There is one question I get over and over, and it’s about how to make money as a digital nomad. How do you make money living van life and what kind of jobs allow you to make money on the road? Personally, my story involves years of expensive schooling (learn all about my back story HERE), trial and error with dozens of different jobs, quite a bit of luck, and a lot of perseverance to get to where I am today: making money working remotely so I can live on the road as a full-time nomad in a camper van.
How can you make money living on the road?
This is not a simple question to answer because there are endlessly possible answers. Everyone wants the easy answer for how to live the van life, but your answer will be particular to you. I admittedly don’t have the answers, but I do have some insight on the topic since I support myself as a digital nomad working remotely on the road.
Here is a video with my in-depth work history and my specific path, in case it can bring value to you. Below you’ll find links to a variety of resources and websites that can help guide you towards finding a remote career you can do while living on the road.
Tips and Advice for Future Digital Nomads
It’s important to stress that working remotely is not always a walk in the park (literally or figuratively). Staying the course and having enough self-discipline to work remotely is essential and it’s not the easiest skill to build if you’ve only worked office jobs. There are some basic personality traits and skills that many digital nomads have in common that you should keep in mind when considering your future as remote worker. If you want this lifestyle bad enough, you will make it happen.
Create opportunities and embrace your entrepreneurial side.
Digital nomads don’t accept the status quo by working typical 8-5 desk jobs. They question typical employment and search for work that fits within their lifestyle, not the other way around. These people tend to be entrepreneurial and self-starters. You should get comfortable paving your own way if you want to have a remote career. Working multiple part-time jobs instead of one full-time desk job is a great way to start transitioning to remote work. This way you can avoid working a desk job, while you try out a variety of different things at once. If one or more of these side gigs takes off, you can dedicate more of your time to that opportunity. Chances are that these opportunities will be remote or semi-remote because they’re outside the traditional 8-5 genre.
Choose lifestyle over money.
This was huge for me. I had the opportunity to have a legal career that would make me big big bucks, but I knew it wasn’t my passion. I didn’t want to live to work, I wanted to work to live and I took a significant pay cut to do so. Digital nomads tend to prioritize lifestyle over money and things, so keep in mind that there are financial trade-offs to working remotely.
Before you quit your day job, make sure your actions align with your desire to work remotely. Do you want this enough to start saving money now? I definitely recommend having a solid financial reserve before doing anything crazy like quitting your job and moving into a van. See how quickly you can save up 2-3 months of financial reserve and notice how smooth the saving up process is for you. If it’s really difficult to change your habits and spend less money in your life now, you may not be as motivated as you think to make this big lifestyle change.
Take risks and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Many digital nomads started in regular office jobs and eventually transitioned to remote work. In order to do this, they had to ask for this, and that opens them up to rejection. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss if you can start working one day a week remotely. The most likely negative result is you’ll get rejected. Don’t be afraid of rejection or failure, it means you’re pushing the boundaries and getting closer to creating the life you want to live.
While you’re at it, take advantage of the internet and search for exactly who you are and what you want. If you’re a family of four and want to travel full-time, literally search “family with young kids remote work full-time travel” and you’ll likely find people who are just like you that are doing exactly what you want to be doing. Reach out to these people– take advantage of this incredible way to connect with people living the way you want to live!
Careers That Tend To Provide Remote Options
I always encourage people to follow their passion when it comes to a career. Living on the road and working remotely is great, but if you don’t love what you do, you’re not going to be living your best life. That said, there are some career paths that do cater to remote work more seamlessly than others, so here’s a brief list to get your brainstorming juices flowing:
- Website developer/designer
- Digital nomad software engineer
- SEO consultant
- Advertising content writer
- Grant writer
- Legal writer
- Customer service
- Cold calling
- Digital sales
- Loan underwriter
- Stocks/options trading
- Poker player
- Customer Service
- Remote assistant
- Virtual receptionist
- Call center receptionist
- Social media manager
- Internet marketing/copywriting
- Online language teacher
- Online tutor
- Electrical/Plumbing contractor (depending on state licensing)
- Freelance photographer
Part-time Gigs You Can Do On The Road
Some vanlifers work remotely while on the road and are able to work anywhere at anytime. Alternatively, many vanlifers choose to do non-remote gigs while traveling. These part-time gigs can provide excellent income in a way that can work well with your nomadic lifestyle.
- Seasonal Work
- Coolworks.com for national parks
- Tour guide
- State/Federal parks jobs (a great way to care for and support our public lands!)
- Service Industry
- Non-remote gigs that you can do anywhere
- Craigslist gigs
- Taskrabbit (I recently hired someone to clean my rental house here and it was a win-win for both of us!)
- Postmates (delivery gig)
- Favor (delivery gig in Texas only)
- Uber Eats (delivery gig)
- Instacart (delivery gig)
- Film/TV crew
Resources for Remote Careers
Below is a list of various websites, articles, community pages, and education links that can help you on your journey to finding remote work that works for you.
Remote Work Websites & Resources
- Task Rabbit
- Working Nomads
- We Work Remotely
- Online Writing Jobs
- Angel List
- Reddit Digital Nomad Subreddit
Books and Articles about Remote Work Options
- Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- Companies That Specifically Hire Remotely
- She Hit Refresh Best Remote Work Websites
- Project Vanlife Article How Vanlifers Make Money
- Glassdoor Tips For Remote Work
- Facebook digital nomad and vanlifer groups
- Reddit digital nomad and vanlifer groups
- Meetup groups for entrepreneurs
- She Hit Refresh
- Warrior Forum
Do you have any remote work resources you’d recommend for aspiring digital nomads? Share in the comments below!
Thank you so much!! I’m so glad it’s helpful!!
I am a full time remote employee and wish I could be on places other than my house. How do you manage to get internet in the middle of the road? Do you have satelite internet or something similar?
Unrelated: how do you find safe places to park and a sleep overnight while In the road?
Hey Melissa! Thanks for your comment! I have Verizon unlimited with a hotspot– the hotspot is limited by 15gb but I also have a jetpack, which adds another 15gb. Plus my RV weBoost helps increase coverage big time: https://mbsy.co/pbtvt
I basically stay in service 95% of the time because I’m working on the road. Regarding parking– I’ll put together some info on this– there’s lots of resources and it’s not that challenging depending on where you are and what you want in a place. Thanks!!
Hey, I’m medically retired and starting my second year traveling the southwest. Check the national parks website for part-time and limited term work. Most places will give you free hookups for your camper and plenty of time off t o enjoy the parks. Keep in touch, may cross paths some day. Kelly
Hey Kelly, thanks for this fantastic tip!! Seasonal work is really a wonderful way to explore some of the most beautiful parts of this country– that’s great to know that you van even get a free place to hook-up, if you want power! Thanks again!
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Hi, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this post. It was practical.
Keep on posting!
Thanks so much!! I’m glad you found it helpful! I also have a video about my personal career path: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glL67nq5Bco
Thank you for this informative article. I have been working remotely, off and on, for the past 6 years, mainly doing data entry work or working at events. This article offered some fresh perspective and a few options I had not yet explored.
My current project is with a direct marketing company- also an incredible way to make money while travelling & while having fulfilling work. Network marketing/direct marketing companies are a good addition to the list- create your own schedule, work essentially for yourself, building a virtual business, with a company that you align with.
So many options!
Thanks for sharing Briana! It’s great to learn about more remote work options!
Really when someone doesn’t know after that its up to other viewers
that they will help, so here it occurs.
Housesitting and pet sitting are also good short term gigs to generate cash.
Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
Any recommendations for cell boosters in order to up/download all the digital illustrations I work on?? I’d say average is about 100MB’s a day coming and going, while streaming NETFLIX or something 😛
Hey Dave! I use the WeBoost for a cell booster, but that strengths service, it doesn’t increase MBs. I have a Verizon JetPack but honestly I blow through that pretty fast. I’m actually going to do a podcast with a friend about internet and digital nomad hacks– if you sign up for my email list, you’ll get updates on it!