How I Make Extra Money While Traveling Full Time

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We travel full-time in our camper van, and we often get asked how we fund our travels. Some people work while on the road, but since we are only planning to travel for about a year, we decided we’d rather save up money so that all our time could be dedicated to travel. We saved up for a long time to be able to purchase and convert our Sprinter van into a tiny home. We also budgeted enough money to fund just over a year of living in our van. We travel really frugally, and we never pay for camping.

Besides our savings, we earn a little extra spending money on the road using a few different mobile apps. None of these apps are going to earn you enough income to support full-time travel, but they are low-effort, low-commitment ways to earn some supplemental spending money.

If you travel frugally, a little bit of extra cash from online surveys can go a long way!

If you travel frugally, a little bit of extra cash from online surveys can go a long way!

You can save a lot of money on groceries or even get free groceries by using a few apps!

You can save a lot of money on groceries or even get free groceries by using a few apps!

Secret Shopping With Observa

One way that I’ve made quite a bit of extra cash while traveling is by using a mobile app called Observa to do secret shopping. The app is easy use. The app will notify you if there is a retail observation near you. You then go into the store and identify and observe the particular product. (Note: you don’t have to purchase the product.) You answer some questions about the product and how it’s displayed. Then you submit the observation and get paid between $5 and $15 depending on the type of observation. It’s super easy because you can just do these observations when they are convenient for you, like when you’re already going grocery shopping.

Besides the secret shopping, I’ve also won extra cash by entering Observa’s daily observation competition. Each day you just have to take a picture of some item within a theme—for example in December, they asked us to take photos of a holiday decoration. Each day they randomly pick a submitted photo to win $5. I’ve entered the observation contest 26 days, and I’ve already won twice!

Use my referral link and code, markhor-inc, and we will both earn a bonus once you complete an observation:

I won five dollars by submitting this photo of a decorated palm tree. It took 15 seconds.

I won five dollars by submitting this photo of a decorated palm tree. It took 15 seconds.

Observa is great because you can do it when it’s convenient for you—like when you’re already grocery shopping.

Observa is great because you can do it when it’s convenient for you—like when you’re already grocery shopping.

Grocery Savings Apps

One of the best ways to “earn” money is to save it. As mentioned we like to travel frugally: we camp for free, we do mechanical repairs on our van ourselves (Check out our blog post: How to Repair Your Camper Van or RV While Traveling), and we try not to spend too much on food.

I save a ton of money on groceries and even get free groceries by scanning my receipts on grocery rebate apps. Basically you are selling your shopping data to the apps, but if you’re using a credit or debit card this information is already being tracked. The key to making money with these apps is to scan your receipts into multiple apps so that you are getting multiple rebates on the same items. Here are the best apps I use to save money on groceries.

Ibotta

I save the most money on groceries using the Ibotta app—it has the widest variety of rebates. It even has rebates on produce and “any item” rebates, such as any brand of yogurt or any brand of crackers. Sometimes they even have rebates that make items free after you redeem them! All you have to do is go on the app, look up the store where you shopped, see if items you purchased have rebates, and then scan your receipt and the money will be put in your account. Sometimes I like to check the offers ahead of shopping and plan meals around the really good deals. The money from rebates can be withdrawn using Paypal or Venmo or you can choose from gift cards to Amazon or other stores.

Use my Ibotta referral link below and earn a $10 welcome bonus today!

“A penny saved (on groceries) is a penny earned.”

“A penny saved (on groceries) is a penny earned.”

You can save a ton of money just by scanning your grocery receipts.

You can save a ton of money just by scanning your grocery receipts.

Fetch Rewards

Ibotta might save you the most money, but Fetch Rewards is the easiest to use, and you can earn nearly as much money! Fetch is awesome, because they accept receipts from any shopping trip at any grocery or convenience store. You’ll get a receipt bonus of 25 points for each receipt scanned regardless if you purchased any particular offer. From there you will earn more from special offers on specific items and for buying specific brands like Kraft, Campbells, Kleenex, Boca, or Coors. There are over 235 brands that can earn you points. It’s likely that your already buying these items, so scanning your receipts into Fetch Rewards will just be free money! Rewards can be redeemed in the form of gift cards for Amazon, Target, Panera, Columbia, Ebay, and tons of other retailers and restaurants.

Use my referral code, FT3DA, and you will earn a $2.00 just for signing up!

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 has a more limited selection of rebate offers than the other apps, but the rebates they do offer have higher values. Many times I can get grocery items for free by combining Checkout 51 offers with offers from Ibotta or Fetch.

Use my referral link to sign up and you will earn $10 when you redeem your first offer. More free money!

Take Online Surveys

To earn money on the road, I sometimes take online surveys. You’re definitely not going to get rich taking online surveys, but you can earn some beer money while you’re just sitting in the passenger seat. I think the key to making money taking online surveys is to sign up for multiple survey sites and then only take higher value surveys. Here are the survey sites and apps that I’d recommend for travelers.

There’s always downtime while traveling, so I occasionally take surveys in my spare time.

There’s always downtime while traveling, so I occasionally take surveys in my spare time.

Earn some cash while you’re sitting in the passenger seat.

Earn some cash while you’re sitting in the passenger seat.

Make some extra beer money while traveling by taking easy online surveys.

Make some extra beer money while traveling by taking easy online surveys.

Earning Station

Earning Station is my favorite survey website for taking online surveys. When you first sign up you can earn an easy $10 by entering your email address in 5 offers—I just have a junk email that I only use for stuff like this. Besides the easy $10, each day I go in and complete the daily “To-Do List.” It only takes me a few minutes to earn $0.25, and each day that you earn at least a quarter counts toward you “Earning Streak.” Every ten days you get a bonus that starts at $1 and increases by $0.25 each time you keep the streak going for another 10 days.

The best part of Earning Station is that you can earn money by watching short videos. I just leave these videos playing in the background as I go about making coffee in the van in the morning. In the past two months I’ve made $50 just by letting videos play in the background on my phone and occasionally taking a high value survey.

Sign up now and start that earning streak:

You can take these surveys on your computer if you have WiFi or a hot spot.

You can take these surveys on your computer if you have WiFi or a hot spot.

But a lot of these survey sites have mobile apps to make taking the surveys really convenient.

But a lot of these survey sites have mobile apps to make taking the surveys really convenient.

Inbox Dollars

Inbox Dollars has a really easy to use app that will show you all the surveys that you qualify for in a list. Many of the Inbox Dollars surveys are low value, but many of them also take very little time. The other day I earned $0.50 just by picking which of two chairs I liked better. It took me about 30 seconds while I was riding in the car.

Sign up now to start making spending money with Inbox Dollars:

Swagbucks

The final app among my favorite survey apps is Swagbucks. Again they have a really easy to use app, and their surveys generally seem to pay a little better. I just check in occasionally to do the high value surveys. For each survey you take, you earn points and each point is work a cent. You can redeem your points for Amazon, Visa, Paypal, restaurant or retail gift cards. Wait for gift cards go on sale—often you can buy a $25 gift card with 2000 points rather than 2500.

Use the link below to earn some cash with Swagbucks:

Save money so that you have more to spend on frozen custard…

Save money so that you have more to spend on frozen custard…

…or to spend on cheap Chinese food…

…or to spend on cheap Chinese food…

…or to spend on fun stuff like replacing the timing chain on your Sprinter.

…or to spend on fun stuff like replacing the timing chain on your Sprinter.

Job Spotter

Job Spotter is a super easy app I use to extra spending money for vanlife. Job Spotter is an app developed by Indeed to identify job openings through help wanted signs. All you have to do is snap a photo of a help wanted sign and the store front and you will get paid up to a $1 per sign. The great thing is that when you’re traveling, you’re constantly coming in contact with new businesses. I’ve earned $10 in a day of driving just from spotting help wanted signs at gas stations and restaurants when we stop. I also “job spot” while running or biking in an area of business. It’s like getting paid to exercise. You can also verify other users’ submissions as well for a bit of extra money. Your earnings will be paid out it Amazon gift cards.