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Making the leap to #RVlife has never been more popular. More and more people are leaving the “American dream” in the rearview mirror to live a minimalist life on the open road. There is something special about the freedom and thrill found with the full-time RV lifestyle that can’t be found living stationary in a sticks and bricks house.
With that being said, full-time RV life is not a vacation. There is still plenty of, well, life, mixed into the fun and adventure. That includes work. Figuring out how to make a living from the road is the first question that usually comes to mind when thinking about living this lifestyle. “What do you do for work” is definitely the most common question we hear!
Luckily, it is possible to full-time RV and work from the road no matter your background or interest. There are endless opportunities when it comes to jobs and careers that allow for travel. More and more companies are allowing employees to work remotely and live as digital nomads. And, if you aren’t computer savvy, there are job options that don’t require working online. Here is everything you need to know about working while living the RV or van life!
Throughout the country, there are private campgrounds, state parks, and even national parks that need individuals to take care of their campgrounds. Camp hosts are generally full-time (or seasonal) RVers that live onsite and help other campers during their stay. Sometimes this includes caring for the facilities such as cleaning bathrooms/shower houses and performing any maintenance needs.
Regardless of the time of year, there is a campground in need of a host. Many full-timers will spend part of the year working in one area during the summer, then migrate south for the winter. We’ve known RVers that camp host in Alaska during the summer then move to Florida in the winter. Not a bad way to live!
There are a number of ways to find available camp host positions. You can go directly to the organization’s website. For example, if you are interested in the state park system for a specific location, you can find open positions on their website. Other websites such as KamperJobs.com and Indeed.com are great places to find jobs throughout the county at private and public parks.
There are several industries in need of workers for only a limited amount of time each year. Since stationary folks tend to have long-term jobs, temporary work is ideal for those willing and able to travel from place to place throughout the year. There are a few industries and companies that offer benefits specifically for campers. They offer perks such as free lodging at local RV parks to entice full-timers!
The Amazon CamperForce program brings together a community of enthusiastic RV’ers for seasonal work camping job opportunities. Responsibilities include picking, packing, stowing, and receiving at an Amazon warehouse. Job opportunities are available at specific warehouse locations at particular times of the year. For example, the warehouses in Hebron, KY, and Phoenix, AZ staff up during the holiday season. Positions with Amazon are extremely popular with full-time RVers, so make sure to apply early!
The harvesting of sugar beets occurs every fall in states such as Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. Companies like American Crystal Sugar Company rely on seasonal, nomadic people to fill their high number of short-term positions. They generally offer free camping onsite or nearby. The great thing about working the sugar beet harvest is the high pay. The downside is the hard, manual labor. The harvest season is quick but intense. A great option if you’re physically able! Find out more at TheUnbeetableExperience.com
Have you ever noticed an RV at the Christmas tree lot? Chances are the person helping you pick out and package up your tree is a full-time RVer! Each year the Christmas tree industry hires temporary workers to help with the demanding month or two leading up to the holidays. The work can be hard, the hours can be long, but the pay is great. Check out the Christmas Tree Farms Network for a list of farms and lots to contact regarding employment.
If you are on social media or the internet, for that matter, you’ve come across network marketing. Network marketing is the business model of selling a product person-to-person as an independent sales representative. This work is done from home or the road.
There are new companies following this business model popping up all the time. Many fall in the health and wellness space. Well-known companies to look into if you’re interested in learning more about starting your own network marketing business include Young Living, Kaeser & Blair, BeautyCounter, and Amway. To be successful, you need to be able to build up your network via friends, family, and online marketing. It really involves not being scared to put yourself out there. But, if you aren’t afraid to put in the effort, this can be a great way to support yourself while full-timing.
There might be no better industry to get into for working remotely from the road than tech. With the advances in remote working tools, there is little reason to work in an office, and no one has caught onto that fact faster than tech companies. A career in technology can mean a lot of different things. There are endless opportunities, from IT support and project management to software development and website creation. No matter your background, you should have no trouble finding available positions on sites such as Indeed.com and Upwork.com. Just use “remote” as your location! Just getting started in your career? Places like Codecademy can help get you started!
Similar to technology, there are a plethora of disciplines and opportunities within the design and marketing fields. Both my husband and I work in digital marketing. I do SEO as a freelancer through Apiary Digital, a marketing agency that only hires freelance and remote consultants. My husband works in affiliate marketing and finds most of his gigs through Upwork.com. New to graphic design or digital marketing? You can get started with online classes at Coursera!
Working as a VA (virtual assistant) or as a customer service representative is an excellent option for income while living full-time on the road. Usually, you don’t need a ton of experience. Being familiar with basic computer software and understanding customer service will suffice. Great resources for open positions include FlexJobs.com, Indeed.com, and Upwork.com.
Once you secure your job, you’ll need to make sure you have adequate space to actually work! If working online, you generally don’t need a ton of space, but being prepared is key to making this lifestyle work. You need to be able to stay focused and productive, and your employer needs to feel confident that no matter where you are, you’ll be providing value. Here are some options for where to work from the road:
Ideally, most of your time “working from home” will be spent at home. Your tiny home on wheels, that is. No matter the type of RV you live in, you should be able to find some place to work. In a fifth-wheel or travel trailer, the master bedroom or mid bunk, if you have it, are great options. In our fifth-wheel, we have turned the dresser in the master bedroom into a desk. We have even made it a makeshift stand-up desk! The key to our success of working in the rig while having kids homeschooling in the next room is a door that we’re able to close. This really helps with the noise level. A sound machine can also help with keeping background noise at bay.
Other options for where to work in your RV include the kitchen table, swivel seat, or kitchen counter. If you have to work in the common area of your RV, make sure anyone you live with is well aware of your working hours. Setting up a schedule ahead of time can help alleviate distractions while you’re trying to work. If we know we have a big conference call scheduled and need peace and quiet in the entire camper, the other parent will plan an activity outside of the home with the kids. Communication is key!
If you need a change of scenery when working remotely while traveling full-time, a coworking space can be a great option. They are popping up in more cities and even small towns throughout the county. A coworking space will give you everything you need, such as adequate desk space, quiet, equipment such as printers, and even the chance to network with other digital nomads. The cost to use a coworking space will vary depending on location and amenities. To save on cost, rent a space for a week or a month vs. hourly. To find coworking spaces near you, use a site such as Workfrom.co.
Don’t need all of the features found in a coworking space but still need to get out of the RV? A coffee shop or restaurant can be a great option. Most coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi, so no need to use up your data! Make sure to purchase food or a drink in exchange for a chair and internet. As long as you are making purchases, the establishment will probably let you sit there as long as you need to. I’ve had breakfast, lunch, and a late afternoon coffee break, all while sitting at Starbucks!
Chances are, you are living the RV life to spend more time in the great outdoors. Well, why not spend your working hours outside too?! If you have a camping chair or picnic table, you have a place to work. Get creative with where you feel comfortable working. I love the look on clients’ faces when they see a beautiful natural backdrop behind me on video calls.
While “What do you do for work?” is the number one question we get about full-time RV life, the number two question is “What do you use for internet?” Being adequately set up with reliable internet and power is essential to working from the road.
The most important thing to know about having reliable internet while RVing full-time is that the internet isn’t always reliable. I recommend having a backup solution as well as a backup to your backup solution. If you are staying at a campground, chances are they have Wi-Fi available. Sometimes it’s free, and sometimes they charge by the hour, day, or week. The more time you buy, the more affordable it will be. From our experience, campground Wi-Fi is generally subpar. It works fine for answering emails or light browsing, but a video call…forget it.
Many full-time RVers working from the road use cellular data. That’s what we do. We have a Verizon Jetpack MiFi with its own dedicated data plan. It offers us unlimited internet access and meets our needs 90% of the time. If we are camped somewhere with a weak signal, we use a booster. Our cell phone signal booster makes a weak signal stronger and allows us to work from most places. If we just cannot get a good Verizon signal, we hot spot off of my AT&T phone. While I don’t have a truly unlimited data plan, this option gets us through when we need it. If you are going to use cellular data for internet on the road, I recommend having multiple carriers. One usually works if the other doesn’t!
Having the right internet and workspace set up for your RV does no good unless you have a way to charge your equipment. While we spend a fair amount of time hooked up to power at campgrounds, we prefer to boondock. Whether you are hooked up to power or relying on energy stored in your battery bank, you’ll need to be mindful of the amount of power you’re using. In an RV, you will never have access to an unlimited amount of electrical power.
To understand how much power you’ll need for devices such as your laptop, phone, or internet solution, you need to know how many watts they take to charge. Your device and charger should give you all of the information you need. Watts, or overall power, is a product of current, or amps, and voltage. As an equation, it’s written as: watts = amps x volts, or W = A x V.
When boondocking, or not hooked up to power, you’ll want to have reliable batteries that offer a lot of energy and last as long as possible. Lithium-ion batteries charge faster, last longer, and deliver twice the power of traditional batteries. I’d recommend using 12V 100AH deep cycle LiFePo4 batteries to power your rig. Use a good generator, or even better, a solar kit to keep your batteries charged.
Don’t let the fear of not knowing how to make a living on the road hold you back from full-time RV travel. Whether you take the skills you have or start a brand new career, there is a way to make it happen. Hope to see you down the road!
About the author: Jessica Baker has been full-time RVing since 2018. She has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Canada in her fifth-wheel RV turned tiny home on wheels with her husband, two kids, and three cats. You can find out more about her travels at BoundlessBakers.com and follow along on her adventures on Instagram.