"How do vanlifers make money?"
A question I asked myself very early on when the idea of van life really started to get traction in my mindset.
And I'm sure, if you are considering taking up the van life lifestyle, then this is something that you will be considering yourself. Unless of course you are in the fortunate position of being financially free with sufficient savings to last you the rest of your existence.
But if like me, you are not in that fortunate position of not having to worry about an income, then these 11 ways of earning money as a vanlifer may provide you with some ideas.
As always, these ideas are based on my own research and experience of having met other vanlifers. This is by no means an exhaustive list I'm sure, and if you have any suggestions that I have not covered here, I would be very grateful if you'd share it with me via a comment below.
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11 ways to make money as a vanlifer
1. Stay with your current employer
One outcome of the COVID pandemic is that many companies realised that their staff could indeed still be as, if not more, productive working remotely.
They realised also that by not having all their staff in the office, meant that they could actually downscale on their office space, providing further savings. It was a win-win situation.
Many companies continue to allow staff to work from home and indeed, many new vacancies are now advertised as 'remote working'
So in the first instance, speak to your current employer. Can your job be done remotely? Were you able to perform your duties remotely during the COVID pandemic? If so, your employer may well be open to the idea.
Obviously, not all jobs are possible remotely, for example, those who work in retail or hospitality.
2. Get a new job
If your current employer or job doesn't allow for remote working, then the next option would be to seek alternative employment with an employer that is recruiting for remote workers. This may be within your field of experience, or it may well involve a career change for you. For example, you may have worked in retail, what skills can you bring to other roles that would allow for remote working? If you're computer literate you could apply for admin-related work, data entry etc.
Most of the larger job boards allow you to search for 'work from home' or 'remote working' jobs so take a look at what is available and if any of them suit your skill set.
3. Be your own boss
Do you have sufficient experience, knowledge and determination to be your own boss? Can you monetise your skillset to earn your own income? There are a large variety of small business owners out there. Examples include:
Social media managers
House cleaning services
Painting and decorating
You get the idea.
If you have the skills and determination, being your own boss is a totally legit option. If you can provide your service remotely, that is even better as it frees you up to travel as and when you want.
If your business offering is one that requires in-person attendance, for example, gardening, then obviously your marketing efforts will be more difficult if you are on the move regularly.
So consider what services you may be able to provide remote or whilst on the move.
4. Seasonal employment
If you only need to work a few months a year to replenish your funds, then seasonal work may well be an option.
In the UK there are various seasonal work options. Many of the larger retailers scale up over holiday periods like Christmas. Other seasonal options include farm working, factories, warehouses etc.
5. Delivery driver
Whether this is an option is obviously down to your setup and ability to get around. If, like me, you have a motorcycle then a delivery driver may well be a viable option to earn extra money. Companies like Just Eat and Deliveroo are typically always looking for drivers. The beauty of these companies is that you can still work for them as you travel around the UK. Of course, they need to offer their services in the area you're in, so don't expect much delivery work in remote areas of the UK.
Should you be living in a caravan and have a van as the towing vehicle you could also consider delivery driver for companies such as DPD, Amazon etc.
6. Campsite wardens/assistants
This is an option that I am currently undertaking at the time of writing this post (September 2022). Arguably it could be considered a 'seasonal job' although some campsites are open year round.
Campsites are always looking for wardens/assistants to work on the sites. These can either be one of the clubs in the UK or indeed, privately owned sites.
Campsite assistants typically undertake a variety of duties including cleaning (toilets, windows et), ground work, admin and of course greeting and pitching of customers as they arrive at the site.
If you don't mind be static for many months at a time, then this is a very viable option offering free pitch and electricity on top of your salary.
Don't expect to earn much more than minimum wage, however.
7. Pet/house sitter or au-pair
Another option that could sit under the Be your own boss header is a pet or house sitter. Many pet owners, including myself, would far prefer for their pets to be looked after in their homes. I never enjoyed leaving my dog at the kennels and he always seemed totally knackered for a couple of days after I would collect him. However, I didn't have any other option or the finances to pay an at-home sitter.
However, many people are very willing to pay someone to come and look after their pets whilst they are away.
This is again a service that will be tricky to get traction for if you are constantly on the move, however, if you are in one place for a month or two it is very feasible that you could pick up a few clients by concentrating your 'marketing efforts' on the local area.
8. Temporary contracts
Do you have a skill set that would lend itself to getting remote working contracts? For example, you may be a website developer who doesn't want a full-time job but would like to work a few months a year to afford the travel for the rest of the year.
Contract work is a viable option here with contracts typically varying from 3/6 or 9 months. Of course, there are also longer-term contracts should you desire them.
This is an option I may consider in the future, opting to do a 3-month project management contract.