We’ve been traveling the US and working full-time from our RV since 2013. During that time, the questions we get asked most are: “How do you guys make money from the road and how can I do it too?” I’ll do my best to answer the first part of the question in this article.
For those wondering how they can make money on the road, I wrote another article: The Complete Guide for Earning a Paycheck while Living in an RV. There, I share several legitimate virtual and flex job options that I researched and recommend. (I say legit because there are a ton of online and other virtual scams, which you want to avoid.)
It’s a popular article with our readers, yet it doesn’t say much about how we make a living. So if you’re still curious, read on as I’ll share how I make money from the road. I’ll leave Rich to write a companion article that covers how he makes money in the future.
How I Make a Living from the Road
I like multiple income streams because they help to create financial stability. By working in more than one role, I’m also able to enjoy using my diverse skills in business and the creative arts, and it keeps my work interesting.
Here are the four part-time jobs that make up my normal work week:
- Manager & Recruiter – at a Talent Management company
- Virtual Operations Manager and Mentor – at a Life and Career Coaching company
- Writer for TrekWithUs – this Travel Blog
- Artist – I sell my artwork online
Going forward I may refer to my jobs as ‘roles’ because two of them are technically not ‘jobs’ where I make a regular pay check.
Now if you’re thinking: “Wow – that’s a lot of jobs to take on the road with you!” I agree! Even though they’re all part-time roles it can still be a juggling act to manage everything. That said I’m successful because I’m organized, focused, and balanced throughout the week.
I limit my total working hours to 40 hours/week, so we can enjoy exploring and spending time outdoors. (Confession: I used to work 60+ hour weeks back during our ‘stick-and-brick’ days so this schedule is pretty scaled down for me.)
As I go through each job I’ll share certain details including: company overview, how I found or created the opportunity, the skills required, a snapshot of what my work week looks like, tools required, and the pros/cons. I describe my position as Manager & Recruiter in the most detail, since I currently spend about two-thirds of my week working in that role.
I’m writing this level of detail for those who asked me for it. Feel free to skip around!
Workforce Solutions Group (WSG) and its Healthcare Talent (HCT) division – offers recruitment, staffing and strategic talent solutions for clients in Southern CA and around the U.S.
I manage a team of 3-4 recruiters who work in our CA offices. I also do some recruiting myself, usually filling management positions for our clients.
How I found this opportunity: I’ve been in the recruiting field for over 15 years, and started working for WSG about 8 years ago. In 2013 I was working there while checking out various ways I could make money from the road. WSG was my top choice so I asked our founder, Pam Jung if I could work virtually from my RV. I was thrilled when she agreed! Pam is committed to offering life-balance for her employees – and has won business awards in part because of her philosophy. (Tip: tap into your network and look for companies that allow flexibility. If a company knows and trusts you they could be your best option.)
Skills required: My job requires hands-on recruiting skills and a management background.
How my work week flows: I work Monday – Thursday for 7 hours per day since I need to be in fairly steady communication with our team and our clients. (On Friday’s I’m on-call and available by text or email, since I’ve set it aside as my creative day.) I normally spend about a third of my time managing and supporting my two teams. The rest of my time is split between working with clients and doing hands-on recruiting for my own job openings. TRAVEL: I travel to our CA office 3 times a year, for a week at a time. It helps me to stay connected by seeing our team members and clients in person every so often. I also keep a few business outfits on hand for these trips.
How I make money: I am a W-2 employee, so I receive weekly paycheck through direct deposit. I’m paid hourly, and the steady income is helpful to our travel lifestyle. I also earn bonuses when I meet my quarterly goals.
Tools required: My 15″ MacBook Pro – http://amzn.to/2nefPUD – is my most important tool. I also have a Samsung Note 4 cell phone, which I use for phone and data service. Rich and I share a Verizon plan that offers 40 GB of data per month. I also use my iPad – http://amzn.to/2mQIrpq – for emails and as a backup to my computer. I’m paperless, so I rely on a lot of software to help keep me organized. That topic could make up another entire article, so stay tuned. We do have a printer for the occasional document that needs scanning or printing, but we get all our mail through a virtual mailbox and our documents are scanned for us.
- The ability to work from home by using the internet and online software.
- Great company culture with a philanthropic leader who values life balance.
- Fantastic team, who are like friends and family to me.
- No commute! Instead I have my coffee outside in the mornings, listening to the birds.
- Clothing budget is lower since I work in my comfy clothes.
- Flexible work hours and the ability to earn bonuses.
- I enjoy the work I do. It keeps my business skills sharp and keeps me connected to people.
- Job stability working in the high-growth healthcare industry.
- Being remote does have its challenges. This is a fast-paced business so I need to stay on top of all changes and it can be hard to do that when you’re not in the office.
- I’ve had times when it was difficult to work because our RV is caught in a thunderstorm, or our fiberglass roof is pelted by rain, which is loud! Other times I’ve had connectivity issues due to lack of cell service.
- Time zone differences: I may be on the East Coast for a year at a time, so sometimes I work a later schedule to accommodate our West Coast location.
Travel to corporate office: This is both a Pro & a Con. Who can complain about visiting our great team in CA? I really enjoy those trips, and I get to see old friends, visit places where we used to go when we lived there, etc. It’s just hard to Rich and my kitty, Lexi and I’m often coming in from a different time zone. Plus flying isn’t my favorite. Ha! I know, this is a tough challenge:-)
Aspyrre – is a coaching and professional development organization, founded by coach Nahid Cassaza. Her services include Leadership Development and Life Coaching, and her clients are in Southern CA and around the U.S.
How I found this opportunity: I hired Nahid as my career coach in 2006 because I wanted her to help me eliminate my workaholic tendencies. (aka those 60-70 hour work weeks I mentioned earlier.) We’ve been working together ever since, and Nahid has helped me design the career and life balance I enjoy today. She asked me to join her team part-time about 5 years ago, and it’s been a natural fit for both of us.
Skills required: Business, web marketing, editing, mentoring, and coaching skills. I also have a Holistic Life Coach certificate, which helps.
How my work week flows: My work with Nahid is very flexible. I stay organized by using Google calendar and its pop-up reminder features. Online work: Every other Wednesday I edit, format, and post the articles Nahid writes for her website. Every Thursday I post Nahid’s events on her social media pages. Mentoring work: I have a small group of Nahid’s clients that I mentor (a lighter form of coaching) throughout the month. About once a month we have a business call, as well.
How I make money: Nahid pays me an hourly rate for the work I do, and I invoice her once a month. I’m a 1099 independent contractor and am paid through PayPal.
Tools required: I use my computer, phone, and Verizon data as described in my recruiting job.
- Nahid is fantastic to work with. We share similar life values and we enjoy a unique relationship as thought partners.
- I enjoy the variety of work I do for her. The online work is solitary, so it gives me time to recharge my batteries and to use my technical skills. I also enjoy mentoring our clients, as I believe in the work Aspyrre does and the results we produce for people.
- I feel very fortunate to live a life I love – and I want to give back to others.
- The same challenges that come with being virtual, which I mentioned for my job at HCT above.
- On occasion it’s tough to juggle my main recruiting job with this work while maintaining a high level of service to everyone.
As you’re reading this article, you already know what our website: TrekWithUs.com is about. It’s a place to share information about the RVing lifestyle, and our goal is to teach and inspire others to live a life of more freedom and adventure. If you happen to RV this is the place for you. We also welcome nomads-at-heart, life hackers, and creative thinkers from any walk of life!
How I created this opportunity: Rich and I started TrekWithUs as a travel blog in 2010 while testing out full-time travel living and working from the road. We had a Honda Element and we filled it with belongings we’d need for the journey, and for 18 months we tent camped and serial rented our way across the US and in Mexico. (You can read more about us on that page.) Over the years we’ve become more committed to sharing more about this lifestyle with our readers – which means more writing!
Skills required: Online writing skills and WordPress skills. Writing online is different from the type of writing I’ve done in my business life. I’ve learned to adapt my writing by working with Rich, who has more of this experience. He also taught me how to use this WordPress website. (Thanks Rich!)
How my work week flows: I enjoy writing for an hour 2-3 times a week, before I start my recruiting job. But I do most of my writing on Friday afternoons, or Monday evenings during my creative time.
How I make money: When readers click on our Amazon product links and then make a purchase we make a small commission. This is called affiliate marketing and it’s a good way to make an income from a website. If you happen to buy something through our site, we appreciate it!
Tools required: I use my computer, phone, and Verizon data as described earlier.
- The website is very creative and when I write it feeds the artist in me.
- I love writing about this lifestyle! I believe in creating the life you love and I enjoy sharing ideas, tips, and other info that may help inspire you.
- I love to connect with other like-minded travelers and I enjoy the comments and questions from our readers.
- Our website creates some income from commissions, which is a nice bonus.
- Writing is hard work! If you want to be good at it you need to practice your craft.
- It’s time-consuming. An engaging, 2,500 word article takes 6-8 hours to write.
- Sometimes I’m tired from my other work – or from having too much fun traveling – so I don’t write as much as I’d like.
WesternTrailsArt.com is a website where I showcase my paintings. I also sell reproductions of my artwork on canvas, prints, and personal items such as mugs, totes and more. My vision is to bring visitors on an artistic journey, while showing support for our natural parks and the great outdoors.
How I found this opportunity: Over the past 10 years I created this opportunity by painting my Western Trails “oils-on-canvas” series. Rich played a major role in helping me bring my art to the market, by designing my website and putting my artwork online.
Skills required: Oil painting skills, design skills, and web marketing skills.
How my work week flows: I paint on weekends a few times a month when we aren’t traveling. I usually paint outside, in 2-3 hour stints – or as long as I’m inspired to keep going!
How I make money: Commissions through the sale of my artwork. Visitors click into my paintings through the “View Purchase Options” button, which takes you to my vendor site. My vendor then reproduces and ships the product(s) directly to the client and I am paid a commission.
Tools required: I wrote a full article on the artist tools I take with me on the road. I also use my IPad to browse for reference photos of nature close-ups like birds, reptiles, and plants.
- I LOVE painting and capturing the beauty I see in nature!
- It’s easy to bring my paint supplies with me on the road – and I can work inside or outside.
- Customers can purchase my artwork as high quality, modestly-priced reproductions. Items can even be bought on demand – either one at a time or in quantity.
- I can keep my focus on painting, since I don’t have to carry inventory or ship the products.
- Painting is time consuming work. Due to the level of detail in my art it takes me over 100 hours to produce a single oil painting.
- Since I don’t paint as much as I’d like, it’s taking me awhile to build up the variety of paintings I offer. Customers tend to want more choice, so this limits my sales.
Resources and Closing Thoughts
I hope this article helped you think about creative ways to make money on the road while you travel by providing a birds eye view into my work week.
There are countless of other resources available to you, but one resource I recommend is The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. While it’s not designed strictly for travelers, Tim’s concepts are very compatible with this life. He shares a ton of ideas that will help you see how to use your natural skills so you can do work you enjoy, work less, and enjoy more freedom. The book also has a detailed section on how to turn your current office job into a telecommuting one.
And if you haven’t checked it out yet, I recommend you read this article I mentioned earlier, The Complete Guide for Earning a Paycheck while Living in an RV.
Just ten years ago it was much harder to make money from the road than it is today. With all the technology available to you now is the perfect time to embark on a part or full-time travel lifestyle. You can enjoy the peace of mind that a steady income provides, all while seeing the sights our amazing country (and world) has to offer.
On a closing note – if you’re just starting to research this idea, I encourage you to be patient. It took us 2 years before we were ready to hit the road from the time we started and we’re always glad we took the time to set ourselves up for success.
Best of luck to you in reaching your goals and dreams, wherever they take you. We would love to hear how it’s going for you, or to answer any questions you may have.
Until next time, Happy Trekking!