When my husband and I were traveling in our camper full-time, there was one question that came up again and again from fellow campers: “How do you earn money on the road?”
If you’re considering hitting the road full-time, the issue of a mobile income is pressing. After all, most people can’t afford to travel without earning some kind of revenue. The good news is that there are many ways to earn money while you travel around the country in your RV. Whether you’re retired or fresh out of college, there are ways to fund this amazing lifestyle.
Let’s look at your options.
How to Earn Money While Traveling
Workamping is defined as trading your time and skills for something else of value. That could be an hourly wage, a free camping spot for the season, or a combination of both. One of the biggest benefits of workamping is that the work is often temporary and seasonal. This means you can work for a few weeks or months, and then move on somewhere else.
Another benefit of workamping is that you can often find yourself working in gorgeous surroundings. For example, would you like to work at Yellowstone or Glacier National Park? What about the Florida Keys or the Arizona desert? What about at a dude ranch in Colorado or a private resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Working opportunities are available in all 50 states and hundreds of countries around the world.
The types of jobs available for workamping are endless. Here are a few examples of what workampers do:
- Camp Hosts. Camp hosts act as the “general manager” of the campground at state and national parks. They check in arriving campers, provide upkeep to the campground, collect fees, and generally keep an eye on things. Most camp host positions require a several-week commitment, usually starting at four weeks, while others require a seasonal commitment.
- Concessions. National parks have gift shops and concession stands, and they need “volunteers” to work them. This is often on a part-time basis, in exchange for a free campsite and hourly wage.
- Tour Guides. Ranches out West often need tour guides to lead horseback riding trips or hikes. While they might employ some guides full-time, they also need additional seasonal help.
- NASCAR Assistants. NASCAR often needs workampers for event weekends, when the crowds swarm in. At NASCAR, you might do anything from taking tickets to working the parking lots.
- RV Park Assistants. During an RV park’s busy season, they often need additional help. This can range from working in the office, providing maintenance help, or working as cleaners.
- Activity Directors. Some RV parks and resorts need an Activity Director for a season. Activity Directors organize and manage fun activities for other campers.
- Cooks. Guest ranches, larger RV resorts, and some state and national parks have restaurants. They often need cooks, waitstaff, restaurant hosts, and dishwashers.
- Youth Educators. Some parks need volunteers to lead youth programs. If you have teaching experience, this can be a great workamping opportunity.
- Historical Actors. Who wouldn’t want to dress up as an 1876 Gold Rush miner and lead historical tours through the Black Hills? There are many workamping opportunities at historical attractions that sound like sheer fun.
- Gardeners. Resorts with extensive grounds sometimes need seasonal gardeners or grounds crew to fill in for their busy season. If you have a background in landscaping or botany, all the better.
- Craftspeople. If you have skills blacksmithing, weaving, silversmithing, animal caretaking, buggy driving, furniture making, pottery making, or coppersmithing, you could find workamping opportunities at historical “old towns” or other attractions.
As you can see, the possibilities available for workamping are endless. You can travel around the country, hopping from one job to the next, building a wealth of experience that is hard to replicate anywhere else. In exchange, you have few monthly expenses (almost all workamping jobs provide either free hookups or free lodging), and sometimes, a weekly or monthly income.
Keep in mind that workamping likely won’t replace a full-time income. For many workamping jobs, you’re basically exchanging your time for free “lodging” (a campsite with full hookups), and perhaps other benefits, such as laundry, Wi-Fi, meals, or other perks. But it can be a great way to reduce your monthly expenses. If you can find a workamping opportunity that’s only part-time, that leaves you 20 hours (or more) per week to devote to building another income source.
That being said, a workamping opportunity can turn into a full-time position if you’re pleased with the location and your employer is satisfied with your work.
One of the best ways to find workamping opportunities is to head to Workamper.com. This site has a comprehensive job board geared entirely towards – you guessed it – workampers. Another great site is Xscapers.com, which is part of the Escapees RV Club. You can also look at WorkampingJobs.com and CampHost.com.
Pro Tip: Before you accept any workamping position, make sure you determine if the opportunity is worth your time.
For example, if an RV resort is giving you a full hookup campsite (for which they normally charge $600 per month) in exchange for 25 hours a week of work, you’re only getting “paid” $6 per hour. And, what if your duties end up running over 25 hours? You’ll be “earning” even less. Always do the math, and always ask if you’ll be compensated for extra hours.
Another workamping opportunity, which is a little different than those listed above, is offered through Amazon. Amazon offers workamping positions during their busy holiday season (which runs from early fall until December 23). They call this program “CamperForce.”
Through CamperForce, you get a free campsite at either their Campbellsville, KY or Murfreesboro, TN locations. You also get a competitive salary (with time-and-a-half overtime), a bonus if you work until December 23, and a referral bonus. Most of the positions available through the CamperForce program involve packing, stowing, and receiving. Amazon looks for “flexible and enthusiastic” RVers with a positive outlook. The company typically recruits for these positions during the summer months.
2. Become a Caretaker and House-Sit
Another way to earn an income while you’re traveling is to look for caretaking and housesitting opportunities. This work is often seasonal and short-term; however, it can turn into a longer opportunity. You might be doing anything from looking after a million-dollar second home to horse-sitting while a family is on vacation.
One way to find caretaking and housesitting opportunities is through the Caretaker Gazette, a subscription-based newsletter that publishes thousands of opportunities each year. If you’re traveling with a partner, check out WorkingCouples.com, which offers workamping and caretaking jobs specifically for couples or partners. You can also use TrustedHousesitters.com to find housesitting positions.
Of course, don’t forget Craigslist. You’ll have to pick a specific area, but if you know where you’d like to go, you can search for opportunities under their Jobs category using specific keywords like “caretaker” or “housesitter.”
Another form of caretaking is to be an Interim Innkeeper. Interim Innkeepers are people who step in for Bed and Breakfast owners when they need to be out of town to attend a conference, handle family affairs, or simply take a short- or long-term break to rest and recharge.
Interim Innkeepers typically have hospitality or management experience, but not always. You can find more information on Interim Innkeeping (and get certified) through InterimInnkeeping.net. There are also some Interim Innkeeping jobs listed at BBTeam.com.
3. Work Remotely
The Internet has opened an enormous array of remote work possibilities, and if you need to earn enough income to support a family, then working remotely is one of your best options. My husband and I are both self-employed, and we both worked remotely the entire time we traveled. I’m a freelance writer and he works in IT, so our chosen fields made this lifestyle possible for us.
There are endless ways to work online and make money while you travel. Some ideas include:
- Freelance writing and editing
- Law services and consulting
- Programming or database management
- Take online surveys
- Web design and development
- App design and development
- Financial analysis or stockbroking
- Social media consulting
- Videography (through YouTube)
- Personal coaching
- Online customer support
- Graphic design
- Bookkeeping or accounting
- Medical coding and billing
- Virtual assisting
- RV repair
This list is only the tip of the iceberg! You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to finding ways to earn money online. And, freelance sites like Fiverr, UpWork, Guru, and Freelancer make it much easier to find flexible online work.
Some remote work, like writing a blog or writing and selling an eBook, can also allow you to generate passive income with affiliate links and product sales. Some tech-savvy full-time RVers are generating a healthy passive income through their blogs. If you choose to start blogging, look into Bluehost, You can get cheap hosting and a free domain name.
Keep in mind that writing a successful blog takes a lot of work, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. But with dedication and the right skill set, you can make it happen.
Pro Tip: If you do decide to start a blog, a business, or an online shop, don’t forget that your RV is a constantly moving advertising billboard. Put your website or blog address on the back and sides of your camper; everyone on the road, and everyone camping where you stop, will see it. This is an easy way to increase your exposure. Plus, if you ever take some time off from the road make sure you earn extra income by renting out your RV through Outdoorsy.com.
4. Sell Used Products Online
When we were camping in South Texas, we met a retired couple who were funding their travels with eBay. They had a thriving eBay business reselling old shoes. Yes, you read that right. They scoured thrift stores and garage sales while they traveled around the country and resold shoes on eBay.
This business might sound a bit oddball, but it enabled them to meet their financial needs every month. By keeping their focus on one area (used shoes), they saved time during their searches and were knowledgeable about what would sell and what wouldn’t. Best of all, it was something they could do together, and they always had fun.
Selling stuff online is both easy and challenging for full-time RVers. First, it’s challenging because unless you have a larger rig, you don’t have a lot of space to store inventory. This means that you might need to choose a specific product that’s small, yet offers a high profit margin.
On the other hand, traveling affords you to hit up thrift stores and garage sales all over the country. You can come across some amazing finds on the road, which you can easily resell online.
5. Sell Your Knowledge
What do you know how to do that might be of value to someone else? No matter who you are or what you do, chances are high that you have at least one skill or hobby that someone else might want to learn about. For example, can you speak a foreign language fluently? Do you know how to knit or play the accordion? Are you a whiz at organizing? Are you an expert on nutrition? Can you braid rugs?
These are skills that could easily be taught in an adult education class. There are several places that offer adult education opportunities, including:
- Community Centers
- Senior Centers
- Recreation Centers
- Community Colleges
The way to do this as a full-time RVer is to plan ahead. First, make a list of the towns you might want to pass through in the next several months. Next, research existing adult education opportunities in each town and find out where most classes are held. Contact the organization, explain your situation, and pitch your idea.
Keep in mind that many recreation centers publish a biannual catalog that lists upcoming classes and workshops for the next six months. So, you’ll need to plan ahead for some organizations. One of the benefits to such a long lead time is that the center will have plenty of time to promote your class, so it’s more likely to fill up.
You can also consider setting up an online class through Udemy or Teachable. Teachable allows you to easily create an online course that looks and sounds professional. It currently has over five million students and over 20,000 courses.
What kinds of courses are offered through Udemy and Teachable? Everything from digital scrapbooking to creating virtual reality games. If you know something, then you can teach it through Teachable.
6. Sell Art or Crafts
If you make jewelry, paint, draw, knit, or create any other kind of art or craft, you can sell it online and create another income stream. Websites like Etsy, Amazon Handmade, DaWanda, and Artfire make it easy to create an online store and reach millions of potential customers.
You can also sell your art at art shows and craft fairs around the country. You’re already traveling, so it would be easy to choose a route based on the fairs you want to participate in during the summer. You can find listings for art fairs around the country through these websites:
More Tips for Earning Money on the Road
Below are a few more tips for generating a successful income source on the road.
1. Plan Ahead
If you’re thinking about hitting the road full-time, look at what you can do right now, before you leave, to make it easier to earn an income while you’re on the road.
For example, make a list of the ideas that most interest you. What skills do you need to turn these ideas into a reality? Where can you learn these skills now, while you’re still at home, to make it easier to succeed? Consider taking an online class, attending classes at a community college, finding a mentor, or learning these skills on your own at home.
2. Start Early
If you currently have no passive income streams and no way (right now) to generate a mobile income, then don’t wait until you’re on the road to start a new business. Remember, full-time RV living is, at first, its own full-time job. If you add a new business into the mix, you’re going to get stressed and overwhelmed very quickly.
Start planning for the business idea (or ideas) you’re most interested in right now. If possible, work on generating a remote income at least six months before you hit the road full-time. Work on building a website, generating a portfolio, getting clients and testimonials – whatever you have to do to build a reputation for yourself.
3. Talk to Other Working RVers
There are plenty of people who are living and working on the road and doing quite well for themselves. Some of these people you’ll come across while you’re traveling, but the best way to find them is online.
One of the most famous RVing couples out there is the duo at Technomadia. Chris and Cherie have been on the road eight years, and have one of the most popular RV sites on the Internet. Their site is a wealth of knowledge on living and working full-time on the road. Heath and Alyssa is another wonderful resource for figuring out how to earn money on the road. Their RV Entrepreneur Podcast is full of great ideas, from how to start a YouTube Channel to finding sponsors who will pay you to travel. It’s definitely worth your time.
4. Make a List of Your Skills and Strengths
The sky’s the limit when it comes to earning a mobile income, which means you shouldn’t feel limited by the options you see here. There are no rules. You can find a niche for yourself, but it’s going to take some work and creativity.
To start, make a list of your strengths and skills, even those you’ve never “made money” off of before. How can you combine some of these strengths and skills to earn an income? It also helps to look at people’s needs. What problem can you solve for people? Why is this problem important? How can you solve this problem in a way that stands out?
One couple did a great job meeting a specific need: John and Peter with RV Geeks. They’ve been on the road 10 years, but they started with the intention of traveling for a year and settling down somewhere. They fell in love with full-timing and decided to make it their lifestyle. However, they didn’t have (and certainly needed) an income.
After some brainstorming and a look at their strengths, they came up with the idea to build websites for RV resorts and campgrounds that didn’t already have one. Their unique selling proposition (USP) was that they could travel to the campground and build their site right there. And, as RVers themselves, they knew what other campers would want to see on the website. It was a huge success, and now they have many other businesses that allow them to live very comfortably on the road.
Traveling around the country in an RV takes some work. And, for most people, it requires you to work for an employer too (at least on a limited basis) in order to afford this lifestyle. But I promise it’s all worth it – even the stress and frustration that might come with starting a new business or trying to find Internet in the middle of nowhere so you can work remotely.
Where there is a will, there is always a way. And, you will find a way to make your dream happen!
If you’re currently on the road, how are you earning an income? If you’re still in the planning stages, what questions do you have about working remotely or starting a business while traveling?