Vacations are inherently unproductive. In fact, the whole point of a vacation is to be spectacularly unproductive for a given time. But lucky for us, productivity and money aren’t always related! Hey, if they were, F1 drivers would be digging for week old nuggets in a McDonald’s dumpster. To further illustrate the point, let’s look at how an unproductive vacation can net you some cash. Take note if, like me, the only thing you’ll value during Chinese New Year will be your absence:
1. Rent Your Home Space
No, not for people to hold parties or whatever. Unless you’re really brave, and your current property value is lower than SMRT’s approval ratings. What I mean by “rent your space” is to provide storage.
There’s always someone with spare furniture, unsold MLM products, or books that can’t break into our semi-literate society. These people need some kind of storage, and warehousing is expensive. So if you’re going away for a long stretch (a month or more), ask around; I bet you’ll find quite a few friends or relatives who will rent your space.
Charge a low amount, like $40 a month. For whatever reason, Singapore is filled with people who need storage space for unused hi-fi sets, old electronics, and boxes of LPs.
2. Sell Your Travel Experience
I wasn’t always fat, happy, and well-financed. No, I used to be healthy, like poor people who have to move around and do actual work. But back in those days, I could only afford vacations by selling travel articles.
Whenever I went abroad, I’d take a ton of photos and notes. It’s not as if I wouldn’t want it as a remembrance anyway; personal notes and pictures are worth more than some book-store travel guide (Which, uh, I am now advising you to sell those notes and pictures to. Awkward.)
Anyway, you can sell your articles, to an international or local publication. I used to net about $200 an article; not bad for quick trips to places like Bali. If you’re not one to write, try selling your pictures; exotic locales make for great stock photography.
As a last resort, put them in the Creative Commons on Flickr. You won’t make any money, but I’ll steal them, change their context, and caption them into infamous fart jokes.
3. Use E-Bay or a Blog
Before heading off, gather up and E-Bay everything you don’t need. Your account can remain active even when you’re not, and you might come home to a nice profit.
The wonder of sites like E-Bay is that you can be mostly absent. It will continue to collect bids, and you get to set the timer. So round up your stuff, and set your auctions to end when you get home. When you get back, just send off the goods and collect your cash.
If you run a side-business selling products, use the scheduling on your blog to keep things rolling. Write some extra articles, and schedule them to keep publishing when you’re away. Same with e-mails; use Boomerang to stay in touch with customers. They won’t even notice you’re gone.
4. Buy Back Service
People like to ask “You want anything from (where I’m headed)?”
You can ask that question when you go on holiday, except add a price tag to it. Charge a little bit to buy things back from overseas.
Don’t do it to close friends and relatives; ostracism is bad for your ego. But your colleagues or passing acquaintances won’t mind. Key amongst them: amateur cooks or people who sell New Year pastries. They always need some kind of bizarre ingredient in suspicious quantities; just make sure what they pay you will cover the extra luggage costs.
When I do this, I’m sure to bring along an empty bag or two. Also, check that what they’re asking for will clear customs.
5. Courier Service
Ask your acquaintances if anyone wants letters or goods delivered. This is the inverse of point 4; you bring stuff over there instead of bringing it back. Some people may complain about you charging, so say this straight up:
“Guys, I’m raising money to pay for my trip.”
There are two rules to observe here. The first is to never bring anything you haven’t inspected; because you don’t want customs opening your delivery and finding a taxidermy job of the world’s last exotic striped cuckoo or something. And I don’t want to suggest any of your friends might be drug smugglers, but you know what? THEY MIGHT BE. You never know. So inspect everything.
Second, never deliver money. The last time I did, I spent it before I even got to the departure gate. Those chocolate liquers are good. Oh, and also, you might lose it and stuff.
Now go and have fun, and come back richer. And as a personal finance expert, I don’t come cheap: I expect a souvenir key chain for this.
Update me when you get one, or just follow us on Facebook for more travel articles in future.
How do you make money while on vacation? Comment and let us know!
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