Beginner Workamping Mistakes

Workamping can be an awesome way to see the country while you work and its easy to get excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead of you. From working at National Parks and Camp Hosting at State Parks, to opportunities for RVers to work for retail giants like Amazon– there are many jobs available for you to enjoy while you travel!

But if you aren’t careful, it can be easy to choose a workamping job that isn’t a right fit. And choosing the wrong job for the wrong reason can lead to less than desirable travels and time spent in locations you’d prefer not to spend time in. 

We want you to enjoy your workamping adventures and make the most of your travels! Check out this list of workamping mistakes to avoid when choosing a workamping position. 

And if you’re new to the idea of workamping, check out this guide to workamping from A-Z!

Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Workamping Job

Choosing the Wrong Job

The first thing to remember when choosing a workamping job is that you are indeed choosing a job and not a hobby. Sounds obvious but it can be easy to get wrapped up in the idea of a cool job and forget you will be spending the majority of your time working. 

You have to consider the position from a hiring standpoint.

The campgrounds and resorts you will be applying to (if you choose to go that route) are genuine employers looking for serious and committed help. Even though you will likely only be there for a season or two, you are still an incredibly valuable asset to the team. 

That being said, don’t talk yourself into a job that you aren’t actually excited about just to be able to work in a certain area.

If you don’t like cleaning up after people or being physically active most of the day, it’s best to avoid applying to Maintenance or Housekeeping.

If you can’t stand being behind a desk or do not enjoy interacting with guests on a regular basis, try Landscaping or Grounds Keeping. 

The truth is that there are plenty of incredible workamping positions out there. If you do some research, you will have no trouble finding work that really speaks to what you want to do. Of course, you can never truly be sure of a job.

It’s a trial and error process just like any new experience will be. But if you’re honest with yourself and choose a job inline with that, you will get so much more from the outcome.  

Not Considering Compensation 

Going right along the lines of choosing a job you enjoy, is choosing the right compensation for time worked. This may be one of the most important things to look out for when choosing a workamping job as it will dictate what you will be earning or gaining. And like most jobs the compensation you can expect can vary greatly. 

One thing to keep in mind is that you will likely be traveling and working between different states.

This means you can expect to get vastly different paychecks as many states have differing hourly rate brackets. Each state has its own cost of living which translates into its minimum wage requirements.

For example, the hourly rate I was paid in Utah was considered high and well paying until I got to California and that hourly rate wasn’t even comparable. But then again neither was the cost of living. 

Another factor when considering the right compensation for the job will be almost nothing like any job you’ve had before.

When you decide to workamp, you are adding the factor that you are also looking for a place to camp. So, you will need to do your research to find a job that not only pays well but offers a decent living cost as well. 

This gets tricky when the work you are doing is the equivalate to your site.

Meaning the hours you put in go directly to your site and not in the form of a paycheck or stipend. It’s a good rule of thumb to decide how many hours you’ll need to work in order to budget and compare that to how many hours you’ll be giving to the site. 

For example, if the site requires 25 hours per week and the minimum wage in that location is, say, $10.00 an hour, you are essentially paying about $1,000 at the end of the month for your site. 

Now in some areas that’s a steal as monthly campground rates can easily be that high. But that is for you to keep in mind when calculating what you can afford. There are plenty of workamping arrangements out there that have great compensation packages if you just do a little digging. 

Not Taking Location into Account

Another mistake to avoid is not taking location into consideration. Again, it’s easy to overlook the details as there are some really cool places hiring out there. But keep in mind that not only are you choosing a place to work, but you are also choosing a place where you get your groceries. 

You laugh but it’s true. You are committing to the town and local area that you are workamping in just as thoroughly and you will have to decide how remote or connected you want to be. 

Some workamping jobs are in very distant places meaning limited cell service, limited amenities, and limited surroundings.

Now of course none of this is a problem necessarily as one of my favorite positions was clear in the mountains of Southern California. Limited cell service, a 30 minute drive to any substantial grocery store, or an hour to the big city and decent gas prices.

It required careful planning, but overall a great time! However, some jobs are even further out and more desolate, so keep in mind what kind of experience you are looking for from your surroundings.  

On the opposite side of the coin are jobs located in the more frequented areas like National Parks or heavily populated cities. 

In these places, you can expect a high pace environment and if you are looking at your workamping position as a chance to relax and go off grid, the previously mentioned offers makes more sense. 

But that’s the whole point. 

Choose what suits you and you will really enjoy all aspects of what workamping is about.

Overlooking Reviews 

So, you have an idea of the kind of job you want and where you want it to be. The next step is to start applying to these jobs and get the ball rolling on setting up your workamping itinerary. But now you have to dig a little deeper and research the campgrounds themselves.

Like planning the location of your work, you are also committing to a work environment where you will be spending a good chunk of your time. You don’t necessarily want to choose a job in a place that’s known for having rude staff or poor management skills. 

Reading company reviews is an excellent way to get to know a workamping site before you accept a position. 

Reviews are painfully honest and sometimes fascinating public narrations of experiences had at any given business or facility. This often includes the campgrounds and resorts you will be applying to and should be taken into some serious consideration. 

While some reviews are not a complete picture of how a park functions, they are a sneak peek into how a campground is perceived. 

If you see the same complaints or if the reviews in general seem negative, it can say a lot about the environment of your workamping location. But it can also signify how awesome your time can be when the general public is raving about pleasant staff, great amenities, and beautiful landscaping. 

Another great way to get a sneak peak of what a park will be like is to access camping apps like Campendium or The Dyrt.

 These platforms are also designed to let potential visitors know what to expect when visiting a park. The great thing about these more tailored apps, is that they also provide things like cell coverage and what types of hookups are available.   

All of this information can be essential to choosing a proper workamping job and skipping past reviews to blindly accept positions can be detrimental to your experience. 

Choose wisely and do your homework on the resorts you are applying to before you dive right in. Not only do you want to enjoy the job you are doing but where and for who you are doing the work for

Applying Too Late 

This is a mistake that can be easy to make but essential to avoid if you want to go workamping full time. 

Many workamping listings are posted as seasonal work meaning they hire for a limited amount of time each year. This is great because it means you can maximize your travel by workamping different seasonal positions every few months. 

The catch, you have to be on top of your game when choosing the next workamping gig before you end up with no where to work or camp. 

Speaking from experience, you would be surprised at how quickly advertisements come out and how quickly slots get filled. It is not unusual to see workamping ads asking for help two seasons ahead of schedule. 

That being said, it’s always best to have your workamping schedule set-up ahead of time. 

Think about where you want to be and get the ball rolling even if you just started your first job of the season. Another factor to planning ahead, is that many campgrounds tend to slow down during the winter. 

So while some seasons require you to apply early, some require you to do a lot more digging. Winter weather can be really cold in places in the Northern states and in general not a great place to expect vacationers. 

But even some the high deserts of the South West see heavy snow fall in the colder seasons so it’s important to prepare for work in times when work isn’t so abundant. 

A good rule of thumb is to look for workamping positions in areas that have favorable winter seasons. 

Places like Florida or Texas are known for their snowbird guests making it a great place to winter workamp. However, if you’re a snow lover like me, it is possible to find workamping jobs in places that promote winter sports or are, in general, always populated. 

The bottom line is to stay on top of things and have your workamping schedule just as mapped out as your travel one. 

All Work & No Play

The last mistake to avoid is a simple one and that’s not taking full advantage of your workamping experience! You are on a very unique journey getting to travel and work at the same time. 

For many going to work and going home happens in the same place everyday with the occasional vacation on the weekends. For RVers, that scenery can change as much or as little as we like. So, why do anything less than cater the workamping position to maximize the time spent both working and enjoying the area. 

So, if you decide workamping is for you, start to find jobs that get you excited or that already suite what you want to do. 

Choose a location that you can’t wait to explore with the proper amenities you seek. Never be afraid to get the scoop from public reviews and prepare ahead of time so you aren’t stuck without a place to camp. 

But above all don’t make the mistake of not taking full advantage of such a cool working opportunity. Workamping is more than a job it’s a lifestyle!

Author

Meet Bre Henderson

I am a full time rver and solo traveler from the Midwest who enjoys hiking, writing, reading, and just sitting with nature. With a degree in Environmental Justice, I am also passionate about connecting people to the environment and discussing ways to make outdoor recreation more inclusive.

Bre Henderson

Author

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