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Old 08-15-2013, 10:13 AM   #1
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Workampers? Work/Live RVers? Share your story?

I must say that I'm surprised this isn't a more vibrant thread! Are the majority of you so lucky to be living your AS dream with padded wallets, pensions and/or silver spoons?

Ron and I will be among those that live/work on the road and are looking at Workamping opportunities. Yes, we're Workamper.org members and have been exploring that route. I'm also trying to think of some out-of-the-box residual income streams that might work while on the road. And I'm coming to you guys - you veterans and newbies alike with similar goals and/or stories to share.

I'm looking for your experiences (good, bad or indifferent) with Workamping. Also any great and creative ideas for other opportunities (for example, I'm a crafter - any crafters successful in plying their wares?) Writers? Photographers? Chefs? Handymen?

We aren't after any get-rich-quick schemes (no such thing, of course) - just a little somethin' somethin' to fuel up the Hungry Monster and keep Willy's Wagin' on the road to our destiny ;-)

Come on - everyone has a story to share...let me hear yours...pretty please?

Thanks!!

Karis
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Old 08-15-2013, 10:53 AM   #2
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I must say that I'm surprised this isn't a more vibrant thread! Are the majority of you so lucky to be living your AS dream with padded wallets, pensions and/or silver spoons?
Hardly! I still work full-time and can only manage to go camping in my Airstream when I can manage a holiday weekend off from work that isn't already booked solid with other essential tasks.

But if you're looking for workcamping opportunities, you might consider becoming a campground host at a Corps of Engineers park. You can go to this URL for a semi-complete listing: Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers > Missions > Civil Works > Recreation > Volunteer Clearinghouse > Volunteer Opportunities

There's no money in volunteering, but if one of you volunteers, that gives you a free-of-charge base of operations for a season or so while the other works in the area. And given the number of Corps campgrounds that are open year-round, by hosting at a different park every season, you could have your whole year covered.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:15 AM   #3
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Are the majority of you so lucky to be living your AS dream with padded wallets, pensions and/or silver spoons?

Karis
From what we have seen, those with lots of $$$ and/ or silver spoons are not traveling the country in Airstreams. They have access to faster, simpler ways of luxury travel.

Most folks seem to have modest means and correspondingly modest travel.

That said, there are lots and lots of folks out there very happily work-camping full time in public and private venues.

If you want to live on the road, it seems completely possible to do so.


Maggie
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:26 AM   #4
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Hardly! I still work full-time and can only manage to go camping in my Airstream when I can manage a holiday weekend off from work that isn't already booked solid with other essential tasks.
Me too! I WISH I could figure out how to make a living on the road, exploring this great country, but I'm afraid that will have to wait until I am somehow free of the responsibilities of work.
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Old 08-15-2013, 11:29 AM   #5
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Workin'...yep. No silver spoon here.

My wife and I have been living fulltime in our Airstream for 3 1/2 years. At first we traveled and took in the sights. But before long we had to settle in somewhere and keep the bills up and pay off some credit cards.

We have met several WorKampers and they seem to like it fine. But how they spoke about what they did seemed more like being vagabonds or wanderers with no real goals. It seemed to mostly seasonal and they hopped around from job to job. Now I'm not downing anyone for how they choose to live, it just wasn't what we were looking for based on the stories they told. We like a little more stability (I guess we're just not as adventurous).

We finally decided to try Gate Guarding in the oilfields of South Texas. What a change that turned out to be. 115 degrees in a brushy desert. What had we done. After about a month of adjusting, we are able to tolerate the terrain and climate. The people are great and we make pretty good money. I also design websites and am a cartographer. So as we sit and guard a gate, I have clients that I work for electronically from my trailer. I am also a wildlife photographer, but I don't count on any income from it.

When we started full-timing, one of our biggest concerns was downsizing. What to keep and what to let go. We rented a storage unit, thinking that over time we will dwindle down our "have to keeps" to a smaller size. That hasn't happened. We pay $100 per month on storage and after 3 and 1/2 years I am wondering when the amount we will have paid is more than the contents are worth. There are some things like pictures and kid's school art, etc. that we will never discard, but we can't carry it in our already loaded trailer. So our answer to our dilemma is we will be buying a small piece of property and setting up an outbuilding and hookups for when we are in the area and we can store everything there and invest in the property instead of giving someone else money to invest in their own interests.

I guess I've been rambling on so I'll close by saying...whatever you decide to do...I wish you and Ron the best of luck and hope everything turns out as you planned.

By the way, as an update on our original plans...our credit cards are paid off, our vehicles are paid off and I am currently working on my school loan which will be gone by February. We will also be heading to Alaska next May for four months as our reward for working so hard for sooo long.

Best of Luck,
Tharon and Connie
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Old 08-15-2013, 01:08 PM   #6
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I would think it difficult to earn enough money workamping to pay for the gas, insurance etc unless one can work "on line".
As for passive income, nothing is better than storage of other peoples "junk".
So I rent out 1/3 of my barn. and live "on board" in the other 2/3. Been here 2.5 years and no complaints....every one thinks it "makes sense". It could be any trailer but in the beginning I said "if I'm going to be trailer trash then I'll get an AS and be "Trailer Class".
I write and compose music (no $ so far, but I'm entitled to my dream!)
As I'm an accomplished restorer of boats, furniture etc I some times can land a small gig doing that. Or buy a fixer and sell it for a very modest profit.
It's do able but frugal is the name of the game.
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:04 PM   #7
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First I would like to make sure my humor is in check - when I wrote "padded wallet/silver spoon", it was meant tongue in cheek. A nod to my generation and locale where there is an overwhelming amount of flashy, flashy, cashy, cashy. Not that there's anything wrong with that ;-)

By no means do we expect to cover our expenses (regardless of how pared down) with Workamping alone. Hence why I initiated the dialog here amongst friends.

Protagonist - You've hit on a great idea - and a tempting one at that. From the little I've seen...I think Ron and I would be happier in State Parks than cookie-cutter asphalt RV campgrounds. We're open to options that come our way - but we've certainly identified what our ideal RV setting is. I appreciate you pointing us in that direction. It might also mean that one of us can earn above minimum wage. Not that there's anything wrong with that either - but it would be quite an adjustment.

Tharon - you raise a really viable, and perhaps oft overlooked, point and that is one of goal setting. I am guilty of neglecting said activity myself. I'm anxious to get on the road doing the traveling gig without much thought to where and when...let alone the how and, most importantly, why. Vagabond/nomad might be a good descriptor for me; however, I've usually felt most comfortable with "bag lady" - and those that know me well would understand I mean it in the most flattering light. My new husband, on the other hand, is quite the opposite character. My free-spirited "build it and they will come" optimism is tempered by his pragmatic approach to planning and routine. Makes for a good balance I think, but has its challenges for both of us nonetheless. For example, I'm a freelance yacht chef. The freelance part can be scary (read: adrenaline rush) but feeds into my desire to work with/for a variety of clients. The yacht part feeds my wanderlust and adventuresome self. Ron, on the other hand, has a business that keeps him in one place 5 days a week and he likes it that way. It's predictable. The challenge? Being alone when I work hasn't been a big deal for him, having been a bachelor until I shimmied along. Now that we're married however - we actually want to keep those weeks apart to a minimum ... as newlyweds, we miss each other :-) <---------Insert, "awwwwwww".

So...we've started talking about our individual goals (where we'd like to go, for how long and what season) and seem to agree on what our first year might look like. It will include some planned stops (good for Ron), some unplanned stops (exciting for me) and at least one Spring Season of Workamping (good for the wallet). We know that once we actually get into Willy's Waggin' to full-time, it will likely morph along the way. Fortunately, we are both open to the idea of being very flexible our first year. Secondly, we've done a realistic budget. Might I just confess that, for me, this is HUGE. I actually am giddy about keeping dubious notes of every penny we spend. Always a fascinating exercise for me when traveling previously, I'm clear today - with my big girl panties on - it will be a vital aspect of our new life.

Minimizing stuff - WOW. I'm in the midst of organizing another weekend Estate Sale today. I am so very, very overwhelmed. I've learned something very valuable about myself throughout this process though. I'm much less attached to the "stuff" than I am to the perceived value it has. While the garage sale bandits want to squeeze every dime out of you - I'll sacrifice a sale to keep my hands on them (you know, for the next guy). Ron would be just as happy to donate everything outside of cars, boats and a few furnishings and be done with it. I, on the other hand, am determined to eek every bit out of our possessions. I've made a game out of it - to be able to provide for everything we need for the AS out of the monies raised through our sales. So far, I've been successful. I win. BUT - it's driving me CRAZY!! We have agreed to store only sentimental, we-absolutely-cannot-replace-them, items. Family is willing to store said boxed items because it has been promised they won't take up more than a large closet. Now we have a target date in which this must happen - September 30th. This is one instance that I'm happy to have a parameter with which to work. It keeps me focused.

Alaska - one of the states of our hit list. I'm envious, but I know we'll get there.

Del - keep on writing and composing that music. You never know when a YouTube video will go viral and pave the way to a paying opportunity! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Storing other people's junk - a fascinating idea. Since we're giving up on sticks and bricks entirely, our income will have to come in some other form - but that's a great option you have for generating some for your adventures. Kudo's.

Trailer Class - I LOVE it. I plan to copy it, with your permission :-)

Well - I'd better get back in the garage - I have some pricing to do, er.......adjust. It does need to get gone!

Please keep your stories coming. I'm encouraged. I'm inspired.

-Karis
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:13 PM   #8
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Minimizing stuff - WOW. I'm in the midst of organizing another weekend Estate Sale today. I am so very, very overwhelmed. I've learned something very valuable about myself throughout this process though. I'm much less attached to the "stuff" than I am to the perceived value it has. While the garage sale bandits want to squeeze every dime out of you - I'll sacrifice a sale to keep my hands on them (you know, for the next guy). Ron would be just as happy to donate everything outside of cars, boats and a few furnishings and be done with it. I, on the other hand, am determined to eek every bit out of our possessions. I've made a game out of it - to be able to provide for everything we need for the AS out of the monies raised through our sales. So far, I've been successful. I win. BUT - it's driving me CRAZY!! We have agreed to store only sentimental, we-absolutely-cannot-replace-them, items. Family is willing to store said boxed items because it has been promised they won't take up more than a large closet. Now we have a target date in which this must happen - September 30th. This is one instance that I'm happy to have a parameter with which to work. It keeps me focused.
Take a break from the garage sales. Anything that you want to get money for, take it to a pawn shop and sell it outright. You won't make a profit on it, but you may get more than if you sell it off to private buyers. And with less hassle, too. And no, I don't watch Pawn Stars. One of my coworkers gave me the idea when I said it was time to get rid of some of my old electronics.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:28 PM   #9
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Take a break from the garage sales. Anything that you want to get money for, take it to a pawn shop and sell it outright. You won't make a profit on it, but you may get more than if you sell it off to private buyers. And with less hassle, too. And no, I don't watch Pawn Stars. One of my coworkers gave me the idea when I said it was time to get rid of some of my old electronics.
Pawn Stars is OK. I actually watch that on purpose from time to time. It's Hardcore Pawn that makes me want to hurl heavy objects at the television.
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Old 08-16-2013, 03:18 PM   #10
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Karis:
Why did'ent you say up front you're a temp. yacht chef.
I spent 28 years as a yacht captain so I know exactly what you're talking about as regards the adrenalin rush. I always said the Chef is the most important person on a boat, I mean look what happened when the Mayflower pilgrims starved to death (the cook was amongst the first to die which is a really bad sign!!)
Have you hit up the crew agencies like Crew Unlimited in Snort Liquerdale (ask for Ami, an old friend.) Between that and your husband you should certainly be able to do what you want.
Here's a pic of my last (and I mean last) command berthed in Sydney for New years. 18 crew, live aboard owner and up to 10 guests for 4 years and 90,000nm's all over the world. Thank fully we had two to 3 excellent chef's with us the whole time.
good luck
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Old 08-16-2013, 04:50 PM   #11
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WOW, that's a heck of a private yacht!
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Old 08-16-2013, 05:04 PM   #12
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WOW, that's a heck of a private yacht!
Thanks. It got old after a while so I sold it. :-)
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Old 11-01-2013, 03:53 PM   #13
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Years ago, when I lost half my psychotherapy practice income in an economic downturn, I started building a business with products I'd used for 12 years ... Shaklee products. (They're great for full-time RVing too.) I'm no superstar, but it's a good company and gives me a very mobile business that I'm happy with and an income that I can increase if need be.

As Camp Host positions ... US Army Corp of Engineers gives just the site in exchange for 20 hours workamping, but I've heard the US Forestry Dept pays a little as well as the site. I had a wonderful summer at Libby Dam in MT. It's USACE.
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:50 PM   #14
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The workcamping threads on RV.net are another place to look. And there are specific gate guard threads for the oilfield. Plenty of those who wish to work a few months down here before the summer temps take off . . but beware of high winds & dust in spring.

I run into highly skilled welders and others ("craft") who work a few months or more at a location and then have some time before the next commitment. A "refinery turnaround" is replete with those. As are pipelines, electrical power plants, etc of major capital projects.
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