How to Travel Europe on Gumballs

While strolling along the cobblestone streets and grand boulevards of Paris, I can’t help but think how truly breath-taking this city is; I also can’t believe I’m here because of a bunch of gumballs. 

Paris(110195)Credit: Benh LIEU SONG

The Big Chew

As a substitute teacher the best way to describe my job is sporadic.  If you factor in holidays, school breaks and in-service training, the average substitute can expect only 194 days of potential work.  Needless to say, you have to supplement your income.  With a second job in the construction industry, I wanted something that didn’t involve children or hammers.  Much like InfoBarrel, I was looking to generate money over the long term, without my constant presence.  I scoured the Internet for business ideas but they all seemed to require a certain degree of commitment, expertise and money.  Having very little of any of these, I finally stumbled across something I knew I could do….chew bubble gum.

Dirty Inspiration

While sitting at my local garage waiting for an oil change, I noticed a faded, weathered, vending machine standing silently in the corner. Stained with the grease of hungry mechanics and restless patrons, I stared in amazement as quarter after quarter found its way into its dirty, candy filled vault.  I concluded that people eat when they’re bored; they’ll even eat stale old peanuts and brittle bubble gum.  If they were willing to put their money into this filthy little creature, what if it were actually clean?

eBay(110201)Armed with a sweet tooth and strong sense of hygiene, I found my first machine on ebay. Shiny and clean, my twenty-five dollar estate sale purchase paid for itself in the first month. Six others would follow, all Beaver quarter turn vending machines, all from ebay.  With an average cost of $125, my investment would consistently produce $300 per month for about an hour and a half of my time (refilling and cleaning).  I would eventually expand to ten machines, dispensing primarily gumballs because of their high profit margin (980 gumballs for $38 is an amazing profit of $200).

The Money MakersCredit: Andreas Praefcke


Over the course of a year, one quarter at a time, I managed to squirrel away almost $4000. I booked a cheap flight to London ($450 return), grabbed the Chunnel to Paris ($66 one way) and found a private room ($75 per night) within 6 minutes of Notre Dame cathedral.  Over the next four weeks, I would see the Mona Lisa, walk along the banks of the Seine and sit beside the graves of Chopin and Jim Morrison. I was always smiling...and always chewing bubble gum.

 I don’t expect to get rich from InfoBarrel but I am planning a trip to the Himalayas, one article at a time. 

Taktshang(110200)Credit: Douglas J. McLaughlin