This is a guest post by Daniel Msanii, the avid hiker and camper behind CampingManiacs.com. Camping Maniacs is a platform where Daniel shares his outdoor experience, gives advice on the same and ultimately helps the enthusiastic camping and hiking community.
As far back as the year 2011, a study carried out by the University of Michigan found out that up to 8.9 million households in the US owned a recreational vehicle of some sort. This number has continually grown over the years as we are seeing more and more people hitting the road on a full time or short-term basis.
Today, you can ditch your 9-5 routine and say hello to an adventurous life on the road. However, this does beg the question: how will you manage financially with such a change of lifestyle? Luckily, RVing has been with us since the 1900s so you can be sure there have been a lot of lessons learned on the matter.
We have outlined below a couple of tried-and-tested ways of how to make money on the road and also myth-busted a few misconceptions about earning a living while traveling.
Basics of Earning a Living as You Travel
Primarily, making the leap into the RVing lifestyle takes a lot of planning and budgeting beforehand. It’s important to keep in mind that making money on the road will mostly help you recoup most of the expenses incurred on the trip.
In general, there are two main types of income namely active and passive income. Passive income is essentially money received regularly where no extra effort or resources have been added. Some types of passive income streams include royalties, income from real estate, dividends, and bonds.
Active income refers to revenue for which services have been rendered and may take such forms as; salaries, wages, commissions, tips, and income from businesses among others.
When on the road, be it for short-term camping or prolonged disperse camping, you may want to have enough income to get you through the whole trip. Getting some passive income is highly recommended as on-the-road jobs are not as easy to find or even well-paying as your typical 9-5 job.
An internet connection or proximity to a coffee shop with Wi-Fi will come in handy if you want to work remotely. Additionally, some jobs will best suit short-term travelers while others are more specific to full-time nomads.
Living a frugal and minimalist lifestyle can greatly lower your expenses while traveling and is particularly favorable for weekender campers and other short-term RVers and van dwellers.
How RVers Make Money Offline
Offering the perfect balance of work and play, workamping or work camping entails doing a variety of different types of work around recreational grounds. It is a very popular way to make money for many RVers.
Workamping is mostly done at campgrounds, RV parks, National parks and resorts, where RVers perform works ranging from general labor, carpentry to office work and so on. You may be incentivized with free campsites and fill-ups or even get paid decently depending on the job.
These kinds of jobs are mostly seasonal, running from May to October, thus you may choose to work for weeks or months then move on to another area. Workamping is like a paid vacation, as you will work in serene environments that you’d have camped at anyway.
Do you fancy touring the Yellowstone National Park for prolonged periods? Easy! Just apply for a workamping job and you’ll be set. It will especially be ideal for fulltime RVers who are constantly on the move.
Some of these works include the following:
They usually reside in their own RVs in the given campground and are in charge of; light maintenance of the campground, collection of fees, welcoming guests, resolving any problems experienced by guests and cleaning the grounds’ facilities.
Skills such as weaving, knitting, silversmithing, pottery, animal caretaking, and blacksmithing are heavily sought after in many recreational attractions. Therefore, if you have a flair for such crafts then there’s a ready market waiting for you.
Most campgrounds and national parks have concession stands and gift shops and people are needed to operate them. The job is usually on a part-time basis with an hourly wage and free campsite as payment.
RV Park Assistants
During peak season, most RV parks will require extra help to keep up thus creating opportunities for cleaning, office and general maintenance jobs.
A package specifically tailored to RVers, the Amazon CamperForce program avails seasonal assignments to RVers all over the country. The works mostly involve picking, packing, receiving, and stowing items in their warehouses.
The program also comes with a decent hourly wage of and a few other benefits, which will be enough to get you by while traveling.
Other workamping jobs
There’s a workamping job for pretty much everyone out there and we can’t possibly reference all of them here. That said, you can look into other work camping jobs such as NASCAR ushers, activity directors, tour guides, cooks, gardeners, historical educators, and campground inspector, among others.
If you are already a skilled craftsman, you need not change your profession before hitting the road. Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, woodworkers and metalworkers can offer the same services to fellow travelers.
You can also pick the RV technician route to come to the aid of distressed RVers on the road. There’s also a good number of RVers who offer van conversions to fellow travelers as a way to make money on the road.
Being mobile also exposes you to new markets as you will no longer be confined to one location. Overall, networking and just having an online presence is more than enough to get your services out there to potential clients.
Another clever way to make money on the road is to become a house sitter or a caretaker. The work is mostly short-term and it entails looking after the home while the homeowners are away.
In addition to getting paid, housesitting grants you an opportunity to take a break from the tight spaces in RVs and into a rent-free abode.
Some few responsibilities to expect on this kind of job include; general maintenance of the home, forwarding phone messages, readdressing mail, looking after the homeowner’s pets, and in some cases paying the utility costs.
Alike any job-hunting endeavor, it will also involve a lot of networking on your side, but you can always check up on arising opportunities on resources such as The Caretaker Gazette, Nomador, and HouseCarers.
You may also step into an interim innkeeping role, which is just another form of caretaking. You will mostly be a stand-in for bed and breakfast owners when they need to go somewhere for short periods. Such openings can be fished at BBTeam.com or InterimInnkeepers.com.
Other Seasonal Opportunities
The American Crystal Sugar Company carries out massive recruitment of thousands of crewmembers every fall for the sugar beet harvest. The exercise is mostly targeted at seasonal and fulltime RVers.
The members are usually stationed at various piling stations in areas of Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota, where truckloads of sugar beets are hauled to.
You will get to enjoy a free campsite with full or partial hookups, great pay of up to $2500 (two weeks’ pay), and rest days. However, be prepared for loud noises, dirty clothes due to the nutrient-rich soil, chilly weather and fatigue.
If you are a short-term RVer, you can consider renting out your place with services like Airbnb or Car to earn some extra bucks. If you are a talented musician or poet, show it off by busking in public spaces every now and then.
Other seasonal opportunities include selling art or crafts at fairs and festivals, working on a cruise ship, pet sitting, au pair, seasonal retail employment, and business consultancy.
10+ Ways of Making Money Online While Traveling
The money-savvy RVer should also not shy away from the numerous opportunities that the internet has brought forth. As long as you have an internet connection and power supply, you can earn a living while traveling everywhere in the world.
As a first option, you should consider negotiating with your current employer for a remote work agreement. Working remotely on your current job is the perfect workaround to bypassing the task of hunting for a suitable on-the-road job.
But, if transitioning your current job isn’t a possibility, finding remote work is easier than it’s ever been and there are a variety of job boards and resources to assist you in the search. A great resource is a program called Remote Work 101 by a fellow full-time RVer, Camille Atell. She often hosts free webinars to teach her secret 4-step framework to help you start your remote work search with confidence and clarity!
Generally, this refers to a kind of self-employment that gives you the freedom to work for a variety of clients via multiple platforms. The platforms are primarily online, especially, during the initial stages of pitching to clients.
Freelancing covers numerous fields such as marketing, virtual administration, social media marketing, translation, taking online surveys, sales, ICT, editing, proofreading, transcription and so many more.
With online freelancing, you manage your own workload, time and priorities thus you can take in the sights and sounds of your favorite national park in between breaks from “work” or vice versa. Online freelancing suits fulltime RVers and short-term ones as all you need are an internet connection and power.
Writing is one of the most popular forms of freelancing and may entail writing web content, articles, and press releases. You can also branch out from closed platforms by blogging about your travels or other niche topics then cash in on the ad revenue.
With enough traffic to your blog posts, you can also take advantage of affiliate schemes that pay a referral fee for all sales made via your custom affiliate link. Some of the best paying affiliate schemes include the popular Amazon Associates, eBay Partners, Shopify Affiliate Program and Clickbank.
Selling Things Online
If you love making art, taking photos, wallets, jewelry, t-shirts and everything else, there’s plenty of people online looking to buy your products. You can opt to sell your products on popular platforms such as Etsy, Amazon Handmade and social media, or just set up your own website as so many travelers do.
eBay is also a great marketplace for used items and is a fun activity that everyone can get into. Just make sure you have a large enough rig to store inventory. Additionally, being on the road avails you with great finds that won’t require too many hard sells.
Alternatively, you can write and sell eBooks tailored on specific topics like RV living. Selling video courses on Udemy and Skillshare is also just as lucrative.
With online English tutors getting as much as $22 per hour, there’s never been a great time to be an ESL teacher as now. The job doesn’t require much experience or even college education as long as you have some English Language certifications or you’re a native English speaker.
East Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America markets offer the best earnings for teaching English so be sure to research on them accordingly. To get started do take a look at VIPKid, Education First, and Qkids.
Graphic & Motion and Web Design
Today, even brick and mortar businesses must have some online presence of some sort. This has consequently created an increase in demand for graphic, motion and web design skills. Everyone needs a website or an app to express themselves or carry out their business, and you can help bridge that gap.
With some adequate knowledge of programming and an eye for aesthetic and functional design, you can land these jobs at the comfort of your RV.
Finding job opportunities on the same is quite easy as all job boards will list chances as soon as they come up and of course good old networking also works.
Another exciting way of making money online is through retail arbitrage, which mostly involves buying discounted products and selling them at a higher price online.
Retail Arbitrage offers a temporary money-making venture that requires relatively low capital to begin. Plus, e-commerce sites like Amazon offer an all-rounded platform so you don’t have to worry much about the nitty-gritties of marketing and shipping.
Additionally, it still holds up as a long-term investment since it creates room for you to build your own brand over time.
That said, for you to hack it in retail arbitraging you will need the following; an entrepreneurial mindset, know how to best manage your expectations, practice good communication and offer exceptional customer service to your clients.
Lastly, it can’t all be rosy on this type of work as you may face challenges such as the ones below:
- Updating inventory is problematic due to the frequent fluctuations in discount sales on given products
- E-commerce sites like Amazon give a lengthy window for refunds/returns of at most five weeks meaning that your income is still tied up in the sale
Drop shipping goes hand-in-hand with retail arbitrage if you have limited space to store inventory. Once you make a sale, you buy the product from a third party and have the third party ship the item directly to the client.
It’s easy to get started with and the costs of running the job are also quite low, but the profit margins are not as high and shipping complexities may arise.
Other Gig Economy Opportunities
The World Wide Web has also brought about other gigs that are guaranteed to fund some of your on-the-road expenses. They include the following:
- Performing paid microtasks on sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk, MicroWorkers, and Utest.
- Running errands on TaskRabbit and Instacart.
- Making deliveries through Roadie, Door Dash, and Post Mates.
- Offering rides via Uber, Lyft and Curb.
The most important thing to remember at the end of it all is that life on the road is meant to promote freedom. Therefore, you are free to choose where to go, duration of stay and DEFINITELY what to do for a living on the road.
Notably, the methods mentioned above will work differently for everyone. You may, therefore, want to try most if not all of them to figure out what works best for you. Finally, have fun and lots of adventures and keep on learning new skills!