Ever feel like you want to just “hop in a vehicle and drive” but can’t afford to quit working full-time? Consider workamping. Work … what? Workamping is work + camping, and a growing niche in the travel/leisure market that’s appealing to retirees and younger folks alike. So what is it exactly?
Jody Anderson Duquette, Executive Director of Workamper News, defines it clearly: “Workamping is doing any kind of part-time or full-time work while living in an RV.”
Workamping opportunities range from part-time volunteering to full-season employment—doing whatever is needed, wherever. Positions vary and include jobs as park service vendors who staff the stores, hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds. Private RV campgrounds also look for seasonal help. If this sounds like a dream opportunity, read on!
The Best of Both Worlds
Imagine working as a sous chef, a handyman, a retail clerk, or a campground caretaker in a different part of the country each season. Or as a volunteer field guide at a national wildlife refuge one year, and a national park volunteer the next.
George, a park volunteer, stopped traffic for a wildlife moment in Yellowstone National Park—200 bison were thundering across the road. He chatted with camera-wielding onlookers: “We don’t know why they cross; they just do.” He is retired and now spends summers in Yellowstone as a volunteer. And he lives in an RV.
More people like George are exploiting the fact that a recreational vehicle (RV) is both a living space and the key to living and working in beautiful places around the country.
Michael and Deb Roe managed a Christmas tree lot in November 2019, when they trailered from Yosemite National Park to Santa Cruz, California, and worked on-site for five weeks.
“We lived on the lot, hired the employees, and ran the business for a salary,” Mike recalled. “We sold 1,620 freshly cut trees shipped in from Oregon. It was hard work, but great fun. Everybody is happy buying Christmas trees.”
How To Find Your Dream Workamping Job
If you have a camping trailer or RV and want to hit the road, here’s a checklist to help turn work + camping dreams into reality.
- Plan early: Ads for positions for the upcoming summer begin in early fall the prior year.
- Put your resume in order. Highlight skills and experiences that are relevant. Everybody who has worked has skills to offer!
- Decide where you’d like to go. Narrow your destination choices but remain flexible.
- Decide on your work goals. Do you want to work for wages or volunteer? How many hours each week?
- Work out the details. Do you need to receive an RV site as part of your compensation?
- Be aware of dress and grooming requirements. Pack clothes for the destination.
- Determine how long can you stay. Opportunities are contingent upon your availability.
- Make a travel budget. Include the carrying costs of your permanent home.
- Be realistic. If you are bidding for semi-permanent employment, be realistic about your salary needs.
- Call ahead. Confirm the availability of internet/wi-fi connectivity at possible destinations.
- Snail mail. Engage a mail forwarding service.
- Manage finances. Automate banking and bill paying or set up online banking services.
Prospective workampers can easily search for opportunities by organization or state.
While living and working on the road sounds appealing, there are some drawbacks. For example, full-time RVers have no “sticks and bricks” permanent home, a choice that presents particular problems for licensing, voting, paying taxes, etc.
To learn more about this camping plus working lifestyle, check out the following resources: Workamper News, along with other organizations such as Escapees RV Club and RV-Dreams are packed with information for “workamping wannabes.”
North Carolina native Glenn Morris is a freelance Travel and Garden writer. He is the author of Taylor's Weekend Gardening Guide to Small Gardens, and North Carolina Beaches. His article What in the World is Workamping? appears in the 2021 Farmers' Almanac.