Living among the locals

6 ways to make money while traveling across Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, south asia, south east asia, backpacking, budget traveling, travels, traveling

Thanks to a few factors, like budget airways, the increase of disposable income, the rise of mid-range guesthouses across Asia and Africa, the prevalence of the English language, and the easy accessible to online information, journeying to any part of the world has become quite accessible to most of us.

This also means that luxury travel is a thing of the past. Today’s travelers are mostly gap-yearers and traveling students who have a limited budget. Thus, many of them seek ways to make a small income that can sustain them without draining their modest savings, all the while enjoying their stay at popular destinations.

From what I have seen, the following are a few of the jobs that travelers worked to make some income while on their trips.

Having said that, I highly discourage you from taking part in the recent beg-packing phenomenon that we have seen across Southeast Asia. Seriously guys, if you don’t have a plan, stay home.

1. Accessories and Crafts

I have seen numerous South Americans who wander around the beaches selling accessories and jewelry that they have made themselves. This doesn’t just apply to jewelry. One of my friends, who is an artist with a passion for 3D designs, opened her own handicrafts shop in Mirissa where she now sells a collection of souvenirs that she has created.

2. Media

When local filmmakers need to feature tourists in their productions, they always advertise about it offering rates that are actually not bad considering the living expenses. If you’re interested in these, you will have to keep the look out on Facebook groups and pages as well as the English dailys’ classifieds.

3. Hospitality

Many travelers work part time at some of the beach restaurants and bars. This is mostly in exchange for room and board, rather than an actual paid just, which is still good because it means that you’ve cut down your daily expenses.

You should be careful with this one, because you could potentially be competing with the local villagers. 

Also, look up hostels around your idea, many of which run volunteer-based and residency programs for young travelers and talented artists.

4. Teaching English

Before going for this one, I recommend you familiarize yourself about the current debate going on regarding voluntourism. Having said that, Sri Lanka is home to numerous organized programs where you can volunteer to teach English to school children or orphans.

As an alternative to working with these organizations, whether for ethical reasons or just because they charge high rates (from you, as in you pay to volunteer), what I did instead was going around my town asking whether parents wanted to give their kids English classes. The trick here though is to make sure to accept students with minimal English skills or at least have a translator on standby just to make sure that the student is indeed benefiting from your sessions.

5. Giving surf lessons

If you’re into surfing, you can take a shot at giving surfing instructions. While none of the local surf schools can afford to hire a foreign surf teacher, you can just promote yourself around your hotel and other traveler friends.

Pay a visit to any hostels near you since they usually offer the best of advice. The staff working down at Hang Over Hostel at Mirissa will usually make recommendations regarding these sort of things. Sometimes, they will even keep your card to recommend you to their guests.

6. Bar coach

This is what one of my other friends did to earn an extra income, offering a new beach restaurant her training skills. In exchange for food and drinks, she helped train the new staff how to wait on tables and also taught the new bar man good cocktail recipes.

About Yasmin Helal

Having lived in the GCC, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran, Yasmin is a journalist who enjoys writing travel and culture features.

2 thoughts on “6 ways to make money while traveling across Sri Lanka”

  1. Very good piece. Keep up the good work.

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