You love the RV lifestyle but you’d also like to find a way to supplement your income. The answer is workamping. If the term is new to you, workamping is being employed while living in an RV. (By the way, the term “workamper” was coined by Steve Anderson of Workamper News.) The jobs may be full- or part-time, seasonal or year-round, and offer a variety of compensation types, from trading hours for a free RV site to straight pay.
To get more insights into the workamping world, we reached out to Robyn Jinkins, Social Media Manager for Workamper News, and Patty Ceglio, Web Recruiting and Seasonal HR Strategist for CoolWorks.com.
The workamping lifestyle is becoming more and more popular each year, says Robyn. It’s all about “freedom of place,” she explains, “being able to go wherever you want and stay as long as you want because of your Workamper income and perks. ‘Freedom of place’ also means warm winters, cool summers, time with the grandkids, time away from the grandkids and a million other enticing benefits!”
Another big draw is the community aspect, says Patty. Workamping allows RV-ers to find others who share the passion for place and travel and the RV lifestyle. In many cases, she adds, they form groups who return year after year to live work and play together, or make plans to travel together in the off-season.
So who are these workampers? “Most people think you have to be retired to workamp and that simply isn’t true,” says Robyn. “Our average age of workampers are in their fifties, but we are seeing more and more young families come aboard. Another misconception is that people workamp out of necessity. While that might be true in some cases, the majority of workampers seek out this lifestyle for a change from the 9-to-5 life.”
Compensation can take many forms, from a free RV site or housing in exchange for hours worked to competitive salaries plus health insurance, retirement, etc. for full-time career positions. “In order to be competitive, employers of temporary or seasonal workers in the outdoor hospitality industry are currently offering compensation packages (wages plus benefits) ranging from $8 to $15 per hour,” says Patty. “Jobs that include managerial or supervisory responsibilities or require formal education and/or certification should pay towards the higher end of this range, or even higher.”
There are also volunteer positions, with most volunteer workampers compensated with at the least a free site or possibly even a stipend.
And there can be other compensations in addition to money, from passes to local attractions and discounts for restaurants/attractions in town to free or reduced cost of propane, a laundry allowance or sometimes free laundry, adds Patty. “The list is endless!”
As for the types of jobs available, they run the gamut from camp hosts, park managers and activities directors to groundskeepers, maintenance workers, caretakers and site-sitters to more unusual opportunities. “Occasionally, we have calls for actors for Wild West shows, tail-gunners for RV caravans, chuckwagon cooks, pumpkin lot and Christmas tree lot managers,” says Robyn.
“Folks who are comfortable learning quickly and sharing knowledge might find positions as tour guides, shuttle drivers, fishing guides and wranglers,” adds Patty. “Imagine driving one of the iconic Red Buses in Glacier National Park!”
But while workamping can be an enjoyable experience, it is still a job, not a paid vacation, emphasizes Patty. “You might only want to work 10 hours a week but the employer requires 40 hours. And if you and your spouse are both working, you may have different schedules. Employers try to accommodate days off, but sometimes it gets tricky.”
So how can you make workamping work for you? Here are some tips from Robyn and Patty.
Do your research.
Start with site like Workamper News and CoolWorks.com where you can find a list of employment opportunities. Know what you will be doing, how you will be compensated, and what hours you will be expected to work. “We strongly recommend that the workamper asks the employer for this information in writing and have that letter of understanding or work agreement in hand before giving notice or making plans to travel a great distance to relocate,” says Robyn. “The majority of workampers report that the quality of the work environment is just as important as compensation when deciding where to work.”
Provide a professional resume.
“Employers are often looking for flexibility in accepting work assignments, wide dates of availability, and transferrable skills,” says Patty. “A career school teacher would not have a direct fit at a resort, but there are plenty of skills that would make this person a fabulous tour greeter (herding cats!), employee residence coordinator, host in the dining room, or supervisor in a lodging operation. Often, employees want positions that are not what they just spend a career doing. That’s okay too!” (Note: Workamper News has a Diamond or Platinum member-only Awesome Applicants Resume Builder Tool designed specifically for Workampers.)
Be clear about your requirements.
Want to bring your pet? Need Wi-Fi? Prefer to have your paycheck auto-deposited? “You don’t want to present an exhaustive list and wear out the employer, but pick and choose a few things that are most crucial to have an answer to,” says Patty. “Sometimes you don’t need a ‘yes’—you just need to have information to make solid decisions and work through the logistics. Be sure to consider the elevation of the workplace and potential side effects with your health and medications.”
Consider the season and your RV.
The workamping season runs all 12 months, which might mean you’ll could be traveling through snow or mud with a 30-foot trailer, notes Patty. “If you have an extremely long RV/motor home, be sure to check with your prospective employer to ensure that there is a site that can accommodate it. Also, expect to have only a day or two extra at the front and back end to occupy your site and get settled in, or to pack up and move out.”
If you’re looking to add an extra dimension to your RV lifestyle, consider applying for a workamping position. You’ll gain new skills and have a chance to expand your RV social circle while exploring a new environment!