So, you have decided that you will do the big trip around Australia. You’ve made sure you have all your finances in order before you go and considered all the pros and cons of this new adventure.
If you’re lucky, you may have enough money so that you don’t have to work for a full year, but for most who want to make this lifestyle last, working on the road is a necessary compromise.
But how do you make money on the road and how do you ensure you keep on top of your finances?
Using your skillset
Making money whilst on the road can vary from person to person. One of the most common ways is to use your existing skillset or trade. Know how to cut hair? Why not offer your services to your campsite neighbours? Good with the tools? There will be plenty of people you’ll meet who need repair and maintenance services.
Work will be easier to come by, particularly in isolated locations, where your skills may be in hot demand. Workabout Australia is a great resource to find seasonal work as you go and also has important information on things like setting up a temporary mailing address, driving regulatory changes between states, and even acquiring visas and bank accounts for international travellers.
The Blonde Nomads say they have come across many travelling tradies offering their skills as they go, such as nurses and teachers. “Our tip would be to focus on your existing skillset and see how you can make an income doing that on the road... and if not, just be open to new experiences and opportunities.”
Tools of the trade, having a skill which can be used on the road is a big advantage
Have an open mind
“Not having a trade does not mean you cannot find work”, say Four Hands in a Tin Can. “We have met many people who are willing to do anything, from cleaning toilet blocks in van parks, to working in cafes, shops, administration work and a myriad of other jobs that they have come by.” They advise to keep an eye on Gumtree in the areas you are travelling to for relevant job ads.
Touring_Aus believe you should embrace the experience, saying, “It may not be your career or trade job but don’t underestimate what you can do. We have done things we would never have imagined doing or even thought we could actually do, and so far, these have been extremely rewarding and unforgettable experiences.”
Summit2Sea say it’s all about keeping your eye on the prize. “Don't be afraid to try something completely different that you haven't done before, it’s all a part of the experience. Just keep in mind that it is only temporary and in the meantime, it’s going to top up your bank account to allow you to keep on travelling.”
An office with a view
Earning your keep
Apart from fuel and food, accommodation is one of your biggest expenses. From camp host opportunities to station work, these can be great ways to save money by volunteering at places in return for free accommodation and food.
WWOOF Australia, for example, connects willing volunteers with host organic farmers and growers. Work 4-6 hours a day, 5 days per week and in exchange you get all your meals (including snacks) and accommodation provided, often in their own home. It’s a unique way to not only learn about organic farming and environmental rehabilitation but also allows you to travel and see what many people feel is the real Australia.
Become a digital nomad
Many of our experts have become digital nomads. From writing for magazines to producing photography or vlogging, this is one way to earn an income on the road.
If you have something unique to offer and you can do it well, you could find yourself with a large following via social media and that can be very lucrative for advertisers and potential brand sponsors.
Influencer marketing has become big in the last few years and is only going to get bigger, however, keep in mind that in a saturated market you will need to stand out from the crowd, stay consistent, and be on-brand with your partners.
“It is a lot of hard work between travelling and having the kids 24/7 but Australia makes a pretty amazing office”, say The Blonde Nomads. Whilst Four Hands in a Tin Can say they don’t rely on this income for their travels, they do put it away for their kid’s bank accounts.
Another day, another dollar...living the dream
Keeping track of your finances
All our experts say that keeping a strict budget is the number one tip for keeping track of their finances. Before leaving on their trip, Touring_Aus say they did lots of research on what the weekly costs would be and drawing from other traveller’s experiences.
From there it’s about keeping a close record of how much is spent each week to calculate your own unique weekly budget as this will vary from person to person. “With our budget in place, we can calculate and know in advance when and where we will need to look for work to top up the bank account and keep us on the road.”
RVee There Yet say that after food and fuel, accommodation has been their biggest expense. “For this reason, we try to free camp as much as possible. Having a rig set-up for long-term free camp with a good solar/battery setup and plenty of water storage is essential.”
Four Hands say that it’s also important to understand you cannot do or see everything, and some places are expensive, as they are tourist locations and only have a limited season in which they make their money for the year. Identify what must be on your bucket list and have the funds put aside to cover the cost of those when the time arises.
For this to succeed, everyone who is travelling with you must be on board with how much money you have, how this is broken down into weeks and what the most important purchases are each week. Once this is understood, then you can make decisions about what you will and won’t pay to do in any location.
“The best advice we can give you is to speak to locals, find out about the secret things to see and do. These things are usually free and will add to the magic of the location.”
A good 12v system is an essential ingredient for those who wish to free camp
So when you’re planning your big getaway, don’t fret about having to find a way to top up the bank account during your journey. With such a strong and connected community throughout so many country and regional parts of Australia, there’s always going to be an opportunity to lend a hand.