Work Camping: Making a Living in an RV

Lisa Fritscher April 22, 2015 No Comments

Free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi makes it easy to work online.

When people learn that Dad and I travel full-time in an RV, they are invariably full of questions. They want to know how we survive in such a small space, whether we get lonely on the road, and how we decide where to go next. But the first question people ask is almost always, “How do you make a living?” The perception is that only the independently wealthy are able to travel constantly, but the reality is that most RVers are just like anyone else. While Dad is one of the many retirees taking to the open road with a pension and a Social Security check, I represent a rapidly growing segment of the RV market—young adults in our prime earning years supporting ourselves in creative ways.

Portable Jobs
I am a full-time freelance writer. Despite the fact that I have worked for some of my clients for years, I have never once met any of them in person. My regular clients include a travel website based in California, an educational publisher in Michigan, a digital marketing firm in New York and a theme park website based in Florida. I apply online, communicate by email (with an occasional phone or Skype call) and receive payment electronically by PayPal, direct deposit or another electronic system.

Only rarely do I accept a job that only cuts physical checks. Fortunately, when I do get a check, I can have it sent to wherever I happen to be. My bank allows me to take a photo of the check and upload it online, saving me the trouble of trying to find a branch. While some electronic payment systems have a few small fees attached, they are a cost of doing business that I can deduct on my income taxes. Speaking of taxes, I use Turbo Tax and file electronically. All my clients allow me to view my 1099s online, so I never need to deal with physical forms.

Although writing is a popular option for those looking for a portable job, it is far from the only choice. Computer jobs, such as programming and web development, can often be done on the road. Some customer service work, such as outbound sales calls, can be done remotely. Database entry, secretarial positions, transcriptionist services, translation and many other fields have also begun to embrace distance work. Many people freelance, while others work part-time or full-time for a company that allows them to telecommute.

Seasonal Jobs
If your particular skill set or personality does not lend itself to working online, you still have a few options for supporting yourself while on the road. A lot of RVers like to follow the seasons, whether heading south for the winter or spending autumn in a place with stunning fall foliage. This lends itself well to taking a series of seasonal jobs. Theme parks, ski resorts, beach communities, farms and many other places hire extra workers for their peak seasons. Many people find a low-priced place to park the RV for a few months in each location, moving on when the season’s employment comes to an end.

Work Campers

Work camping provides a free or discounted site, and sometimes a paycheck as well.

Work Camping
As you might suspect, work camping blends work with camping. Work campers typically receive a free place to park their RV in exchange for performing a job. Some work camping arrangements provide only the site in exchange for just a few hours of work per month. Others require more work hours, but pay a salary in addition to the site. However, arrangements vary widely. For example, some locations pay a better salary but provide a site discount rather than a completely free site. Some do not pay cash, but provide free electricity, propane, firewood and other amenities to work campers. Be sure you understand the fine print before signing a contract.

Work camping opportunities run the gamut of needed skills and interests. You might sell Christmas trees or Halloween pumpkins at a roadside stand. You might be a ranger at a national forest or a living history interpreter at a historic site. You might work the front desk at a campground or plan activities at an RV resort. I even saw an ad for someone to park their RV outside a school in Alaska for the summer to discourage vandals, but the work campers were free to travel the state as long as they returned to check on the school now and then.

Work camping couples are in particularly high demand. Many opportunities are designed for a couple to split up the tasks—for example, one partner might take care of the grounds while the other handles the morning shift at the front desk. Together, the couple is expected to cover a certain number of hours each week, perhaps 32 total or 16 per person. Some locations that prefer couples are also willing to take a single worker at a higher workload, like covering those 32 hours per week alone. Note that you do not have to be a literal couple—a single parent and teenage son or daughter would fit the bill.


Many full-timers support themselves by playing concerts at RV parks.

A surprising number of full-time RVers are musically talented, and many RVing families support themselves by arranging performances across the country. RV parks are almost always looking to fill their event schedules and will happily give performers a chance—especially if you are willing to perform for donations rather than charging the park a specific fee.

If you are crafty, you might be able to make a reasonable living making things to sell at flea markets around the country. Many RV parks even hold on-site craft sales once a week during their high season, allowing you to sell to your fellow campers. Online sales are another viable option.

Some RVers follow a fair circuit, performing or selling merchandise at Renaissance Festivals, carnivals or other events around the country. If you are reasonably handy, you might be able to sign up for set-up and tear-down at these short-lived events. Many fairs provide on-site RV parking. For those that don’t, talk to the festival organizers. They might know of someplace inexpensive and close to the festival grounds for you to park.

There is no single right way to make a living when traveling full-time. As expenses are generally low compared to maintaining a home, however, most RVers find it relatively easy to get by. Tap into your past work experience, your hobbies and your special interests. Start tackling your bucket list by signing on for a season doing something you always wanted to try but never had time for. With a bit of ingenuity, you can support yourself and your family while living the dream.

avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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