This article is part of a controversial series of articles around the subject of under the table jobs that exist around the world. We do not condone any of these but wanted to help people make the right decisions before choosing to work illegally or to work an illegal job.
“Only those with money escape the grips of money.” – Jacques Coeur
This article is probably the most contradictory I have ever written, and even as I write these words I ask myself if it is a good idea or not to write about this subject. Nevertheless I believe I have a duty to those who want to travel long-term. The duty to teach them the many ways that exist that aren’t on the books, but that work just as well.
None of the ways I am about to tell you about are criminal, nor can they hurt other people or organizations. These are simply alternative ways to make money that people I have come across during my travels were doing to make an extra buck.
Some of them were quite ingenious, while others we’re downright wrong. I will keep this post on the acceptable side of the blurred lines of under the counter international work. If you are interested in saving money or making money while traveling, check out all the best travel resources I know here.
(Not Too) Illegal Ways To Make Money
Internationally there are many ways to capitalize on the lack of communication between governments and associations. Here are a few not illegal ways to make money or save money that already exist and are possible for anyone to enter.
Under The Counter Fruit/Vegetable Picking Jobs
Grape harvesting in Europe, morel mushroom-picking in Northwest Canada, cherry-picking in the Okanagan Valley (Canada), tree-planting all across North America. These are only four of hundreds of different ways to make money while travelling. In any case, you usually need a work visa or some type of work permit. However often times companies will still offer you work, even if you don’t have the right documents.
Under The Counter Weed Trimming Jobs
Be careful with this one! If you get caught you can be deported and denied entry into the United States forever. However in most cases if you pick a legit farm you should be fine.
From September to November, you can trim weed in the mountains of the Emerald Triangle (California). This is one of the best ways to clear 5K-10K net in two months. All you do is trim all day, for $150-$200 per pound. An experienced trimmer can trim 1.5 pounds per day, and a newbie will take 8-10 hours per pound.
Make sure you understand the risks you are taking because from what I’ve heard getting caught is not fun.
Under The Counter Renovation Work
Are you good with your hands? If so then one of the easiest ways to make money is to offer your services under the table. Renovating a kitchen or bathroom, building an outside patio, working in demolition… These are only three of countless examples of gigs you can find on service apps like Servis Hero and Kaodim. You can also look at Craigslist or the local equivalent (Kijiji in Canada, Markplaats in the Netherlands, Loquo in Spain, OLX in Brazil/Portugal, and Quikr & Sulekha in India).
Under The Counter Bartending & Hostel Management
Believe it or not, I’ve met countless people working in bars and/or hostels for free in exchange for free food, drinks and accommodation. In other cases, there were people getting paid under the counter for their work. In Australia, a man I met had spent two years working under the counter bartending jobs. He would find them on the Australian equivalent of Craisglist. These types of opportunities are also available in most developed countries.
Busking – Make money playing an instrument
“To busk – To play music in the street or other public place for voluntary donations.”
Although the busking life isn’t for everyone, if you are a talented musician this could be an amazing way to make money on the road. Nonetheless, you have to find out what types of permits are required as often times it’s illegal to busk without one. One of my Honduran friends is currently busking around Europe. It’s allowed him to keep travelling for over 2 years!! I’d say this is definitely one of the better not too illegal ways to make money!
Smuggling – Don’t smuggle anything illegal!
Apps like Grabr allow you to bring anything to anyone around the world. Make sure you aren’t bringing things you aren’t allowed to bring though. For example as the way things currently stand, you can’t bring a poker set to Iran. People may try to con others into bringing them something you aren’t allowed to bring, so be careful. I can imagine that there’s nothing worse than going to jail, especially in a different country!!
Nevertheless, if what you are carrying is legal, then this is an amazing way to make a few extra bucks while travelling abroad.
Squatting – Live for free
The other day I met someone in Brussels, Belgium that at first seemed completely normal. She was on her way back from a vacation in Cyprus, and seemed very at peace with herself. We started talking on the bus and she soon explained that her goal for the next few years was to start “squatting” projects across the city.
Here’s how it worked. She would find places that have been abandoned for over 3 months. She would then pay $5 to a private firm that tells you who the building is owned by. If it was owned by an association or private entity, then she would set up a time to break in with many people and fill the place up with furniture and other personal belongings. She would then set up social-cultural events to help the surrounding community, and contact the owner of the establishment to explain that the building had now been remodelled as a social center for the community… whether they like it or not!
Two things would then happen. Either the association would wake up and do something about it, starting year-long lawsuits to kick them out. Or they would accept to work with them and negotiate an agreement on payment/ date of departure, offering their place for the next years until something was done for the building.
Pretty crazy wouldn’t you say!? If this is something of interest to you, I suggest you look up squatting groups on Facebook, Subreddits, local forums and more. You could also walk around to try to find where these are happening in your city (if they are happening at all).
Dumpster-Diving – Eat for free
You would think that dumpster diving is as disgusting as it sounds. I have personally never tried it, however every person I’ve met that dumpster dives has told me the same thing. “It’s a great feeling to grab all this amazing food that is still in perfect condition, saving both money and the environment.”
One of the guys I met was actually in Trondheim, Norway. This guy would dumpster-dive and AirBnb his own room, just to be able to put enough money on the side to invest in cryptocurrencies. This was honestly the first time I’ve ever met someone so dedicated to saving and growing his portfolio. The other guy I met travelled for a year through Australia for under $3 a day!! Goes to show it’s often time not the type people you would expect that go out and dumpster-dive.
Uber & other service apps
The likes of Uber and Grab are legal in most countries. However they are becoming an illegal way to make money in many regions of the world. For example, Quebec Canada and Paris France have unfortunately illegalized the concept.
Make sure to check out the laws of the region you are in before offering Uber rides.
AirBnb & other real estate rental apps
The same goes for AirBnb and other similar apps. Over the past years what used to be a great concept has turned in micro-businesses that people often times use in a house that they are themselves renting. This has created a micro-market of hotels that are unregulated and illegal. However, I LOVE Airbnb and believe that all sharing economy companies are actually there to help us become micro-entrepreneurs and take control of our own lives.
Try To Stay On The Legal Side
As you’ve seen, most of these are misdemeanours that are at most borderline illegal. Please don’t try to sell drugs in other countries or in your own for that matter. The penalties are not worth any money in the world.
Rather than looking for illegal ways to make money, I recommend you find ways to grow your career through travel. Anyone can travel if they really want to. I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter for professional advice on how to travel longterm using your already acquired skills.
Interested in making money on the road? Consider investing in digital currencies!
Until Next Time,
Joaquim from The Alternative Ways