How I Afford Vanlife

Published Categorized as Converted Vehicles

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Show Me The Money!

One of the most frequent questions I get when people find out I live in my van is “How are you affording it??”

No, I didn’t win the lottery.

No, I’m not a trust-fund baby.

No, I’m not a digital nomad.

What’s a Digital Nomad?

Being a digital nomad is probably the most common way that Vanlifers make money – basically they work remotely (from their computers) as copy editors, graphic designers, IT technicians, writers, virtual assistants, video editors, bloggers, accountants, etc. Some transitioned from full-time jobs in offices to being able to work remotely, and some have always had the flexibility of working for themselves. When I hit the road, my intention was to find some kind of remote job that would allow me to continuously travel and work at the same time. However, after a couple months of searching and applying for remote jobs, I had no luck and decided maybe the digital life was not for me.

Instead, I changed my plan and decided to focus on seasonal work to make money in short bursts of time that would allow me to travel for larger chunks of time later on down the road (pun intended). For example, I traveled from April-June down the east coast with complete freedom and flexibility before ending up in Denver for the summer where I worked as a nanny from July-September. Then I traveled again during September and October and made my way to Winter Park, Colorado for the winter season where I’m working as a barista and bartender. With little-to-no living expenses and making a full-time salary, I’m able to save up a few thousand dollars at a time. That savings funds a few months of travel and during that time I don’t have to worry about finding an internet connection or answering emails or really doing any work at all. It also allows me to spend a few months in one location and establish relationships, really get to know a whole new part of the country, and try out different types of work. While I am happily a nomad, life on the road can get lonely and taking time to meet new people and hang out with new friends is really important for me. I can nanny for a family on the beaches of Maine for the summer, work as a ski instructor on the mountains of Colorado for the winter, bartend in San Diego, and even work at Yosemite as a park ranger. The possibilities truly are endless and there are so many new skills to learn and all sorts of different people to meet!

Here are some ideas for more seasonal work:

  1. Resort Jobs – during the summer and winter, resorts are hiring for EVERY SINGLE POSITION: servers, bartenders, ski lift managers, lobby manager, daycare, equipment and rentals manager, safety patrol, events manager, housekeeping, etc. You name it, they need it. Also, when you work for a resort, chances are you could get a free mountain pass for the season which can be worth up to $800!
  2. Retail – during the holiday season, stores will bring more workers on to cover the extra flow of customers.
  3. Tax Manager – during tax season, many firms will train and bring on extra workers to help people file their taxes correctly.
  4. Adventure Guide – rafting, tubing, kayaking, zip-lining, rock-climbing, and everything in between.
  5. Property Manager – on the off-season many resorts, ranches, and hotels need someone to manage the property for them. It’s usually only a few hours of work a day and you have access to the property.
  6. Landscaping and Snow Plowing – fast, easy money for a hard-day’s work.
  7. Dog Musher/Animal Caretaker – many areas of Alaska are looking for people to help with the sled dogs. 40 dogs ready to play in the snow? Sign me up!

Seasonal work can be a bit more of a hustle than working remotely and it’s less stable money, but it can also have huge pay-offs (pun intended again). Best of luck on your financial endeavors!

Be sure to check out Brian’s article on how to make money as a full-time RVer as well!

By Lindsey

Lindsey is our converted vehicles expert. She is currently traveling the country in her own converted van.