Working and Money

Chapter 6: Working & Money

Depending on your living situation, van life can be very affordable. For some, you may even save money. A huge concern for many people living on the road is their ability to keep a steady income, or at least make enough money to get by. We have listed a number of ways to work on the road including odd jobs, seasonal work, and freelance work. But living in a van doesn’t mean you can’t keep your current 9 to 5 job. You can live near your office Monday through Friday, and travel on the weekends. No one ever said van life needs to be completely off the grid!

Online/Freelancing Jobs


  • Photography
  • Online marketing – could be social media, email marketing, SEO, advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Web developer/programmer
  • Creative design
  • Web research
  • Audio and video production
  • Writer, copywriter, editor
  • Website usability testing – this takes little experience. Here is a list of websites that offer usability testing jobs.
  • Data entry – this takes little to no experience. Here is a list of some of the best data entry jobs
  • Influencer – If you build a following on social media or some platform where you are getting a lot of attention, you can get paid for advertising products.
  • Tutoring – become a tutor on sites like tutor.com or Chegg
  • Make art or crafts – Etsy
  • Sell your pictures – here is an article on some great places to sell your pictures

If you want to learn a freelance skill, there are tons of resources out there to help you learn. You can use Lynda.com, Udemy, or if you want something free, there is always YouTube and good ol’ Google to answer your questions.

To get people to hire you for projects, you can use freelance websites such as Thumbtack, Upwork, and Freelancer.

WiFi

  • One option for getting WiFi is to get an unlimited data plan for your cell phone, then use your phone as a hotspot to use your laptop.
  • When you’re out in remote locations, a cell signal will be hard to find. Using a cell signal booster with an extended antenna is a great thing to have.
    weBoost Cell Phone Signal Booster and Extended Antenna
    Cell Phone Signal Booster              Extended Antenna
  • To find places with free WiFi near you, you can use an app like Boingo, which allows you to narrow down your location by type such as a school, restaurant, business, venue, or public space. You can also sort by the name of the hotspot, the specific address, city, and nearest to you. When you walk into a WiFi location, Boingo will automatically connect you to the WiFi, so there’s no need to figure out the correct network and password. WiFi speed and security is always an issue when using public WiFi, but Boingo uses their own secure connection so you don’t have to worry about any issues. Boingo will cost you just a few bucks per month.

Boingo has a free option that simply allows you to search for WiFi spots in a specific city or address, but it won’t come with a secure connection and any other fancy features.

Here is an infographic from rottenwifi.com that shows fast food chains with the fastest WiFi:

Seasonal Work


  • Workamping, where you work part- or full-time as campground hosts in exchange for a place to park and maybe some money.
  • FlexJobs, a service that helps job seekers find flexible professional positions.
  • Working for retail chains during the busy holiday months (November and December).
  • Work on a farm during summer months.
  • If you are in a touristy location, you can certainly find seasonal work during their busy months, primarily in restaurants and hotels.
  • You can be a sporting instructor for skiing or snowboarding in the winter months.

Odd Jobs


  • Use apps like Task Rabbit, which allow you to run errands, help put together furniture from IKEA, gift wrapping, driving, dog walking, helping organize, and more.
  • Speaking gigs across the country – If you have a great story to tell about your travels, speak at high schools, colleges, or at company headquarters and events.

Saving Money on the Road


  • Keep track of expenses and make a budget. Use apps like Mint to see how much you’re spending.
  • Do your own grocery shopping, those restaurant bills will add up quick. And don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. When you’re hungry you’ll want to buy everything.
  • Do more things yourself. Pinterest has tons of DIY ideas.
  • To find fun free activities, visit recreation.gov. This will save you tons of money.
  • Buy an America the Beautiful Pass – Costs $80 per year, and gets you into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites including national parks. You can get a discounted pass if you are a senior (62 or older).

Gas Saving Tips

  • Use an app like gas buddy to help you find the lowest gas prices near you, or in a specific city, state, or zip code.
  • Don’t get your gas on the weekends – the prices are higher.
  • Set your GPS for the shortest route, not the quickest.
  • Driver slow and remember that cruise control is your friend.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Don’t travel during rush hour.
  • Clean out your air filter.
  • Drive when it’s a comfortable temperature outside, so you don’t need to use the heat or the ac when driving.
  • If it’s hot and you’re thinking about rolling the windows down to stay cool and save money by not using the AC, you may actually be losing money. When driving on the highway with the windows down, it creates drag which will slow you down and cost you more money on gas that the amount it would cost to run your AC. BUT, if you’re driving at speeds below 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour), you are better off with the windows down.
  • Recognize which states in the US are cheaper than others for gas. If you are crossing state lines think about filling up 1st! For example, diesel in Nevada may be 2.25 a gallon, whereas in California it may be 3.50 a gallon.

Mail Options While on the Road


Unfortunately, you can’t have a mailbox connected to your van, so you will need to come up with another solution for receiving bills and other information. You should do your best to switch as many bills to online payments as you can. However, you will still receive physical mail, so you can get can a P.O. box or use a friend’s mailbox if they’re kind enough. Another option is to use a site like mailboxforwarding.com. They will receive your mail for you, make it digital, then send it to you. If you’re in the U.S. and want to recieve a package from Amazon, you can use Amazon Locker. Amazon has “lockers” located all over the U.S. that allow you to have a package deliverd to wherever you want to pick it up.

Previous Chapter

Hygiene - showering bathing

Next Chapter

pets and kids

Share the love

Join our Community

Join our community to stay up to date with everything going on in the world of van life.
Don’t worry… we don’t like spam either!

Join our Community