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 and make money 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 marketing – could be social media, email marketing, SEO, advertising
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.
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 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:
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.
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.
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