Please note: This article is targeted toward those who prefer hourly work to earn a paycheck (usually W2 employment) – vs. making a living as an independent (1099) or self employed. We will be discussing more ways to make money from your RV in future articles.
Where is your life headed today? If you’re like most people you work a location-dependent job and dream about more freedom (and travel) than your work allows. During the busy work week you squeeze in errands, household chores, and other ‘to-do’ items on your never-ending list.
When the week ends you do it again…rinse and repeat. Meanwhile, this little voice in your head keeps saying, “Is this the American Dream? . . . Do I have another 20 years of this? . . . Isn’t there more to life than working so much, with little time to travel and see the world?”
I know this feeling because, like you, I’ve been there. As a self-confessed workaholic, I pushed through 50+ hour work weeks for years. Vacations were always too short and left me wanting more time off from my hectic life.
One day I made a massive change. I sold my home and my wife and I bought an RV and hit the road. Today I live and travel in our RV, all while working full-time from the road. Learn more about how I make a living from the road.
And if I did it, you can too!
But unless you’re wealthy or retired, how do you make such a dramatic lifestyle change while you still need to earn money? You get a job or career that you can take on the road with you.
In 2019 this is getting increasingly easy as more people telecommute and more companies are willing to hire telecommuters. Internet availability and data speeds are also at an all-time high, and that helps with the vast majority of jobs, too.
Read on for the 5 different types and resources that can help you earn a paycheck from an RV or mobile lifestyle.
- #1 – Telecommuting, Virtual, & Home-Based Jobs
- #2 – Travel Jobs
- #3 – Temporary Jobs You Find Through Staffing Agencies
- #4 – Temporary Jobs Where You Apply Directly to the Employer
- #5 – Working at a Campground or RV Park (aka Workamping)
- Don’t Forget ‘Work’ Clothes
- The Book That Helped Us Get Started
#1 – Telecommuting, Virtual, & Home-Based Jobs
I believe working from home is one one the best ways to earn a paycheck while RVing or traveling. My recruiting work is a telecommuting job and I love it!
Telecommuting opportunities are increasing quickly in the US, which naturally makes it easier for you to find one.
Jobs in this category include
- Web Designer
- Web Developer
- Web Marketing/Social Media
- Software Engineer
- Computer Programmer
- Graphic Artist
- Desktop Publisher
- Advertising and Media Buyer
- Architect and Engineer
- Sales Representative
- Data Entry Clerk
- Customer Service Representative
- Telephone Order Taker
- Book Keeper
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Reviewer and Coder
- Travel Photographer
- Online Professor
The Pay: Clerical and customer service jobs start at minimum wage and pay up to $20/hour. Specialized jobs, such as computer programmers, engineers, and graphic artists range from $50,000 – $100,000/year.
Telecommuters are usually paid the same as their counterparts at the office so I encourage you to ask for full pay. This may not sound ‘fair’, but consider that telecommuters are often tracked more carefully than other office workers. Also, you don’t have office politics, water cooler chats, and meetings to chew up your time.
- Provides a steady paycheck.
- Provides good job stability.
- Most often includes health, vacation benefits, and direct deposit.
- The “commute” is great! Instead of a commute, I take a walk around the campground!
- You’re paid according to skill level, like you would if located in an office.
- Rewarding work, assuming you like the job you have.
- Flexibility to travel or stay in one place while working.
- Usually allows for a flexible schedule and other work-at-home perks. Yes, you can work in your pajamas, which I occasionally do!
Not so Good:
- It takes discipline to work, especially when you’re traveling to great places.
- You may feel disconnected from the office and your team at times.
- You may not have the benefit of tech support and other office assistance.
- You’ll need to stay current on your skills so you remain highly productive and employable.
Where to Find Virtual & Home-Based Jobs
Your first resource is your current employer. Assuming you’re in good standing, ask to try telecommuting before you begin traveling as this gives everyone time to adjust.
If that doesn’t work out, there are hundreds of job boards, like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. As with all job boards you’ll contact the employer directly through their posting. Most job boards are free to use as a job seeker which is helpful.
The Job Board I Recommend for RVers
While you could spend many hours searching the big job boards, only around 10% of the job postings are telecommuting positions. To save yourself time, I recommend checking out FlexJobs.com (we are not affiliated with flexjobs.com and receive no compensation from them). FlexJobs is a unique job board that lists over 20,000 flexible and virtual jobs, posted by over 4,000 companies – all in one convenient location. It has solid online reviews, and has been featured on CNN, USA Today and NBC. FlexJobs is also BBB Accredited.
FlexJobs has two drawback that I could find. #1 – they charge job seekers $14.95 a month for access. If you’re unable to find flexible work using other job sites, I think it’s a reasonable price. #2 – Many of the jobs on FlexJobs are contract or project work vs. long-term telecommuting positions. That said they do have advanced search features that let you target only the telecommuting positions.
Craigslist Job Listings
While some of the telecommuting jobs posted on Craigslist are legitimate, the pay tends to be ‘entry level’ or worse. CraigsList also has more than its share of scammers and swindlers, so beware of “free internship” and “make money online” listings. If a job requires you to pay money upfront, then it isn’t a job!
That said, if you’re willing to dig you can find leads on Craigslist – but it’s not the place I’d start.
A word of caution regarding online job listings: When you search online you’ll find many “work from home” listings. Most of these listings aren’t legitimate and they want you to pay money for their work-at-home program or class. If it looks like a scam it probably is. When in doubt, Ripoff Report and the Better Business Bureau are good resources.
#2 – Travel Jobs
There are two types of travel jobs: Project work and Client Field work.
is often found in the engineering and construction industries. One example is a project engineer who works on a hospital construction site for 6 months, 1,000 miles away from home. Jobs include:
- Project manager
- Field Service and Other Engineer
- Service Technician
- Environmental Surveyor
- Pipe Fitter
- Oil Rigger/Driller
Client Field Work
Client field work covers a broad range of careers, but is often found in sales and consulting jobs. For example, a sales manager who visits sales reps and clients 2,000 miles away from home for a few weeks at a time. Jobs include
- Business Consultant
- Athletic Recruiter
- Travel Agent
- Large Event Coordinator
- Traveling Nurse
- Sales Manager
- Sales Representative
- Public Speaker
- Spokes Person
The Pay: Most of these jobs start at $50,000 and range into the 6 figures. They pay well because most people don’t want to travel for work and because the jobs require specialized skills. If you’re interested in a travel job, you could use your RV as a home base, rather than staying in motels and flying home between assignments. Many full-timer RVers have been living this way for years, and some even take their families with them.
- Provides a steady paycheck – often with excellent pay and job stability.
- Provides regular medical and vacation benefits, direct deposit, and other perks.
- Some jobs provide prestige, rewarding work, and room for advancement.
- Provides the opportunity to expand your network.
- You can travel some while working.
Not so Good:
- You usually can’t choose your locations or assignments.
- Long periods away from family if they can’t join you.
- Project and Client Field work can be very stressful and time-sensitive.
- If you’re RVing and working, some jobs can feel like a “grind” – with high profile client support, overtime or long shifts.
Travel Job Resources
Your first resource is your current employer. Assuming you’re in good standing and your current employer has traveling positions, ask what it will take to transfer. If that doesn’t work out, talk to people in your network for travel job leads.
Resources I Recommend: You can find travel jobs on the big job boards, but your best bet is a more specialized board that is focused on these types of jobs. JobisJob.com has over 1,600 travel jobs listed, and another good resource is NicheJobs.com. Both sites are free to the job seeker.
#3 – Temporary Jobs You Find Through Staffing Agencies
Temporary jobs, or “Temp” jobs can provide you with a paycheck for a range of time – from a few days to a year. There are two ways to get a temporary assignment: #1 – Apply through a Staffing Agency, and #2 – Apply directly to the employer.
In this category I’ll focus on Temp jobs where you apply through a Staffing Agency, because Agencies normally have multiple openings which makes it quicker and easier for you to get a job.
Most Temp Agencies offer two types of work: Administrative jobs and Light Industrial jobs.
These office jobs are administrative and support a company’s operations, marketing, finance or manufacturing groups. Jobs include:
- Administrative Assistant
- Sales Support
- Customer Service
- Data Entry
- Book Keeping
Light industrial jobs
These jobs support warehouse and light manufacturing functions. Jobs include:
- Light assembly
- machine operator
- inventory control
- quality control
- forklift operator
- shipping and receiving
- quality control
- maintenance workers.
The Pay: Temp jobs are usually paid on an hourly basis, and Administrative jobs average between $10 and $15/hour. Light industrial jobs start at minimum wage and top out around $12 an hour. In both categories, specialized jobs may pay as much as $40 an hour.
- Can provide a steady paycheck for a specified period of time. Direct deposit is usually offered.
- Opportunity to expand your work skills and business knowledge in different settings.
- Can be rewarding work, and is often not that stressful.
- Opportunity to stay in a location for a period of time.
- You aren’t expected to be around for long term, so it’s fine to leave when your assignment is over.
Not so Good:
- Working at a business location can take away from the fun of RV’ing, as the hours are usually 8am to 5pm or similar. Some warehouse jobs may require second shift.
- Employers may be located in office parks that aren’t close to RV parks or campgrounds.
- For office jobs: be prepared to wear business-casual clothing.
- Pay isn’t as high as some telecommuting or travel jobs.
- Agencies provide minimal or no benefits.
- While you can usually count on a paycheck for the specified period of time, you could be let go earlier if the client changes their mind.
Temporary Job Resources
Run a Google search for “Temporary Staffing Agencies” and include the name of the town you’re visiting in your search. A number of local Agencies should show up in your search results. If you want to know more about Agencies, check out the American Staffing Association. The ASA promotes ethical and legal practices in the Staffing industry and provides facts to help you know what to expect.
For best results finding a temp job, plan on being in an area for at least a month. You’ll need to identify and register with 2-3 Agencies, and depending on the job market in the area you’re visiting it may take several days before you’re offered a temp job. Temp assignments can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.
Resumes: Make sure you have a simple resume that demonstrates your office or warehouse skills. Regardless of your experience, keep your resume focused on these transferable skills such as customer service, data entry, shipping, inventory, or whatever fits the type of job you’re after.
Put an Objective at the top of your resume, stating you’re looking for a temporary position in your target job. This way, if your background is very different from the temp job you’re seeking, the Agency and employer will see your top skills, and will understand that you’re only looking for temporary work. Finally, make sure you don’t put an address on the resume, since companies won’t consider you if they think you’ll need to relocate.
#4 – Temporary Jobs Where You Apply Directly to the Employer
There are three types of jobs in this category: Holiday Seasonal, Peak-Season, and Job Vacancies.
Holiday Seasonal Jobs
You can often find a temp job to help meet holiday seasonal demand. These are usually focused around the retail and distribution/shipping industries. For example, Amazon directly hires a large number of seasonal workers to help package orders during the Christmas rush. Jobs include:
- Warehouse & Shipping
- Customer Service Retail
- Gift Wrapper
- Stock Clerk
- Maintenance & Janitorial
- Restaurant Staff
- Hotel/Hospitality Jobs
- Maid Service
Peak Season Jobs
You could opt for a temp job to help with peak-season demand in industries such as fishing, oil refinery, farming, construction, and tourism. For example: Farms in northern Maine hire hundreds of pickers to harvest potatoes during peak potato season. Jobs include:
- Deck Hand
- Fish Processor
- Farm Workers
- Construction Framer
- Site Excavator
- Sheet Rocker
- Oil Refinery
- Tourism Jobs
- Booking Agents
- Tour GUides
- Raft Guides
- SCUBA Instructor
- Cruise Ship Jobs
- Fishing Lodge Jobs
- Ski Instructor
- Snow Removal
You might run into a temp job to cover for an employee who’s on vacation or on a leave of absence. Or you might find a company that needs temporary help while searching for a long-term candidate.
Jobs that fit into this category: There’s a wide range of these jobs, including retail, office work, delivery and more. These jobs usually require little training.
The Pay: The pay varies greatly in all three categories. Holiday Seasonal jobs are usually paid hourly and sometimes have a performance bonus attached to the project. Peak-Season work varies widely by region and job type. Jobs where you travel a longer distance usually pay more than those closer to large populations.
For example: Fishing boat crew members in Alaska can make $10,000 a month or more during a good summer season. Many people use Peak-Season work as their only job and take the rest of the year off. Peak-Season jobs usually include room and board as part of the pay. Job Vacancy work is usually paid hourly. (Most jobs in these 3 groups don’t provide benefits.)
- Can provide a steady paycheck for a period of time.
- Opportunity to expand your skills, business knowledge and contacts.
- Can be rewarding work, and may be low-stress. (If seasonal, the opposite may be true!)
- Opportunity to stay in an area for a period of time.
- The pay can be excellent for certain job types. Bonus pay may be available for some seasonal work.
Not so Good:
- Working at a business can take detract from the fun of RV’ing, since the hours may be regular. Some may require overtime, swing shifts or late shifts.
- You may need to travel a distance to the job, which should be factored into the pay/cost value equation. (The travel might be a positive or bonus for you, but make sure to consider the expense)
- Usually has no benefits and little job stability.
Resources: Companies usually post ads for Holiday Seasonal or Peak-Season jobs in local newspapers, circular publications, or online. Job Vacancies are often found through referrals, word of mouth, “Help Wanted” signs, or on community bulletin boards. You could check out FlexJobs too, since this type of work is also included in those listings. I’ve also put a link to Alaska Summer Jobs, since the site has a ton of job information, and Alaska is a popular destination for summer work.
#5 – Working at a Campground or RV Park (aka Workamping)
Workamping is short for work camping, and describes any temporary work offered to RVers by a Campground or RV Park.
Some people expand the term Workamping to include all types of temporary jobs outside of working in a campground or RV park. I’ve already talked about other Temp jobs so will stick with RV and Campground jobs here.
I’ve devoted a category to Workamping because it’s unique in two ways: First, some openings require job sharing with a partner or spouse. Second, most Workamping jobs have unique compensation which I’ll describe in detail below.
Workamping jobs can be temporary or long-term, but most are seasonal and last from one to six months.
There are three types of Workamping jobs: Office, Manual Labor (maintenance, landscaping, cleaning), and Management/Combination jobs. Smaller parks or campgrounds may require a mixture of these duties.
These jobs include new camper registration, taking campers to their campsite, running the office or store, and some paperwork.
Jobs that fit into this category: Cashier, customer service, store clerk, reservations, security check-in, activities coordinator, and more.
Manual Labor Jobs
These jobs include anything that helps keep the campground looking good and running well.
Jobs or duties that fit into this category: Lawn maintenance, campsite cleanup, janitor, landscaper, property maintenance, and more.
If you have management experience you may be qualified to assist campground management in a variety of ways.
Jobs that fit into this category: Camp host, as well as assistant manager, or manager to the office or manual workers. You may also be required to do some of these duties, yourself.
Workampers are paid in one of three ways:
#1 – You get a “free” RV site. This usually including utilities and sometimes including propane and wifi.
#2 – You work for an hourly, weekly, or monthly rate.
#3 – You get a “free” RV site and some additional pay – usually minimum wage.
Hourly rates for Office and Manual work range between minimum wage and $15/hour. Management roles pay up to $25/hour. The parks spell out the terms ahead of time, so you’ll know what to expect before you arrive. Whether the RV Park is privately-owned, State-owned, Federally-owned, or part of a membership system, the income opportunities are similar.
- Can provide a steady paycheck for a period of time.
- Can provide an inexpensive or rent-free place to camp.
- There is no commute, since you work at your park.
- You often get to do some outside work, which is compatible with RV’ing.
- Jobs are often available in adventurous places, such as regional, state and national parks.
- RV’ers, campers and fellow workers are a pretty friendly group.
Not so Good:
- Some jobs require you to work long hours, late/early hours, weekends or nights.
- In some jobs you may be “on call” as RV’ers arrive and leave.
- It may be challenging to get away from your job, compromising some privacy while camping.
- Some tasks aren’t as desirable (to me, at least), such as cleaning bathrooms, dump stations.
- The pay is fairly low, compared to other forms of work you can do.
The easiest way to find these jobs is to subscribe to Workamper News or Workampingjobs.com. After you sign up you’ll become a member and receive monthly or bi-monthly newsletters as well as emails about jobs around the country. Membership costs you between $30 and $55 a year. Workamper News also hosts job fairs around the country.
A good free resource is CampHost.org. It’s easy to sign up for their mailing list, and they’ll send you an email when they have a campground host or host couple position available.
Don’t Forget ‘Work’ Clothes
If you plan to apply to a temp job, or to work from the road, it’s a good idea to have one business suit for interviews or meetings. A nice suit is also useful for weddings and other dressy events. If a suit is too fancy for your line of work, I’d at least recommend a few business-casual outfits, such as slacks or skirt and a button-down shirt. I have one suit and a few business-casual outfits with me in the RV, and they take up very little room.
The Book That Helped Us Get Started
Before we got on the road – and before we even thought about getting on the road, we read The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. It’s one of the best idea-generating career books I’ve read! As the title implies, Tim will help you see ways to leverage your skills so you can work less, and enjoy your travel life more. He also has a comprehensive section on turning your current job into a telecommuting position. In fact, Kathy used Tim’s strategy with her employer and that’s how she’s able to telecommute now.
Tim is a work-efficiency expert, and his tips have helped me work less hours today than I ever have before.
We’d love to hear how your search for a travel-friendly job works out for you. Please let us know in the comments. If you’re already making a living while full-time RVing, please feel free to share what you do for work, and how you like it.
Until next time, happy trekking!