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In this article, we’ll walk through a bunch of ways you can search for seasonal work or work remotely while you’re on the road. If you’re worried about budgeting, make sure to read my breakdown of the cost of full-time RV living.
How to Make Money on the Road as a Full-Time RVer
I have met hundreds of people through my travel as a full-time RVer over the years, many of them were retired folks with good pensions or retirement programs and others still needed to work for a living but also felt the need to travel and explore. In fact, I fall into the latter of those two groups and have been there for many years. In this article, I’ll share some of my tricks and thoughts for finding work as a full-time RVer.
I spent many years working in the hospitality industry on an island located in Lake Huron, six miles off the coast of Michigan. I was fortunate to have worked several years for a hotel management company that had 256 properties worldwide and this allowed me to work summers in Michigan for the same resort, and then the company would let me transfer to other properties that had winter seasonal positions available. Usually, I would choose our Key West, Florida resort to spend my winters, but a couple of winters I chose to work at a location in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains where free skiing was part of my salary.
Between my seasonal assignments, I would usually take 3-4 weeks off and do some leisurely RVing during the cross-country travel between jobs. Eventually, this company was sold to an investment company and they dismantled it property by property until I was left with limited options for properties to work at seasonally. I left that company and started returning to the island each summer to work for a local businessman that had several seasonal summer businesses.
Since I no longer had the luxury of working for a company that would transfer me to another property at the end of the summer, the next few winters I needed to get creative when looking for work for the winter. This was before the internet became widely available and trying to network and look for employment before you arrived at a place for the winter season was much more difficult to accomplish. Fortunately, many recruiters from winter resorts from southern locations such as Florida and Arizona and ski resorts from Colorado, Vermont and other popular locations would hold a job fair on the island in the fall to recruit workers for the winter.
Job fairs are still a good way to find employment when you’re an RVer. Many of the large RV shows will have employment recruiters at these shows because they know that many of the attendees are workcampers who go to these shows specifically looking for a destination that will provide them with employment.
Search for seasonal work online
Searching for seasonal work has become much easier with the technology that’s available today and the internet now has become the easiest way to find work as a full-time RVer. Websites such as Workamper News are a great resource when looking for employment that will fit your needs. However, while some of these sites are very informative and kept up to date, they may charge a fee. The site listed above for example, charges an annual fee of $47 but they provide plenty of information and current job listings so the benefits they offer far outweigh their annual costs because they offer you a variety of options that vary everywhere from work camping to camping as a volunteer or a camp host.
Another good way to find work camping jobs is to network with other travelers. Most people you meet at campgrounds or even when boondocking at popular spots enjoy visiting with other campers. This is an excellent opportunity to meet other like-minded people that travel and work, and I have picked up a job or two in the past by networking.
In fact, I once met a couple that told me about the beet harvest in North Dakota, Montana and northern Minnesota that takes place annually for 2-4 weeks in the fall. They worked for the American Crystal Sugar Company that regularly hires employees through a temporary employment agency that handles all of the hiring, job assignments and payroll.
After speaking to them several times about what they did for those couple of weeks after they left the same island we all worked on during the summer, I discovered another good option for making an excellent amount of money in a short amount of time. In fact, when I worked seasonally at the ski resorts in Colorado, it was right on my way to where I was going and since I had 4-6 weeks between jobs, who wouldn’t want to stop along the way to earn over $2,500 in 10-14 days?
While I never worked for the American Crystal Sugar Company as my friends had, I did some research on my own and found a sugar beet farmer that needed drivers to deliver truckloads of his beets to the buyers. Every fall he hired 10-15 people to drive the harvesters and trucks, and he had a small campground that he allowed RVers that worked for him to stay at without cost.
He supplied the electric, water and eventually cable vision and now an online access to his annual temporary campground. Finally, he added a small building that has laundry facilities, and public bathroom and shower facilities. Frankly, he’s a very good employer and he has decided recruiting full-time RVers (especially if they are a couple and can each work a necessary position) is the best way to go and I don’t blame him. It was always a pleasure to work for him for several seasons and I would gladly sign on for another harvest.
What is camp hosting?
Many private and public campgrounds will allow you to stay on theirs grounds for little or no cost, provided you work for them during your stay. I recommend thoroughly reviewing the contract they put forth before accepting this type of agreement. Too often, some people needing a camp host or hosts will offer to give a you site with or without utilities, provided you and/or your partner agree to work a set amount of hours per week during your stay. This can be advantageous, or it could mean a loss monetarily. That’s where you’ll need to do your math and decide whether your time pays for your stay or whether the amount of time you work outweighs the value of the campsite, they are providing for you.
Some folks choose to voluntarily stay at a location and work for their campsite. This is especially popular among numerous full-time RVers that don’t need the extra income and are either looking for something to keep them occupied or working just to get a free campsite. You may recall if you follow my articles here, that in a recent article about national park passes, I covered the subject about volunteering at national parks to earn an annual pass, so if that sounds like something you’d like to look into, please visit that article for more information.
I have met dozens of people that travel and work remotely from their RV over the years and their jobs were widely varied.
One gentleman that I met at a campground in Arizona would come outside every morning with his coffee, sit down at his makeshift desk and weather permitting, start working on his phone and laptop. He was a very friendly man that I would occasionally visit and share a drink with him the late afternoon, so one evening I asked him what he did all day at his desk under the awning. As it turned out, he was an independent freight broker that dealt with truckers and shippers. His salary was based upon commissions and the complexity of the loads, the freight involved and distance the loads had to travel.
Another time at a campground in Michigan, I met a married couple that were both nurses and while they didn’t work out of their RV, they did travel the country working in the emergency room departments of various hospitals. They worked for a company that contracted their services to numerous clients throughout the U.S. and they were able to pick and choose where they wanted to visit and work.
I have met people that would go to thrift shops, yard sales, and estate auctions looking for items they could quickly resell online. I always thought that this was an interesting way to make money, but I did notice that they always had boxes of inventory all over their 5th wheel and they spent a lot of time packaging and shipping their items. However, all of them seemed happy doing it and it kept them busy as well as providing them with a primary income or offsetting their fixed incomes.
Others I have met, were remotely working by promoting their own channels on YouTube or Instagram and freelance writing. You can make money by monetizing that content through affiliate marketing and ads. This is a great option when debating some of the best ways to make money remotely or while traveling, but these users will all agree that any content they post, comes with a lot of additional work or research.
As a visual artist, I work hard to create a body of work to sell at art fairs and showings while I travel. That’s my “side hustle”. Then again, so is writing.