How To Make Money In Van Life

With van life becoming ever more popular, taking to the road to escape the rat race seems increasingly appealing. Indeed, the unrelenting pace of modern life is taking its toll. But what if you still need an income? How do van-lifers make money?

On this page we’re going to explore many ways to create a van life cash flow, tried and tested by van-lifers all over the world.

We’ll cover some of the usual income streams – such as working online – to some of the more unusual ways to make money in van life.

If you’re about to take the brave step and become a fulltime vanlifer – but still have doubts about how to make money in van life – we hope this page gives you some creative confidence about how to carve out a regular stream of income…

how to make money in van life

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Does full time van life cost a lot of money?

If you want to travel in your van – like in any vehicle – there are inescapable expenses. Fuel, road tax, insurance, annual service and MOT – etc.

Even if you live in a vehicle which no longer moves you will need to either rent a space for it or just be very lucky to get a free patch of land. And then there’s the little issue of basic human needs – food, water, hygiene, warmth, communication…! All need to be paid for.

We have read many stories of people who have sold their homes and belongings to live the van life. Sometimes it goes well and they disappear, smiling into the sunset. However we heard of one vanlifer who spent over £40,000 in just two years whilst living in a small van!

That’s a lot of money to have spent in so short a time. Perhaps there were major repairs. Or perhaps he felt he was on a permanent holiday and spent accordingly. Seems like a case of poor budgeting. Who blows 40K in two years living in a van? As far as we know, he gave up van life and returned to full time employment.

The point is that van life does have its expenses and unless you’ve got a good pension to live on, you’ll need some way of making money on the road.

RELATED CONTENT: The real cost of van life – with a FREE van life budget tracker

How can I earn money whilst living in my van?

So, given that you will need money (even if you’re living off-grid) we have looked into some of the ways that you can earn money in van life.

Some ways of earning money whilst living in your van involve being static for a period of time, such as helping out at campsites. Others can be done from a different location every day, such as online consultancy work.

You may require a larger vehicle for some jobs – to carry tools for example. Or you may need super-reliable internet connection. Some jobs require public liability insurance or disclosure and barring certification. 

So let’s look more closely into some of the ways you can earn money in van life…

How to make a remote or passive income from van life

First things first…

If you own a home or have another vehicle sitting around doing nothing you could rent these out to create an immediate income stream.

Or, if you’ve got the funds available you could buy a second, cheaper motorhome and rent it out through a company like Quirky Campers (1). Though this would mean you’d have to be available to clean and restock the van on change-over day which is not ideal if you’re the other side of the country in your own RV.

earn money by renting your van out

Being able to earn money in your van – even while you sleep – is a goal of many vanlifers. But don’t underestimate the amount of work that you’ll need to do first.

Becoming a digital nomad takes time, creativity, and nous…

Affiliate marketing and adverts on your website (if you have one) can earn you a reasonable amount each month. But you must have plenty of quality traffic to that website to generate a regular income. And, of course, you must be able to add to and maintain that site with new, quality content.

Selling digital products also requires a well-visited website. Even if you use a third-party platform, you still need to create your products first. These could be ebooks, courses, photographs etc. Online learning is convenient and cheaper than “in person” so many people are seeking it out. Use your experiences and expertise to create courses then build a site to launch them from (or use Udemy or similar as a platform).

Blogging and Vlogging are popular ways of making money. You will have to build up a good following to attract advertising revenue of course, so a quality blogging platform is vital.

These are all perfectly do-able but they take time to generate a regular income. It can take years of hard work before a website becomes financially successful.

So, passive, remote working suits van life but firstly requires prior thought and hours of work before any income is generated. Secondly, you’ll need internet access for at least a few hours a week to maintain your site and continually create new content.

RELATED CONTENT: See the ebooks we sell online: How To Find Your Perfect Motorhome and Meeting God In A Motorhome

Ways to earn money whilst travelling in a van

You can do any – or all – of the above whilst travelling, especially if you have an initial pot of money to tide you over until website traffic and monetisation picks up. Keep an eye on that pot though!

Of course, you could work remotely full time – and when you simply must attend the obligatory staff meeting you could persuade the boss to allow you to free camp in the car park for a week! (We know vanlifers who do this).

Other online income streams

Freelancing your talents – web development, photography, content creation, proof-reading, design, translation …and so on. You will need to build a professional portfolio with positive testimonials to showcase and promote yourself. There are platforms which will expose your business to a larger potential customer base. You may have to pay for these but it will usually be worth it.

Language tuition. Online one-to-one lessons would require a solid internet connection. A series of lessons on a learning platform would be a great passive stream once created.

If you have room to carry the tools of the trade, you could advertise yourself as a mobile mechanic and travel to each job. If you can build up a large “fan base” you will find your contact details shared on Facebook as a response to cries for help.

You may be able to help other vanlifers fit equipment like solar panels to their motorhome.

how to earn money in van life: solar panel being fitted to the roof of a motorhome
Our mate Dom is a mobile campervan/motorhome expert

Craft work – making stuff to sell from your van

If you have creative flair, craft items can sell well particularly at Christmas. If you can make attractive pieces without having to carry a lot of weight or volume in your van advertise them on Ebay or Etsy.

Or you might prefer to use the Zazzle platform to promote your products. (Take a look at the vanlife products people are making and selling on Zazzle).

Display your wares from your motorhome too! You will just need to get to a post office to mail your sales.

Bunting in our van’s window – made (and sold) by Hobo Trudi

With a little space, you can “up-cycle” small items – either repair or revamp them for selling on or using yourself.

If you are proficient, equipped (and qualified) to cut hair, you could be a real hit on campsites and communal parking spots.

Or you can sell on items bought cheaply in charity or thrift shops such as designer clothing, rare books and the like.

Indeed, when we’re back home in Suffolk we make an extra income selling antiquarian books on Ebay that we’ve found in charity shops or car boot sales.

how to make money in van life: Hobo Reading Room: rare and antiquarian books and classic paperbacks

Online therapy, coaching and counselling

If you are qualified as a psychotherapist, counsellor or coach, you can see clients online – although of course you need a very reliable and confidential internet connection.

Hobo Gav has been a practicing hypnotherapist and counsellor for over 20 years and he offers online and telephone consultations. This enables him to help people from all over the country, even when we’re on the road.

RELATED CONTENT: See Gav’s van life health and wellbeing pages

Life-coaching, physiotherapy advice, self-development classes et al are possibilities for screen-based working. Your experience as a van lifer will appeal to those who are finding living in a vehicle emotionally difficult. You will understand their pain!

Tarot card and astrology readings may be screen based now. Use social media to tell people about your services. Build up a raft of glowing feedback in the comments and you will never be short of custom.

Reiki massage (as well as tarot and astrology) can be an instant hit on campsites or parking spots.

People who live in a small space can find it hard to motivate themselves to exercise. A fitness instructor may be what they need! This can be in person, one to one online or as a course. You could tailor courses and advice to suit van lifers as well as those who remain in their houses.

Can I get free internet and work in my motorhome?

Some businesses, for example fast food restaurants and entertainment arenas, have free internet access. You can often use these whilst sitting in the car park. Most towns have internet cafes and libraries where you can work on your laptop. You must be mindful of your surroundings if confidentiality is to be maintained.

However, if you’re a digital nomad and you need a strong internet connection you’re probably going to have to pay for it. You can only spend so much time in internet cafes or fast food outlet car parks before you wonder why you even have wheels!

There are internet link-up platforms such as StarLink, for example. But it’s not cheap.

Or you might prefer to fit a reliable wifi receiver to your RV such as this Avtex model…

the best wifi for motorhomes

Platforms such as Skype, Zoom and Whatsapp are invaluable for working with individuals or small groups, although again you have the confidentiality of your clients to consider.

Can I live in my motorhome and still go to work?

Of course, you can still work in the office or factory (or wherever your workplace might be) and simply return to your vehicle after the work day is done rather than a brick-and-mortar house. If your employer is sympathetic, you may get a free park up. Again, we know a couple of van life chefs who work 9-5 but sleep in their vans in the car park.

Darran, now a famous YouTuber, worked as a truck driver whilst living in his motorhome. (2)

Seasonal work, such as managing a campsite for a period of time gives you a free park up and a steady income stream. It’s ideal if you have good people skills and like the idea of being in charge of a campsite.

Many places have other part-time or seasonal work – fruit picking, farm labouring, holiday camp staff, festival staff, Christmas fayre or market staff…that sort of thing.

Shops and hospitality businesses often hire extra temporary staff at peak times.

Can you do secretarial or accounting work? Get your name on a temping agency books and let them know you can travel to the job.

Helping other people

If you are qualified in any of the talking or massage therapies, or physiotherapy you could rent a room at a suitable venue once or twice a week. How about aromatherapy, or reflexology?

Do you know Tai Chi or yoga well enough to teach? How about providing sound baths? (Though you wouldn’t want to lug around too many heavy gongs or singing bowls in your van).

You may need public liability insurance and a disclosure and barring service certificate if children or vulnerable adults are involved. If you get one of these, pay the fee to have it updated annually. It saves you having to get a new one each time.

Offering household help

Decorating and gardening services can be popular, particularly if you are in an area with older people or executive staff who would (and can) rather pay than have more work to do.

If you have a general experience of household issues, you can promote yourself as a handy man. (Yes, or woman!) Tackling those annoying little jobs for someone will soon see you recommended amongst their friends!

Actually, the little quip about handy man has an edge to it – a neighbour sold her home and took to the road with her dog a few years ago. Her “selling point” was that she could tackle plumbing and general light maintenance work. She had done her homework and had found that a female was more likely to be employed by elderly people as they felt safer.

She also marketed herself as a companion. Many older people would be grateful to pay a “companion” to accompany them to hospital and doctor appointments – maybe to push the wheelchair or use the lifts. Or perhaps to help them use public transport to enable them to get to wherever they socialise.

They may want someone to be with them whilst work is carried out on their home. You would need to build up a regular customer base and earn their trust of course. And also, you would need to be mindful of where your parameters lie – do not cross any lines by becoming overly involved. This lady, for instance was not trained in care so would not assist with dressing etc. but it is important to be highly transparent as regards money or personal care.

Some households require an “au pair” – for general help within the home. They may even let you sleep in your van on their driveway!

House and pet sitting

House-sitting and pet care can be a wonderful way of earning money in van life, especially during the summer when people want to go away on holiday. Place business cards in shops, get a professional-looking website and social media presence with testimonials from genuine satisfied customers. Don’t be tempted to plaster your feed with fake reviews – you will be exposed!

There are platforms which pair sitters with clients such as Trusted House Sitters. There’s a fee but the promotion you would receive makes it worthwhile. People are more likely to use someone who is backed by a bigger company than a sole trader.

Some house-sitting customers would be happy for you to park your van on their driveway for the duration of your stay. It shows that the house is occupied whilst they are away. Of course, this might depend on the neighbourhood and perhaps the condition and appearance of your van!

Dog owners are happy to pay someone to walk and give attention to their dogs for an hour or so a day. Many people who live in their van have a dog for security and company. They too may appreciate the animal being walked whilst they work.

Use your local (or international) knowledge

A strong local knowledge could be the basis for a tour guide or guided nature walk business. We’re thinking about places such as Glastonbury or Avebury.

Do your research; there may be locals who attend to see how much you really know! Be humble and ask for their knowledge – they’ll be delighted and tell their friends that they were able to inform you! See it as free advertising for your next guided tour!

You may be able to teach evening classes. If you have academic qualifications or are multi-lingual for example, you can advertise as a personal tutor. See if the local college would take you on, or try the independent approach by using a village hall.

how to make money in van life: could you be a local tour guide?
Hobo Trudi’s knowledge of her home town was put to good use in our ebook Meeting God in a Motorhome

How to earn money in van life – summary

We hope you’ve found this list of money-making ideas helpful. The bottom line is to think about your skills and experiences, add a dash of enthusiasm and passion and get working on an idea that truly resonates with you. Some jobs are a means to an end. Others you pour your heart and soul into.

There will always be something you can do to earn money whilst you travel in your van or motorhome. Believe that you already possess the skills to earn money in van life (or can soon learn them).

Before you create an income for life on the road it’s a good idea to check out the real cost of van life (and download our FREE van life budget tracker).

Like what you’ve been reading? For more van life tips and a look behind the scenes subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Notes:

(1) For more on renting out your motorhome to make money check out one of several sites that offer the service, such as Quirky Campers

(2) Find out more about Darran who worked as a truck driver whilst living full time in his motorhome and his now famous YouTube channel

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