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8 Tips to Finance Your Winter Explorations

Save money, live better, EXPLORE.

By: Matt Van Swol + Save to a List

Money is sort of a taboo subject in the world of campers, explorers, and photographers. It makes sense…most of us are broke anyway, but you don’t have to be! I am going to give you a couple tips on what I’ve found successful in financing my outdoor explorations. This isn’t a fool proof guide or even checklist, it’s just some things I’ve found helpful in paying for or reducing the cost of my trips.

1. Rent out your house/apartment. When you go on your trips, why not rent out your place and make a little extra dough on the side? I’ve done this nearly every time I’ve traveled and it makes paying for the trip a lot easier. Depending on demand, I’ve sometimes paid for an entire trip just by renting out my current place and camping instead! If you have a place to call your own, rent it out when you go on trips, it helps.

2. Ask companies if they’d like photos of their products in the location you are headed. I reach out to multiple companies well ahead of my departure date and see if they would like to send me certain products to take photos of. Since that time...I’ve almost never gone on a trip without a little gadget or piece of gear a company has sent me. Reach out to your local companies as well, most of the time they don’t have a full time photographer, see if they would be willing to shell out a couple books for some well taken photos of their products away from home.

3. Bring a solar charger on your trip. I’ve found that by bringing a couple portable solar panels with me on my trips, I’m less likely to need to spend money on going to a coffee shop just to charge my laptop or camera. If you can plan ahead and bring some chargers or solar panels with you, it just might save you a couple dollars on the road. See my article “If You Love the Outdoors, You Should be Using a Solar Charger” for more info.

4. Bring a friend with you on your trips. If you can convince someone to come along on one of your trips, often times expenses like gas and lodging can be cut in half (or even more depending on how many people you take). I realize it’s difficult to convince people to come along with you, so go ahead and read my article “How to Convince Someone to Travel With You” and use the guidelines there. Maybe someone will come along!

5. Sell photos of your trip. Companies and individuals alike love a good photo, so if you think you shot a good one, why not throw it up on Shutterstock, iStock, or any other stock photography website? One of my favorite things to do is sell iPhone background screens for a dollar or two. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.

6. Start a blog and get sponsors. Depending on how good of a writer you are (I’m not very good myself), you could start a blog and let everyone know what you’re up to and where you’ve traveled so far! People love hearing stories from trips, especially ones that didn’t turn out like you’d expect (like most travels do) so why not start a blog? If you have enough people following your blog, you could get sponsors or write for other companies: just another small way to make money on the road.

7. Turn a business trip into an exploration. Find yourself on travel for business? Why not take to the road and find some cool places to explore after all those meetings? When I was in Ohio for a conference, I opened up The Outbound’s App and discovered massive caverns in Hocking Hills, just a short hour’s drive from my hotel! I was able to take some of the best photos of my career on a paid business trip, so plan your time wisely and work some personal travel time into those trips.

8. Make a YouTube video of your trip. Depending on how many views you get and how popular your channel is, you could make a pretty decent sum of money just by showing people what you did on your trip! So next time you are in a pretty place, on a plane, or just on the road singing, pull out your phone or camera and take a couple videos. When you get back, stitch them together and throw them on YouTube.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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