Dream of Living in an RV? Here’s How to Earn Money While You Travel
My wife and I were camping at a hot spring in Arizona when a small camper van pulled in. We watched a man get out and remove many large plastic bags, which he piled on the roof. He was making room, so he could spend the night in his home on the road.
Later, around a campfire, we asked him about the bags.
They were full of used stuffed animals he bought at thrift stores, and he said he made about $4,000 per month selling them alongside various highways and roads as he traveled.
It may be an unusual way to make a living, but many people live in and work from motor homes, trailers, truck campers and conversion vans.
“Workampers are adventurous individuals, couples and families who have chosen a wonderful lifestyle that combines ANY kind of part-time or full-time work with RV camping,” explains Workamper News, a website dedicated to people who make money from the road.
Are you ready to hit the road and make money while living in an RV?
What Kind of Work Can You Do While Living in an RV?
Many campers get seasonal jobs working in campgrounds or parks, Workamper editor Steve Anderson told CBS News.
He notes businesses are also common. “We have literally hundreds of members running businesses out of their RVs and living in multiple places every year.”
Anderson mentions the following examples of businesses his subscribers operate while traveling in their recreational vehicles:
- Sales of RV-related products
- Consulting services
- Dating services
- Law practices
- Contract nursing
- Business consulting
- RV repair tutoring
“With the advent of the internet and especially now with the tools for bandwidth to connect to the internet, the door is open to do multiple things from an RV,” he explains.
Not even selling bulky items is out of the question, because you can drop ship them or carry them in a trailer behind a motorhome.
Who Is Living in an RV, and How Much Can They Earn?
Many people who live in their RVs are retirees who supplement their retirement or Social Security income with jobs or businesses. But Anderson says, “We have people in their 30s and 40s who are successfully living the RV lifestyle and running businesses.”
And your income may not be as limited as you might think. For example, Steve McMahon told Entrepreneur he sold about 5,000 “high-gain cellular-telephone antennas” for $70 while traveling the country in his 37-foot motorhome. That’s $350,000 in total sales.
The same article says Richard Dahl made and sold more than 1,300 RV water filters at $30 each while traveling for a couple years.
He expanded his business to include hundreds of items, and started The RV Water Filter Store website, shipping items from any post office he passed as he traveled. In addition to covering his living and traveling expenses, the profits allow him to save $30,000 per year.
Terry Cooper was a college instructor before hitting the road with his Mobile RV Academy. Now he runs five-day courses teaching people how to maintain and repair RVs.
Attendees pay $1,644 in tuition, and Cooper had courses scheduled in 10 locations around the country in 2015.
Not every job or business on the road has to be RV-related. Your RV can be just a way to move from job to job or move where you like if you have a business. Software developer and author Bill Myers says he’s talked to many people living in an RV, including:
- Internet entrepreneurs
- Construction workers
- Tourist area workers (They move with the seasons.)
- Aerospace engineers (working on a spaceport in New Mexico)
Michelle Brunner runs ReMiks Jewelry from her motorhome. “I crisscross the country full time in my RV in search of natural and organic elements, as well as recycled treasures,” she explains.
How to Work While Living in an RV
Selling everything and starting a vagabond lifestyle is a big transition, but it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Myers offers the example of a couple who bought a $5,000 used motorhome and cut their cost of living from $6,000 per month to about $400 per month. He also says he bought a 26-foot travel trailer for $4,000 and ran his newsletter business from it.
How do you learn what you need to know? Try hanging out in the Workamper forums for a while.
Where to Find Work on the Road
Talk to others who are living and working from their RVs, or start with these resources:
- American Crystal Sugar Company: This company needs RV campers for the sugar beet harvest, which starts around the end of September in Montana and North Dakota. “Sugar Beet Employees can make up to $2,500 in a two-week time frame,” the company says.
- Camphost.org: Look for campground host positions on this job board.
- RVParkStore.com: You’ll find various job postings here. Examples include park management jobs, front desk positions and sales work.
- Workamper News: A subscription is $47 per year, but you can see featured companies for free. Under “Job Resources” click “Featured Employers” to find a list of companies and organizations that hire RVers.
Of course, jobs are not your only options. In fact, starting a business will give you the most freedom to go where you like. If you look over this list of ways you can make money from home, you’ll find dozens of businesses you could operate from an RV.
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).