Are you a dedicated armchair traveler? Is it because you love to read about faraway places and the amazing diversity of the world? Maybe you are limited to traveling only by armchair and imagination because of personal finance? Either way, you can start to earn money from your interest in all things travel, and your work can allow you to earn free travel in addition to steady income.
In this article, I want to take a look at legit side gigs and authentic work from home opportunities that focus on travel and travel-oriented industries. They will include:
- Travel writing
- Travel blogger (and this is different from travel writing)
- Working as a reservation or customer service agent (remotely)
- Planning travel for others (i.e. a cruise planner or travel agent)
How to Make Money or Earn Free Travel by Writing
In our other articles about legit side gigs, we often describe ways to earn income with your computer or your “smarts”. Often, that leads to a closer look at doing things like freelance writing projects. While the span of work you can do as a freelance writer is pretty staggering (think resumes to websites, books to recipes, and topics of every kind and you have a good idea), travel writing is in big demand.
As an example, one writer has been hired by an importer to write articles about the locations from which their goods are imported. One month that writer might cover a topic like the street foods of Tel Aviv and the best markets of Morocco. That same writer might be hired by a luxury accommodations provider to also write quality descriptions of costly and opulent properties available to rent. And additional work might include creating articles or blogs about activities in the Greek Islands, the Swiss Alps and more.
And while it might seem that travel writing is focused on the Internet, there are many opportunities for work in newspapers, magazines, printed travel guides, and more.
To actually build a lot of business around this work, though, you need to think about a few factors:
What is your particular niche or area of expertise? It doesn’t have to be just one, but think along lines like “food and nightlife to specific travel niches like eco-tourism, adventure travel or family-friendly travel,” as one expert advises.
If you want to get one of the many work from home gigs doing travel writing, you then have to begin developing a portfolio of authentic work. You may have to do a bit of free work to get yourself “published” and online or in print, but once you have links or evidence that you are a writer of this kind, you can often find more work. Again, as that expert says about travel writing, “factor in things like experience, skills, background education, and …While it might not pay a lot, one perk is the free travel and accommodations that you’ll receive.”
That’s right, with proper credentials, you can earn free travel or enjoy paid expenses as part of the work. And just where can you get paid and legit side gigs or full time work of this kind? Well, once you have a bit of work under your belt (from sites like Upwork or from doing work on your own), you can then consider:
- Go World Travel
- Matador Network
- The Expeditioner
- Travelista Club
- Viator (they recruit only periodically but offer some of the nicest work from home gigs for travel writing)
- Wanderful (women writers only)
- Wanderlust Travel Magazine
- WestJet (Note: This is an inflight magazine for WestJet airlines in Canada, but it serves as a good example for those who wish to submit article ideas to other airlines’ magazines and sites)
All of these sites are different and some require original photos or that you have actually travelled to the destinations you are writing about. However, if you take the time to identify your strongest niches, build some credentials with articles or materials published elsewhere, you can quite quickly find ongoing work with one or more of these companies above. While you won’t necessarily earn free travel as part of the work, when you do get one of these legit side gigs, you can establish yourself in an official capacity and use your travel miles and tax deductible expenses to get the equivalent of free travel on a regular basis.
Of course, if you wish to be entirely free of employers or deadlines created by others, one of the most flexible work from home gigs is that of the travel blogger. This does come with an entirely different set of requirements and involves much more than identifying your travel niches and specialties. It requires creating a blog or website, marketing yourself to develop an audience and choosing the path that best suits your goals.
As an example, let’s say that you want to do travel blogging about luxury travel. You would have to be able to do the research, identify any untapped niches in that specific area, and then actually travel to those destinations or somehow offer authentic coverage of them. And you would make money from your blogging using affiliate marketing, making your own travel products (such as a digital eBook that does an in-depth look at the most luxurious restaurants, destinations, accommodations and sites in one area), or using direct ad sales or ad networks.
If you do this right, you can earn free travel far more quickly than a standard writer. That is particularly true if you think about your blogging as more than just words on the screen. For example, if you make popular videos or vlogs, interesting Pinterest boards, highly regarded Instagram photos and Facebook or Twitter feeds, it is likely that you will enjoy free hotel stays, meals, trips and excursions. In return for your coverage, you might get a lot of free perks, plus the advertising or sales dollars you can develop through paid ads, sponsorships or affiliate connections.
Find Work from Home Gigs as a Reservation or Customer Service Agent
Of course, you might not like to write about travel. Maybe you just love reading about it, looking at images and imagining the trips you are going to take. You probably even make plans about your next adventures, even if they are weekend getaways to nearby attractions or destinations. If you would like to work or help others who also wish to travel and see the world, then one of the best legit side gigs for you might be to get work as a remote reservation or customer service agent.
You would be surprised at the number of firms that prefer to hire work at home staff. Just consider that you can submit an application to work from home with the following travel industry companies:
AAA – Work as one of their roadside, navigation and travel experts. Called a Virtual Travel Agent, you will get their 8 week training and then work from your home office. It is quite impressive because you also get retirement packages, healthcare coverage and more.
Airlines – You can work from home and still work for some of the world’s most well known airlines. These include Alaska, American, Delta, and JetBlue. Their work from home agents do a variety of tasks, and most have to start with a few weeks of training. If you are able to do it, you can do everything from book reservations and offer customer service to offering travel advice. Most have room for advancement over time and come with loads of travel perks – including ways to earn free travel.
American Express – Work as one of their boutique travel counselors and enjoy speaking with people from all around the globe eager to book travel, buy tickets and more. Your work focuses on higher end travel and is more like a concierge than customer service agent.
Aspira – With a mission to connect like-minded people, the company focuses on providing customers with support finding and booking camping and outdoor activities, getting licensing for fishing or hunting, and more. All you need is a landline phone, Internet connectivity, a quiet spot to work and an eagerness to be helpful to those who appreciate outdoor travel. There is even an incentive program!
Car rental firms – Maybe you want to get your feet wet in a focused area of travel. If so, the different car rental firms have at home work for those who can help travelers book vehicles and make the most of the companies’ different services and deals. Companies such as Enterprise, Hertz, and U-Haul all need at home customer service agents.
Cruise Lines – If you want to help people plan holidays aboard the different companies’ many vessels, this is the job for you. Explain the different options, help them make the booking and earn commissions when done. You even get a long list of benefits on top of pay with most lines. Jobs of this kind are available with Carnival Cruise, Holland America, Norwegian, and Princess. You may need to meet residency requirements or get training, but most of these legit work from home jobs are quite appealing.
Cruise.com – Similar to the work you would do for Carnival, this job emphasizes simply selling the vacations and all other travel related options. You do need some experience in travel, but it could be a great way to use your passion for travel and exploration to steer others towards the best cruise adventures.
Hotels – Are you curious about the different accommodations in the world? Maybe you would be happy to talk to people booking their travels or help them make the right choices. If so, then you may want to put your name in for some of the work from home jobs from hotels and hotel groups like Best Western, Brittain Resorts, Hilton, Hotel Tonight, Hyatt, Marriott, Omni, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Many of these opportunities come with a requirement for on the job training (usually paid) and then you get to transition back to the work at home setting. Some really appreciate bi-lingual candidates, too.
Travel Leaders Group – This company looks for specialists that work from and help corporate level travelers book group holidays or travel events. It does come with the requirement for experience, but could be quite appealing to the well-informed armchair travelers.
World Travel Holdings – They have at-home work for Virtual Travel Professionals who receive the gear needed to do the job and who can earn free travel in addition to a regular paycheck. This is a customer service oriented job with an array of tasks focusing on travel planning and booking.
This represents an astonishing number of legit side gigs and work from home jobs that emphasize travel. Many let you earn free travel, as well as satisfy your curiosity and interest in the many destinations around the globe. However, you can also just setup shop as a work at home travel agent.
Working as a Travel Agent
If you are someone who loves to plan and organize holidays, a freelance travel agent job is a good one for you. You can take a number of paths to this position, but to be an official agent you must have an:
- Airline Reporting Corporation (ARC) number
- Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
- International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN)
Getting these things is not that complicated, but takes time. You also have to establish working relationships with the many “suppliers”, i.e. all of the travel agencies. Deciding to work as a travel planner or travel agent might be the perfect final step in your quest to satisfy your armchair travel bug by working in the travel industry. Get your experience and knowledge (while building relationships with travel industry companies and suppliers) doing some writing, blogging or working in the industry. Then, go ahead and start your website and make the leap.
Who knows? Your work in one or more of these legit side gigs in the travel industry could help you carve out your own niche and work full time in the world of global travel.