How I Paid For My Vacation to Panama

I love to travel to exotic destinations—like on my last trip to Panama. It wasn’t my first visit to the country, but this time I decided to visit some slightly off-the-beaten-track places.

I trekked in Cerro Azul in the majestic mountains overlooking Panama City and visited Santa Fe—one of the country’s hilly frontiers.

The rugged natural beauty of these places begs to have a camera pointed at it. Bring a camera with you, and you can start making money right away.

That’s how I pay for these trips.

I love photography because I can do it from anywhere in the world that has an Internet connection. My office is sometimes a beach palapa close to the rolling ocean waves or the deck of a hotel room overlooking a spectacular mountain vista.

The income is not too bad either—good enough to fund my somewhat obsessive travel habit.

The type of photo (see above) does well with stock agency websites—it’s a skyline image of Panama City. I took it from some high ground on Ancon Hill on the city’s outskirts and it’s framed nicely by the trees.

A lot of magazines, websites and advertising companies might find themselves needing a picture of this city. When they do, they go to micro stock agencies to find them. If they select my photo, I get paid. It’s that simple. And the same photo can sell over and over—earning me a commission each time.

The stock agencies accept all types of shots of all sorts of places and things, but these iconic images of recognizable locations often sell well.

A Vacation in Panama Doesn’t Cost Much

I can come home with more of the money I make from trips to places like Panama by being clever about my vacations. I try to offset my traveling costs in as many ways as possible. It’s easy because so many goods and services are inexpensive when compared to costs in the U.S. or back home in Canada.

A few years back, a trip to my dentist in Canada for a one-hour session of descaling and cleaning cost around $400. I had a crown replaced and that came in at $1,000. In Panama, I went to an English-speaking dentist who charged me $40 for the cleaning and descaling and $450 for a replacement crown. That’s a saving of $900 right there.

Eating out at restaurants in Panama is always an interesting experience. My preference is to try out the local eateries as much as possible. The food is great and runs at a little less than half of what it would cost at home. It’s not uncommon to pay a less than $25 for dinner for two—bottle of wine and desert included.

Photography has become a lucrative way to augment my retirement income and help finance more travel. And with stock photography, the more you snap, the more money you make.

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