The Business of Work Camping: Set a deadline for your new RVing lifestyle

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By Sam Suva
What I have heard (and said): “We should buy an RV and travel!” “We can work camp next year and still save money to travel.” And finally, the big one: “I just need to make a little more money and then I can travel.” All of these are very necessary items to work through when planning for an RV lifestyle. However, is it really planning if the process becomes more wish than work? Let’s find out.

In a previous article I related how it took me years to get back into an RV, travel and work camp. That makes me an advanced procrastinator, as opposed to a professional procrastinator or just someone with sense enough to look before they leap. I loved the idea of living in a camper and working where we lived – it was my dream. It was not my family’s dream, however, so I waited until everyone was on board. So maybe not a procrastinator – just a guy looking to play well with others?


When the time came and my wife said, “Let’s hit the road,” I immediately began looking for the perfect RV for our adventure. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. I would try to find the balance between what we wanted for comfort items like slideouts and a washer and dryer, versus diesel or gas and length. It consumed me. My wife and I finally sat down and ironed out what we could afford and what we wanted and then I got dialed in to the RV we finally purchased. However, I had not realized how much time had passed on my project, so my planning had become more of a hobby. If that hobby had been raising rabbits, well, they would have been pretty scrawny looking.

Fortunately, the RV life and work camping has a sort of built-in deadline. Work is often plentiful during the change of seasons, pretty much all over. Most campgrounds have 6-month contracts and the RVer only wants to stay in the area for that amount of time anyway. So, I did not want to be where I was in the fall and especially in the winter, so I started counting backwards from the time I wanted to be in warmer climates. For instance, I wanted to be on the road by November 1st at the latest, and I wanted to have a work camping experience before that, so I needed a 6-month work camping job before that, May 1st. The RV needed to be serviced and modified to our liking, packed with our stuff and thoroughly tested somewhere I knew I could find resources to repair what broke on it and what I tore up.

RVs typically sell for less in the fall and winter as they are not normally used then and the thought of storing them for 6 months can get pricey. So if an RV is going to be purchased, it is best to do so in the fall or early winter season. That’s when we purchased ours, in November. Now I have about 6 months to go through the RV, find all the things that need to be repaired or replaced, live in it for a month, move it to our work camping job and then head for warmer climates.

Our deadline was very effective for us and it has continued our summer weather experience for more than 10 years. I strongly recommend working backwards from the absolute-last-date approach and then working towards achieving that goal.

Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments below or contact me at samsuvarv(at)gmail.com .

See you down the road,

Sam

Sam Suva and his wife are work campers. They began work camping more than 10 years ago and have spent a lot of time working as they traveled. In this new weekly feature, they will share their experiences with you, with an emphasis on how to incorporate work camping into a full time RV lifestyle.

Read more articles about Work Camping.

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