A lifestyle of adventure and permanent travel, a way to simplify life, or an answer to a tepid housing market; no matter the reason, more and more families are opting to live and work in an RV. For entrepreneurs, working while on the road is just a fact of life which can pose many challenges. It also offers many great chances for personal and professional growth. Balancing work time with recreation and travel time, budgeting, planning moves and activities can all be done around your family’s needs.
Although some aspects of living a nomadic lifestyle seem idyllic, without certain consideration it can be stressful. These issues can grow as the size of your travel group grows. Many couples who embrace life in a campervan may struggle when little ones come into the picture. Other times families who are used to the space of a house have to make some adjustments fitting work and life in an RV. Fulltime families often have the hardest time adjusting to the lifestyle because balancing work with the perception of what fulltime RVing is all about can be exceptionally difficult. Here we will look at some tips for working from an RV that will help families live better while full time RVing.
1. Have a Location Independent Income
If at all possible, have one source of income that is earned consistently, regardless of what destination you arrive at. While this usually means one person in the family designated as the primary wage earner it can also be comprised of multiple stream of income. With internet connection available almost everywhere and most office devices now mobile, almost every job has the potential to be a work from the road opportunity.
With children, there are a few other considerations required which is why one person is primarily responsible for taking care of the kids. This doesn’t mean that the second person cannot work to contribute some money, but that should be done only when spare time is available. In fact, some single parent families find living in an RV simplifies their responsibilities and allows for more quality time with their children. Having a flexible income makes working from home (and on the road) more adaptable to family life.
Like any successful business, having a division of responsibility will allow your family to operate more efficiently. It also establishes boundaries and helps to eliminate the feeling of burden associated with having too much responsibility spread over life. Remember that one of the key benefits of this lifestyle is simplicity. Embrace that. Keeping things simple will keep you happy.
2. Be Intentional About Family Time
While your work is essential and hopefully something you are excited about, don’t revolve your life around it. Many families jump in an RV fulltime to disconnect from perceived obligation and reconnect with one another. Whenever possible try to schedule your work to be outside of family time. It can be easy to forget that when gas prices go up, rent is due, and kids are hungry. However, if you have the mindset to enjoy the moments, you can find a balance that works for your unique family.
There are many jobs which can be completed at odd hours when the kids are asleep. ESL tutoring of foreign students is a good example. Teaching English as a second language to students in China is a popular fulltime RV job, especially for those with families. The work is similar to what you are probably already doing if you are home schooling your kids. The time difference between the US and China also means that most of the work is done late at night or very early in the morning. This allows you to complete your work before the kids get up so you can earn a living and still take care of the kids during the day.
Another alternative is to work alternating shifts. For example, one parent works dayshift and the other works seconds or thirds. Doing this will allow you both to work while splitting childcare duties during the day.
3. Look into Workcamping Opportunities
RV life opens up some alternative working options that can be fun and interesting. Caretaking, housesitting, and workamping jobs often offer a free place to park (plus wage and benefits depending on the work) in exchange for keeping an eye on things, doing routine maintenance, and other tasks.
These can be great jobs for single parent full time families or as supplemental income. Workcamping jobs often involve working within the campground you are staying. This is great for families because you can work while remaining close to your kids. Depending on the campground, job and the age of your kids you may even be able to bring them with you or work right within your RV. Some campgrounds may also have supervised programs your kids can participate in while you work.
What is rally fun is that you can look for family jobs or really wild options like working at a Christmas tree market, harvesting fruit, re-enacting the past at a historic site, or overseeing a remote lighthouse. You can even get paid to learn something you have always been interested in like bee keeping, wine making, or kayaking.
4. Have a structured routine
Many people envision full time RV living as a one giant extended vacation. You can do what you want, when you want to, whenever you want to. While you could in theory live like this it generally turns out to be a miserable way to live, especially for kids. In general, you’ll want to set aside a specific schedule for the week to prioritize essential tasks. For example, school work for the kids from 8am – 12pm Monday through Friday. Parent one works 8am – 3pm M-F and Parent two works 12am – 8am M-F. Travel from park to park is done on weekends. When not traveling from park to park, longer sightseeing day trips are done on the weekends instead. Short sightseeing trips or participation in local community events can be done on weekdays after school and work. By structuring things, each person knows what they are supposed to be doing and when they are supposed to be doing it. It also prevents indecision based on to many available options. In many cases when you can do anything you end up choosing to do nothing simply because it was the easy the choice. Ultimately, having a structure in your day to day life will keep everyone happier.
5. Plan Ahead and Set Goals and Rewards.
Living the structured life describe above can get somewhat monotonous. After all, you went RVing for the freedom of the minimalist lifestyle. Don’t let yourself fall off the structure wagon into a life of unstructured chaos. To motivate you to stay on board, plan some major activities for some future date. Whether you look at this as a reward or not is irrelevant, the important thing is to have something to look forward to. The scheduled activity can have elements of spontaneity if you feel you need that in your life.
Working from an RV with your family can be challenging. By distributing the responsibilities of day to day life, organizing your days, sticking to schedules and maintaining things to look forward to you can make working from your RV much easier and keep your camper moral high. Here we have looked at some ideas on how to do just that. By following these ideas or building upon them in your day to day life you should be able to maintain a happy and successful fulltime family lifestyle.
Shelley Trupert works for Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace for consumers and pros. She has been camping for almost 20 years and is always looking to find the next hike, off the beaten path. While she used to enjoy tenting in the wilderness, she prefers to camp in an RV now—whether it is a Class C or a teardrop trailer—to enjoy a little comfort after a long day outdoors and the ease of travel it provides. Her goal is to hike in all of the national parks in North America.
Kelly Long works on the content development team at Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace connecting RV owners to travelers. She loves exploring the world by campervan.