Earning Your Own Money for Travel

When I send out info about the Worldschool Trip to Japan I let the young adults coming on the trip know  I have tips and I’m available for coaching on how to raise your own money for the trip because I realize $3600 (plus about $1000 in other expenses during the trip) is a lot of money for people and also I feel learning to earn your own money is itself a very valuable and empowering experience and an important part of a good education for anyone including homeschoolers, unschoolers, and worldschoolers.

First off I want to say that it is very doable: you can raise thousands of dollars for travelling or any other dreams you have regardless of your age and the state of the economy.

Real Life Examples

Hannah is a homeschooler/unschooler/worldschooler who was fifteen last year when she went on my first Worldschool Trip to Mexico in October. She earned all the money for the it herself by doing odd jobs. She told me: “I raised 3,000 USD from July-September, and hell if I can do that at my age with my inexperienced background anyone can do it.” Well said!

This year she’s also going on the Worldschool Japan trip and said, “Even though there was a time after I stopped working full time for Kristen [a mother of two young children Hannah helped take care of] that I did hit a bit of a road block, I’m getting back on my feet now, and with a a little bit of effort am able to find work even in this economy.”

Hannah did all sorts of odd jobs to raise that money but started concentrating on taking care of children and the elderly. I also earned the money for my first travels around Europe at the age of 18 by doing all sorts of odd jobs for neighbors and homeschooling families in the area. I started enjoying the landscaping work the most and have earned a living with that work for the last several years, earning a good reputation in the area and slowly raising my rates as I gained more experience and confidence.

So my suggestion to young adults is to reach out to your community on e-mail lists and message boards and offer to do any sort of odd jobs. People have all sorts of things they need done around the house and are very happy to pay someone to get the darn thing done. It’s really that simple. You’ll earn money, learn a lot, and it may even develop into a way to earn your livelihood.

Of course, there’s also creating products and crafts and selling them: that way you can reach out to a national or even international audience. You can sell at conference, fairs and gatherings and through sites like

Another method is to start by volunteering. My little brother did this at a small independent movie theatre he loves. Soon not only was he hired but within a few months he became house manager for the place. When people see how valuable you are to have around they’ll often be willing to start paying you to keep you.

As far as odd jobs you can: mow lawns, babysit, do garden work, organize, clear clutter, work on cars, walk dogs, paint, clean houses, etc.  For this type of work if you don’t have any real experience the minimum wage is $10/hour or $15/hour. That’s the minimum!  A lot of this is having the confidence to realize what you’re doing is valuable and you deserve the money. Once you get more experience or already have a special skill, like computer or photography work, minimum wage is $20/hour or $30/hour.

More about the money in a bit, first about the work:

When people contact you through phone or e-mail respond promptly and answer their questions as best you can: be honest about what you can and cannot do. But if you are charging only $10/hour or $15/hour it’s perfectly fine to do a job you have no experience with. Just listen to their instructions and while you’re working make sure to keep asking questions when you’re unsure of anything.

Show up on time, and be reliable. Or at least let them know if you’ll be late. People go through such hassle waiting to hear back from companies and waiting for them to show up: if you’re just available, reliable, and then get the job done they will love you!

People Want to Support You:

  • It helps if you are reaching out to a community that you have a connection with: your local town, homeschoolers, unschoolers, your religious community, your sports community, etc. People want to help those they feel connected to. Even if you haven’t been active in the community BECOME active, respond on the lists and messages boards, go to events and gatherings. (If you’re only doing it for money and actually can’t stand the group it probably won’t work! But becoming a little more involved with a group you like anyway is a great idea.)
  • It helps if you let people know you’re raising money for a lifelong dream of yours: travelling to Japan, a country you’ve been fascinated with for years, or whatever the case may be. Who wouldn’t like to support that?
  • It helps that you’re a young adult taking the initiative to earn your own money. People are excited to see that and support it. Of course, the same goes for if you’re an adult who got tired of your old office job and is now pursuing a more independent life. People want to support that too.

Of course, that stuff only takes you so far: in the end what’s most important is you’re getting something done for people at a reasonable price that they couldn’t or wouldn’t do themselves. Speaking of a reasonable price:

Look at How Much Other People are Charging for the Same Service and Provide a Better Price

  • Professional landscapers can charge anywhere from $30-$60/hour. If you charge $10/hour 0r $15/hour to weed their garden and trim bushes, even if you’re slower than the pros, you’re giving them a really good deal. And you have to charge at the very least $20 to mow someone’s lawn. If it’s a large lawn $30-$50. I friend of mine who teaches in Florida and does some lawn mowing on the side realized he could earn more money just mowing lawns full time than he does as a teacher. Maybe that’s not that surprising to people but still.
  • Dog walking is another well paying job that young people can often easily do. People usually charge by the walk not the hour for this. You’d have to charge at very least $10/walk. Each walk might be 20-40 minutes including maybe feeding them or hanging out with them in the home. Anyway, you’d be making well over $10/hour and enjoying the outdoors and a furry friend.
  • Professional organizers charge up from $50 or $60/hour. If you’ve always been good at organizing things and will charge less than $30/hour that’s a wonderful deal.
  • As far as computers the Geek Squad charges hundreds of dollars to go to someone’s home and just clean out their computer for a few hours: Geek Squad Virus and Spyware Removal. If you’re the person your family and friends go to when they have computer trouble you could charge $50 or $100 to clean out other people’s computers and that would be a great deal and service for them. Most people really need their computers and really have no idea how they work or how to take care of them. Come to their rescue!
  • Someone told me a story of their friends hiring a photographer for their wedding for $2000. The photos were so bad they couldn’t even use them but they begrudgingly paid him anyway. If you’ve had a passion for photography and can put some care into doing a good job, charge $500 and again, people will love you.

As you gain more confidence and experience you’ll be able to charge closer to what the pros charge. The fact is working for yourself is simply more efficient: the guy working for the Geek Squad doesn’t get all that money for himself, most of it goes to the company. You are the company, so all of it goes to you, and you’re able to earn more and charge the client less for a more personal service.

Aside from the money, being your own boss gives such confidence, empowerment, flexibility and freedom. So it’s too bad it’s not more common. But I think it’s mostly mental blocks stopping young people from earning their own money and anyone starting their own business. Most of us are used to showing up and following instructions at school, the office, or the work site. And for unschoolers who don’t have to follow instructions, they also don’t usually have to earn their own money! So it’s new for them too.

Once we are able to start earning our own money it’s a wonderful thing itself and can make possible what I think is THE most wonderful thing: travelling and experiencing the world!

5 Responses to “Earning Your Own Money for Travel”

  1. Good tips! So many of us need reliable help.

  2. Carman says:

    Excellent article Eli… great subject to hear your perspective on! Thx

  3. […] Awhile ago, I wrote a blog post about this with many practical tips: Earning Your Own Money For Travel. […]

  4. […] And I’ve found earning my own money to be a very empowering learning experience. I’m available for ideas if people want to contact me about it and I wrote a bunch of practical tips on my blog awhile ago: […]

  5. Eli Gerzon says:

    Here’s another real life example for an unschooling teen who is going on the Worldschool Travel Tour: Japan this November 2009. His mom wrote to me about how much he grew and learned from the experience of working his first job:

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