The Necessary Evil

November 11th, 2011

Over on our facebook page, Sean asked “Out of curiosity, where does the money to live come from? Even living inexpensively would seem to cost money, food, gas, repairs, etc..” I started to reply there, but it got way too long.

Hi Sean,

First, I have to ask: Do you work for the IRS?

Well, the money comes from a variety of places. We work camp on occasion. That usually gives us a few grand a year. Work camping, if you don’t know, is were your employer supplies your campsite and utilities in addition to paying you your regular wages. We also have a couple of websites, like FreeCampsites.net, that generate ad revenue. Lastly, there are our savings. In our previous lives, while we had good careers and well paying jobs, we didn’t live lavishly. We were two renter DINKs. That left us with a decent cushion for this adventure.

Johnny Hiking Bryce Canyon, Utah

We save money on hair cuts, too!

Most of all, we live on the cheap! We don’t EVER pay for camping. On average, we have traveled about 12,000 miles a year. This year we have only driven around 6,000 miles. We cook all of our meals even down to making our own bread and yogurt. We try to average about $1000 in expenses a month. That’s everything, including auto and health insurance.

We try to do all of our own repairs. When the bottom of our camper fell off, it could have cost us several thousand to have an RV shop repair it. Instead, Johnny did it for less than $200. When our wheel bearings went out, we replaced them as well as the ball joints. However, we aren’t as brave as our friends over at Raven’s Roads. Unlike them, we didn’t rebuild our transmission while on the road, we bought a new one when ours gave up the ghost. We’re not that cool!

We could easily work camp year round, like our friends The Gypsies Townsend who never touch the blessed nest egg, and have plenty of left over cash, but we aren’t going that route. At the moment, we are enjoying lots of free time and working on web development in hopes of creating a sustainable lifestyle. Which, in all honesty, it isn’t at this moment. It’s getting there, though.

Even though I have a web log, I am a private person when it comes to money, sorry if my answer is a bit vague.

Two Years of Two People and Two Cats in Two Hundred Square Feet

December 5th, 2009

As of December 1st, we have been living in our truck camper for 2 years. I can’t believe I almost let it slip by nor can I believe that it has been that long. It just seems so natural anymore. Its home no matter where it is parked. And, regardless of where that is, we are in a much better place than we were on Nov 30, 2007.

Back then, we were in soul sucking, yet somewhat prestigious jobs and running the middle class treadmill. Well, I guess that by then we were only walking on it. We had already purchased the truck and camper. We had gotten rid of most everything we owned. We had had the camper for a couple of days and were moving what little of our stuff that remained into it. We were still working but only because we wanted to earn some additional money. At the very least, I wanted to make sure that I made the difference between what my Xterra sold for and what my truck cost back before we left.

Where our desks lived.
The building we used to work in.
The place we used to work. Our desks and the building.

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Its gonna be a work Christmas

October 14th, 2009

I spent most of last month trying to figure out where I wanted to work this winter. While I have been enjoying our “vacation”, I had always planned to work while on the road. The plan was/is to see and experience new things. Some of those new things are jobs. And, even though we spend next to nothing (you would be amazed) on bills and food (fuel can be another story sometimes), I hate seeing money going out and not much coming in.

So, after going through many of the sites on our work camping page, writing countless cover letters, and making numerous phone calls, we have decided what we want to be for Halloween. Amazonians. We are going to follow suit and join the other work campers who work for amazon.com over the holidays.

So, be careful of what you order this year.. we just might see it!

Life in the back of a truck (part 2)

January 25th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Why a truck camper when you could have something much larger?

True, a bus conversion or a 5th wheel would give quite a bit more space than a truck camper, but if you can deal with the smaller size, a truck camper has a lot going for it. For starters, you can take it places that just aren’t practical in most rigs that are suitable for fulltiming. Sure, a popup trailer or an especially small travel trailer might make it down a particular nasty stretch of dirt road, but even those are going to have issues if it turns out backing out is required. A smallish Class C is as manueverable as a truck camper, but they’re awfully hard to find in 4 wheel drive models with the kind of clearance you get from a full size truck.

Another bonus to truck campers is that you don’t really need to tow along a second vehicle for running around. Many Class A owners tow a dinghy vehicle for sightseeing in order to avoid moving their RV once its parked. While, we also haul around a scooter for short trips, we often just move the entire truck and camper if the trip requires it. Better yet, if we’re going to be somewhere more than a few days and know we’ll need to run around in the truck a lot, we can just drop the camper and have a separate vehicle to drive. It takes a bit more effort than dropping or loading a trailer, but the truck can easily be loaded or unloaded in around 30 minutes.

A final reason we really like the truck camper option is that the camper and drivetrain are not married as they are in Class A’s or C’s. If you decide you’d prefer a different floorplan or the truck experiences catastrophic failure, you can always change truck or camper with a minimum of hassle and keep the one you’re still happy with. For that matter, you can dump the camping lifestyle altogether and keep the truck. Not having the RV and truck married is what allows you to have a 4wd, diesel RV with good clearance at a reasonable price. It’s also an excellent choice for anyone that would like to pull a boat. Many states prohibit double towing, and I can’t imagine it being particularly fun even in those that allow it.

But, isn’t a truck camper way too small to live in fulltime?

I guess that depends on your lifestyle and what you want and need out of life. There are probably more people living in vans than truck campers by an order of magnitude. I can stand up fully, stretch out fully and have considerably more room to move around than any van I’ve ever seen except perhaps the shuttle buses, which I imagine would make a nice little rolling house with some work.

Personally, I find there is plenty of living space, but I’ve always liked living in smaller spaces. They prevent me from accumulating too much junk and I can usually find things I’ve mislaid without much trouble. Jenn and I as well as two cats have been living in the camper for 12 of the last 14 months and I feel much more comfortable to be back in our camper than I felt while we had the run of her parent’s place the past couple of months.

The one real constriction I feel about living in something the size of a truck camper is making a concious effort not to accumulate too much junk and finding a place to store the things we need. Anytime you consider picking up a new item, you have to think about just how often you’re going to use it, whether or not you can get along without it and where you’re going to store it. On top of that, you should consider whether it will be able to replace something you already have or if you already have something that can do the same thing. This problem actually helps me to save money by not buying things just because they’re shiny!

Work Camping

November 19th, 2008

Jenn & Caverns of Sonora

Below is a list of websites and services that connect workers with organizations, many of which provide camping arrangements. This is my personal “note pad” where I add sites that I come across. I decided to share it. I hope it is helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment linking to a site we have not covered. Comments on this page will be moderated.

Hop to Camp HostingWork at Parks, Resorts, and MoreVolunteerWork Camping Classified ListsOther ways to make money (Self Employment)Additional Resources

Reference Material
Books about Work Camping @ our Amazon store.

 

– Camp Hosting –

These companies hire camp hosts directly. The jobs pay you for your hours worked in addition to providing you with a camp site.

  • American Land and Leisureview listings
    American Land & Leisure has been in the business for 20 years, and currently maintains more campgrounds on Federal lands than any other concessionaire in the United States, with contracts for over 400 National Forest, Pacific Gas & Electric and other private campgrounds from California to West Virginia. The company has set the standard for caring for customers and providing well kept and clean facilities at a fair price.
  • California Land Managementview listings
    CLM Services does business in four western states (California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada) under the names California Land Management and Northwest Land Management. The company currently operates campgrounds and other outdoor recreation facilities for a wide variety of public agencies – including the US Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Inyo County (CA), Washington State Parks, and the Cities of Mountain View, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto (in the San Francisco Bay Area).
  • Corp of Engineers view listings
    The Army Corps of Engineers is the steward of the lands and waters at Corps water resources projects. Its Natural Resources Management mission is to manage and conserve those natural resources, consistent with the ecosystem management principles, while providing quality public outdoor recreation experiences to serve the needs of present and future generations.
  • HOODOOmore info
    Paid and unpaid positions in the Deschutes(OR), Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie(WA), and Willamette(OR) National Forests.
  • KOA Work Kamper Programcontact
    With 460 KOA locations, possibilities abound. Every year, our KOA Work Kamper program offers hundreds of job opportunities across our network of KOA Kampgrounds. For those who love the RV camping life, it’s simply a win/win opportunity. KOA owners always need seasonal help. And if you are willing to roll up your sleeves, you can make a short-term commitment and earn pay while you stay.
  • Northwest Park Managementview listings
    NPM operates twenty five campgrounds under Special Use Permit with the U.S. Forest Service throughout the Plumas National Forest. The camping season runs from April to October and our employees work from four to six months during this time.
  • Recreation Resource Managementcontact
    Recreation Resource Management was founded in 1988 to provide local, state, and federal government with an alternative for managing public recreational facilities. For nearly 15 years, we have partnered with government organizations to provide quality services and environmental stewardship while increasing the net return to government. RRM administers over 175 properties in 12 states for various government bodies. At the peak of the summer season, we have over 700 employees overseen by nearly 50 highly experienced operations managers.
  • Rocky Mountain Recreationmore info
    CA,CO, & NV. Each year we fill many seasonal positions and while most of our available positions are for campground hosts, we also hire customer service officers, interpretive personnel, maintenance supervisors/ personnel, kiosk operators, store operators, landscape personnel, and day use area custodians. Some year-round positions are available, though most employees will work shortly before the Memorial Day holiday through briefly after the Labor Day holiday.
  • Scenic Canyons Recreational Servicesmore info
    They manage Forest Service-owned facilities under special-use permits from the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the Boise National Forest and the Montpelier Ranger District in Idaho, and the Logan Ranger District and Dixie National Forest in Utah.
  • Thousand Trailsview listings
    Thousand Trails is the largest private system of RV camping and outdoor preserves in America. Our properties are known as preserves because we strive to protect the nature and beauty of the natural environment.

Hop to Camp HostingWork at Parks, Resorts, and MoreVolunteerWork Camping Classified ListsOther ways to make money (Self Employment)Additional Resources




 

– Parks, Resorts and More –

Employers that hire directly. These are paying Jobs that also provide housing. The jobs listed here could be anything from camp hosting to wine steward or even jeep water guide. Many might want you to work at least 40hrs a week.

  • Adventurelandmore info
    Altoona, Iowa. Adventureland Park’s Work & Camp Program provides discounted camping in addition to our regular wages for employees that work throughout our park season. During weekend operations – late April to mid May and late August to late September: Work at least one shift/day. During full-time daily operations – mid May to late August: Work 4 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours/day for 5-6 days/week. Pay: $6.50 – $7.00/hour. You may expect to be scheduled up to 32 hours/week. All of positions require you to be on your feet. They include: Rides Operations, Retail Operations, Food Service Operations, and Games Operations.
  • AGS (Affinity Guest Services Inc.)more info
    Sales positions introducing AGS designed Websites, Guest Services Guide and custom designed marketing materials to campground owners. This is a commission based position. Assignments are given to you. You will be an independent contractor. Individual jobs take about two weeks. You are expected to complete 12-15 assignments per year.
  • Amazon Warehousemore info
    Locations in Kansas, Kentucky, and Nevada. All hours are paid for. Pay is usually between $9hr and $13/hr. Potential to get up to 60hrs a week during the Christmas peak. Hours over 40 are time and a half. They also pay for your campsite and, depending on the location, utilities. Bonuses and extra goodies may be provided as well as a discount on items ordered off Amazon.com. All three locations get snow and below freezing temps during peak. You are not guaranteed any hours. Although no previous experience is necessary, these are temporary warehouse positions in a fast-paced industrial environment that may be physically challenging. All positions require you to be on your feet most of the shift and require some bending, lifting, stooping and squatting. Some positions require the ability to climb stairs 30% of the time, and all positions require the use of a hand-held scanner. Email: seasonal-camper@amazon.com
  • Aramarkview listings
    Positions in National Parks and Resorts. Work campers are needed for a variety of positions, including: Camp Host, Campground Retail, Camp Cook, Front Desk Agent, Tour Sales Agent, Retail Sales Agent Food, Cooks & Beverage Cashiers. Housing and campsites are available for a small fee.
  • Be A Security Guard
    The following companies hire RVers to provide guard services at oil fields and construction sites. Your job will be to sit at a gated compound and check vehicles in and out. Pay is usually around $100/day. Normally, you have to provide a 24/7 presence. A generator is commonly provided. Sites last at least 30 days and can go much longer. You will most likely be hired as an independent contractor and will receive a 1099.
    Time Keepers
    Gate Guard Services, L.P.
  • Delaware North Companies Parks & Resortsview listings
    The concessionaire at Yellowstone and Sequoia National Parks. Opportunities in hospitality, food service, gaming or the other exciting industries. Campsites are not always provided.
  • Dollywoodmore infoLocated in Pigeon Forge, TN. Work Campers can begin as early as March. peak season is generally June, July and August. Campsites are not provided.
  • Hang Christmas Decorationsmore info
    Every year, workers are needed to hang decorations in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area. This is a seasonal job, from mid October – January. Hourly pay of $7-12 and overtime after 40hrs. This is a physically demanding job. You will climb ladders, sit in a cherry picker, and possibly walk on roofs. Campsites are not provided, but there are campgrounds close by that charge very reasonable rates. Phone: 865-769-0039
  • Sugar Beet Harvestmore info
    Eastern Montana. RV/Campers should arrive to assigned area the last week of September. Potential to make $1000/week. Positions require workers to be on their feet the duration of the shift. Shifts run 7 days a week in 12 hour shifts, weather permitting. All positions are classified as light industrial. It is very noisy, dusty, and cold. Temps will be in the 30″s and 40″s with a strong possibility of snow.
    The Sugar Beet Harvest ground operation is generally comprised of three main roles:
    Helper and Sample Taker: Collects beet samples and assists Pile Operator in cleaning. Helper will also communicate with drivers to ensure safe and accurate unloading of trucks.
    Pile Operator: Maneuvers pile control switches, orchestrates repair work and supervises and assists in the clean up of daily operations.
    Skidsteer Operator: Operates skidsteer. Must be able to lift 50lbs.
  • Xanterraview listings
    Seasonal work in National Parks, State Parks, and resorts.

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– Volunteer –

  • Bureau of Land Managementview listings
    BLM volunteers enjoy work that matches their interests and schedules. Some volunteers serve part-time and others enjoy a seasonal or full-time position. 261 million acres- are managed by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), making the BLM manager of the nation’s largest land trust. The public lands administered by the BLM range from saguaro cactus desert to Douglas fir tundra. Overall, these lands, located primarily in the Western part of the United States, comprise nearly one-eighth of our nation’s land area. The BLM’s mission is to help sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of these public lands so they can be used and enjoyed by both present and future generations.
  • Grow Foodview listings
    World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a cultural exchange. We gather a list of sustainable farms, projects, and organizations that invite volunteers to help out. People interested in experiencing a sustainable lifestyle use our list to make contact with hosts and setup visits. Hosts and volunteers work out the details of their own arrangements.
  • National Park Serviceview listings
    Most people know that the National Park Service cares for national parks, a network of nearly 400 natural, cultural and recreational sites across the nation. The treasures in this system – the first of its kind in the world –have been set aside by the American people to preserve, protect, and share, the legacies of this land.
  • Passport in Timeview listings
    Passport in Time (PIT) is a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program of the USDA Forest Service (FS). PIT volunteers work with professional FS archaeologists and historians on national forests throughout the U.S. on such diverse activities as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, survey, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. The FS professional staff of archaeologists and historians will be your hosts, guides, and co-workers.
  • USA Freedom Corpsview listings
    Find existing volunteer service opportunities in their area. This search-friendly database includes over 4 million volunteer opportunities from organizations across the country. Forestry, first aid, and much more. I have the best luck by putting campsite as the search term. BLM, Forestry, FEMA, etc.

Hop to Camp HostingWork at Parks, Resorts, and MoreVolunteerWork Camping Classified ListsOther ways to make money (Self Employment)Additional Resources

 

– Work Camping Classified Lists –

Businesses looking for employees submit ads to these sites. You will find the ads to be varied. Some might be host camper positions while others might be working with the circus as a teacher.

  • Workamping Jobsmore info
    THE CARETAKER GAZETTE is a unique newsletter containing property caretaking and house sitting jobs, advice, and information for property caretakers, housesitters, and landowners. Published since 1983, it’s the only publication in the world dedicated to the property caretaking field. A $29.95/year subscription fee is charged in order to see listings.
  • Coolworksview listings
    Cool Works is about you finding a seasonal job or career in some of the greatest places on Earth. Get a summer job in Yellowstone, Yosemite, or another national park. Find a summer job as a camp counselor. Ski resorts, ranches, theme parks, tour companies and more are waiting for you.
  • RV Park Storeview listings
    RV Park, Campground, and Resort Help Wanted/Employment Listings. Updated a couple times a month.
  • Workamper Newscontact
    Started in 1986, it is the most used commercial workamping service. Print and electronic bi-monthly magazine. Access to new job openings daily. They have a forum and will email you new listings.
  • Workers On Wheelsview listings
    Work for RVers and Campers is the Workers On Wheels website for RV workers and campground workers, with job and RV home business info, including paid employment and volunteer workamper positions.
  • Workamping Jobsview listings
    Free listings for employers. No charge to view the ads either.
  • Working Couplesmore info
    A job board where employers who are seeking to hire a couple as a team post their listings.

Hop to Camp HostingWork at Parks, Resorts, and MoreVolunteerWork Camping Classified ListsOther ways to make money (Self Employment)Additional Resources

 

– Other ways to make money –
(AKA Self Employment)

  • Freelancing
    Whether you are a writer, a web developer, a software engineer, a photographer, or possess a number of other skills, you can find a way to make money freelancing. The sites below connect you to people who want to pay you to sit in the comfort of your motorhome and do what you do best.

    iFreelance.com – Get access to 1000’s of buyers in need of your professional services. Advertise to buyers, bid on projects, and earn money doing what you love to do. Commission-Free!
    Associated Content – $1.50 per 1 000 views.
    Helium – pays per click as well as giving you upfront payments per article depending on your rating there.
    Triond – pay per 1000 clicks.
    Freelance Writing Gigs.com – Employers place their needs here.

    Hire a World of Talent at Elance

  • Affiliate Programs
    Make money connecting people to the sites they want to go.

    Ebay – The eBay Affiliate Program pays Internet publishers, Web masters, online partners, and eBay sellers to drive new users and sales to eBay. Affiliates promote eBay with banners, text links, and other innovative tools, such as the Editor’s Kit and the Flexible Destination Tool. In return, they receive commissions for driving new, active users as well as winning bids and “Buy It Now” purchases. Currently, the top 25 affiliates in the program average above $100,000 in monthly commissions.

  • Sell Your Designs
    Cafe Press – Create and sell your own clothing, mouse pads, coffee cups, etc..

Hop to Camp HostingWork at Parks, Resorts, and MoreVolunteerWork Camping Classified ListsOther ways to make money (Self Employment)Additional Resources

 

– Additional Resources –

Books about Work Camping @ our Amazon store.
Learn How To Earn An Income Anywhere! -> Need inspiration? Meet Jim And Rene: debt-free travellers working from wherever they go since 2007.
RV.net’s Work Camping Forum
Escapee’s Work Camping Forum
IRV2’s Work Camping Forum
Work Camping News Articles on rv-coach.com
Seasonal Job Boards on Google Directory

 




 

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