Sunday, October 28, 2012

How's the bartering going?

When I was planning on setting out on this journey I did a lot of reading and researching on how people make money to keep on traveling. It is a necessary evil if you want to travel full time. Money runs out and I knew I would have to think about the practicalities of continuing on at some point.

Much of what I read talked about using your skills and interests to generate income. Being an art school grad my skills are all creative-based so I have to work with that. This is when I came up with the bartering idea. It was my intention to trade my art and photography skills for things I need, like food, showers, power hook-ups etc. It was quite naive and probably a bit egotistical of me to think the things I make or do are of value to other people, especially with the economy being the way it is. Apart from me leaving gifts for people who have let me stay with them, business owners and such need to feed their families and pay their bills, not get a postcard or a piece of art from a traveler wandering through.

I have had a few successful trades with people though, including a package of my postcards for a t-shirt from the American Sign Museum and another package for a room for the night in an old motel turned apartments. I attempted once to barter with a route 66 motel, photographing the place and then offering to make postcards for them to sell. I thought it would be a great way to have the luxury of a room every now and then while getting some of my work out there. Although the caretaker of the motel and I became friends, he wasn't interested in my proposal and we ended up talking more about the fact he had just lost his job and how tough times are. I think that was the moment I realized my naivete.

Another part of the problem with this idea is my shyness when selling my craft. Most artists, and this definitely includes me, are terrible at self-promotion. I hadn't thought through the idea of how to approach people or even what I was going to approach them with. Yes, I take photographs but not really ever of people so what was I planning on doing for them? I am someone who doesn't always think things through and tend to fly by the seat of my pants, with a logical head of course.

So, I am at a point where I need to re-evaluate the bartering idea or come up with another plan altogether. I'm not disheartened by any of this but reality is different than what I dreamed up before I hit the road. Suggestions are welcome.

Onwards and upwards!


  1. Barter isn't always easy but here is an idea. Use Craigslist barter section for the area you will be in next placing a brief ad explaining your travels and art swaps. People like to be entertained, NOTE - ONLY meet in public places, tell your story offer some cards or just share your coffee. Subway musicians put out their cases for tips, as long as you don't come across as a vagrant but an adventurer you should do well. You are doing something many would like to do but don't have the time. You are also an easy communicator. Let people experience your travels through your photographs and stories.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion. I think it sounds like a great idea. I will look into this for sure. Thanks for the new donation as well. I`ll make sure to find a really good kitschy item for you. I`m heading to Roswell so that shouldn`t be a hard task!