If You Are Considering Crowdfunding Travel – Stop!

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on September 15, 2020.

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Hi There Crowdfunding Traveler!You probably got this post emailed to you by either myself or another traveler in response to your request for us to crowdfund your next trip.   For everyone else, this one is not for you.

I can understand that you don't have enough money to travel on and need a bit of help; most of us don't reach our ultimate goal either (I know we didn't).  We make our plans, save up what we can, and hope that our over-spending is minimal such that we can do it all on the funds we managed to save.

After all, financing a RTW trip can be a tricky thing. You wouldn't have considered crowdfunding travel if you weren't in the same boat either.  It is a popular thing to do these days and we get several emails a month from people asking us to donate, share, and write about their campaigns on our sites.

Do Not Engage in Crowdfunding Travel

I see from your Kickstarter/Indiegogo/other crowdfunding page that in return for our donation you would be willing to write a book/build a website/or produce some other “creative” form of media to be the best there is in the industry.

That is awesome!  We'd love to welcome you to the club as many of us have blogs, books, and websites dedicated to the amazing world of travel.

What I am curious about is why it takes $20,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 for you to do so?

We started our website in 2008 with zero dollars in funding and about $2,000 to our name.  Since then, our travel expenses have totaled well over $100,000.  Yes, you read that right, it is in the six figure range.  But there is a reason that the spending was spread out over five years, and it was because we had to work hard to earn it.  Luckily we used that period to work on our site, add quality content, and make it become all of the things we dreamed it would be.

That one doesn't happen overnight, unlike your crowdfunding travel campaign.

In that time we've grown to be one of the largest travel blogs on the planet, earned enough income to cover most of our travels, and even released a well received book all on our own dime.  We're not doing this because we're looking to recoup the money in a business sense, but because we're passionate about traveling and would do it regardless of if we made that money back.

Even now if you were to add up the time we “work” versus our income it would amount to less than minimum wage.

If you received this post in an email from another traveler, they likely have a similar story to ours as above.

What you don't see is that nearly all of our travels are funded by ourselves.  Not our friends, parents, trust funds, or even partnerships with companies (although that does help here and there).   In our time building up this site we worked full time in a field completely separate from travel writing and only wrote in our free time while we saved the necessary funds to live our dream.

It was long, tiring, and the activities we did to add to our savings consumed just about every waking minute of our life.  Lunch breaks from the day job were spent blogging as well as every available hour on nights and weekends.  Vacations, well, that is when we worked full time for the blog, and we never turned off.

My reason for publishing this post is not to brag about how we've traveled over the years or how hard we've worked to do what we do.  Nor is it a put down to your dream of doing so.  Everyone we know wants to travel and we're really pumped you want to do it too.  It is one of the most universal dreams on the planet.  My reason for publishing this post is over the concern for your fundraising method:

No one is going to give you money.

A crowdfunding campaign for your vacation is like sitting out on a street corner and holding up a sign saying you want money for booze.  Honest, but immoral.

An incentive to donate is great, but when all you are offering is a postcard or mentioning a brand in the crowdfunding page you are not thinking outside of the box.  We could create our own crowdfunding campaign to get mentioned if we like and don't need to donate $15 to get a postcard from some place around the world that we'd rather go to ourselves.  Heck, most writers I know would easily send a postcard to a fan for free if they only asked.

As far as bigger sponsorships in exchange for brand recognition on a website?  Even the largest and most experienced writers can barely get those, and there are thousands out there who are already established working for that same goal without trying to source the money from others.

I guess to put it simply we need to say this:  You need to do better.

If I am going to be persuaded to give to your crowdfunding campaign, you need to wow me.  Convince me of your cause to the point where I'm willing to open my wallet for you (which for a travel goal means you likely won't), or perhaps offer incentives that far exceed the value of the donation.  What is $15 worth to you?  Try comparing it to something that would be worth $20, $25, or $30 otherwise.

You'll be operating at a poor hourly rate, but at least you'll be earning money.  I can only rattle off the number of things I did for pennies just to save money to travel before we started making a proper income several years later.  It was poor use of my time, sure, but a dollar more in the bank is a dollar more you can spend on your trip and an hour working is an hour occupied where you're not spending money.

If you can't bring yourself to do that, well, you probably shouldn't crowdfund your dream trip.

That just leaves a few other options:

  1. Get a (second or third) job and work for the money.
  2. Find a hobby, perfect it, and sell your time to people who need it.
  3. Do menial chores and make up the difference.
  4. Build your site anyway and make it succeed purely off of your passion.
  5. Save longer.
  6. Combine all of the above for the biggest bang

Notice the one thing that isn't on the list?  Asking other people for money in exchange for nothing of value in return. 

Now, I spent an hour of my time writing this letter.  So in order to repay me, please send $100 via PayPal to cover my freelance rate.  I may have done nothing for you except save you some time on your campaign, and I'm not offering any perks, but I would love it if you gave me some money anyway.

After all, that is what you just asked me to do.

-Living the Dream

P.S.:  It has now been well over a year since we wrote this post and no one has sent us the $100 we asked for yet we still receive these emails over and over again.  In fact, we've received even more emails saying “I read your post but my campaign is different.”  Here's a hint: Unless you follow the tips we mentioned, it is not.  If you email us with that pitch, I'm going to have to ask for double.

Disclaimer: This post was written because we receive many emails per month asking for donations, write-ups, shares, and promotion of crowdfunding pages so others can travel.  While we are not against crowdfunding for traveling, as many great businesses were founded via this method, we are not fans of people just asking for money as a handout for something that has no return for anyone but the person asking for it.  If you are a regular reader of this site who stumbled upon this post, we are not directing this at you.  We just couldn't take the barrage of emails any longer and had to respond and start a conversation.

So, what are your thoughts on crowdfunding for travel?  Would you do it or have you done it?  Would you donate to someone who is?  Let us know by commenting below!  But be warned, linking to your own campaign will not be published!

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About Jeremy

Jeremy from Living the Dream

About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.

8 thoughts on “If You Are Considering Crowdfunding Travel – Stop!”

  1. Asking someone money so they can travel just sounds so wrong, sorta like moneyed celebs asking people to fund a movie they like. Excellent piece! Cheers.

  2. When I asked my boss if I could take a years sabbatical one of the first things he said to me was “Awesome, love it! Do you need any money?” . Yes, he is an incredibly, generous man ! And yes, I turned him down . He is now helping sponsor some of the volunteering I’ll be doing, but the money will go to the communities NOT fund my year off. Do it for yourself, you’ll appreciate it a WHOLE lot more !

  3. I have funded only one Kickstarter campaign and have yet to see the finished product they campaigned for. Color me jaded.

  4. I wouldn’t be able to take someone else’s money so that I could travel. Just doesn’t seem right to me.

    Great post!

  5. Nicely done, Jeremy. I get annoyed with those emails as well. I saw some of the campaigns actually had a few donations and it’s shocking to me that people will pay for someone else to travel. Like you said, if the rewards were amazing and worth my money, then I don’t have a problem with it — but most of them are not.

  6. Word. I am getting quite a bit of funding to walk the Camino de Santiago later this month, so I decided to walk in memory of a friend who passed away at 21 of cancer. Doing the whole trek on someone else’s dime didn’t sit right with me. Still, I can’t be overly annoying about it to risk losing readers. While I’d love to raise a ton of money for research and emotional support programs, I realize that not everyone is as passionate about me fulfilling a dream and giving back to someone who enriched my life as I am. I find it hard to react to requests like this because I have my own passions and dreams, and I can’t lose site of that.


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