Work Camping On the Road

Retirement Plan #1 was to retire on January 1, 2018.  By then we would have plenty and to spare in our retirement portfolio to buy a motorhome and be full-time, no-work travelers.  But we were simply running out of physical and emotional gas.  When it’s no longer fun, it’s time to make a new plan.  Hence, Retirement Plan #2.

Retirement Plan #2 is to work several months each year to fund our annual expenses, live cheaply so we don’t have to work more than a few months a year, and let Clay grow the earnings of our portfolio until they can support our annual expenses.

So how does one find work on the road to support this nomadic lifestyle?

Working on the Road

There are tons of interesting opportunities to earn money or volunteer while living on the road full time. Some pay money and some give free RV spots with full-hookups in exchange for a bit of your time each week.

Locum Tenens (LT)

There are opportunities for medical professionals to work and live on the road full time doing locum tenens (temporary) assignments.  So if you are a doctor, dentist, CRNA, nurse practitioner, nurse or physician assistant, this may be for you!

IMG_4021

Ready for the operating room on locum tenens assignment

You can make the arrangements yourself with a hospital or practice (and keep all the money you negotiate for your fees), or you can become a subcontractor for a professional LT company that does the legwork and gets the assignments for you. That’s the easiest way to go, but you share the hospital’s pay with the LT.

For me, having a reputable company managing my contracts is more important and so much easier than doing it myself.  The LT company arranges travel, housing, utilities, cable/internet, car rental as well as the endless paperwork for getting state licensure, hospital privileges and recommendations.  So far, I have been very pleased with CompHealth.

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What if you’re not in the health profession like me?  Actually, the vast majority of work opportunities for full-time travelers are outside the health profession.  And if you follow the weather, you can easily live in your RV year round while doing temporary assignments.

Following is a partial list of organizations with job sites for full-time travelers.  Click on the links to research each site.

Workampingjobs.com

A free site for RV workers and the businesses that need them. Employers can submit listings for volunteer work camping positions, paid positions or a combination of both. Positions can be seasonal, temporary, short or long term, full or part time. RV workers can submit a detailed online resume to let employers know they are available.

Escapees/Escapers

Want to work while you travel? Want to hire RVers looking for work? The Job Board matches job opportunities with traveling contract workers who want full or part-time work.

Amazon

Ever wonder what type of people pack those boxes of stuff you order from Amazon?  Some of them are people who live in travel trailers and motorhomes!

According to their website,  amazonfulfillmentcareers.com, the Amazon CamperForce program brings together a community of enthusiastic RV’ers who help make the holidays bright for the customers of the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com. As a CamperForce Associate, you’ll begin this seasonal assignment in early Fall and work until December 23rd in either: Jeffersonville, IN, Campbellsville, KY, Murfreesboro, TN or Haslet, TX. Amazon offers great pay, a paid completion bonus, paid referral bonuses, and paid campsites for its CamperForce Associates.

So, you work on your feet 10-12 hrs a day  packing boxes, but you also get in shape and form lasting bonds with other CamperForce members.

Freelancing online

There are many companies who need projects done but don’t want to hire and take care of permanent employees. Thanks to the internet, there’s a ton of jobs to choose from online.  Here is a link to the largest such job site:

UpWork

State Parks

State parks around the country are looking for volunteers.

oregonstateparks.org has multiple opportunities from campground hosting, maintenance hosting, day-use host, archive explorer/museum assistant, trail ambassador and … interpretive hosting at lighthouses.

Lighthouses! And unlike some other states, Oregon only requires a one month commitment, but you can work longer.  A travel blogger (wheelingit.com) gives a lovely commentary on lighthouse hosting.

Volunteer Park Rangers

Another option is signing up to be a volunteer park ranger at dozens of  federal parks around the country.  In exchange for a full hook up RV site, a couple or single person works a total of 32 hours in a week. So, if there are two of you, 16 hours a piece.

Work might involve manning or womaning the gift store or information booth, checking in guest campers, collecting daily use site fees or acting as a tour guide.

Sitting Bull Falls- Gem of the Desert

We found this place by going to one of our favorite sites, tripadvisor.com and looking under “Carlsbad, New Mexico- Things To Do”.  Sitting Bull Falls made the list — it is over an hour’s drive west of Carlsbad in the middle of desert nowhere.  But oh so worth it. You don’t need to go digging for gems in the desert – it’s just sitting there for the taking.

After driving to the end of a narrow river box canyon with high ridges on three sides, the white haired volunteer ranger ambled up to our Jeep when we parked at the lovely picnic table area with individual sturdy stone pavilions covering them.

Showing him our handy dandy Interagency Use Pass (which gets us into most of the National Forest and National Park areas for free for a year after paying $80) saved us the $5 per person day use fee. He told us about the Falls and how to go up and over the rim of the canyon for a nice hike that would take just over an hour to complete.

We peppered him with questions about his volunteer ranger service. Five months ago, he and his wife came to see the falls, but the gate was locked. They asked at the ranger station far down the road and discovered the falls were closed because there were no volunteers to staff the falls.  They couldn’t keep it open, except for 3 hrs a day, four days a week. Which was hardly worth it after such a long drive to get there- and how would you know if it was closed or not? There are no up-to-date websites on the area.

The old guy said, “My wife and I will host the site in our RV and commit to stay a year.”  The rangers were thrilled to have them and now they live on site with full hookups,  a cement pad, a stone covered picnic area and a privacy wall that partially blocks the canyon winds.

We walked the trail along the typical dry rocky desert canyon wall, rounded the corner and saw…. an oasis of lush green vegetation and sparkling waterfall reminiscent of a Hawaiian paradise. It was all kinds of yummy rolled into a feast for the eyes.

Using our hiking packs as pillows, we laid down on the warm sandstone beach, soaking up the rays, listening to the rush of the waterfall and the wind as it rushed in waves through the canyon. I practiced meditation breathing just to see if I could clear my mind completely. Even if just for a few seconds.

I need to do more of this.

After gathering up our mojo, we took the hike right up the canyon walls in switchback carved stone and wood steps up to the top of the ridge, careful of where we placed our feet on the boulder strewn path.

We would not have made the trek if some kind souls hadn’t rated the experience on Trip Advisor. Thanks whoever you are!  And we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the falls if this couple had not volunteered to stay a year in this remote, but beautiful place.  We thank you.

White Sands National Monument- Sandy Beach with No Ocean

In the middle of the typical New Mexico desert is an atypical oasis of white sand that fills the basin between the circle of surrounding mountains. A truly zen place to explore.

There was a sunset hike scheduled so we met the volunteer park ranger for a walk on the dunes. He and his wife live in their RV and were here on a 3 month assignment. This was just one of the many places they had worked. For 32 hrs a week, split between the two of them, they got a free full hook up site and did whatever they were assigned to do during their work hours.

And they got to tromp around the sand dunes, which always stay cool to the touch, even in the heat of summer, because they are not silica based sand, but powdered gypsum.

There was so much to see and learn, and then the magnificent sunset.

What a great job!

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument- Condos with a View

Above Silver City, New Mexico, after driving on winding roads about 2 hours through high mountain pines is the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The mile long hike up to the dwellings starts in a canyon next to a rippling creek with crossing foot bridges, cool green vegetation and beautiful rock formations.

The dwellings with their 46 rooms are carefully crafted inside natural caves. The hearty people who lived there bounded up and the down the rocky face to retrieve water in the creek at the bottom. No baby gates, so you needed kids with self-preservation skills.

Volunteer rangers staff the nice visitor’s center, the trailhead and the dwellings themselves.

Don’t these look like amazing places to live while volunteering?

 

Wendy

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2 thoughts on “Work Camping On the Road

  1. Wendy, I loved volunteering with AZ State Parks as a campground host at Harding Lake (45 mi south of Fairbanks) Because I had a friend living close by in North Pole we traveled to areas of AK on our 2 days off each week… Valdez ( ocean boat cruise for 9 hours… All kinds of water creatures, waterfalls and a close up of Meirs Glacier), Yukon Territory in Canada, Denali Park( Mike saw this side trip)… Just a great 9 week assignment. Had a great bedroom in a sweet cabin with shared bathroom, kitchen and washer and dryer ! Enjoy Maine love Karen

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