How I Afford to Travel the World

How To Travel Full Time - Must Know Tips for Affording to Travel the World - Death Valley National Park

The number 1 question I get asked is how I afford to travel so much. I must have received thousands of messages over the years asking for tips on how to travel full time, or just how to travel more in general. So I decided to finally sit down and share my journey and top tips with you all!

In this blog post I am sharing a little about my own journey from college, to working 9-5 jobs, and then transitioning into traveling full time. I feature the ways that I make money to afford travel, along with other tips on how to travel with a 9-5 job and during college years.

Disclaimer: This blog post may feature some affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you make a purchase (at no extra cost to you). It’s one of the ways I can keep producing free guides and resources for my readers. Learn more about my affiliate policy here. Thank you for the support!

How To Travel Full Time

Before jumping into it, I did want to preface that this is MY journey. Everyone’s experience is going to be different and by no means am I saying that this is the only way to travel the world. I also want to acknowledge that my journey has (and continues to be) a combination of luck, privilege, and hard work. They have each contributed to my success in various ways and I am thankful for the opportunities life has afforded me.

My journey to full-time travel

You can read more about my story here, but I’ve also provided a cliff notes version below. I was born in 1989 and graduated from university in 2010. It has been a long and gradual process shifting from Speech Pathology to a successful photography and blogging career. The first 1-2 years of working freelance were more about just “getting by” and traveling as much as possible. More recent years have still been focused on travel but also about having more financial stability, buying a house etc.

  • 2004 – 2010: worked part-time throughout high school and college (plus summer jobs)
  • 2010: graduated La Trobe University as a Speech Pathologist (Melbourne, Australia)
  • 2011 – 2014: worked as a full-time Speech Pathologist in Australian hospitals
  • 2014: got married to my high school sweetheart and won the DV Lottery (US permanent residency)
  • Early 2015: relocated to Colorado and found work as a 9-5 Speech Pathologist in Denver
  • 2015 – 2016: started this travel blog and worked on my photography side hustle
  • Early 2016: started getting some photography client work through social media
  • Mid 2016: quit my 9-5 job and started living on the road and traveling full time with my husband
  • 2016 – 2017: continued to build up my portfolio and social media following, resulting in more client work through social media, my blog, and photo licensing
  • 2017: traveled to every US national park on a 7-month long client project, then afterward decided to set up a home base in Seattle, Washington
  • 2018: traveled interstate and overseas ~50% of the year working for clients, first year my photography and blogging business made six figures
  • 2019: continued to travel for work and expand my client list, first year my business made multiple six figures, bought a house in Seattle, published my first book (Roaming America), and my husband transitioned to working mostly for the Renee Roaming brand
  • 2020: transitioned to traveling more locally and taking domestic US adventures, mostly due to the pandemic
  • 2021: began traveling more internationally again but never returned to my pre-pandemic schedule… slow travel for the win! Signed with a management team to assist with brand collabs and expanding revenue sources
  • 2022: bought a camper van to allow for more road trip style travel. Continued to travel both domestically and internationally but also spending more time pursuing local travels. Expanded our team to include more contractors and released our first digital product: photo presets
How To Travel Full Time - Must Know Tips for Affording to Travel the World - Lake Tahoe

How I make money to travel full time

So how exactly do I make money and travel full time?* There are numerous ways my business brings in money and I will do my best to break them down for you. These are by no means the only ways to make money in the photography and blogging industries and I will list some other ways further down the blog post.

*Yes, I have a home base now and travel less, but I could be traveling full time if I chose to. I personally prefer a mix of being at home and traveling because it’s better for my mental and physical health.

Social media collaborations

Social media collaborations are the first way I made freelance income and it continues to be a large part of my income today. What I mean by this is essentially sponsored content on social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok etc. It’s where a brand wants to advertise their product/experience to your audience and they pay you to do so.

My very first social media collaboration was in early 2016 and since then I have done sponsored posts for a range of brands that I use and love. Sometimes these consist of a once-off Instagram post and sometimes they are a package such as 1 x Instagram post, a few Instagram stories, 1 x TikTok, 1 x Tweet, 1 x Facebook post, etc. It can look very different depending on the client and the campaign.

Content creation for brands

Sometimes a brand will want content for their own social media channels/website and will hire photographers to create this for them. An example would be a drink bottle company that wants images of their products in use out on various trails. It’s often cheaper and more convenient for brands to pay photographers to create this content for them rather than them organizing a huge on-location photo shoot.

Another way I create content for brands is by writing guest blog posts for clients who have a blog/journal element to their website. They might hire me to write about a certain destination I’ve explored or a product of theirs that I love and used on a certain trip etc.

Photo licensing

Another way I afford to travel full time is by licensing my photos. And when I say “my photos” I am referring to the photos my husband and I capture and edit as part of our joint business. Clients will purchase images from us for features in magazines, book covers, billboards, print catalogs, online print stores, etc. There is really good money to be made in photo licensing but it isn’t always a reliable source of continuous income.

Press trips and tourism projects

Clients in the tourism industry (hotels, airlines, tourism boards, tour companies) often hire photographers and bloggers to advertise their destination and/or create content for them to use for advertising. This can look different depending on the clients needs but for me it’s usually a package of social posts, blog posts, and images for use on their social channels.

Blog ad and affiliate income

You have probably noticed some of the ads I have on this blog. They are another way I make passive income on old and new content. I also make income from affiliate links I use in my blog posts (i.e. when someone buys a product I recommend I get a small kickback at no extra cost to them).

Sponsored blog posts

Another way I can afford to travel full time is by taking on sponsored blog post collaborations. This is essentially a way that I can share products that I use and love with my audience whilst helping to advertise for the client at the same time. If you partner with the right brands it’s a win/win.

Selling Products

Many creators make a good income from selling physical products and/or digital products. This could be things like merch, other types of apparel/accessories, photo presets, books, photo prints, ebooks, etc. I currently sell photo presets and my book (more on that below).

Book royalties

My husband and I published a book in mid-2019 – Roaming America: Exploring All the National Parks. It’s a coffee table book about our journey to all the US national parks. We did get paid a book advance to write this and we do make yearly royalties from the sales.

Group trips and workshops

Running group trips and in-person workshops is another way I make money to travel the world. This isn’t a huge income earner for me but it has been a contributing factor to my overall profits. Some photographers structure a large part of their business around running in-person workshops, so it can be scaled up if that’s an area you’re interested in.


Sometimes I get hired to be in a video or photo for a client, not as a typical “model” but more as a regular traveler or photographer. Clients are often looking for “real” people to be featured in these sorts of marketing materials and sometimes it’s part of an overall package I am hired for (along with social posts etc.)

Public speaking

I don’t get hired for many public speaking events but I have done a couple over the years. Rates for public speaking will range depending on whether it’s a keynote presentation, panel discussion, hands-on workshop, etc. You typically also get to attend the conference or event for free with is a nice bonus.

How To Take Beautiful Travel Photos - Photography Mini Guide - Renee Roaming

Other ways to make money

Some other ways you can make money as a creative that I don’t currently focus on:

  • Branching into videography and offering that commercial service to clients
  • Selling prints to the public (e.g. online print shop)
  • Creating and selling eBooks/guides/online workshops on topics you’re knowledgeable in
  • Offering mentoring or coaching to individuals and/or businesses
  • Consulting for brands (e.g. social media strategy)
  • Joining the TikTok Creator Fund or Instagram Reel bonuses
  • Monetizing a YouTube channel
  • Selling stock photos online
  • Accepting guest blog posts

Then outside of photography and blogging there are numerous ways you can travel full time as a digital nomad. Some ideas:

  • Start a virtual assistant business and offer your services to clients
  • Be a social media marketing manager for brands
  • Get into freelance writing (e.g. ghostwriting on Fivver)
  • Become a freelance graphic designer or web designer
  • Teach English abroad
How To Travel Full Time - Must Know Tips for Affording to Travel the World - Car Camping
Car camping trips are a great budget friendly option

How to travel with a 9-5 job

I want to preface that you DO NOT need to quit your job to travel the world. You can absolutely still travel whilst working a 9-5 job! In the past I took numerous trips during college and while having full time jobs, including some short local adventures and also some multi-month overseas trips. Below I will share my top tips specific to those in a 9-5 job. I will share my college tips in the next section.

Be frugal in everyday life

Set up a savings account and work as hard as you can to save money. My biggest tips for doing this are to cook instead of eating out, dramatically decrease your alcohol consumption (or quit drinking all together), don’t smoke, make your coffee at home, pack your lunch for work each day, and limit how many “extra” items you are buying like clothes, decor, etc.

Have a percentage of your monthly pay automatically come out of your checking account and go into your savings account (your bank can set this up for you). Don’t touch this money and act like it’s not even there as an option to spend. It also goes without saying that having pets or children will make your life more expensive.

Choose a flexible employer

One of the toughest aspects to traveling more is finding the time. I previously chose employers that were more flexible with paid and unpaid time off. Maybe they are open to you working the occasional Saturday so that you can take a Friday off the following week and have a 3 day weekend? Maybe they are open to you working nomadically for a week here and there if you’ve proven you can do that.

Make the most of public holidays

Being strategic with public holidays was definitely my thing when working a 9-5 job. I would request an extra day off either side of the holiday and before I knew it I had 2 paid days off, a public holiday, and a weekend all grouped together = perfect for a short getaway! Look in your calendar and plan ahead on how you can best take advantage of public holidays combined with weekends and paid time off.

Stretch out your weekends

Similar to the above strategy, I would suggest grouping your paid days off with weekends and take numerous 3-4 day adventures rather than one 2 week trip each year. I know you can’t travel as far in only 3-4 days but it does allow you to take more trips and also have more regular escapes from work. This strategy allowed me to explore so much of Colorado and its surrounding states when I first moved to the US.

Be strategic with job switches

Thinking of switching employers? If you can afford it, I would suggest leaving a couple of weeks gap or even a month in between starting at your new job. This will allow you some time to travel without using any of your leave. I’ve done this numerous times over the years and my employers never seemed to mind that I was traveling in between.

Travel on a budget

Traveling on a budget deserves a whole blog post in itself (watch this space), but my top tips are:

  • Travel with friends and share costs (this dramatically decreases the cost of rental cars, accommodation, and often food).
  • Stay in budget accommodation such as hostels, camper van travel, car camping, tent camping, or even house sitting.
  • Travel local and consider road trips instead of flying. Camping style national park trips are often very affordable.
  • Go places in their off-season when rates are usually lower. Bonus – there will also be fewer crowds!
  • Use websites such as Skyscanner to find cheap flights. I am also signed up for Scott’s Cheap Flights and would highly recommend.
  • Book rental cars with websites such as Economy Car Rentals or RentalCars as they usually have the best deals.
  • Sign up for credit cards with travel perks (Chase, Citi, and American Express have great options).
  • Ask for travel related birthday/Christmas gifts, e.g. travel vouchers, camping gear, National Parks Pass, etc.

I have explored some pretty amazing places by sleeping in tents and eating boiled eggs day after day. Not glamorous but worth it in my opinion!

Create a travel side hustle

I know a lot of people who work full-time but have a photography or blogging side hustle. This allows them to have a stable income and also benefit from travel perks and extra savings. Keep in mind that juggling the two is often A LOT of work and can be very time-consuming.

How To Travel Full Time - Must Know Tips for Affording to Travel the World - Kauai Hiking

How to travel during college

Most of the above tips apply for those wanting to travel more during college. Here are some more that I think are relevant:

Don’t leave home to go to college

I know this isn’t a possibility for everyone, but if you have the choice to live at home whilst attending college – DO IT! It will save you so much money and be worth it in the long run.

Part time work and summer jobs

I recommend having at least one part-time job during your college years and to also work during the summers. This allowed me to save a lot of money for local trips and even some international adventures during my years at university and after.

Accept help when it’s offered

Seek out and accept assistance where it is being offered. Your parents are happy for you to stay living at home? Take it. You qualify for a college scholarship? Apply for it. Your uncle has a summer job you can take? Say yes! Work your butt off and be grateful for any support that is given to you.

Travel on a massive budget

I already spoke about traveling on a budget above but I REALLY mean it when you’re in college. Think camping trips, hostel dorm rooms, crashing on friends floors, etc. Traveling when you’re young and broke is rarely glamorous but it’s rewarding in so many ways.

How To Travel Full Time - Must Know Tips for Affording to Travel the World - Tent Camping
Backcountry camping is an affordable (and amazing!) adventure option

How to start a travel blog

Leave a comment below if you want to know more about starting a travel blog! Or if you want to know more about getting into the travel photography industry. What questions do you have and what resources would you find most helpful?

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How To Travel Full Time - Must Know Tips for Affording to Travel


  1. Hey Renee,

    I’ve been a long time follower of yours and it’s been awesome to watch your business grow and see all the places you’ve been! You actually gave me camera advice on Instagram in the beginning of my own journey about 6 years ago haha, I also bought your book and am an avid traveler myself. I journal about my experiences and love photography and am nervous to start a blog, but I really want to start one. Would you be able to point me in the right direction?

  2. Been following you both for a while and love it! This was a great tips a tricks post. But I do have one that I can’t really ever seem to find a clear answer or direction to push, how to take personal photography to the business level. If I take trips and build my portfolio how do you gain these clients to make money or get to where it becomes a job?

  3. Hey Renee! I have been following you for a while! Absolutely love your work you are such an inspiration! I have been thinking of taking your tips and adding myself into photographs for the scale, I am usually behind the camera. But you have made me challenge myself more! I have been doing photography myself and got the traveling bug, traveled a lot on budget during uni times! Honestly best experience! Taking a semester abroad was one of the best opportunities to get to experience a new country and travel. I really want to get into blogging and would love to know more about travel industry if you’d be able to share some more info on that I’d really appreciate!


  4. Hello! I would love to know more about blog posting and collaborations because I love to travel and love to tell people about my journey and think this would be an amazing opportunity especially learning from someone like yourself that has done such an amazing job!!

  5. It was very interesting to read. I do love traveling as well and I was thinking to start blogging. Would your please advice how to start it. What application did you use to create such a website for blogging? thank you!

  6. You are amazing and very inspirational for me!!
    I would love to know more about travel photography industry!
    Thank you! ✨

  7. Hey Renee, I absolutely adore everything about your presence. I have followed you on Instagram for so long now and in love with your photography! Travel photography is a dream to me, I’d love to ask you do you feel it’s too competitive? Would love your best tips for building yourself from scratch 🥰 Thankyou.

  8. Good article. You cover a lot of good options for making a living from photography and blogging. I am recently retired and have be focused on learning how to take better photos. I primarily use my iPhone for my photos but also have a DSLR back up. I am interested in doing both options as well. Could you provide more information offline.

  9. I totally agree with that go places in their off-season when rates are usually lower. Have you tried the adventure travel app for for cheap flights? It adds stopover(s) on to your journey and saves you money

  10. I’d love to know more about the book deal and how you approached that. E.g. did you pitch the idea to an agent/publisher before you went on the trip? What do you think “sold” the book idea to the publisher? Thank you!

    1. Love to hear about this as well! Re book deal deets!

      And how you got the clients. I can’t seem to get past 400 followers on my Instagram for the last year and I post but I think is good content, and Sally photography is in my background for 30 years and a vast library of collections

      I just don’t know how to market it???

      I don’t have enough followers for people to come to me to do the brand collaborating

  11. Thank you so much for this article! I am interested in starting a blog for my travels which are usually in my home state of Michigan at least once a twice a month and then out of state a few times a year (Colorado, Montana, Arizona are a few of the recent ones). How do you even get started? There are so many options out there, it is so overwhelming and its intimidating to try and figure out which one works best.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this! Such an awesome blog post. I’m curious as to how you got into licensing your photos for purchase? I’d love to start licensing some of mine! Thanks again!

    1. Thank you Lauren! To be honest, those opportunities just sort of came about through brands reaching out to my husband and myself. Most of the time the brand has seen one of our images on social media or on my blog and they will then find our contact details and reach out. Magazines and brands are often on the lookout for potential content as they scroll social media, pinterest, google images etc.

  13. Loved this one. I have read so many similar blogposts but what I loved about yours is how you’ve added a year-wise progression list in the beginning – that speaks volumes about the hard work that goes behind making this a successful business. Great insight!

  14. Loved this blogpost Renee. So much fantastic information and it’s very generous of you to share how you have monetised your business.

  15. Hmmm maybe a post on pitching to brands? I make my majority of income through affiliates and ads but adding brand relationships could help get to the next level.

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