Beginning Play After Chargen

When everything else costs - maintenance, fuel, life support - those are usually enough incentive for the characters to seek out work.
But it's easy enough to handwave expenses like those, and simply begin an adventure with something like "While your ship is in the Starport undergoing its annual maintenance, you have been back paid, and boy, do you have plenty of money to burn ..."
You only really need to micromanage your Credits with the spec trade game, because that is the point of that subgame. You just don't need to use Dickensian threats of eternal poverty to incentivise the Travellers.
I just bought a short story by MJD, The Dimenos Problem, which literally involved a group of ragtag Travellers coming together and owning a ship. In this case, a 600-ton Subsidised Liner.
The most suitable alternatives are that you build it yourself in your barn (since I think the garage would be too small), or it's salvage.
I agree. If i don't want to do deal with keeping a ledger (which is usually the case), I make sure the PCs don't have a ship that is oriented around trade (ie its a lab ship, scout, yacht, or safari ship). If you have a "merchant ship" in a campaign that isn't about trade, then you can just fake it however you want. Don't have to offset revenue with expenses if the ship isn't producing massive revenue :p

If they players want to do trading as a focus, which isn't that often, then I go with the subsidy arc I talked about earlier.

A lot of people think that PCs having a ship is the default. Just like they assume that 'planet of the week' is the default. Neither of those things needs to be the case in your game. Having the players take middle or high passage when they need to change systems (or even low passage if you get rid of the EC Tubb-ian random death mechanic, which makes no sense in Traveller because low berths are not converted cattle freezers like in Tubb's world) works just fine. And you can still have all kinds of ship based adventures.

Obviously, a variety of adventures work just fine with the PCs as passengers on the ship. And you can have a lot of "take this ship to do this thing and then give it back" adventures, too.
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