commerce platform.

Other products you can easily set up to sell online include tee shirts, stickers, hats and other wearables. Companies like Teespring make it simple for you to create an online store to sell your merchandise. Upload your designs to their platform and configure your storefront to get started selling your products. They handle the printing, shipping, returns and any customer service questions. This gives you more time to explore off the beaten path where there’s no internet.

4. Subscription Service

Membership service providers like Patreon allows content creators to earn revenue on a regular basis. Our Patrons pledge a monthly amount to get exclusive content, access to monthly video calls, meet-ups and more.

5. Coaching

Do you have a skill or expertise that can help others? Coaching is another way you can earn an income. We offer coaching sessions to help people optimize their YouTube channel and earn a living as a digital nomad.

6. Work Exchange

HelpX and Workaway are two sites that provide opportunities for those who want to travel and volunteer work in exchange for free lodging and/or food. Although you’re not earning income, it is a way to learn and supplement your travel costs.

7. Outdoor Jobs Board

There are quite a few job boards that focus on outdoor adventure jobs. Occupation Wild is one that focused on “Life Beyond 9 to 5.” These types of outdoor job boards provide a good resource for finding work that matches your outdoor adventure lifestyle.

There Are Some Challenges

As with everything in life, there are some challenges with living this lifestyle, but we’ll gladly take the unpredictability of traveling and working from the road. Having the flexibility to work and play from anywhere in the world and the freedom to change our course at a moments notice is what we love about being digital nomads.

Below are some of the challenges we’ve faced while working on the road.


It can difficult to predict how much money we’ll make each month. Website traffic, video views, product orders will change month to month. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we saw an immediate drop in revenue across the board.

Companies can change the terms of service anytime they want. This can impact the amount of money you earn through the program. For example, Google AdSense can change their terms to take a larger share of the advertising revenue.

Need access to a reliable internet connection. While we have a cellular data plan and a weBoost cell signal booster we also enjoy camping off-grid in the national forest. That means we have to plan stops in areas where there is good signal to upload video files or publish content on this blog. In addition to the videos and articles, we need to manage emails, comments, and other projects that require good internet access. Read our post on How to Stay Connected on the Road.

Access to a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Anytime you access a public network, data protection is a concern. Not only that, but if you ever travel to a country like China, website such as YouTube and Google will be blocked unless you use a VPN. The service we use and recommend is ExpressVPN. Use this link to Get 3 Month Free

Additional Resources

There are so many ways to make money traveling. You don’t need a website or YouTube channel to make it work for you. Figure out what you are passionate about first. Our dream is to travel and work for ourselves. It happened to manifest into full time content creation. If you’re dream is to travel and paint, a membership site like Patreon or a peer-to-peer e-commerce site like Etsy might be the way to go.

  • Tales From the Open Road – In my second book, I share anecdotes of how and why we started our content creation business.
  • Gone With the Wynns – Nikki and Jason have featured many success stories of how people Make Money and Travel.

Leave a Comment

19 thoughts on “Make Money Traveling – How to Support a Digital Nomad Lifestyle”

  1. I came across your YouTube channel from 30 and a Wake Up and to your website via your videos. I’ve started a YouTube channel Living The Suv Life and in the process of building out my 2011 Kia Sorento. Any suggestions or advice is welcomed and appreciated. How do you setup an affiliate program with Amazon. Hope all is well and safe travels!

    Reply
  2. Hi guys,

    Brilliant thing you’re doing and very inspiring!

    After a 30+-year professional history in security, I’m going to retrain myself as a nutrition, health, and lifestyle coach – and travel!!

    One question for you – what is, and where did you get, that awesome bumber on your truck?!

    Very best wishes and ever onwards!
    Trevor

    Reply
  3. Hi Joe & Kait,

    How are you doing? I hope you keep enjoying your trip!
    I writing to you because of two main reasons. First I would like to congratulate you on your adventure, it’s thrilling!

    The second reason is for letting you know my story and to offer you a possible collaboration to improve your website. I am Andres Barranco, a 27 years old guy, I’m from Spain and I will start my long trip around South America with my girlfriend in 2 months. I’m aware of having incomes while you are travelling isn’t easy, but not impossible, so I’m trying to get them.I have studied translation (English>Spanish) so I think it could be a possible way to get incomes, but it’s a difficult field.

    I would like to offer my translations services for your website, there are a lot Spanish speakers who will check your website if it is translated into Spanish, with all the benefits it will bring you.

    Maybe you will be wondering why I’m sending to you this e-mail, the answer is quite easy, I could translate different types of documents, but the topic of your website is what makes me happy.

    Please, for further information (prices, ways of payment, (not only money), possible questions…) just send me an e-mail and we’ll be in contact.

    Many thanks and keep travelling guys!

    Reply
  4. Joe & Kait,
    I got your book for Christmas and have become ultra-focused on following the same path. It wasn’t until today that I read in your disclaimers that you are in the Hymer at no cost. How did you manage that? I am sure it is great advertising for Hymer. Can you share your secret on how to promote a vendor such as Hymer or another?

    Thanks for the inspiration and advice!
    Hope to cross paths someday.

    Reply
  5. Hello. I’ve just started watching your videos. In fact, I’m watching your Camper Van Life series right now! I also just bought your book about taking risks. For the past few months, my husband and I have been thinking of selling our house and buying a truck and small RV trailer and living full-time in it, but as we have begun seriously planning for this, we’ve begun to experience nervousness and cold feet! So I’m really looking forward to reading your book. I also watched your video about creating a YouTube channel. We are researching different ways to make some extra money. A YouTube channel is something we’re thinking about, as my husband has a passionate interest in trains, planes, and fire engines, and we plan to visit lots of places related to his interests. I have always wanted to pursue being a fiction writer, but just now never have the time to write. I am semi-retired (I tutor English online), but somehow our lives have become so busy with so many commitments! In your video about making money, you mentioned short story writing. My husband is encouraging me to use our travels to develop stories. Joe and Kait, I love watching you and especially how you encourage us to follow and pursue our dreams. Thank you for sharing from your own experiences .

    Reply
    • Hey Jan! Yes, I think the book will help you a lot. We were nervous as well and describe a lot of what we went through and felt during the process of selling everything to get on the road. There are definitely ways to make money on the road and writing can be a great way to do that. Self publishing is easy and there are many resources out there for it. Good luck!

      Reply
  6. Congratulations! You guys are great warriors! So many people wishing the route you guys had take with your life but so many worries refrain us to persuade that life.
    My husband and I (57, 58 years old) in the approach of our mature life and still with health under control, kids and grandkids at their own, still with a 9-5 jobs, we are looking for the opportunity to do what you choose to do. Kai, Leo and you give us a futuristic vision of what we can do to make it happen.
    Your guidance is priceless and for that we thank you from the bottom of our heart. You guys have become the light up of many peoples life’s. Sharing your knowledge openly , freely and genuine make us all attached to your journey.

    Hope one day my husband Cao and I can said “Yes, we did it , thanks to “The Russo’s” .
    Thank you for your guidance. Be safe! ??

    Reply
  7. I am currently enjoying your book and I am grateful for the lessons so far learned. You did a great job illustrating you search for an RV and difficulties in getting on the road. I look forward to more info on how to make a living on the road and what your plans are for traveling. My partner and I are planning a similar departure from “normal” life and getting into a life of travel. I am very interested in your advice on monetizing a website/blog as well. I currently have a blog I started up for my own practice at writing an displaying some of our motorcycle and truck travels. For now we call Portland, OR home and if you are ever in the neighborhood let us know!

    Reply
    • Thanks Dylan!

      We really enjoyed our time in Portland and plan to head back to Oregon. It is a wonderful state and absolutely gorgeous. My biggest piece of advice on monetizing a blog is that if you want to have it support you, you have to go all in and treat it like a full time job.

      Once you’re done with the book, please considering leaving a review and so happy to hear you’re enjoying it.

      Joe

      Reply
  8. Joe, I talked to you at 1000 trails, then watched a couple of your videos. You have to stop running you fuel tank so low. If you don’t your fuel pump will go out before its time. Today’s fuel pumps are located in the tank its self. Fuel is what keeps it cool. Running low on fuel can cause it to heat up, thereby, shorting its life. Just a suggestion.
    I do have a question:
    What are you two doing for a retirement income? Savings? Self-pay on social security?

    Reply
  9. Hi Joe,

    Do you find the connection speed via cellular, even with the weBoost, sufficient for full time remote work? Since I work remotely in an IT job, SQL Server developer, I’ve been thinking about the traveling van life before retiring in a few years. However, the one thing that holds me back is will I really be able to work effectively, connecting to the VPN and work full time. Any insights you have on this would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Kurt

    Reply
    • It works for us but speeds can vary greatly depending on where you are. My suggestion is to start tethering for work and see how that does for you. There are definitely times when we go some place that has little to no data where we either have to plan to go into town and find a better signal or wifi…or we simply pack up and go somewhere else.

      Reply
  10. Jerry and I have watched a few of your you tube videos and really enjoyed them. Being our ages range from 70 to 80, it would be more difficult for us to do what you do, BUT watching
    it through your eyes and your energy is heart felt. Maybe a secret dream that we could do what you are enjoying….But we just watched the video on making money and you had mentioned that you had earned $850.00 in May or June, and that is great, but yet your expenses were around $2500.00. Question is where does the money come from to off set all
    of your expenses???
    What we would have to do something like this would be our Social Security and that would defiantly not cover that expense….Do keep up the great work you do and you are such the sweet couple!!!
    Jerry and May

    Reply
    • Hey Guys,

      The short story is that we initially saved for one year to travel and then go back to work. However, after a month on the road, we decided to keep going indefinitely and needed to start making money. The May or June report you saw was from last year…so now we’re more than able to cover our expenses. For the long story, check out our book, Take Risks…it chronicles our story and how we got on the road. https://books2read.com/TakeRisks (if you’re looking for a print version, it’s for sale on Amazon).

      Reply
    • The wifey and I are doing it full time. We are both retired. I sold my house. now I pay no mortgage, no city, state or county taxes, elect, water, or gas, no HOA fees etc either (never again) … We had two homes. One is rented out. Selling the other on is the best thing I ever did. We put solar panels and extra batteries in our 35 ft class A so we don’t have to have ‘hook-ups … unless we choose to. Been full time for two years and loving it. Ten years from now we might not be physically able to do it, so we are doing it NOW.

      Reply

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