How to Fund Your Travels
One of the questions I get all the time is: "How do you afford to travel so much?" The answer to that is not as simple as some might like. The reality is, I make some money doing work online and I have a job in the US that pays well and is usually in 1-2 week per month stints.
Since I am currently without a home in the USA, I do not have rent payments or car payments to worry about. That allows me the freedom to travel when I am not working and use the US Dollar abroad in places that it goes significantly further.
I also tend to go places where plane tickets are relatively cheap. So for instance, now I am in Colombia where the ticket was cheaper to come here than to go to Miami. I am not flying to Europe or other parts of the world where flight and hotels are expensive and therefore cost prohibitive.
The last thing that I do to help fund my travel is an app and website called Grabr. Basically, people in the place I am going will pay me a fee plus reimburse me for the cost of items they want.
How it works
As a "traveler" you put in the starting and ending location as well as date of your trip. Then you have access to everyone from your ending location who has requested things from your starting location. As an example, you are flying from Miami to Lima, Peru.
Many people in Lima, Peru want things from the United States and will reimburse you plus pay you a fee to bring them stuff. Fees are as little as $5 up to (whatever they will pay).
Once you enter the trip information and see all the orders, you can then bid on how much of a fee you want to bring the requested item. Grabr goes over how to best do that, but of course you want to bear in mind your costs (shipping, taxes, extra baggage fees, etc...) when making offer.
Once the person accepts the offer, they have to put the money in escrow through Grabr. That way you are ensured that they have paid and that they are serious. Also, they have incentive to meet you and get the product they paid for.
You then have to use your own money to purchase the product. This makes sure you also have an incentive to meet them to do delivery. So also bear in mind when making your offers whether or not you have the necessary funds to purchase goods. A $200 dollar fee might be great, but if you don't have the money for the $2,000 item, then you might want to look at lower priced requests.
You would then coordinate delivery of the item. Once you meet and hand off the item to the buyer, you will both have to verify through Grabr that the delivery has been made. You will then get notification a few days later that payment has been processed. From there depending on where you are and payment method used by Grabr (Paypal or Stripe) you will get paid in as little as 12 hours or up to 5 days.
Things to consider
I have currently made 5 deliveries and had no issues. That being said, I am headed to Lima soon and will be making 23 deliveries. The more deliveries the more issues could arise.
It is important to bear in mind when using Grabr a few things:
Every Country has it's own customs that dictates what can and can not be brought into the country. This is something you will have to take into account when you make offers. While you should make many offers, because many of them will not be accepted, you want to make sure that once one or two get accepted for certain items that you either cancel all remaining ones or become more selective.
Many countries will only allow you to bring in 2 cell phones and 1 or two laptops for instance. The fee on higher ticket items like these might be very appealing, but having the item seized by customs or having to pay a huge fee to bring into country may negate or ruin your profit.
Also, some items may be banned or require special permission. For instance, used clothing or agricultural things. Make sure to check into the customs declaration forms of the country you are traveling to.
Some items might be in a gray area and up to the customs official who scans your bag to determine whether or not to nail you. I am somewhat worried about some of the things I'm bringing into Lima....
Baggage Space and Packing
Going through the requested items on your trip, you may see some relatively cheap items with good suggested fees attached to them, but it is important to consider the size of the item.
Many people I think unknowingly request items that are just way too large to be feasible for anyone to bring.
This request for instance. You might not mind making $13 off spending $100, but how would you realistically bring something that size down on the plane? I have seen people request portable basketball hoops and tables and things of that nature. Unless you are moving and are shipping large containers of stuff and can add a few more large items, it is not possible without an astronomical fee to bring large items down.
I tend to focus on making offers on small items and in the case of things that may come with packaging that could add space (like shoes for instance), I ask the buyer if I can bring down without the box. I have never had a buyer say "no" to my request. If it's an issue, you can just cancel your offer.
Second thing to consider is packing. Let's say the item is small and will fit, but maybe the person wants box in pristine condition. Well if you are packing a large number of things, you may want to reconsider offering for things that are fragile or may get damaged being transported.
If item is damaged in transport, you will likely get stuck eating the cost. That could quickly ruin your profit.
Also, anything expensive and tempting to be taken by baggage handlers should be brought on plane with you. That should go without saying, but checking under a cell phone or laptop might be very risky.
I always bring on my carry-on bags things that are valuable and tempting for someone to steal. I think airlines and airports have gotten better with these things, but if you can put those things on carry-on bag, why not avoid the risk.
As alluded to before, you have to make an investment into these items before you can make the money back plus a nice fee. You have to take that into consideration when making bids to bring things down.
I have found it almost addicting to make offers to bring things down, but then I check my credit card and bank accounts and realize I'm quickly diminishing them in order to make all these purchases.
I'd love to make $200 to bring down a $2,500 laptop, but currently that's not in the budget.... also that comes with a larger risk. Anything happens with that laptop and you can't make the delivery, eating $2,500 would really negate any money you made bringing other stuff.
I love bringing small items that are relatively cheap and get paid $10 to do that. For instance, I'm getting paid $11 to bring something that cost $10 down to Lima. Ten of those and I'm making $110 on a $100 investment (plus getting the $100 back). I'd much rather do that then make $100 bringing a $1000 item down where there is a chance something could go wrong.
Also, depending on when you read this, Grabr currently has a promotion where you get a $100 bonus for bringing down 10 items. So if possible, try to make sure you are checking promotions and are bidding accordingly. I always ask the people if they need anything else or know anyone who does. Simple question like that could make you an extra $100!
I'm still relatively new to using Grabr, but so far it has been great way to offset some of the cost of travel. I should make enough on my upcoming trip to Lima to cover the cost of the flight (assuming all goes well of course).
I am even considering using it to try and gain status on an airline by making a few short trips to popular places with Grabr (Buenos Aires, Lima, Brazil) and hopefully having flight basically paid for through delivery fees.
Another thought I've had is partnering with locals in popular destinations and starting a side hustle importing a few items to sell locally that are significantly more expensive locally than in USA.
Use my link to signup and get $ off ordering goods abroad and making deliveries!!!
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!
One Day Exploring Barranquilla, Colombia
You Only Live Once
At the risk of sounding like a lame millennial trying to be cool, I want to talk about "YOLO" as it relates to travel. Basically, you only live once... so travel the way you want and don't judge others who choose to travel differently.
Three Days in Cali, Colombia
When I booked this trip, I had no idea what to do in Cali or if I would even enjoy going there. I figured, third largest city in Colombia has to have something to offer. And after finishing Narcos Season 3, I was intrigued by the city and it's history.
As with most of my trips, I book the flight and accommodations and do very little planning of activities till I arrive or shortly before. This trip was no different. I knew there were a few things I wanted to see and do, but the rest I left up to spontaneity.
November 4, Day 1
I arrived to Leticia, Colombia in the evening of November 4, 2017. According to google maps, my hotel was a short walk from the airport and since I don't mind walking I decided to skip taking a taxi (no ride sharing apps here).
Unfortunately, Google Maps was wrong about the location of the hotel and I ended up having to walk about an extra 25 minutes. While that may not seem like a long time, I was dressed for Bogota weather (cold) in the Amazon (hot). So lets just say I was drenched in sweat when I finally arrived to the hotel. It wasn't too hard to figure out where it was based on the address and how they number their streets.
I stayed at the Waira Suites which I booked on Booking.com. The hotel was probably the nicest one in all of Leticia (and that is not saying much). I check into the hotel and they don't even take my credit card. They tell me I'll pay when I leave. This is odd to me since I am used to hotels in the USA swiping your card and placing an immediate hold on your card for the final bill plus a certain amount per day for incidentals. My room was nice. There was a king size bed, air conditioning and warm water for showers. The only downside was that the WiFi was horrendous. I soon learned that this was the case for all of Leticia so unlikely the hotel could have done anything about it.
Since it was late and I didn't feel like venturing outside, I decided to eat at the hotel restaurant (which was probably one of the nicest in the entire town). Total cost for the meal was around $13. After dinner, I went back to my room to read and try and use my phone. The best I could do was turn the phone on airplane mode and then off to try and get it to reconnect to maybe get a few minutes of horrible cell service. Otherwise, my phone was basically useless.