Broke After Traveling? 5 Odd Job Ideas

Disclaimer: This post may only apply to people in the U.S. This list of ideas works best if you’re spoiled like me and get to live and eat at your parent’s or other family members’ houses when you come back to the U.S.

After you’ve finished a backpacking trip, you may be short on cash. I recall hearing, “I ended up staying in the same place for the last month of my trip because I ran out of money,” from many travelers. Perhaps you’ve just finished teaching abroad and you’re visiting your family in the U.S. until your next abroad experience. You’d like to make some money. I’ve been there.

What do you do when you need to make money in a short amount of time? Many people might advise you to get a hospitality or administration job-and not tell your employers that you’ll be leaving after a few weeks. What if you don’t like the idea of quitting so soon, even though it might not matter?

Below are a list of 5 odd job ideas (and three more backup ideas!) that work around your schedule. You won’t have to worry about quitting or disappointing anyone, and with any luck you’ll earn some money for your next trip.

  • Babysitting or Tutoring

Don’t worry if you’re out of touch with the young people in your hometown. Websites such as and connect you with families in your area. On your profile, you set your price. You can message families through the website. Most families I spoke to were excited about my travels and understanding of the fact I would only be around for a short time.  Be warned: anyone from with an email address at is probably a scam.

  • Run Errands

Use, or Task Rabbit to help you find people who need help with anything and everything.

  • Drive Uber/Lyft

You will need a car that fits their stipulations and insurance in your name. Doing this, I made good money, got to know my hometown better, and met all kinds of interesting people. Be warned: When you drive people you knew in high school, they will question your life choices.

  • Substitute Teacher

Most school districts are always in need of substitutes. If you have a college degree or a certain number of college credit hours, you qualify. If you had a good high school experience, try reaching out to your old stomping grounds. Also try: churches with preschools, day cares, and community centers.

  • Be a Participant in University Studies

If there is a university in your area, look at department websites, news, and bulletin boards for advertisements. My favorite study experiences were for psychology, sociology, and health. Most are not scary or strange- but can be boring. Try to only accept the highest paying ones. In my experience, an average hour will pay you between $10-$15. Anything involving taking blood or alcohol pays a lot more! My senior year of college I earned around $300 a semester for participating at random times.


If Those Aren’t Working Out…

  • Try A Warehouse Job

One of the reasons for not trying to get a job in hospitality or administration job was so that you don’t have to quit a few weeks after starting. However, warehouse jobs such as FedEx, Amazon, Target or Walmart are always looking for people. There is a high turnover rate and they probably won’t be crushed if resign. These jobs require a lot of physical strength but typically pay well.

  • Beg Your Friends And Family For Work

Ask your network if they need any random organizational tasks done. I once loaded over 500 CDs onto my father’s Itunes for money. Anything is possible, especially if you know rich people.

  • Look On the University’s Classifieds

Aside from also being a good place to find studies to participate in, the classifieds are also spaces for people to post odd jobs. I’ve taught driving classes to a Pakistani grad student and dropped off packages at the post office for $30/hour for a Chinese grad student. One semester I made a ridiculous amount of pumpkin donuts and sold them around campus (I made over $200!).

Other jobs: If you’ve got TEFL, trying teaching private English classes online. Try If you happen to be AFAA or ACE certified, substitute teach at local gyms. People who speak multiple languages can look into translating.

Do you have any more ideas?  What has worked for you?

Featured photo: I admire the design on this cappuccino. Unfortunately, I’ve never worked at a cafe. Maybe my next odd job can be designs on coffee!



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