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How to Get Paid and Travel for Free as a College Student – Study Breaks

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A dream common among today’s young adults is traveling the world; however, finances often prevent university students from actually taking the plunge into foreign locales.

Fortunately, believe it or not, there are several methods students can use to get paid to explore — here are just five ways you can be compensated when you travel.

1. Use Your Creative Talents and Passions

Travel-oriented brands, such as hotels, resorts, airlines and excursion companies, will often sponsor artists and writers as a form of advertising. Are you a photographer, videographer, blogger or graphic designer? Use your creative abilities to enhance the editorial and visual content of travel companies; the possibilities of compensation for your work are nearly limitless, as long as you know how to effectively pitch yourself and your content.

Pitching is an acquired skill that is essential in the freelance workforce, and unless you are traveling for an internship or corporate career, as a paid traveler you will be a freelance worker. Although the lengthy art of brand pitching could be a taught as an entire university course, here are the basic ground rules:

Discover your travel niche (will you be a luxury travel photographer, foreign food blogger or big city Instagrammer?) and align that niche with your creative passion accordingly. Then, build a portfolio of your experience relevant to that niche. Finally, reach out to brands with an audience that will be interested in your content by informing their public relations department of why your work would be beneficial to them, and how they could compensate you.

Obviously, it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to partner with huge, well-known brands when you begin your traveling career, so expect to start small. Offer to professionally photograph an Airbnb in exchange for a free night’s stay, offer to write editorial content for a new restaurant for a competitive price or explain why your video curation would increase a local bed and breakfast’s social-media engagement. Basically, be your own salesperson.

2. Use Your Social-Media Platforms

Not only does social media currently serve as a mode of friendly communication and professional networking, but it also acts as the newest and most cost-efficient advertising vehicle. All wise public-relations practitioners and advertising directors know that in order for a campaign targeted at a young demographic to be successful, sponsoring key social-media influencers is imperative.

Travel influencing, along with influencing in general, is a relatively new career option, which means that current students are entering a brand-new job market with plenty of openings. To become a full-time travel influencer, you must grow a pretty substantial following across your social media accounts; however, if you are only looking for part-time or seasonal work as a student, the qualifications are not as demanding.

Simply build some sort of niche-specific audience, whether that is on a Facebook page, Instagram profile or YouTube channel, and brands will begin to reach out with sponsorships and ambassador programs. You can read about how to grow your Instagram audience here.

3. Seek Temporary Jobs That Require Travel

Most people are unaware of the extensive international job opportunities that exist today. As previously mentioned, both corporate companies and up-and-coming small businesses alike will hire temporary employees as social-media marketing influencers. If you do not have the online presence necessary to be an influencer, though, don’t fret; many of these businesses will also hire temporary workers to review their products or excursion services.

Popular companies like Travel & Leisure or Airbnb frequently publish job postings with descriptions that literally say, “Get paid to travel around (insert location).” These job openings usually have very few qualifications, so invest time in finding them and applying.

Moreover, there are numerous English-teaching organizations with international sites. Consider becoming certified in TESOL (Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages) or TEFL (Teaching of English as a Foreign Language) if you are a native-English speaker looking to temporarily work abroad.

4. Find a Remote Summer Job or Internship

If you own a laptop and have internet access, you can virtually work from anywhere. Many students fear traveling during summer and winter breaks because they need to work full-time; however, there are hundreds of jobs that you can complete in remote locations.

Instead of working at a local retailer this summer, consider applying for a remote internship that will give you valuable professional experience and allow you to travel. Wouldn’t you rather be sightseeing than bagging groceries during your break?

5. Take Advantage of Humanitarian Aid Trips and Study-Abroad Opportunities

Nearly all humanitarian aid and mission trips are fundraised, whether by a religious institution or school-sponsored trip. Usually, organizations that offer these trips also offer various fundraising opportunities, such as bake sales, grill-outs, community rummage sales and support letters. If you put sincere effort in fundraising for humanitarian aid, you will achieve a fully funded trip.

On the other hand, study-abroad programs are available at nearly all accredited universities — some schools even require students to study abroad in order to graduate. You will have to pay for tuition and airfare; however, there are thousands of study-abroad-specific scholarships open to students on universities’, local organizations’ and third-party scholarships’ websites. Why would anyone forgo attending classes in a foreign country, or even at another domestic university, if given the chance for no extra cost?

Choose your host country wisely, too. You can probably do outside exploration in your free time, and some locations are better for weekend traveling than others. For instance, choosing to attend a study-abroad program in northern France would allow you to not only travel around France, but also neighboring European countries such as England, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Although these trips will not fill up your bank account, they are still fantastic resources for you to get out of both your comfort zone and your college-town zone for “free.” Furthermore, cross-cultural experiences make you more employable, as the majority of employers prefer inter-culturally competent applicants over those who have the same level of education but no international aptitude.

Likewise, if you want to use your creative talents to pay for your travels but lack an impressive resume, you can use these programs to improve your portfolio and master your craft. With the proper mindset, scholarship-funded and support-raised trips may actually financially benefit you in the long run.

Contrary to popular belief, conquering wanderlust is not out of students’ reach. Indeed, there are ways to get paid for traveling as a student, but you must have faith in your abilities. As novelist Paulo Coelho said, “Travel is never a matter of money — but of courage.”

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