Satisfy Your Wanderlust with 8 Travel Business Ideas

Getting paid to travel sounds like a pipe dream, but plenty of Americans are doing just that. USA Today reports that nine percent of the nation’s gross domestic product comes from the travel and tourism industry, a healthy chunk of which is earned by small businesses. If you’ve always wanted to turn your passion for exploring new places and visiting new cultures into a lucrative venture, consider these eight travel business ideas.

Wedding or Travel Photographer

As destination weddings become ever more popular, an increasing number of couples are hiring photographers to travel alongside them to document their special day. If you have photography chops, consider going pro and marketing your services as a destination wedding photographer. Building an impressive portfolio will be essential to this venture, so start off by offering your services pro bono to couples getting married in a place you’ve always wanted to visit.

The gorgeous images you create can be shared on your business’s social media accounts to attract other couples planning to get married in a vacation destination. While the pay for freelance photographers varies dramatically depending on your experience and the demand for your work, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that most freelance photographers earn between $16 and $36 per hour.

If you love taking photos of new people and places, consider creating a blog showcasing the best of your images. A burgeoning travel photographer can develop multiple streams of income. First, you can provide your images for sale on stock photography websites and even through your own e-commerce site once you develop a following. You can also sell fine art prints of your work on storefront sites like Etsy.

Travel Writer

If you’re good at both writing and photography, consider marketing yourself as a freelance photojournalist for other publications. Begin blogging about your travels and build an audience. This opens the opportunity to make money through advertising sales and product sponsorships. The Balance recommends promoting yourself within a specific niche, such as “family visiting every national park” or “twenty-something backpacking through Indonesia.”

If you already produce great content, brands will be happy to hire you to do the same for their publications, paying your way to the places they are covering. Develop an intimate knowledge of the online and print publications that publish travel photography and the types of images they purchase.

Fodor’s notes that aspiring travel writers should read constantly, devouring everything from magazine articles to guidebooks to blogs related to travel. They recommend keeping a scrapbook of the stories you find most effective and studying the writing and presentation to figure out how they engage the reader. Get practice by starting on the local level. Write about the most interesting places in your town, city or region.

Write the type of stories and take the types of photos you would create if you were exploring a far-flung location for the first time. As you build a portfolio of content, you should begin networking with public relations executives and other professionals in the niche area you want to specialize in, whether that’s theme parks or kayaking destinations.

Travel Agent

USA Today reports that although the strip-mall travel agency is a thing of the past, this industry is actually on the upswing and poised to keep growing. Most travel agents today work from home, which makes it an ideal low overhead business for a new entrepreneur. To best succeed in this profession, they recommend specializing either in luxury travel or an even more specific niche area: biking trips to Spain or culinary tours through Europe.

New agencies can distinguish themselves in the market by providing full-service planning with personal touches. For example, offer concierge service that arranges for dog walkers at home while also making sure the fridge of their overseas rental is stocked when they arrive. Bolster your business through social media and content marketing by positioning yourself as a travel expert within your niche. This can also result in additional streams of income, such as online advertising and public speaking.

You can also market your services as a travel consultant. This type of professional helps prepare travelers for long or important trips, arranges international travel for businesses and corporations and provides advice for those selling or marketing their products or services abroad. This is a great niche to consider if you’re experienced in an area of travel that others may find esoteric, such as thru-hiking along trails like the Appalachian.

Interpreter or Translator

If you have a knack for languages, work from anywhere in the world as a freelance translator. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects opportunities for interpreters and translators to increase by 18 percent between now and 2026, which is much faster than overall average growth across professions. Freelance translators benefit from a flexible work schedule and the ability to lead the digital nomad lifestyle. As long as you’re fluent in at least one other language besides English, you can enter this profession without necessarily having a bachelor’s degree. You can also seek certification in more than 30 different languages from the American Translators Association. If you’re familiar with the language for a specialty area like engineering, medicine or law, you will enjoy a higher pay rate and increased demand. According to the BLS, translators earn an average annual salary of approximately $46,000.

An interpreter is similar to a translator but provides a translation verbally in real time rather than in writing. Global industry relies on the services of freelance interpreters for business and political gatherings, conferences, conventions, legal proceedings, health care, foreign aid and countless other areas. A degree in another language, as well as fluency, are typically required for freelance interpreters.

English Teacher

Demand is high for English teachers in many foreign countries, which is one of the reasons why this career is named by Forbes as one of the ideal ways for travel lovers to make money. Certification requirements vary by nation, region and the companies who hire ESL teachers as contract employees to work overseas. Markets that currently have a high demand for English teachers include but are not limited to Vietnam, Poland, Chile, Croatia, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to The average salary for international English teachers depends on the specific country, ranging from $2,500 a month in China to $5,000 a month in Kazakhstan, according to data from TeachAway. Many programs also provide accommodations and assistance with visas and other legal paperwork.

Prefer to build your own clientele rather than working with a staffing firm? Consider starting an online tutoring business for those who want to learn English. If you love to talk to people and are a fluent English speaker, this business has low overhead as long as you already have a laptop with Skype. You can market your services through social media and word of mouth from satisfied customers. The best part? You can do this job from anywhere with an internet connection. Get started by earning your Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), a credential that can typically be completed in about four weeks.

Scuba Diving Instructor

If you’re an experienced diver who dreams of living in an exotic locale where you can pursue your passion full-time, consider getting certified as a professional scuba diving instructor. Once you are licensed, you can start your own business providing lessons to locals and tourists practically anywhere in the world as long as it’s near the ocean. You can learn more about getting certified by professional organizations such as the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, which offers courses toward licensure as well as resources for those striving to start a scuba diving business. Other sports in which a market exists for traveling instructors include surfing, kayaking, mountain climbing, skydiving, fly fishing, skiing and rock climbing.

Web Design

Web and graphic design are among the most common professions for digital nomads: those who travel the world while working online. While having a degree in computer science or a related area can be helpful, it’s not required to break into this field as long as you know at least one coding or programming language. Get started by building yourself an incredible website to show off your skills to potential clients. Do a few projects for other businesses and organizations at a reduced cost to build your portfolio and refine your processes. Other niches in this realm include app development, search engine optimization, data security and other web-related services.

Virtual Assistant

If you’re ultra-organized even when you’re on the road, consider supporting your travel habit with an online virtual assisting business. These firms can complete almost any type of task for busy professionals, from creating and maintaining spreadsheets to managing social media accounts to scheduling appointments and travel and drafting documents. With a reliable phone and internet connection, you can get work almost everywhere in the world. Connect with a virtual assistance placement firm that can provide you a list of countries with job postings.

Living and Working Abroad: Factors to Consider

Whether you’re an experienced traveler or finally ready to break up with your nine-to-five, it’s important to consider all the details when planning a business where you’ll live and work on the road. Keep these tips from experienced expats in mind during your planning process:

  • You don’t have to go everywhere at once. Start your business in a country where you feel drawn to the food, language, culture, people and where you have at least some experience and fluency. You’ll always have room to expand and branch out as your venture flourishes.
  • Explore the market. Just as with starting a domestic business, you need to choose a location or locations where your skills are in demand.
  • Connect with other travelers. Building a social network of others who are in your shoes can provide valuable mentorship and help you stave off loneliness when you’re far from home.
  • Take time to learn about the cultural practices of your chosen destination, especially if it’s a place you’ve only visited a few times.
  • Before taking the leap, do your homework. Find the information for the required visas, permits and paperwork to start a business in your desired destination. These can take time to acquire and are sometimes costly, so planning ahead will help you avoid expensive surprises.
  • Determine whether your medical insurance policy will cover an extended trip overseas. If not, you may need to purchase travel insurance, which can also protect you from personal loss. Check the benefits of your credit card, since some banks offer automatic travel insurance as a cardholder perk.
  • Understand the tax implications of your fledgling business and keep in mind that even if you’re working overseas, you’ll still need to file an annual tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. You should also research the requirements for obtaining a bank account in your destination nation, which may include a reference letter from your domestic bank (especially for a business account).
  • Learn how to pack and travel lightly, especially if you plan to move around frequently. Companies like Airbnb make it easier than ever to find short- and long-term furnished rentals all over the world. Cut costs even further by staying in hostels or even camping if you are the outdoorsy type and heading to a temperature climate.
  • Tying up loose ends at home will allow you to start your travel business with a clean slate. Place belongings in long-term storage, sell or rent your property if you’re a homeowner or terminate your lease if you’re a renter and sell your vehicle. Settling personal debts will free up money to put toward your new business venture.

If you need capital to start your travel-related business, consider applying for a flexible line of credit of up to $250,000 with an online business lender. This type of firm offers a fast, easy application process you can complete from anywhere, along with approval decisions in as little as 15 minutes. Access the funds you need to make your digital nomad dreams a reality.

This sort of business venture can be particularly daunting especially when it comes to accessing working capital, but don’t let that hold you back. There are a number of funding options to help you grow your business, so before you pack up and hit the road, make sure you’ve done all of your homework to make your nomadic dream a successful reality.

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