Season 1 Episode 2 of the Live.Camp.Work. Podcast!
Let’s start at the very beginning… The very best place to start!
Come along for the adventure as I navigate through the world of Workamping with real information, tips & trick, stories from the road, and interviews from Workampers and Employers!
In this episode, I’m focusing on the back story of how Workamper News jumpstarted the Workamping lifestyle by creating a link between Workampers and Employers 30+ years ago.
I’m also going into more specific details on where the lifestyle is currently and explaining exactly what it is and what you can do as a Workamper!
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Let’s get started with Episode 2: What is Workamping
Now I know I’ve said this before, but its true… so I’ll say it again-
Literally, every time I mention the word Workamping to a group of people, there is always someone in the group who looks confused by what I’m talking about. And then, there is always someone else who is ready to help explain to them the details of Workamping and how it’s really just for retirees, which is just actually not accurate.
This is where is I usually interrupt and try to do damage control… While I would love to save myself the trouble of explaining that Workamping is not just for retirees, and how there are tons of younger folks, like myself out there doing it currently, I figure the more folks I talk to, the faster word will spread…
So let’s start from the top!!!
I like to give credit where credit is due, and in this case it does to a husband and wife duo who founded Workamper News back in 1987! Their mother was an RVer who worked temporary jobs as she traveled, and they soon discovered a small group of retired professionals doing the same. These folks took short-term positions as they traveled across the country discovering new destinations from the comfort of their home on wheels. Moved to provide a resource to help bring the jobs to the people who wanted them, they soon coined the word ‘Workamper’ added a trademark and as a result, the lifestyle of working as you travel would continue to develop over the next 30+ years.
For many years the world of Workamping would continue to grow although the demographics of the niche lifestyle continued to include mostly retirees with extra time and cash on hand. Positions as Camp Hosts for Free sites and little pay were normal, and as long as it allowed the freedom to explore- all was good.
Naturally, Workamping has evolved over the last 30 or so years, to fit the needs and wants of the RV community, and has now turned into one of the fastest growing alternative lifestyles the US has ever seen. Full-time RVing is so popular RV manufactures are pumping out modern models with updated interiors, exteriors, and bunkhouse models for those who travel with kids in tow! I saw a recent article in the Washington Post, if I’m not mistaken that said there were over 1 million people living in RVs!!! That’s crazy right? A million people? Wow! The small RV community is definitely expanding…
As you can imagine, Workamping now includes a growing population of younger campers from ages 18 – 55. Many, who have no desire of the traditional life of 9-5 jobs, spending countless hours commuting to and from work. These folks want to see and do as they please, blow into a new destination and conquer all it has to offer, then blow out again just like a cool summer breeze. These are the folks who are shaking up the traditional and bringing Workamping into the future with a fresh mindset that FREE sites and pay is the way to play!
This describe me perfectly! I was in my 20’s when we started Workamping. We knew nothing about the lifestyle. We didn’t know anyone who was doing it or had ever thought about doing it- it was really taboo. And when we told out family what we were about to do- they tried to convince us of otherwise by any mean as possible. To be honest. It was one of those things you find in when you have a restless night and find yourself zombie searching the internet while the rest of your family sleeps soundly… Although I didn’t know it was called Workamping at the time- I knew folks were working and traveling in RVs in some capacity!
So what exactly is it?
Simply put….It’s an alternative lifestyle where you travel by RV and work.
It can be anything you want, wherever you want for as long as you want. With few rules and even less stipulations of right and wrong- Workamping is the freedom to break away from the standard and live a life you design for yourself.
For my family, we started with a dream of exploring the United States. Goals of taking our kids on an endless adventure where small and big discoveries would roll seamlessly into everyday life and family memories would easily be attained through cherished moments together as perpetual travelers, flooded our heads. We fell into Workamping after discovering a program called Camperforce by retail giant Amazon.com- where they bring in RVers for the holidays to help fill orders.
Working for Camperforce is probably the farthest you can get from the traditional expectation of Workamping, for us it seemed perfect for young folks who loved Amazon, but like many others we would soon figure out that this gig is hard work and takes more than just the ability to stand for extended periods of time, to make it through and still keep your smile! (We’ll talk more about this Workamping opportunity later.) But for now, just know that its hard work, long hours and big bucks!
Let’s go back to my original point, if you live in an RV, regardless of if you are full-time, part-time or seasonal and you work, then you are Workamping. A few examples to get your mind rolling in the right direction would be:
- Volunteering as a Docent or
- Working as a Camp Host
- Selling Campground Maps & Advertising
- Mystery Shopping at Local Businesses
- Operating a Small Business
- Selling Crafts at Fairs & Festivals
- Working as an RV Inspector
- Being a Wagon Master for RV Caravans
- Doing demonstrations at live events
- Providing Security at an Oil Field Gate
- Inspecting Gas Lines in Neighborhoods
- Selling fireworks, Christmas trees and pumpkins at small roadside booths around holidays!
These are all examples of Workamping and while not at all a full list or event the tip of the iceberg on the possibilities- I think it give you an idea of the type of work you’ll be looking at.
Since Workamping can be so inclusive, I like to break it down into 4 categories: Seasonal Jobs (the largest and most advertised), Location Independent Jobs, Small Businesses & Traditional Jobs.
The majority of Workamping job opportunities fit into the category of seasonal jobs.
Employers are looking for the perfect hires! They need a specific number of reliable employees to come help them out in their busy seasons and then leave when the season is over.
Workampers, on the other hand, want to stay in the best locations during the high seasons and leave when the weather turns to the undesirable type and make some cash to cover expenses.
The intersection where the needs and wants of both parties meet is the picture-perfect place where happy Workampers & employers thrive inside the Workamping community!
Choosing to work in locations during what is considered the Workamping season, or any season for that matter, is a decision to stay put for a specific amount of time. For some, the thought of traveling to a job with the requirement of living in the location for 3-6 months is madness. For others, who see the benefits of traveling slow and working along the way, it brings a variety of adventures season after season.
Since seasonal jobs are the most widely advertised positions, they are also the easiest type of Workamping job to find and acquire. Job sites across the web are filled with advertisements asking Workampers to fill a variety of positions ranging from Site Hosts to Ranch Hands and from Front Desk & Reservations to Grounds Maintenance & Housekeeping.
In a seasonal position, you will have the ability to stay in awesome locations and destinations some people can only dream about spending more than a few days! These locations can include State & National Parks, like Yellowstone or Glacier. It could also mean working more physical positions like Amazon Camperforce and the Sugar Beet Harvest to meet savings goals to travel for the remaining six months out of the year without much need for other gigs.
Many Workamping jobs do not require extensive skills or certifications. Most of the positions advertised can be done by just about anyone with a can-do attitude, a willingness to help in more than one area, and a flexible schedule. To be successful and find jobs easily, you will need a new outlook on what jobs you find attractive. In exchange for a life of travel that allows you to go now rather than later, you will need to figure out what you are willing to do and what you are not. There’s no sense on wasting time applying for, interviewing for and even actually working positions you will have no desire to do.
Here’s an example: I hate cleaning! And more than just my hatred of cleaning- I hate the bathroom! It literally grosses me out! Public bathrooms are almost completely out of the question- unless it’s a dire need… Keeping this in mind I would never apply or accept a position that require me to clean a public bathroom. EVER! I know that I would be miserable and likely gagging all day- so I just wouldn’t put myself in that position. Word to the Wise: Know what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do before you start.
Okay- let’s move on!
A new catchy job category we’ve seen spike in recent years, thanks to the digital era and the love of mobile technology, are location independent jobs. My favorite! Location independence is basically the ability to move around freely. Job that provide this type of mobility are highly sought after and a tad bit more competitive.
As you can imagine, this is a very attractive category of jobs! Alot people who dream of a life of travel, are actually dreaming of location independence, where they can wander freely from place to place, working whenever and wherever they see fit.
I’ll admit, the life of a location independent nomad with no ties to geography or work agreements with plenty of time to explore the surround areas at a whim, is pretty awesome, but it does prove to less attainable and maintainable for the majority of people.
While location independent jobs are all the rave on social media right now, they can be more difficult to secure if you do not have a background in technology, sales, or even customer service. These positions can vary from a range of tech support careers to customer service representatives and even direct sales positions. They may not be for everyone, but they offer benefits that are very attractive to RVers wishing for a freer style of travel.
One of the best ways to hit the road with little to no strings attached is to own and operate your very own small business from the comfort of your RV. Small Business owners across the country are finding that RV life affords them the comforts of home, a stable office environment and the freedom to roll wherever the road leads! Running a small business is hard work but can be a very rewarding career strategy for those who have the entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to make it all happen.
Since running a small business from your RV can include just about any business, or hobby for that matter, as long as you are able to generate a steady income stream, the options are limitless.
Some folks start with a hobby they love and turn it into a revenue stream after investing some time and energy to build a client/customer list that can sustain them as they travel. Others find it easier to start a small business and build it around the direct sales or affiliate marketing concepts- which have again become very popular in recent years.
Companies like Kitchen Craft Cookware, doTerra essential oils and many more are popular choices for those wishing to test their hand at starting their own business under the umbrella of a large brand!
However you find is the best way to build a business you can run from the road, I would recommend you do so. I love the idea of having multiple income streams and while your business may not be able to fully fund your travel and cover all your expenses from the start, it can add extra cash to the pot. As it grows, the revenue and freedom to set and exceed your own goals, make the big decisions, and the ability to do what you love are unmatched by any career.
Having a small business can also make you more selective in the type of Workamping jobs you find yourself selecting. Maybe you only accept positions in the most desirable locations, so you have time to explore the places you’ve always dreamed about. Maybe you only accept positions that require very few hours- so you have time to work on your own projects and still explore the local areas.
Your options are endless- so have fun and build it as you see fit!
The last category is Traditional Jobs
When I speak of traditional jobs, I’m referring to jobs for companies that do not offer a campsite or make any reference in their hiring or recruiting strategies to hiring RV workers in particular. These companies generally are just looking to hire from the local employment pool and have no interest in how or where you might reside. They either stumble across the Workamper niche and decide hiring a mobile workforce is a great new idea or you find them. In either case, the reasons for and benefits of working such a job can only be measured on a case-by-case basis.
Traditional jobs can include retail positions, tech companies, customer service, call centers, maintenance jobs and anything else you can dream of. The only way they fit into the conversation of Workamping is that you are living in an RV while you work.
I find these positions usually require a long term stay in one location. Working for Walmart while you live in your RV at a nearby campground is still Workamping, you just won’t hear it referred to as such in general conversations.
I feel like we just covered a bunch of information!
Let’s stop there for today and pick up in the next episode with more Workamping Basics!