Workamping: Running a Business from an RV
Thanks to today’s mobile technologies, many jobs can be done away from the office. So why not live on the road full-time?
“Workampers” are a growing group of people who live and work in recreational vehicles. While most of the estimated 450,000 full-time RVers in the U.S. are retirees working part-time temporary or volunteer jobs, many others are independent contractors, running a wide variety of businesses from their Winnebagos.
Mari Smith, for example, is a Facebook and social media marketing consultant who has lived and worked while touring the U.S. in a luxury RV.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my 18 months of being a full-time RVer and running my business on the road,” Smith says.
From 2007 to 2009, she traveled “from San Diego to the top of Alaska and all the spectacular national parks in-between.” She juggled her business — which involved leading teleseminars and webinars — with time spent enjoying some of the nation’s most beautiful sights.
One big challenge: access to the Internet. Her job required her to maintain a strong connection, so she had to plan her travels around campgrounds with good Wi-Fi.
“I had an aircard that worked great for the most part, but I always preferred to be parked at a good RV facility with a strong Wi-Fi signal,” she says.
Writer/author Jaimie Bruzenak began living and working in an RV in 1992. Today’s technology has made such a life easier.
“A lot of people don’t understand how easily you can be connected on the road,” she says. Not only do many campgrounds have Wi-Fi, but RVs can be outfitted with satellite internet dishes. Bruzenak also uses an aircard and a smartphone that doubles as a modem.
For snail mail, most workampers rely on mail-forwarding services (picking no-income tax states as their places of domicile).
While many workampers are retirees who take part-time, seasonal jobs as campground hosts, others are of varying ages, running a wide range of businesses that can be done on a mobile basis.
Bruzenak has also written a guide to workamping: Support Your RV Lifestyle! An Insider's Guide to Working on the Road.
She points to the following types of careers as being especially adaptable to workamping:
- Art, writing, photography, and other creative professions
- Sales, especially related to the RV industry (for instance, selling solar panels or satellite dishes for RVs)
- Legal and medical transcription
- Online instruction
- Nursing or other health professions
“RVing has a reputation for being something you do when you’re a retired senior,” says Smith. “Not so. There’s a whole subculture of vibrant RVers who work from the road.”
(Full disclosure: Author Lorna Collier's husband owns a recreational vehicle dealership. She is not, however, a workamper.)