Perhaps you’ve decided to take the leap and depart on a long-term overland trip. But you don’t know how much it will cost. Think about your most recent vacation; how could anyone possibly budget for long-term travel? We have met many overlanders over the years that have made it work, and it is important to remember that each method of financing a trip is as unique as the individual who has committed to it. There are four main ways to fund an overland trip, and many overlanders use a combination of the four to keep their travels going. 

To be clear, we are talking about funding the travel side of an overland journey, not the vehicle build side. We’ll get to that in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, here are four ways to fund an overland trip.

1. Save up the money and travel until it’s gone.

This method can be a good option for the first-time overlander.

Set your budget and figure out how much cash you’ll be spending per day. This will indicate how long you can spend on the road. Note that your budget will vary depending on which countries you’re visiting. Perhaps it is wise to spend more time in the less expensive countries, and less time in the countries with a higher cost of living.

Once you know roughly how much the trip will cost per day and you know the length of time you’ll be gone for, you will also know how much money to save up. This means optimizing your budget and being smart with your funds. Here are some ideas:

  • Sell stuff you don’t need or want.
  • Work an extra job.
  • Keep your vehicle budget-minded. Every dollar spent on luxury for the vehicle is less money available in the field.
  • Create a budget goal and a timeline.
  • Bring a good stove and refrigerator. This will save you money on the road by preparing your own food.
  • Consider an adventure motorcycle trip. A motorcycle is typically less expensive to purchase than a vehicle, plus you will likely save on fuel costs. Those traveling by motorcycle do typically eat out more often and stay in hotels. Weigh the pros and cons here.

2. Develop and build residual income so you can travel the world.

This method takes time to build but will give you long-term longevity on the road if done correctly. Some examples of residual income include real estate, investments that pay royalties or dividends, and product sales.

Real estate can be the most hands-off here, as you could potentially rent out your home and hire a property management company to run things while you’re gone. Some folks might sell their house that has been paid off and put the funds into a high-yielding stock. They would then live off the dividends.

Investments that pay royalties or dividends require a certain amount of money, quite a bit in fact before the amount becomes enough to live on. In addition, an aggressive stock portfolio can be rewarding but also takes some quality time and work to maintain yourself.

Another option is building a product that can be sold online and produces monthly income, such as a book or film.

3. Make money while on the road

Depending on your skillset, there can be many opportunities to work remotely.

  • Many travelers work while on the road, spending weeks to months working at ski resorts, hostels, or restaurants in order to continue their travels.
  • Develop an online presence where you produce content and get paid for it. This could be in the form of subscriptions, a Patreon account, website, or book sales.
  • Consider whether you could do your current job remotely.
  • Do you have a skill set that lends well to working remotely? Some examples include graphic design, coding, journalism, photography, and virtual assistant work. 

If your trip is shorter (less than six to 12 months) it might be worth considering whether saving in advance would be more beneficial. There are stresses associated with working remotely, such as finding adequate wifi, being in certain places at certain times, finding a suitable place to work, and juggling life on the road with working.

4. Sponsorships

There is a quote that we’ve heard circulating throughout the overland industry, and it goes something like this, “If you want to make a million dollars in the overland industry, start with two million.” Although it has grown significantly, the overland industry is still quite niche. It is a very difficult industry to make money in, and you need to have a lot of passion and drive if you want to secure lucrative sponsorships. Sometimes there are better, faster ways of funding an overland trip than by sponsorship.

To be clear, for the purposes of this post, we are not talking about free gear. We are talking about getting paid for what you do.

Expedition Overland hustled for nearly ten years before becoming profitable as a company. The average start-up should be profitable in three to five years. If your company isn’t profitable in five years, many say you should quit. But we’re still here, going strong because we are incredibly passionate about what we do. We have also learned a ton along the way. Here are some valuable lessons we’ve learned about sponsorships.

  • Create a very solid business plan.
  • Sponsorships are a long-term game. You need to be thinking about the big picture and have a long-term game plan figured out.
  • It might take many years working with companies before they pay you.
  • You need to understand how marketing works because that’s how sponsorships work. Remember that companies are investing in you to market their product.
  • As a good marketer, you need to have a product, a trip, a website, or something else that solves the company’s problem. Whatever it is that you decide to do, make it so unique and irresistible that companies will want to be a part of it.

There are many pros to sponsorships. You get to work with really cool companies, build relationships throughout the industry, try out some great equipment, undertake long-term testing on products, and have a great story to share with others.

 We hope this post has been helpful, and you’re on your way to successfully funding your dream overland trip. With a lot of hard work and sacrifice, it is possible. Do you have any tips or tricks that we’ve missed? Be sure to share in the comments below.