Workamping Your Way Across America

Today’s blog is from the July/August 2019 issue of Workamper News. We interview Levi & Natalie Henley of Henley’s Happy Trails on Workamping their way across America. If you haven’t watched or read the Henley’s Happy Trails, they document their Workamping lifestyle and share their experiences and RV-related tips.

After driving north along the Pacific coastline for two days in our then 14-foot trailer, we were hooked on RVing. “What else havent’ we seen?” I exclaimed as we coasted down the highway, windows rolled down and salty air lapping into cab of our truck. That spring getaway in 2011 was the reason we started our research onRVing and eventually took the plunge to full-time RV.

Like many full-time RVers, we owned a house, worked full-time to pay the bills and went on vacation a few times a year. Before considering long term RVing, we thought about taking a leave of absence from our careers and traveling for six months to a year. We’d save up for this adventure. How else would we be able to afford traveling?

A little more digging online and we learned the term “Workamping.” In fact, almost every blog and website related to full-time RVing mentioned this concept – make money while you travel and live in your RV. Workamper News advertisements were splashed everywhere to boot.

We learned that many RVers were making a living essentially the same way we were in our “sticks and bricks” life. They were working part-time or full-time to afford living and travel expenses. The only difference was they were doing this while they explored fascinating locations all across the country. Their backyard was ever-changing and a treasure trove of experiences.

Jobs in the realm of Workamping we learned were infinite. They ranged from remote, online businesses to seasonal work at a vacation destination. We decided to embrace both ends of the spectrum and create multiple incomes.

The traditional Workamping pat appealed to us first. Traditional in the sense that these jobs have been around since or longer than the term “Workamping” was coined by Workamper News back in the eighties. They include jobs like campground hosting. More recently, positions with the Sugar Beet Harvest and Amazon Camperforce have become a kind of poster children for seasonal Workamping. All of these position require RVers to settle in a location for a set period of time, and in return, receive a compensation package that can range from a provided campsite to hourly income plus bonus.

We determined that these seasonal jobs would be the bulk of our income, especially those that offered a benefits package including free site and all hours paid. As a supplement, we would follow in the footsteps of many other full-time RVers and collect what revenue we could through a personal blog and freelance writing.

The plan looked great on paper, but the next step was executing the ideas. How does one get into Workamping? We were leaving our careers of over ten years and settling out at the beginning of the summer. We wanted to start our first Workamping assignment in June follow by Amazon Camperforce in the fall.

Managing a pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lot in Tennessee was hard
work, and we are glad we got to experience it.

After receiving our first Workamper News magazine, combed through the ads and highlighted jobs in states that interested us. At first, we found the task daunting; we didn’t feel we had the experience for many of the RV park ads. Most of the time, they looking for one person in the office which we both felt we could do. Outside maintenance was another story since neither of us had very much experience with that kind of work. We really had zero experience working in any RV-related field.

Fast forward to today, after five years of Workamping, we have come up with some key ways to help remedy these and other job seeking and application hurdles.

*List any skill you possess that pertain to the job you are applying for at the top of your resume. Using the example of campground hosting, these skills may include computer skills or maintenance/handy work experience that you acquired over the years, previous job related or not.

*If you don’t have much experience in a particular aspect of the job and you are willing to learn new tasks, make sure you express this to the prospective employer.

*After you get your first job and it goes well, you can ask if your supervisor wouldn’t mind being a reference. A letter of recommendation is even better.

Many employers will specifically request specific information from prospective employees from the get-go. Desert Rose RV Park was one of these instances. We sent our resume and photo of our rig.

We found ourselves part of the Memorial Day Parade in Mackinaw City while Workamping at Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground.

Desert Rose RV Park is a family-owned campground located in Fernley, NV about 20 minutes from Reno. After only a couple of days, we got an email from the owner of the park. She wanted to do a phone interview. We were excited and perplexed as we really hadn’t sent out too many resume, and we heard back from one rather quickly.

Levi and our dog, Brewy, at Desert Rose RV Park
in Fernley, Nevada.

An interview was set up and the call was held via speaker phone. We discussed our current jobs and the fact that we were looking for something to last the summer. The topic of experience eventually came up. There wasn’t any getting around the fact that we didn’t know the first thing about being a camp host. Levi said that he could mow lawns and clean bathrooms. He also stated that he was fairly handy if he had to be and learned new tasks quickly. I confirmed that I was computer savvy, had customer service experience, plus the organizational skills required for a front desk position.

The owner decided to give us a chance and sent us a contract with the start date. We did it! We had gotten our first Workamping job. During the planning stages of this life change, we always had this nagging thought that it would be incredibly difficult to get one of these crazy jobs people do while traveling the country. That thought stopped when we got that contract.

We learned a lot while working that first Workamping job. Much of it had to do with running an RV park. It was ultimately that first job that gave us the experience to get many of our other camp host jobs we have worked over the years. It all started with the most important step in getting into Workamping – applying.

Working at Prairie Berry Winery in South Dakota was exhaustingly busy, but we learned a lot
about wine and got to sample a bit, too.

We applied to work for Amazon Camperforce from October to late December and secured that just before starting work at Desert Rose RV Park. Over the last five years, we have also worked at campground in Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, and Minnesota. We were part of the Sugar Beet Harvest in Minnesota, managed a pumpkin patch and Christmas tree lot in Tennessee, worked at Prairie Berry Winery in South Dakota, and took down Christmas lights in Tennessee. At this point, we only worry about where our next job will take us, not whether or not we will get one.

If you are a new member of Workamper News and looking for your first Workamping job, don’t be afraid to apply to the jobs you want when you are ready. Go through and circle the ones that catch your fancy. Contact them and send your resume. Chances are you will get a response from at least one of them. It might sound crazy that our dream was to travel and work seasonal jobs. This mismatch of gigs has funded our travels for the last five years. It hasn’t made us rich by any stretch of the word, but we get to see the country and we aren’t done seeing it yet!

Until next time, enjoy your Workamping adventures and happy trails!

Thanks again to Henley’s Happy Trails for this great article.

Safe travels,

Robyn

Leave a Reply