Living the van life is great; it offers us freedom to do what we please by going on adventures, experiencing new things and of course traveling with our loved ones. But, anyone who first decides to pursue van life as a lifestyle, has one main question in mind which is:
“how the heck am I going to make enough money to support this lifestyle?”
Today we will be going over how you can save enough money to support your nomadic lifestyle for a decent amount of time.
How I made money on the road
When I first made the switch and started living in my VW bus, I would travel a lot and was constantly moving from place to place, which made it very difficult to make a consistent income. I also noticed that if I was going to live this way, I would have to cut down on purchasing things I didn’t need and spend less than what I was earning to sustain this lifestyle.
Before starting my journey as a van lifer, I needed to come up with ways to generate income while on the road. I had no idea how to make money in this lifestyle but always thought it would somehow just work out. In reality, though, I knew things wouldn’t work out as I imagined and my savings couldn’t last forever. There had to be another way to keep up with such a lifestyle.
Since I had previous experience in web development and programming it didn’t take me too long to start working remotely. I started by posting ads on websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, Freelancer, Fiverr and Facebook for people who needed help on their online projects in regards to making web pages or building a program.
HARD WORK + DREAMS + DEDICATION = SUCCESS
Eventually, I started receiving several e-mails of people seeking my assistance and I started taking on various projects as well as hosting skype sessions. This was the time when I first started making money without having to go out and work a job. This is when I knew I could finally hit the road.
Choosing the right job
Making the right decision here is crucial, as it will determine your overall financial stability on the road. You obviously won’t want a job that keeps you limited on the amount of freedom you get. At the same time, you need to get a job that:
- you are passionate about
- allows you to have the freedom you desire
- supports your lifestyle
- fits your education and/or skill set
Money is a necessity. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that money does not make you rich. The definition of rich will vary for everyone depending on their desires. At the end of the day you typically only need enough money to support your minimalist lifestyle, and some extra to go into savings.
“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
To be self-employed you will need to work hard towards your passion and go that extra mile, which not everyone is willing to do. This is a difficult thing for many of us, however, it’s rewarding and comes with advantages such as the ability to travel freely and be more flexible with your time as a van lifer.
- Photography – A lot of us living the van life have great experiences we can share with the world through our stories and pictures. So, why not do exactly that? You can create a gallery on various websites, such as Shootproof, Smugmug and others, and start getting paid for your photos.
- E-commerce Business – Throughout the past few years, e-commerce businesses have increased greatly. They are easy to kickoff, with no technical knowledge required. With e-commerce there are a variety of opportunities to fit your niche, whatever it may be. You can get started with an e-commerce business with as little as $30/month on Shopify, which also offers a free trial so you can get a taste of how everything works. They even have step by step tutorials to get you started.
- Selling Physical Goods – If you are someone who’s very creative and loves to make goods such as jewelry, baked goods, paintings, sketches, etc., there’s a market out there for you as well! You can create a website to post your products and promote them in a variety of ways like using your Instagram page, Facebook ads, or paying an influencer, to name a few. In addition, you could also take advantage of your wanderlust lifestyle and sell in person while you travel the world.
- Giving Lessons – Do you have special knowledge or expertise in a particular field? If so, this is a viable way to start making money from the road. This is similar to my situation where I posted ads on websites and took on an assortment of projects. I used an internet based platform, such as Skype, to share my skills to help companies and individuals meet their web development and programming goals, all while they were helping me reach my financial goals and support my nomad lifestyle.
- Affiliate Marketing – If you can’t start your own business, why not help someone else grow theirs and get paid commission for it. A bunch of websites offer an affiliate program. There are so many options that you can be in an expert in any field and find a suitable affiliate program for yourself. It’s even 100% free to get started. Head to the footer section of any website you wish to become an affiliate for to get more information. If you are unable to find an Affiliate link, that site probably does not offer an affiliate program.
Work a Permanent Job
If you’re not too fond about the idea of being self-employed or if you feel it’s not for you, don’t worry; there are plenty of other options available.
You can seek a company that will hire you to work remotely like I did. These jobs will give you flexibility of where you work but may have less flexibility of when you work.
- Sales/Customer Service – There are many companies that hire people just like you who have the ability to sell their products and assist customers – all in the comfort of your home, or in this case, your van. Here’s a link of some companies that you may be interested in when searching for a full-time sales job.
- Tutoring Services – If you possess some expertise in areas which can benefit others, then this is a great place to start. You may have to go through a screening process to ensure you’re qualified, and some teaching jobs may require a certificate or bachelor’s degree. Here’s where you can go and find many places that hire teachers and tutors.
- Remote Computer and IT Jobs – When it comes to IT there are many opportunities available, ranging from programming, web development, networking, etc. If you excel in this sector this is something that may be of interest to you. Here’s where you can find the various types of positions available in specific companies that hire remote employees in the IT sector.
- Writing – In the van life community we all love to write about our different experiences and share our thoughts regarding van life. If you enjoy writing, you can actually use your skills and get a remote full-time writing job while on the road. Check out this link to see which writing jobs suit you best.
Above I have listed some of the more common jobs but here are endless opportunities and also other full-time remote jobs you might be interested in. So, take a look and explore other jobs based on your skill set.
Work a Seasonal Job
Money can be an issue at times, especially if you are on the road alone. If you are not self-employed or have a full-time job you can still earn a decent income by working local jobs in the place you have currently traveled to. These jobs can be found through online websites or speaking to community members about local openings.
However, keep in mind that with a seasonal job your opportunities are limited and the work you can do varies depending on what you like and are comfortable with.
Some jobs include:
- Working at a Restaurant – As a seasonal employee at a restaurant you can find yourself working positions such as a waiter/server, cashier, bar tender, host and drive-thru operator. Also, if you possess experience in the hospitality field you can imagine yourself in more advanced positions that require specific skills such as prep cook, pastry chef (depends on what type of restaurant it is) or even a manager (however seasonal manager positions are hard to come by).
- Direct Marketing – If you’re the type of person who’s comfortable with sales and meeting new people then working a direct marketing job would be the perfect fit for you. You get to explore the local area while you drum up business. It usually requires you (the employee) to go door-to-door, business-to-business or both, and sell products or services. Most direct marketing jobs pay commission, with some providing base salary + commission. However, keep in mind that this job requires great determination. For those that excel in this field, there is opportunity to make a lot of money.
- Retail – There are many opportunities in the retail world. In this industry you can find yourself working part-time or full-time, which is very beneficial to all of us as van lifers. There are many different sectors within retail you can find yourself in, however, these positions do requires sales and customer service experience at the bare minimum.
To give you an idea, I have created a list of some places that may be of interest to some of you:
- Grocery Stores (Whole Foods, Publix, Wegmans, Sobeys, No-frills)
- Hypermarket Discount Department Stores (Wal-Mart, Target, Costco)
- Hardware Stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Home Hardware)
- Apparel/Fashion Stores (TJX, H&M, GAP, American Eagle, Hudson’s Bay)
- Fast Food (McDonalds, Pizza Pizza, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s)
- Electronic Stores (Apple, Samsung, The Source, Dell, Best Buy)
- Convenience Stores (7-Eleven, Circle K, On the Run, Fresh Start Convenience)
Once you have saved enough money you can finally hit the road. You will be headed into your next adventure while being able to support your lifestyle for another given time period. This of course depends on how much you have saved up.
I know a few members of the van life community who work for about 6 months and then hit the road. After their adventures they quickly hop into new jobs and repeat the process.
Keep pushing and stay committed, the van life may be difficult at first but you can do it, especially with all the help from the community who are more than happy to answer any of your questions or concerns on our Forum.
Van life gives more than the freedom to travel and connect with the world around you. It can also provide you with the opportunity to fulfill your dreams and work while traveling. Whether it’s starting your own business, working a fixed job or starting a seasonal position, there is a way to make van life work for you.