Last Updated on September 9, 2020 by Chris and Lindsay
People often ask us how to make money on the road. The truth is, there is no one way. We have always searched for opportunities and been fortunate enough to find many ways to continue to make a living while RVing.
In this post, we’ll share various things that we have done to fund our full-time travel. And we’ll also share over 25 ways that you can make money traveling with your skills, passions and interests.
This post focuses mostly on the things you can do right now to set yourself up to be able to make money on the road. Whether you travel in an RV like we do, or jet-set around the world, we’ll give you all of the ideas and a bunch of resources to prepare you to work from the road.
Of course, if you have the time and can take advantage of great travel savings tips before your trip you may find that you do not need to work on the road. But if you do plan to work as you travel, let us get you primed now with great ideas and information for how you can make money on the road.
How to Make Money on the Road
Honestly, there are as many ways to make money on the road as you can imagine. Here are a few general ideas we recommend you consider as you plan your life on the road.
1) Make your job mobile
The best way to make money on the road is to take your job with you. While not all jobs are suited for this, there are many that are.
Especially in the age of COVID, where many employers have experimented with virtual workspaces, it is now easier than ever to pitch your boss on the idea of letting you work from the road. In fact, several large companies have committed to keeping work-from-home the standard.
Of course, the more indispensable you are to your company the better your chances and options.
For example, we had a friend we met in Alaska who was one-of-a-kind for his company. Instead of quitting, his company let him work as few as 5 hours per week while he traveled through Alaska. When he returned to the Lower 48 he committed to working more hours. But in all the time he traveled he never worked more than 30 hours per week.
Plus, if you plan things right you will find that it is quite easy to spend less money on the road than at your current brick and mortar home. So you will likely be able to take a pay cut, if necessary, to be able to make your job mobile.
2) Start moonlighting in your remote office
We have been working as independent contractors for nearly ten years. At first, we started consulting and contracting work on the side while we worked full time. Eventually, we found we could make enough money moonlighting to support the idea of quitting our full-time jobs.
Of course, we are HUGE advocates for owning your own business so you can work for yourself. So the goal in moonlighting during your current job is to develop clientele, system and processes that will allow you to make the decision whether you can afford to leave your full-time job to work remotely on the road.
You will also want to consider building up your reputation and/or portfolio between now and when you hit the road. If you rely on websites like Upwork or Fiverr to find jobs then it is a great idea to get strong job ratings and reviews from contracts you complete.
The possibilities for what you can do are endless. Here are some of the top part-time contracting jobs you can start now and continue on the road:
- Website development and programming
- Copywriting and Editing
- Marketing/Social Media management
- Virtual Assistant
For example, we started writing SEO-optimized posts for websites for a small fee. Eventually, we built up enough monthly posts to trigger the idea that we could easily write posts on the road. As we continued to write, one of our clients hired us for part-time editing work on an ongoing basis which allowed us to budget to live full-time on the road.
When you build your freelance portfolio not only are you storing up your ability to work on the road in the future but also you are earning the income you can set aside for your travel goals.
3) Build a business you can run on the road
This is our favorite way to make money on the road. Building a business you can run from the road means that you can literally be anywhere in the world you want to be as long as you have the infrastructure in place to keep the business moving.
Usually, this simply means having access to high-speed internet. But your business on the road can take any number of forms.
We have come across full-time travelers who design and print graphics from their RVs. And we also know of a couple that makes custom skateboards from their RV. Of course, it is a whole lot easier to make money on the road from your business if you require less space and equipment.
For this reason, we believe that building a website and the branding associated with that is the best business you can build for the road.
For this, you can get by with a computer, a camera and/or video camera and a few external hard drives. Or strip this down to a computer, the latest iPhone and a reliance on the cloud.
There are two ways of thinking about starting this company. The first is to build the framework and get it moving on its own before you hit the road. In this way, you focus more on managing the business as you travel. The second way is to actually build the business from the ground up on the road.
We fell more into the second than the first. While we tried to start our business before we began traveling the reality was we needed the authority of experience from the road (and LOTS of trial and error) to learn what business we were in and how to build it.
We talk more about our business in this post. But we’re fully committed to building our business so that it provides us the financial means to continue to travel.
When we own our own business we can choose our office and when to work and when to play. While it definitely takes a LOT more work than the first two ideas, once you get your business moving you really do get a taste of freedom.
We’ve camped in beautiful places and been incredibly productive as we’ve stared out of our camper office at the turquoise waters of Baja or the towering Teton mountains.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about your business:
- Work as a freelance consultant using your skills and expertise
- Start a Travel Blog/Vlog
- Build a Website
- Sell products through affiliate marketing
- Become a brand ambassador/social media influencer
- Write Sponsored content
- Sell your own products online
- Dropship products / sell through Fulfil by Amazon (FBA)
- Use your professional licenses and experience:
- Legal Services
4) Create, market and sell intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) is very simply something you create, own and can market, license and sell. Unlike a physical product, most intellectual property is digital.
The most common forms of intellectual property include music, videos, e-books and various other forms of art.
The idea of intellectual property is that you invest time in creating something that you can sell at any hour of the day. For example, you can list an e-book on Amazon one day. Then anytime from then people can purchase your e-book.
You get paid for purchases made whether you are awake or asleep, actively marketing and selling your IP or letting it sell itself.
The beauty of creating a marketable intellectual property is twofold.
First, it is usually fun to create because you are passionate and knowledgeable about whatever it is you are creating. Whether digital designs and patterns, music or videos, photographic images, e-books, online courses or any number of other products, you’re likely going to enjoy the process of creating them.
Second, once you market your IP it begins to sell itself at any hour of the day or night. People can literally access and buy your products anytime they want from anywhere in the world.
For example, we enjoy creating videos for our YouTube channel. These videos go online one time but most of our views come in the days and weeks following the release.
People all over the world watch the videos and because we affiliate market different products and run advertisements on our videos we literally make money while we sleep.
Additionally, the more quality IP you create the more your income grows, theoretically. Of course, you don’t want to flood the world with garbage. There is plenty of that floating around the internet already, making it very difficult to stand out in an already highly competitive environment.
However, once you differentiate your IP and build a loyal audience, whether you’re selling a series of e-books, online courses or digital designs, the revenue potential is literally endless.
Ideas for Intellectual Property you can make, market and sell:
- Online courses
- Digital graphics
- Mobile apps
5) Participate in work exchange programs
There are all sorts of ways that you can make money on the road by participating in work exchange programs. In some cases, you can use your existing professional skillset to find work in your established field. In others, you can branch out and try your hand at virtually anything.
This is a great resource for finding work exchange programs.
We found ourselves the beneficiaries of opportunities for unofficial work experiences as we have traveled. We’ve been able to harvest cherries, fish for halibut and train horses among other ways we’ve made money on the road filling employment needs wherever we were.
Whether you search for a formal work exchange program or find yourself at the right place and time for unique work experiences, there is certainly money to be made on the road if you look for it.
Here are some great ideas to get you started:
6) Teach English
One of the most popular ways to make money on the road is to teach English to overseas students. The most popular program for doing this is VIPKid, where you will tutor Chinese students in English in half-hour segments.
We pursued work with VIPKid but ultimately made the decision that it did not fit with our travel lifestyle. Because we moved frequently and the time difference between China and where we traveled meant we would have to work from 3 AM-7 AM.
However, there are definitely some great benefits to teaching English online:
- Flexible work schedule you can set
- Work from virtually anywhere
- Earn upwards of $20-$25+/hr
Things of which you should be aware of teaching online:
- Work hours can be difficult
- Mostly part-time work
- Requires a college degree (most reputable companies)
- Must have reliable high-speed internet
- Requires a dedicated “classroom” workspace
Here is a great resource about 8 companies that let you teach English from your home (on the road).
7) Work where you are
If you travel slow and keep an eye out for opportunities you will always find work opportunities wherever you are. If you are motivated enough to make money on the road then you will find the work to support your travel.
We found ourselves broken down for a summer in Wyoming. While there we served food and ran a spa. Twice when we returned to our hometown in Florida we hustled all sorts of jobs.
From delivering pizza to grocery shopping to scraping up work as a handyman, we’ve done everything we could to make enough money to stay on the road.
Here are some other ideas about what you can do to work where you are:
- Seasonal work
- Harvesting produce
- Winter/Summer Sports
- Bar / Restaurant
- Resort / Camp
- Busking (music, acrobatic acts, etc on street)
- Local Tour Guide
- Work in Hostels
- Traveling Nurse
- Masseuse / Chef
- Cruise Ship/Sailboat/Yacht
- Childcare / Au Pair
- Teach Yoga
- Scuba Dive Instructor/Divemaster
- Surf / Kitesurf / Climbing Instructor
8) Learn about investing
Investing is not for everyone, which is why we put this idea last. But if you take the time to learn the basics there are a lot of ways that you can make money on the road through investing.
Traditionally you will find yourself investing in stocks as a day trader. However, a more popular trend in investing on the road is through trading cryptocurrency.
Honestly, we’ve dabbled in investing cryptocurrency. But we didn’t take the time to learn the principles so it was more guessing than it was following a strategy. Plus with investing cryptocurrency there are substantial fees associated with converting between crypto and cash.
However, if you manage your investment strategy then you can build making money on the road around your schedule. Whether you want to spend a few hours per day, a few days per week or even a week or two per month, you are in control of your earnings.
How We Make Money on the Road
We’ve shared 8 great ways to use your current knowledge, skills, talents and passions to prepare you to make money on the road. Whether you take your current job mobile or begin your own business, find seasonal work wherever you travel or delve into the world of day trading, the possibilities for working while traveling are endless.
However, you have to start somewhere. So here’s our brief story of how we have been able to fund our full-time travels over the past 3 years. It has not all been glamorous.
And while we have learned how to make money while traveling, we have also learned that this takes time and hard work.
Part 1: Origins of Our Savings
When we first had the vision to drive from Alaska to Argentina we were in a perfect situation to aggressively save for such an endeavor. We were debt-free and were working as foster parents for an organization that provided for nearly all of our expenses.
While we were paid a modest amount, nearly ⅔ of that pay went into our travel savings. In the course of 2 years, we saved approximately $30,000 toward our travels.
Additionally, we had a small retirement account (around 10K) that was going to be the foundation of our “sell-everything-and-go-for-broke” adventure. Around this time the stock market began to grow at an incredible pace.
We didn’t plan to use these funds unless we had to. But it was great to see them grow and showed the power of investing. By the time we left 18 months later, we had just over $40,000 in this account.
We budgeted $20,000 of our savings to purchase our truck and camper and make all necessary modifications, upgrades and outfittings. We began making purchases in the last year before our journey.
So while we never saw a full $20,000 in our savings account we did not go over this budget.
However, things did change for us that prompted us to leave on our journey a full year before we thought we would. In this case, we ended up with around $10,000 in travel savings and the $40,000 balance in our retirement account, which now became a primary source of funding our journey.
Part 2: Starting Our Website and Building Our Brand
As we were beginning to plan and prepare for our adventure we also built our website and began the long and very slow process of learning how to monetize our website and brand.
To be honest, our first year of travel plus all the time of planning was almost entirely a waste – other than learning from our failures.
We had no idea how to create website content that people wanted to find. And we jumped into Instagram, Twitter and YouTube well after the initial wave of travel blog/vlog success stories had swept across the internet and made everyone think that success was simple.
But we endured in learning everything we could about how to build a successful website and brand that we could monetize at some point in the future.
We took the long game with monetizing and decided it was worth investing the time into learning how to monetize from our experience rather than become disheartened and give up.
We’ve put together a post on how to monetize your website and brand here.
For the first year, we spent money more than we ever made it. And as a result of some unforeseen repairs and additional expenses on the road, we whittled our travel savings down to around $15,000 midway through the year.
We still had no idea when we would be able to monetize our website and brand. But we were addicted to the road. We had visited over 20 states and 3 Canadian provinces on our way from Florida to Alaska.
What we had seen, the stories we had and the photos and video footage from this portion of our trip made us think we had the foundation for monetizing our brand at some point.
But after Alaska, we faced the hard truth that we were going to have to go back to working odd jobs along the way if we were going to live full-time on the road.
Part 3: Working the Odd Jobs Along the Way
We ended up returning to Florida after 7 months on the road. And while we felt somewhat defeated that we hadn’t learned how to make money on the road, we did have some successes that inspired us to work hard.
In fact, we did find that while we didn’t make a living while RVing, we had several opportunities to get paid while traveling.
Here are a few of those instances:
- We picked cherries during harvesting season in Washington
- Chris worked two days as a commercial halibut fishermen in Alaska
- We work camped for a month in Thermopolis, Wyoming
- Several people made donations through our website
These occasions inspired us that while our journey was not directly from Point A to B, it could continue if we were willing to work along the way.
In Florida, we spent several months working odd jobs however we could. We pressure washed and painted throughout the neighborhood. Chris picked up small handyman jobs and consulted with his former business partner on the side. Lindsay began a small book reselling business.
We call this our “season of hustle” because we were able to scrape together enough money to pay for some repairs to our truck and to save for the next six month part of our trip, which we planned to Wyoming.
While things went sideways on us in these plans when our truck broke down in Utah, we did end up having a productive summer in Wyoming. Chris worked as a handyman and a server in a restaurant while Lindsay ran a spa at the local hot springs in Thermopolis.
We lived very frugally, setting aside almost all of our earnings to cover the expenses of our upcoming journey to Baja, Mexico and beyond.
Fast forward to COVID and we were again forced to return to Florida to wait out the uncertainty of traveling during the pandemic.
Here, again, we picked up odd jobs delivering flowers, pizza and groceries and working in a restaurant. Chris also continues to consult part-time and has a longer-term arrangement that allows us some level of security in our financial planning.
We learned that making money on the road is not as glamorous as it sounds. But if you are willing to work hard there are almost always opportunities to work where you are to get you to where you’d like to go.
Part 4: Growing Our Online Business
The most exciting part of our journey to make money on the road while living in our RV full time was when our website and brand actually began to bring money in for us.
We really learned how to make money while traveling by finding a few products and services we loved and could represent as affiliates and by having a few of our posts and YouTube videos find modest success.
We were in Baja, between working odd jobs, when we received affiliate commission for a few products. Our favorite, Harvest Hosts, really picked up for us when our review started ranking. And we did a camper tour video that went semi-viral on YouTube just after we had reached the monetization level.
Between the two experiences, we may have crossed the $100 threshold. But this was a testament that we could make money traveling if we kept at it long enough.
When COVID forced us from Mexico back to Florida we went the odd-job route to start building up our travel savings once again. But at this same time, after state lockdowns let up, we found that resources on our website were hot commodities for those people wanting to travel throughout the US.
Our website traffic shot up tremendously and we ended up hosting advertisements through Ezoic. We surpassed the total of all of our previous revenue almost immediately.
Our affiliate sales remained strong and while we weren’t able to produce exciting on-the-road videos for our YouTube Channel, we had consistent ad revenue from YouTube in this time as well.
As I wrap up this article at the end of summer I can see that our revenue has started to decrease with the end of the busy travel season. But it is still holding steady and we think we have finally truly learned how to make money traveling in our RV.
If you are trying to figure out how to make money traveling you are certainly not alone. Making money on the road looks as different as your goals and dreams compared to everyone else.
We’ve given you 8 great ways you can plan to use your current skills, passions and interests to make money on the road. And within those 8 broad categories are dozens of specific opportunities you can seek to make money traveling.
If you combine an aggressive savings plan with a willingness to work odd jobs along the way and to be patient if you decide to build an online business then we have no doubt you too will experience success making money while you travel.
Please reach out to us if you’d like to know more about how we’ve built our website and brand to be able to support our full-time travel as we continue to learn and share more of how to make money on the road!