If you ever found yourself wanting to travel more but concerned about the costs, hope is not lost because you can get paid to RV.
In fact, it’s possible to travel and stay in some pretty great places without having to pay a cent.
It’s called “workamping.”
These jobs could be serving as campground hosts at a state or national campground, welcoming campers and keeping track of basic maintenance in return for a free spot to camp. But these volunteer jobs could also range from dressing as a cowboy on a historic cattle ranch out west, to selling merchandise in a gift shop, to living in a lighthouse along the coast of beautiful Lake Superior to helping astronomers interpret the sky for Montana visitors.
Some jobs require a month commitment, some require a season, and some more. While these jobs are considered volunteer work, most provide a free campsite, and many of those campsites provide free water, electricity and dumping, for as long as you serve.
But when you talk to people who do this, they will also be quick to say they provide so much more. Yes, free housing does help the budget, but many who take the jobs also say they provide a great deal of satisfaction that comes from giving back and — in a very real and tangible way — helping to strengthen some of this nation’s most unique parks and historic areas.
It could be the adventure of a lifetime. And there are hundreds of volunteer jobs available for RVers. But there are also paid jobs for workampers. A lot of them.
Better yet, the jobs just aren’t in the summer. Some places have even MORE need for workampers after peak travel season.
Here are some of the great ways to find options for essentially getting paid to RV:
For the last 30 days, WorkampingJobs.com had 130 opportunities posted to its site. Several of the posts are for snowbirds in the winter. There’s even a job to manage a Christmas tree lot in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In short, the site was created by Jerry and Cynthia Winegard to give RV workers and those businesses that hire them a place to find each other for free.
“We don't use this site to make a living so we don't need to charge our visitors anything,” the couple states on its site. “We offer the site as a service to our RV friends. As long as ad revenue covers the hosting costs, we are happy.”
Since its creation in 1987, Workamper News has had great success connecting thousands of RVers looking for work with employers all around the U.S. and Canada that want to hire people that can live on site or nearby in an RV. Workamper News not only offers workamper job listings, but Workamper resume tools, employer reviews, education and resources, information, inspiration, and much more. Workamper News access requires a paid subscription.
This site primarily connects RVers with summer jobs, but it is active year-round meaning there are some snowbird opportunities in the south. Or, if you’re already looking ahead to summer 2020, they start accepting applications in just a couple of months.
This site lists volunteer jobs for: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Parks Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Resource Conservation Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Once there you can search and see what volunteer jobs are out there by clicking the state you most want to visit. Application deadlines, webpages and phone numbers are also given for each job.
When you find the one that interests you, apply for it online. The page will walk you through the five step application process. When more than one couple applies, the agency will look at who is most qualified.
Here is a link to what you should expect if you want to apply: https://www.volunteer.gov/faq.cfm
RV Lifestyle contributor Jim Phipps filed a great report on what it’s like to be a workamper for Amazon so be sure to check it out here.
From the Amazon CamperForce website:
“The Amazon CamperForce program brings together a community of enthusiastic RVers. As a CamperForce Associate, you'll be able to choose from seasonal assignments in a variety of locations depending on your availability.
“We hire campers for a variety of seasonal opportunities. Your responsibilities will be in the areas of picking, packing, stowing, and receiving.”
Currently, the company reports a “few” openings in Kentucky and Tennessee, but with the scope of Amazon business a “few” might mean something different to you and I. The website also gives visitors the opportunity to sign up and receive text alerts for openings.
The program by the Xanterra Travel Collection, which manages the Yellowstone National Park Lodges, among many other things, offers part-time, short-term jobs for people over the age of 18 who want to experience the park in a different way.
The company needed a way to keep the park resorts running since not every employee could work the entire May to October season. So Xanterra came up with a shorter option that feels more like a long vacation than a seasonal job. Helping Hands participants are required to work just 20 hours a week (currently at just over $10 per hour) and have the rest of their time to explore the surrounding natural wonder. You’ll be assigned a job in either housekeeping, a restaurant or at a front desk. Though it might be a little late for the current season, it is something to keep in mind for the future.
If you’re a creative type, the National Parks Arts Foundation has an Artist in Residence (AIR) program that puts up participants in accommodations (many offer campsites as option) for a month and pays participants a stipend or reimbursement for their time. Options include Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan, Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
In addition to the above, many states also have their own websites to seek campground host volunteers in particular. Here are some links (this list is not comprehensive, just a sampling):
- California: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=886
- Colorado: http://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Volunteers
- Florida: https://www.floridastateparks.org/get-involved/volunteer
- Michigan: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10365-27524–,00.html
- Nebraska: http://outdoornebraska.gov/campgroundhost/
- Tennessee: http://tnstateparks.com/get-involved/campground-hosts
- Texas: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/help-parks
- Wyoming: http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/index.php/learn/volunteer-opportunities – appPlacement
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