Travel With Purpose

Brooke Faulkner
January 16, 2024

More often than not, we travel for pleasure. The desire to get away from our everyday routines is what drives us to venture out to far-off places to go on holiday and experience a new way of life. Apart from living “the good life,” most people don’t travel with much more of an agenda. The goal is to be stress-free and come back from one’s travels feeling refreshed and satiated, having experienced something out of the ordinary. But travel doesn’t always need to be just for fun. From volunteering to adventure blogging, traveling with a purpose has many advantages. Learn how to monetize your travels and pad your resume with new skills gained while traveling abroad. Here are some ways to travel with a purpose:


Monetizing Travel

For most people, traveling can be an expensive prospect. In today’s world, however, you don’t have to sacrifice your job in order to travel.  Rather than spending a lot while you travel, here are some ways to cut down your expenses, and even earn money while experiencing new countries and cultures.

Travel Photography

You must have heard the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This couldn't be truer for travel photography — people love looking at photos of beautiful destinations. Even though competition remains high and there is no shortage of such photos online, travel photography is an opportunity that could rake in some cash. Today, you don’t need a fancy camera to take a good photo. Cellphones are equipped with cameras that allow for great shots, meaning that you don't need to invest much to capture that perfect click. Travel publications, blogs, luxury travel magazines, local tourism boards and more will pay for a well-taken photo, and even hold contests with cash prizes open to any traveler willing to submit their work. Sometimes, hotels will give away accommodation packages in return for unique traveler point-of-view shots of their property, and even though this may not yield direct cash, it is one way to indirectly monetizing your travel. If you aren’t confident about your photography skills, a basic course in travel photography or even some free online tutorials are enough to equip you with the skills to get started, and get published on niche travel blogs if nothing else - everybody has to start somewhere right?


Travel Blogging  

In a similar vein to that of photography, travel blogging is an avenue that can offer great monetary returns. An increasing number of travelers turn to online travel blogs and boutique travel magazines to research upcoming trips. Rather than travel agents, people prefer learning about a country through their own research. Increased digitization has allowed for information to be right at one’s fingertips, ushering in an age of highly reputed bloggers and influencers. If you’re motivated enough, writing a full-length feature about your travel adventures, providing one-of-a-kinds tips on where to eat and stay and giving advice on off-the-beaten-path activities could easily earn you anywhere between $75-$150. Since writing is one of those activities that can be done from anywhere, travel writing is the perfect way to earn money on-the-go, with your travel experiences conveniently acting as your main source of inspiration.


Looking after someone’s house and/or pets is a rewarding way to travel. There are many websites that allow you to connect with those in need of a house sitter. In return, you get to live in a different country for free, and really immerse yourself in the local culture via staying in someone’s house as opposed to a hotel or resort. Again, these hosts may not directly pay you for looking after their pets or house, but the money you save by not having to spring for accommodation is well worth the little effort house-sitting requires.

Gaining Skills

Your traveling purpose doesn’t always have to be monetary gain. Traveling is also a great mechanism to build experience and pad your resume in areas in which it is lacking. There is more than one way to do this.


Volunteer Work

Volunteering around the world allows you to truly understand and respect other cultures, both for their advantages and their faults. Volunteer tourism expert Shannon O’Donnell has written a book about ethically volunteering while traveling, helping one understand how to navigate the very convoluted world of volunteer travel. While sometimes volunteering in the poorest of countries can cost you thousands of dollars if facilitated through “voluntours” (travel tour agencies that have service-focused trips), O’Donnell writes that there are ways to “independently volunteer” and keep fees low. Much like other volunteers who travel, she states that “The single decision to weave international service into my round-the-world travels changed the direction of my life.” Volunteering in a foreign country, even if for a little while, can equip you with many of the skills — adaptability, critical thinking and leadership, just to name a few — to thrive in the real world.

Peace Corps

An often overlooked option for students in the US is the Peace Corps. This service “tackles the most pressing needs of people around the world and develops cross cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills.” The Peace Corps places applicants in various countries around the world, where they can make a meaningful impact on the lives of the locals while fully integrating into a previously unknown community. Apart from the many skills volunteers leave with, a stint with the Peace Corps is a worthy addition to any resume. Consider the example of Clarice Bayne, an ASU student who decided to enroll in a Taste of the Peace Corp, an alternative spring break option that took her to the Dominican Republic. She said, “The community was so eager to help and thankful for all the work they were doing. They were extremely welcoming, open in sharing stories and humble, something that I find can be lacking from US culture.” Bayne also found that her Spanish drastically improved, and found her passion for sustainable practices in developing nations.

Learning a Language

In today’s extremely globalized world, knowing just one language isn’t enough to make you stand out from the crowd. In fact, most people who live in developing countries grow up knowing or two or more languages. Language skills are sought after by employers and further education admission boards alike — and thankfully, can easily and enjoyably be honed through travel. One of the best ways to learn a language is to continuously speak it, and what better way to do so than traveling to a country where you are forced to converse in said language? If you already have some basic language skills, you can independently plan a trip and engage in conversations with locals, stay with a local family and more to further develop your skills. If you’re starting from scratch, there’s always the option of enrolling in a language exchange program, where a structured itinerary will help you perfect your language skills over a set period of time through various classes and activities. All the while, you will still be enjoying the perks of traveling to and experiencing a new culture and country.

As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to travel for more than just pleasure. Adding purpose to your next adventure will make for a more holistic and rewarding travel experience, without necessarily breaking the bank.

Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the Pacific Northwest. She loves exposing her children to new cultures and experiences and being able to make a living doing so! You can find her on twitter, @faulknercreek!


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