Figuring out how to make money living in a van was the biggest obstacle for me when it came to making the transition to living on the road, and I know that’s the case for a lot of people.
But the truth is that there are so many creative ways to make money, and so many ways to make money on the road. I’ve tried a lot of them, and in the interest of full transparency, I now make more money than I ever have before, and I work completely remotely – but it took a long time to get here, and I did a lot of odd jobs and found a lot of creative (weird) ways to make money to make van life happen. So this guide will be all about how to make money on the road, while living in a van (or an RV, skoolie, Subaru, whatever your home on wheels looks like) – and every single one of these jobs and ideas is something I’ve actually done, because I want this guide to be transparent and I want it to be useful, with realistic ways to support yourself.
I’ve never had a fancy tech job – I only worked food service jobs before hitting the road, and none of these jobs require a college degree. I’ll talk about remote jobs, little ways to make extra cash, and ways to get creative with your income!
Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because I was going to share anyway, and this helps me keep making free guides for you! Just one of the ways I make money while living in a van :-).
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Table of Contents
Remote Jobs – How to Make Money While Living in a Van
This is typically people’s favorite category of jobs for van life – the ones that allow you to go wherever you want and work from anywhere! Here are some remote jobs that you can do on the road.
Monetize a Blog
By the way, if you’re reading this, consider turning your ad blocker off 😉. One way to make money living in a van is by creating a blog and monetizing it. It will take a while for a blog to actually make money, but you can do this through ads and through affiliate links. The easiest way to get started is with Google Ads, and Amazon Affiliates. These don’t pay very well, but they’re a good starting point. Once your blog is more established and you get more monthly views, you can apply for other ad agencies, and other affiliate programs like AvantLink, which pay way better!
This is what I do now! Most of the other things on this list are things I’ve done in the past, and monetizing my blog has been the best option for me – I do what I love (writing and photography), and I can go anywhere in the world to do it, as long as I’ve got my Starlink for wifi.
Here’s a secret – a lot of people hate writing. If you’ve got a knack for it, this is a really good remote job that you can do to make money living in a van! I’ve written a lot of blog posts for wedding photographers, and blogging, along with website copy is in pretty high demand. If you do this, I definitely recommend learning about SEO (check out this post for an overview).
Make Money with Website Design
You don’t need to be a coding expert to work as a website designer (but that helps too). With tools like Squarespace, Showit, or even WordPress with a website builder, you can create great websites. For a while, I designed websites for other wedding photographers, and though I don’t do custom designs anymore, website templates are still a way that I make some passive income.
Start an Etsy Store While Living in a Van
Selling things on Etsy is a big way that a lot of people make money while living in a van. It’s great because you can sell just about anything – if you’re crafty, you can make jewelry, knitwear, custom art, leather wallets… the possibilities are endless. I’m not artistically inclined, but I use Etsy to sell digital templates – passive income!
I’ve also started selling my templates on my website, which eliminates some Etsy fees and also doesn’t have the distraction of other products.
How to Make Money While Living in a Van Without Being Totally Remote
There are also a lot of jobs that you can do that aren’t fully remote, but they do give you some flexibility to move around and work in different locations, which works well for van life!
This is what originally got me on the road! I was a wedding and elopement photographer for a few years, and I booked jobs in different states, allowing me to travel. It’s not a remote job, but it lets you travel and gives you some flexibility with your schedule. I loved it – but I hung up the camera in favor of remote work. My experience in photography was what allowed me to be a website designer and blog writer for other photographers, because they knew that I knew what I was talking about!
While taking good photos is a big part of it, the hardest thing about becoming a professional photographer is learning how to market yourself and reach people who will book you! I have a few resources available for photographers, but I recommend taking some courses and learning about social media, SEO, and all that good stuff.
Dog Walking & Dog Sitting
Dog walking and dog sitting is a great way to make some extra cash – you can make quite a bit of money with it if you want to!
I was a dog walker on Wag, which allows you to choose to accept jobs that come up. You can do this in any major city, like Seattle, Portland, San Diego, etc. Tip: walks in the Bay Area pay a few dollars more, because of the high cost of living there.
For dog sitting, I recommend Rover. On Wag, jobs come up and anyone can take them, but on Rover, people message you directly, so you need to make sure you have a good profile. Dog sitting is also more involved, and you usually do a meet and greet with the dog and its humans to make sure it’s a good fit. I did dog sitting on Rover even after I stopped needing the extra money, because it can be a nice way to be able to stay in a house for a couple days to do laundry and take a shower!
These options are only really available in big cities, but with tips, you can actually make a decent amount of extra money while living in a van.
I tried doing Postmates briefly, before I actually lived in my van but while I was saving up for one – I gave up after like three days because I felt like the amount you get paid wasn’t worth it at all, but I have heard of people on the road doing this as their main source of income. It’s possible to make a decent amount of money doing it, but you would have to work a lot!
Little Ways to Make Money Living in a Van
There are also a few things I’ve done to make money while living in a van that won’t be a full time job, but they can give you a little bit of extra cash!
Get Free Bitcoin
You won’t get rich with this one, but you can make a few extra bucks without lifting a finger. If you install the free Lolli extension on your browser, you can earn free Bitcoin when you shop online at certain retailers, including Backcountry, Walmart, Ulta, and more. You can transfer it to a crypto wallet, or just cash out to your bank account. You get cash back for things you were already going to buy!
Of all the things I’ve done to make money while living in a van, this one was probably the weirdest – but you can actually get paid for donating plasma. Not a ton, but it’s something! Donating plasma is easy, but a little time consuming. The process is similar to donating blood, but it takes about an hour (though the first time is longer, because you have to do a physical).
The center I went to did require proof of residency (I did this when I first moved into my van, while I was still working at Starbucks, so I still had to stay around Seattle), so it may not work if you’re on the road, but you might be able to do it in your home state.
Keep Your Current Job and Make Money While Living in a Van
And the final option for how to make money living in a van is to keep your current job.
If you have a tech job or a office job, you can ask if you can work remotely! Now, I’ve never had an office job, and my job before I hit the road was at Starbucks, so this wasn’t an option for me – but I got creative with it. Before I had my van, I wanted to spend a few months living in my Subaru Outback – but I couldn’t afford to just quit and go. So, I talked to my boss about transferring to a different Starbucks, and luckily, she was super supportive.
I called around to Starbucks stores in Montana to ask if any of them wanted me for the summer, and one of them said yes – so I transferred from my Seattle Starbucks to one in Missoula, and worked there part time (3 days in a row, so that I would have 4 days off). On my days off, I explored Montana, hiked in the mountains, and camped every night. It was truly the best time of my life, to this day. After a few months, I transferred back to that same Seattle Starbucks.
And then, when I bought my first van, built it out, and was ready to move into it, I still wasn’t making enough money to quit my job, but my wedding photography business was growing, slowly. Instead of continuing to pay rent, I moved into the van and parked it in Seattle on the days I was working, and took trips to the mountains whenever I could.
You Can Make Money Living in a Van!
It can seem really daunting, and downright impossible, to make money while living in a van, or to make the leap and hit the road – but with some hard work, creativity, and trial and error, it’s possible. If you have any questions about how to make money living in a van, or have some ideas that you’ve tried, let me know in a comment below!
For more van life resources, check out these posts:
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