RVing full-time is the dream of many frequent travelers and outdoors enthusiasts. Yet, sustaining that lifestyle without a steady income can be problematic, which is where workamping, sometimes called work camping, comes in.
"'Workampers' [are] a sort of modern-day migrant worker. Many of them are retirees who spend all or part of the year living in RVs and taking odd seasonal jobs around the country," says Stu Woo of the Wall Street Journal.
For Jaime Lyn, a veteran workamper, this not only allows her to make money. "It gives me an opportunity to choose a location I have not yet explored and affords me the extended time to thoroughly experience new regions of the country," says Lyn.
Whether you're supplementing a retirement fund, or just exploring the country, this may be the perfect way to have the best of both worlds.
Workamping vs. Work Camping
Though the difference between these two things is not cut and dry. They are ofen differentiated as follows:
- Work campers volunteer their time, on a part-time basis, in exchange for a free place to stay, with no other compensation. However, because of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which says employees may not volunteer as for-profit private sector employees, most of these positions are with government-run campgrounds. These jobs are found through the National Park Service, National Forest Service and Corps of Engineers.
- Workampers are compensated for their time, and often work 30 to 40 hours a week. These positions are usually at private campgrounds, fulfillment centers, seasonal produce lots, RV resorts and tourist locations with retail shops. When working at a campsite or RV park, these workers are often compensated with a campsite, as well.
There are a variety of workamping jobs available for RV travelers; most are seasonal, and some can be labor-intensive and low paying. However, that's not the case for every job, so finding the right one is essential.
Harvesting: This is a common seasonal job that can be found on a variety of farms. Though it sounds rustic, the work is laborious and tiring. Bill Whitestone, of BetterRVing.com, discusses his friend's experience in this field: "Imagine having to work the overnight shift in bad weather, then having the work halted and earning next to nothing because you're being paid by your output." The experience largely depends on where you are, so get recommendations before settling down at one farm.
However, other seasonal work in Christmas tree lots or pumpkin patches can be more rewarding, with an opportunity to earn tips and commission.