Shari and Hutch live on the road in their vintage “canned ham” trailer. They’re sharing advice on full-time camping every Thursday, like how to find work on the road!
Imagine being able to work when and where you want to. We’ve done just that for the past few years.
With a bit of creativity, a heavy dose of resourcefulness, and some dumb luck, we’ve found ways to work on the road, while living in our canned ham camper. In the past 5.5 years we’ve never had to work year-round nor file for unemployment during the off-season. With about 4 months a year of what we call “FUN-employment,” we can easily make ends meet and still save money for our future.
Has every job been awesome? Not a chance. Some have been truly challenging, while others have been super fun and rewarding. However, we’ve always learned something from each experience, and we’ve been able to pull up stakes and drive off when we’re done.
How We Find Jobs and Work on the Road
Seasonal work, odd jobs, and side gigs are the main ways that we work on the road, in addition to presenting lifestyle seminars and writing magazine articles.
We both have a wide variety of skills that we enjoy, and we both have masters degrees in Educational Leadership in addition to Certificates in Environmental Education. We spent nearly 20 years working in higher education as experiential educators, with Hutch’s focus on outdoor leadership and Shari’s on social and environmental justice.
We prefer to work during the seasons in which we find traveling in our camper challenging, primarily during the dead of winter and high-tourist season months.
Skip the Classifieds and Call
We’ve found 99% of our jobs by inquiring with an organization that looks appealing, rather than combing through posted job listings.
For instance, in 2015, we secured volunteer work with Acadia National Park in Maine for the spring and fall. To make money during the summer (high tourist season on the coast of Maine), Hutch contacted a number of sea kayaking tour companies and I contacted campgrounds in the area. Within a few weeks, we both had jobs and a place to park Hamlet for the summer at a campground on Mt. Desert Island!
In 2017, just before we left to do volunteer work in Kenya, we contacted a popular winery in Northern Michigan. We knew the manager because we’d led weekly snowshoe tours for her during the winter. She immediately hired us both as tasting room associates for the busy season.
None of these jobs were posted anywhere. We just put ourselves out there and asked, “Are you hiring?” A well-written, professional resume which focusses on your skill set, rather than your position history never hurts either. This summer, we’ll be back on the coast of Maine working at a campground and kayak adventure company we visited back in 2015. All we did was send an email.
Work Trade and Volunteering
Work-trade and volunteer opportunities have helped make our money go further. While we’re rarely paid for this kind of work (some opportunities offer small stipends), we do get a place to stay (or park Hamlet) and meals, bathroom and laundry privileges, and wifi. These amenities drastically lower our living expenses, and allow us to stay on the road, traveling and camping as often as possible.
The best part about these opportunities is that you don’t have to be an expert and you don’t necessarily need to work full-time. You just need some related, transferable experience and a willingness to try new things.
Love to garden? Try organic farm work. Have office, people, or landscaping skills? Campgrounds need those, too. Do you have experience teaching? National Parks & Monuments need educators to lead interpretative tours for visitors. Most of these jobs provide training, and the opportunities are endless, once you start finding them. You just need to know where to look — and don’t be afraid to ask people and organizations about volunteer and work trade opportunities !
Some additional ideas for work trade opportunities include campground hosting, volunteering in National Parks and National Forests (visitors centers, interpretation, etc.), wild west ranches, and organic farming. Here are some helpful links to get you started on your work trade search:
Paid Work and Part-Time Gigs
Work trade is great, but as part of our 4-4-4 plan, in which we balance work and travel, along with volunteer opportunities, we do needs jobs that pay real money! Here are the categories of paid work that we look for:
Seasonal opportunities include campground hosting, National Park & State Park Rangers, guiding for tour companies, teaching at environmental education centers, providing guide services, working at ski resorts and retail stories… this list goes on. Here are some helpful seasonal work resources:
- Working Couples
- Cool Works
- Recreation Resource Management
- Amazon Fulfillment Camper Force (for the holidays)
- Kelly Services (temporary employment)
Side Gigs & Odd Jobs
Search local classified ads, Craigslist, community bulletin boards, or put your own ad up on Craigslist. We’ve had great luck finding odd jobs by simply posting a strong ad thats well-written and grammatically correct! Some other great ideas can be found on Side Hustle Nation.
Do you already have a job that allows you to work from anywhere with an internet connection? Find campgrounds that offer wifi and you’re good to go! We do writing, photography, web design, quality assurance, etc. — all from the convenience of our camper or public library. We’ve had great fun finding some cool historic libraries to work from all over the country!
Finding work on the road requires you to look at yourself as a collection of skills applicable to a variety of settings, rather than just a list of previous positions — think outside of the box, and you’ll discover new interests and new job opportunities that pay. You are more than a job description, so go apply yourself!
Read More from Full-Time Campers Shari and Hutch:
- Full-Time Campers: The Benefits of Bailing on your Comfort Zone
- Full-Time Campers Get Read on Relationships in Small Spaces
- Full-Time Campers Share How They Save for Camping and Travel Expenses
- No Reservations? No Problem.
- Wild Animals and Coastal Camping in South Carolina
- Discover Five-Star Camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains
- How to Prepare for Life on the Road