urbazon / Getty Images

urbazon / Getty Images

Alissa Musto is a full-time traveling musician, singer and performer with 10 years of travel and hospitality experience performing for audiences on cruises and at resorts worldwide. She has traveled to 40 states and over 50 countries, and she spent two years living and working at sea on the Holland America, Princess and Norwegian fleets.

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She shared her expenses and income, as well as what it’s like to travel the world for work.

Traveling the World for a Career

“This year, I’ve already spent one month on a Caribbean/Central American cruise, several weeks in Santa Barbara, California, weekends in Savannah, GA, Little Rock, AR, Shreveport, LA, Atlantic City, NJ, Tampa, FL, and am currently in Sint Maarten, where I’ll be spending the month of April,” Musto said of her travel schedule.

As for the rest of 2024, Musto said, “This year, I’m scheduled to visit and perform in Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Nashville, Austin, Spain, Amsterdam, Greece, and a national tour of the US during the holidays.”

How Does the Job Work?

“Being a piano bar entertainer is different from being a professional musician because we don’t have a specific genre, style, or setlist we perform,” Musto said. “Audience members make song requests, and I perform whatever they ask me to play, whether it’s a piano-based song or not.”

“On a typical night, I’ll perform everything from Elton John to Taylor Swift to Metallica to Cardi B,” Musto commented. “Piano bars are also comedic, interactive and improvised, unlike many other musical performances. I’ll change the words to songs, make jokes, sing parodies or sing special songs for people celebrating birthdays/special occasions. These shows are very popular on cruise ships and with vacation crowds.”

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Income and Expenses While Traveling for Work

Musto broke down her income, expenses and spending while traveling worldwide for work.

Salary/Total Income

“Since I take performance contracts on a contract-to-contract basis, and much of my income comes from tips, I don’t have a steady salary,” Musto said. “However, on average, my performance income is $2,000-$4,000 weekly.”

While the income isn’t consistent due to the tips, the range gives Musto a rough idea of what to expect, depending on the crowd.

Which Travel Expenses Are Covered?

“Generally, most of my contracts pay for my airfare, housing and/or hotels, and travel insurance with some clients, like the cruise ships and resorts, which also include meals,” Musto explained.

“While sometimes I get put up in fancy hotels, the crew accommodations I stay in are certainly not as posh or memorable as typical tourist hotels and Airbnbs,” Musto said when reflecting on accommodations. While the living accommodations aren’t always the most pristine, she has everything covered to focus on saving and spending her funds as she sees fit. “Depending on the location of where I’m traveling, sometimes rental cars or Uber costs are reimbursed as well,” Musto added.

While housing is typically covered, meals are usually extra, which can be one of the largest expenses on the road. “Often, I’m responsible for my own groceries and meals,” Musto said. The good news is that accommodations are paid for, and this travel cost doesn’t cut into the income earned.

“I get to keep all of my airline miles and hotel points, even if they are not booked by me, which funds travel that is not paid for or leisure travel,” Musto added.

Additional Travel Expenses

“The most expensive things I splurge on are tours and experiences,” Musto said. “If there’s something I really want to do, I will pay for it.”

Since most of her expenses are covered and she earns a decent income, Musto stressed that her job allows her to spend on luxuries that she typically wouldn’t treat herself to.

“I probably wouldn’t be able to splurge on these excursions if I had to pay for them in addition to all my other travel expenses, but my career has given me a unique opportunity to experience the lifestyle filled with travel for free. I don’t mind paying out of pocket to make the most of my time there,” Musto said when discussing her unique splurges while on the road.

Her travel experiences vary based on the location and what she wants to do with her spare time. She can save money or treat herself to certain excursions when landing in a new location.

Other Perks

Musto also shared insights on the perks of the job.

“As a guest entertainer with Holland America, I was also able to attend tour excursions with a comped ticket and enjoy the other amenities onboard, such as the gym and library, as well as use the spa for 50% off list prices,” she said.

Maintaining Life on the Road

Musto elaborated on what experiences and expenses she can afford while traveling the world for work.

“Since my living expenses are very low when I’m working, I have more disposable income to splurge on special meals or experiences while traveling,” Musto noted. “I don’t really hold myself to a strict budget because every location and trip is different. If I’m traveling to a location that I have been to before or has fewer attractions, I’ll likely save up more — and this way, I don’t feel bad if I later want to go on a once-in-a-lifetime excursion that could cost $500 or more.”

Are Any Costs Too Expensive?

“There’s not much I would say I can’t afford to do because so many of my living experiences are comped,” Musto said. “Still, given that I’m working, I know my experience traveling will not be the same as tourists who can truly relax and enjoy a destination.”

One of the main perks of this job is that the low expenses allow Musto to enjoy life on the road without stressing about little costs adding up. Musto emphasized that she doesn’t have to worry about a budget since housing isn’t something that she has to think about.

As a traveling musician, Musto has many of her expenses covered, and she can treat herself to unique experiences in different destinations.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: I Travel the World for My Career: Here’s How Little I Spend

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