The number one vanlife question I get asked daily is: How do you make money living on the road? Personally, my story involves years of expensive (and arguably unnecessary) schooling, trial and error with dozens of different jobs, a bit of luck, and a lot of perseverance to get to where I am today: making a living working remotely so I can live and travel full-time in a camper van. I will share more information about my personal work history and advice in another article. This article is meant to be more resource-focused with specific links and information for you to learn how to make money living vanlife as a digital nomad.
How can I make money living on the road?
This is not a simple question to answer because there are endlessly possible answers. Your answer will be particular to you. I admittedly don’t have the answers, but I do have some insight on the topic since I support myself as a digital nomad working remotely on the road. I’ve created a multi-part series of articles about remote work to help you on this journey. This article is information-intensive, while another article focuses on specific case studies of five digital nomad professionals so you can see a few example of career path options available to you.
This article will provide links to resources and websites that can help guide you towards finding a remote career you can do while living on the road.
Tips and Advice for Future Digital Nomads
It’s important to stress that working remotely is not always a walk in the park (literally or figuratively). Staying the course and having enough self-discipline to work remotely is essential and it’s not the easiest skill to build if you’ve only worked office jobs. There are some basic personality traits and skills that many digital nomads have in common that you should keep in mind when considering your future as remote worker.
Create opportunities and embrace your entrepreneurial side.
Digital nomads don’t accept the status quo by working typical 8-5 desk jobs. They question typical employment and search for work that fits within their lifestyle, not the other way around. These people tend to be entrepreneurial and self-starters. You should get comfortable paving your own way if you want to have a remote career. Working multiple part-time jobs instead of one full-time desk job is a great way to start transitioning to remote work. This way you can avoid working a desk job, while you try out a variety of different things at once. If one or more of these side gigs takes off, you can dedicate more of your time to that opportunity. Chances are that these opportunities will be remote or semi-remote because they’re outside the traditional 8-5 genre.
Choose lifestyle over money.
I can speak to this personally. I had the opportunity to have a legal career that would make me big big bucks, but I knew it wasn’t my passion. I didn’t want to live to work, I wanted to work to live and I took a significant pay cut to do so. Digital nomads tend to prioritize lifestyle over money and things, so keep in mind that there are financial trade-offs to working remotely.
Before you quit your day job, make sure your actions align with your desire to work remotely. Do you want this enough to start saving money now? I definitely recommend having a solid financial reserve before doing anything crazy like quitting your job and moving into a van. See how quickly you can save up 2-3 months of financial reserve and notice how smooth the saving up process is for you. If it’s really difficult to change your habits and spend less money in your life now, you may not be as motivated as you think to make this big lifestyle change.
Take risks and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Many digital nomads started in regular office jobs and eventually transitioned to remote work. In order to do this, they had to ask for this, and that opens them up to rejection. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss if you can start working one day a week remotely. The most likely negative result is you’ll get rejected. Don’t be afraid of rejection or failure, it means you’re pushing the boundaries and getting closer to creating the life you want to live.
While you’re at it, take advantage of the internet and search for exactly who you are and what you want. If you’re a family of four and want to travel full-time, literally search “family with young kids remote work full-time travel” and you’ll likely find people who are just like you that are doing exactly what you want to be doing. Reach out to these people– take advantage of this incredible way to connect with people living the way you want to live!
Careers That Tend To Provide Remote Options
I always encourage people to follow their passion when it comes to a career. Living on the road and working remotely is great, but if you don’t love what you do, you’re not going to be living your best life. That said, there are some career paths that do cater to remote work more seamlessly than others, so here’s a brief list to get your brainstorming juices flowing:
- Webside developer/designer
- Computer software engineer
- SEO consultant
- Advertising content writer
- Grant writer
- Legal writer
- Customer service
- Cold calling
- Digital sales
- Loan underwriter
- Stocks/options trading
- Poker player
- Customer Service
- Remote assistant
- Virtual receptionist
- Call center receptionist
- Social media manager
- Internet marketing/copywriting
- Online language teacher
- Online tutor
- Electrical/Plumbing contractor (depending on state licensing)
- Freelance photographer
Some vanlifers work remotely while on the road and are able to work anywhere at anytime. Alternatively, many vanlifers choose to do non-remote gigs while traveling. These part-time gigs can provide excellent income in a way that can work well with your nomadic lifestyle.
- Seasonal Work
- Tour guide
- State/Federal parks jobs
- Service Industry
- Non-remote gigs that you can do anywhere
- Film/TV crew
Resources for Remote Careers
Below is a list of various websites, articles, community pages, and education links that can help you on your journey to finding remote work that works for you.
Remote Work Websites
- Task Rabbit
- Working Nomads
- We Work Remotely
- Online Writing Jobs
- Angel List
Books and Articles about Remote Work Options
- Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Companies That Specifically Hire Remotely
- She Hit Refresh Best Remote Work Websites
- Project Vanlife Article How Vanlifers Make Money
- Glassdoor Tips For Remote Work
- Facebook digital nomad and vanlifer groups
- Reddit digital nomad and vanlifer groups
- Meetup groups for entrepreneurs
- She Hit Refresh
- Warrior Forum
Do you have any remote work resources you’d recommend for aspiring digital nomads? Share in the comments below!