The definition of “workamping” is: Workamping, a contraction of “work camping” is a form of RV camping involving singles, couples or families who work part-time or full-time. The people who are Workamping can be called Workampers. The term “Workamper” was coined by and is a registered trademark of Workamper News.
The term “workamper” and “workamping” is a hot topic in online discussions about full-timing and working on the road. Many RVers who earn money traveling believe that only those who get paid for their labor can wear the “workamper” badge of honor and those who don’t earn a wage cannot, they are simply “volunteers.” However if you ask Workamper News, you’ll learn that like the term “workamping” is much broader than that; workampers are a paid and unpaid cadre of travelers who work in a variety of situations, locations and jobs. Some are volunteers, some trade labor for a campsite and some do a little of both and make money.
As someone who has worked in all of these situations, I can verify that the official definition of “workamping” is correct, since I found all of these jobs through Workamper News. From volunteering at an animal shelter in exchange for a RV campsite to punching a clock at Amazon, the workamping concept has been the basis for all of these jobs. In every case, the arrangement involved RV parking that was either fully or partially factored into my overall compensation for the work. About the only time I didn’t feel like a workamper was during my 2009 stint at Amazon, when my RV site costs weren’t covered, workampers weren’t even acknowledged by management and I was just one of many trailer-park wage slaves pummeled by the recession in Nevada (I understand that this location offers much better conditions to workampers these days).
The majority of jobs for workampers are volunteer positions, but that doesn’t mean you’re working for free. Quite the contrary; usually your campsite fees will be covered in exchange for just a few hours of work each week and oftentimes it’s at some glorious location like a national park or wildlife sanctuary. Free rent is definitely worth a lot in my book – if you have the freedom to give up those hours for unpaid work. For retired full-timers living off savings, it’s a no-brainer, but for someone like me who is still socking away money for old age, working in exchange for cold hard cash is the way to go.
If you’re looking to earn a wage as a workamper, keep in mind that finding paid workamping jobs is challenging. Most employers will only pay for hours worked in addition to your unpaid hours. The jobs that do pay for all hours are harder to find, the pool of applicants is extremely competitive and the work typically involves rigorous physical labor. So unless you want to work the sugar beet fields, gate guard a dusty oil field in the Texas brush country or build fences on a ranch, if you’re thinking of workamping but don’t want to apply for manual labor jobs, you’ll need to find another way to supplement your income.
Whatever you decide to do, you can’t go wrong by talking to other workampers and enrolling as a Workamper News member. This service was invaluable to my husband and I when we were learning the ropes and I know you’ll get a lot of use out of it, too.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.