Here it is! The long list of ways to make money on the road while living nomadically, in a van, or traveling continuously.
Over the 7 years I’ve been traveling I’ve pieced a living together while out on the road and pursued the freedom of time and location–and these are some of the ideas I’ve tried or come across!
As I see it, there are three broad approaches to funding the lifestyle of travel/vanlife. Each approach is different and suits different people’s needs. Let’s break down this idea of three approaches to mobile income, discuss some specific options, and determine which of the three categories each career/job idea belongs in.
Three Approaches to Mobile Income
1) Manage your life in such a way that your expenses and dollar output are very low each month, and thus you will have to work less and/or can piece together an income from multiple small sources.
2) Build some kind of “wealth” or a brand/business first, so that your previous efforts will yield a continual passive or scalable stream of income.
3) Position yourself as a skilled worker and use your time to earn a significant wage commensurate with your lifestyle. Get degrees/certifications. Pick a field that inherently can lean toward remote work.
As we look at the 66 specific ways to build a road life income they will be split into these 3 categories. That way you can pick from similar choices in the category that most resonates with you.
This is just a jumping off point. There are hundreds if not thousands of different ways to make a remote income. The most creative ideas can also become the most mobile. Investigating a certain path will surely lead you to more, hopefully something that will speak to your passion or what you’d be willing to do with your time in order to achieve vanlife.
Approach 1 – multiple small source income
The jobs/gigs/approaches in this list work best for someone who needs under $2000-3000/month to survive and thrive.
These are the jobs for that individual that has mastered budgeting and keeps their expenses and dollar output per month very low. People who practice minimalism could find these ways of life workable.
The jobs/gigs in this list are typically “easy” to get. You normally just sign up or start today. No interviews, no special skills, no degrees. These are the hustles!
You may have to undergo background checks and have basic life skills like having a driver’s license, read and write in English, be in good physical health, etc.
Great for young people, those who want to keep their mind free for artistic pursuits, those who want to work flexible hours, and those who may not have the privilege/education to enter the options in other sections of this post.
Pretty much anyone can make some moolah here! So let’s dive in!
Buying and selling physical products is easier and more fun than most people think. If you get good at spotting items at thrift stores and garage sales and devote enough time to it, this pursuit alone could fund a life on the road. There are specific sites that can help you run a reselling empire.
1 – Poshmark
Sell clothing and shoes on this online marketplace. For a percentage of your sale, Poshmark provides a great platform with hundreds of thousands of users bound to see some of your products.
2 – Depop
Similar to Poshmark – another great platform to sell clothing and shoes. Higher ticket clothing can do better on here, and the layout of the product listings is generally considered to be more flattering than Poshmark’s. Your items look GOOD on Depop. Very popular with younger audiences – gen Z and Millennials.
3 – Etsy (vintage / resale)
Etsy allows you to list any product as “vintage” if it is more than 20 years old. Flipping items from thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, etc. could turn into a full time side hustle.
4 – Mercari
Mercari is a very general marketplace to sell items online and mail them out to your customers. You can sell almost anything on here. They take a percentage of your sale, but getting the shipping label and mailing off your sale couldn’t be simpler.
5 – Facebook Marketplace / Craigslist
What a resource! Money can be made so easily selling things in person (and now for shipping on FB marketplace) on these sites. Simply photograph and list the item, and you’ll be surprised how quickly people in the local area message you to arrange a time to meet up and get it from you. These days, it is common to pay people with Venmo, so make sure you have that set up if you want to make Facebook Marketplace sales.
6 – Ebay
Ebay is still alive and well. One of the longest enduring sites for selling online, it could be the best vehicle for what you are selling. Unique items and those with a very specific market tend to still do well on Ebay.
I write about these interesting task-based apps more HERE. If you want more info about a specific one, check that article out. Basically these pay you to do a small photographing task in a retail establishment, usually a grocery store or superstore like Target or Walmart.
Here are the apps to download!
7 – Field Agent
Get paid to take pics of store shelves, check inventory, buy and try products and write reviews, and take pictures of homes for insurance purposes among many more random activities!
To support this blog and earn some money today, download Field Agent now and use the Invite Code 6zn9fgk. You’ll probably be able to score some cash within minutes! And putting that code in helps this blog keep going – so do it. Please. And thank you!
8 – Observa
A true hidden gem! Easy tasks in grocery stores lead to immediate payouts via PayPal–like within minutes after completion! Use referral code fierce-chinchilla to get started now. Observa personally named the Improvised Journeys account because in the early days of the app in 2016 we drove to all corners of the country furiously completing dozens of gigs per day!
Lately, many of the better paying tasks require interacting with a manager and asking some basic questions. If you are comfortable with that, hundreds of dollars per month are to be made here depending on your willingness to travel to specific grocery store locations.
9 – Gigwalk
Gigwalk has been around for years. It has tasks similar to Field Agent and often hosts gigs in Walmart, Walgreens, and fast food places. It has been slow during the pandemic and not many jobs have been available, but could pick up any time! That’s the key with these apps–just keep checking them.
11 – Merchandiser by Survey.com
This app has A LOT of opportunities. You could almost certainly work a full 8 hour day doing this in most areas at most times. The downside is that the pay is rather low for the amount of work each gig entails. But you have full control over how many gigs you sign up for, can travel around and check out stores all over America, working in one city one day and another the next. Minimum wage at least is likely – probably $100 a day or more if you really go for it!
12 – Premise
This is a really fun app! Effortless work! The app includes surveys that only take a couple seconds and pay 25 cents each. (2021 edit!) Also, at some times it includes ridiculously easy tasks, like take a picture of ANY statue, bank, pharmacy, ATM, any manner of strange and easy to locate things. Or take photos of shelves in grocery stores. Just pop a quick smartphone pic and you get $1-5 each time.
13 – Postmates
Postmates is amazing for the traveler! This food delivery app allows you to go online and deliver food anywhere you go with the flick of a smartphone. See my in-depth POSTMATES ARTICLE! Easy to hustle out $125-150 a day!
Use referral code FL-blz5 to join! — Again you help the blog at no cost to you and you get yourself going on a train that may never stop as your vanlife income increases from day 1!
Food delivery is great if your rig gets 20 MPG or better, but if not a lot of vanlifers throw an electric scooter onboard and use it to cruise cities and deliver food.
14 – DoorDash
DoorDash is a food delivery gig too. A new feature allows you to switch your city at will, opening up this gig to be much easier for travelers than it was in previous years.
You can “Dash Now” without a schedule if the area is busy enough.
15 – Caviar
High paying food delivery app, but a little harder to get started with. You’ll have to be lucky enough or wait to see if they will accept new drivers. Great money delivering higher quality food in rich areas. California cities use this a lot.
16 – Shipt
Shipt is a grocery shopping service and there is some flexibility here to switch markets and work in different cities as you travel. Not exactly ideal pandemic-era work, but hopefully it will be a safe and reliable income source in years to come.
More “Easy” Side Hustles
17 – Sugar Beet Harvest
Physically demanding work in cold conditions in autumn in Montana and Minnesota. Work hard for a short time and get paid well. Not difficult to be accepted for work.
This is a hotspot for a certain type of nomad, as the majority of the workers live a migratory life and this is just one stop along the way.
18 – Amazon CamperForce
Work in Amazon’s holiday surge. Long hard days of work, but lots of overtime opportunity. This is a powerful follow up to the Beet Harvest, and many nomads will do one and then the other and hope to sock away enough money to take the next 9 months of the year off for traveling and adventure!
19 – House Sit
With HouseSitters America and Trusted HouseSitters, you can find places to stay in exchange for pet care and watching the home. While not exactly income, saving on lodging when you need it and having a base for a certain amount of time for free can be very helpful for the full time or aspiring nomad.
20 – Walk dogs
Walking and caring for dogs is always in demand. Websites like Rover offer a good platform, and while I have never tried this personally I have heard of nomads finding a way to navigate the site and find jobs in many different locations. It does seem set up for a person to service a single given area and repeat clients, but there are almost always work-arounds for the savvy nomad!
21 – Personal Organizing
This can be an amazing opportunity! But you need the right temperament in order to enjoy this kind of work. Basically this is cleaning on overdrive! You will be a personal consultant for getting someone’s home back in good order. This could involve organizing files, decluttering, selling their items for them, reorganizing the set-up of the house, and so much more.
Typical pay for this profession is in excess of $20-25 per hour. It will be up to you to pitch and get clients, post ads up on Craigslist and local classifieds, and take the calls as they come in. This is a great starter gig for those about to work up to the more entrepreneurial options that will be discussed in section 2 of this article.
22 – Mover
If you are strong and like physical activity there are always ads for an extra hand moving. Typically at least $15 an hour and often in cash, these jobs abound on Craigslist. Just click the gigs section and look for them!
23 – Sign placer
Sometimes real estate companies or election campaigns are looking for people to place signs around town and then gather them back up in a couple of days. Great for those of you who want to get paid to drive around and explore the nooks and crannies of the neighborhoods you are traveling to!
24 – Curb address painter
This one is more of an entrepreneurial go-getter style entry, but I thought I’d include it here because it really is soooo easy! Have you ever seen those painted addresses on the curbs by people’s houses? They are common in affluent neighborhoods. People often let them fade or they are not found at a given house.
Simply knock on doors or ask people out and about in their front yards if they’d like the address marker freshened up or painted on the curb. $10 is a fair going rate and this only takes a minute if you have number stencils and spray paint.
You’ve got to be assertive enough to go up to people cold and deal easily with being told no. Other than that, such a simple hustle that could turn 100s or even 1000s of dollars a month depending on how much you traveled around and asked people.
Hustles with some barrier to entry
The barrier to entry with these money-makers does exist, but it is not hard to surmount in many cases. Some special skills may be required. Some may require a Bachelor’s degree. Corporate work experience is NOT necessary for any of these.
Great for the person who has some passion to provide a special service and interact with the work material slightly more than the gigs in List 1 of this category.
25 – Teach music lessons
If you know an instrument well, it is pretty simple these days to set up a phone as a camera and teach lessons 1 on 1 online via Zoom or similar service. Piano/guitar are good choices and always in demand, but so could be any instrument. The challenge here is how to market yourself and become visible for clients to find you. Create ads on Craigslist and flood your social media with the info that you are now taking music lesson clients.
This online business is almost always taking on new people. You must have a Bachelor’s degree (of any variety), pass a very basic online interview, and then build a client base using the website. Pay is $14-22/hour.
27 – Yoga Teacher
A rudimentary online Yoga teaching business could be built very simply online in a similar way to a music teaching gig. People can’t get enough Yoga these days. Post some free or cheap ads on FB or Craigslist. Certification for yoga training would be a good idea if you want to pursue this path.
28 – Make Jewelry
Jewelry can be sold in person or online in marketplaces like Etsy. Handmade items of any variety can be the building blocks of a successful Etsy side hustle, in which you make the products, list them, and mail them out yourself when they sell. You will have to practice your craft and continually improve to ensure success.
29 – Virtual assistant
Virtual assistant work can be good for those who enjoy busy work online and on social media. You will be helping out a larger brand with the digital busy work that they need to outsource. Can be a good introduction to what kind of detail work goes into running an online business. Some people find that these tasks are not that difficult and this is a good job for the long term as well. Check out Fancy Hands!
For higher paid virtual assistant work, keep an eye on the pages of your favorite online entrepreneurs, bloggers, and Instagrammers. As they grow they may reach out to their audience with offers to apply for assistant work.
30 – Upwork
The website Upwork has many freelance gigs available. While many of the higher paying ones require a career-level understanding of a type of freelance work, there are also easy gigs that most anyone can get. Search for something you think you are good at and you might be surprised by a fun looking job on the search results.
For instance if you are a musician, search for jingles that people need written. Writers search for blog articles that people need ghost-written.
31 – Fiverr gigs
Freelancing at its simplest. $5 gigs for making logos, jingles, lots of random things. If you can crank out digital projects in a matter of minutes, this could be worth it for you. Just go browse the Fiverr site and see if anything strikes your fancy.
32 – Freelancer
Yet another site to browse for beginner freelancing gigs.
Approach 2 — Business/Brand / Entrepreneurial pursuits
These pursuits may require a certain amount of startup capital and investment in business expenses. They may also not yield any pay right away, but instead build to a big payoff months or even years hence. Not advised for those with access to less than $1000 to start.
33 – Dropshipping
Dropshipping means you design your own, or sell someone else’s, product using a website/online store of your creation and then contract with a third party shipping company to “fulfill” the orders. It is a way to sell product without ever touching it, and therefore is completely mobile. The only tools needed are a laptop, a cunning mind, and a small bit of money in your account.
Easy ways to begin dropshipping are to design T-shirts or other simple products and have them fulfilled with companies like Printful. You can make a store on Etsy to work with Printful. If you’d like to start now, go to Printful here, and create an account. It’s easier than it looks and free to sign up and integrate it with Etsy!
Many people beginning this pursuit also go with Shopify, but that is $30/month.
I’ll have an in-depth article on our pursuit of dropshipping soon, so stay tuned!
34 – Writer
Whether you are a freelancer writing articles or a novelist, there are a lot of ways to make money with the written word. If you position yourself as a professional writer, create writing samples, and create a business website you can win high paying writing gigs on sites like Upwork. Even better, find and pitch to websites within a niche you have selected. Being a “copywriter” is a coveted profession and worthy of studying if you love the written word and want to make money on the road and a high dollar income.
35 – Freelance Designer
If you are a master with Photoshop and a competent visual artist, you can position yourself to make money in the same way writers can. Design logos, brand image cohesion, website layouts, cover art, there are too many options to name.
36 – Start a blog
Blogging can be a profession. The large part of the income from professional bloggers comes from ads on their website, brand sponorships, sponsored content, and AFFILLIATE MARKETING. There will be startup costs associated with getting a host service for your own website and email marketing tools.
37 – Affilliate Marketing
Ever wondered what all those links you have seen on blog posts are for? A lot of them lead to a page for a product or service the blogger is recommending. These are a win-win for the reader and the blogger. Completely free to post, the blogger receives a small percentage if they help convert a sale for the affiliate partner. To get started, sign up for Amazon Associates.
A lot of companies have an affiliate marketing program – just type in the company name and “affiliate program” into Google to see if something comes up!
38 – Wedding/engagement photographer
Weddings and engagements typically only happen once! That is music to the ears of someone who wants mobile income. If you build a business taking people’s photos for these events you can travel all over the country for work. Though stressful, requiring extreme diligence on the day of work, and having the prerequisite of an expensive camera and photo skills, the payoff for a single day’s work can be out of this world!
39 – Real Estate photographer
Take pictures of homes about to go up for sale. You will need a great camera set-up, competent photography skills, and a drone. A drone license through the FAA is also required for this line of work. Once all the equipment is bought and you’ve passed the FAA test, finding this work appears quite easy. Many ads abound all over Craigslist and the most unclaimed ones seem to be off the beaten path where few professional photographers reside. Perfect for nomads!
40 – Photograph rural land
This one is easier to get into in the photography domain and largely not talked about. There are ads on Craigslist every summer in abundance in the rural mountain west of states like Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming to go out into the middle of nowhere and photograph a plot of land someone has purchased, yet never seen. They are looking to get images in order to sell that property.
$100 – 200 is readily available for just a few minutes work. Some gigs may require a full frame sensor camera, but others just want anything that shoots RAW and is a little better than a smartphone. You often need a high clearance vehicle to reach these spots and the ability to navigate dirt and unsigned roads.
41 – Airbnb Host
Rent out your rooms in your home while you travel. Obviously this only pertains to those who maintain a permanent residence while out on the road. If you have the ability to own a property, it would usually be worth it to have that investment help fund your travels. Airbnb is easy to get started on. Check local regulations about Airbnbs.
42 – Rental Owner – Landlord
If you don’t want to hassle with third parties like Airbnb, just rent out your place yourself. It is not as hard as it seems to vet people and get a good tenant living in your space while you are away from it traveling.
One of the best first investments for a road-lifer is a triplex or fourplex, with one of the units functioning as your base and the others functioning as rental property or vacation rental income.
43 – Rent cars out
If you have extra cars that will not be your travel vehicle, rent them out on GetAround, Turo, or a similar service. Having your own on-call assistant would be necessary to run this hustle from the road, as someone has to be there to give the keys to the renter.
44 – Spinlister
If you have expensive bikes at home that you would like to rent out, Spinlister is a good side hustle site. Same deal as the cars, someone must meet the renter to hand out the bike and accept it upon return. Some carbon fiber road bikes and 29er MTBs go for as much as $100/day.
45 – Rent out storage space
You can rent out your driveway, your garage, your back lot of property – pretty much anything in the house if you own a property. Use this to your advantage and research all the local and national app startups that have emerged in this economy of sharing. Start with neighbor.com
46 – Create a course on Udemy
Creating courses is big money in the online entrepreneurial world for one reason – scalability. You create one course and sell it time and time again. If you sell your course for $100 but sell it to 10,000 people, you’ve made a million dollars!
Beginning course creators can start on platforms like Udemy, which take a lot of the hassle out of designing your own course from scratch.
The key though is knowing what to create a course about. Pick a niche that is something you are deeply knowledgeable about and equally as passionate for.
47 – Life Coach
Life Coaches are in demand. Getting certified is not time-consuming or difficult. Check out simple and cheap programs (from $69) on sites like ExpertRating. If you love helping people, you’ll be surprised how rewarding and simple a career as a life coach could be. Inherently remote in this day and age, life coaches often work from anywhere and conduct sessions via Zoom. Rates per session could start out around $25-50 but quickly grow to $100-200 or even more depending on the clout you create around your business through social media and having a specific niche within life coaching.
48 – Health Coach
Health Coaches are always in demand as well. People need guidance in their life in the terms of nutrition, exercise, biodiversity, and the psychology of health. One on one clients, much like Life Coaching, is the bread and butter of a Health Coaching business. Prospective coaches can get certified through institutions like IIN for more credibility.
49 – Fitness guru / trainer
A business built on fitness coaching or training is also possible to be a remote career. Many of the most famous fitness gurus receive their income almost entirely through online sources such as selling apps they have created, fitness programs or videos, or nutritional/supplement programs.
50 – Model
Models live a life of travel, heading to destination resorts and beautiful locations for shoots. Having ideas for locations and being well traveled is a great quality to have if this is a career you’d like to pursue. Contact photographers on Instagram looking to build their portfolios to jump into this highly desired, highly network heavy profession.
51 – Instagram influencer
Ah, the coveted dream of every Vanlifer!
In all seriousness, this could be a valid path for financial success. It is all about what you pursue. Following numbers don’t necessarily get you income. Solid pitching skills and locating brands to work with does. Even with as few as 10k followers, there are ways to make about $2000-3000/month on Instagram. Travel themed Instagram pages and those about vans can very well be turned into income streams!
52 – TRIBE influencer freelancer
With as few as 3,000 followers on Instagram, you can sign up to be a contributor on the website TRIBE Influencer. Here you complete briefs – usually for about $60-80 each – where you submit photo ideas to a brand’s concept. If the brand accepts and chooses your work, it is featured and you are paid. Technically it could be possible to do one of these every day and make a full time income with just a few hours of work per day shooting the material. If you have more followers, the pay goes up even more!
53 – YouTube channel creator
Everyone seems to have heard of this unicorn in the mobile income world!
Like Instagram, the success is in the brand deals and sponsored content. The pay from ads alone is abysmal.
Improvised Journeys YouTube Channel – Improvised Piano music in nature.
We have a long way to go before this one provides any income, but it is a worthy goal to pursue for anyone who has creativity in their blood, if purely for the expressive outlet.
Approach 3 — Remote Jobs
54 – Graphic Designer
If all you need is a laptop to do all the work of your 40 hour work week, it is becoming all the more common to be allowed to work 100% remote. Graphic Designers that work full time for a company often fit into this category.
55 – Social Media Management
Taking care of the day to day operations of the social media for a company is a great idea for a long term remote work position in the corporate world. Many of the skills you apply on the job could be honed to eventually create a social media strategy for your own side businesses. These jobs are typically not that hard to get if you show proof of competent social media skills, good communication, and usually a Bachelor’s Degree.
56 – Marketing
Marketing is a good career for the same reasons as social media management – you will learn applicable skills for creating a successful business of your own in the future and remote work is common in the field. Applying to work with outdoor companies in the marketing realm is something a lot of vanlifers do.
57 – Customer service remote employee
This one won’t pay as good, but the barrier to entry is relatively low. You’ll need to be the kind of person who handles email and phone conversations well and is unbothered by potentially disgruntled people calling in for your help. Though the pay is low for a “real job,” these type of jobs are a great entry point into the world of remote work. If you have no specific skillset, this could be a good first step. The surety of 40 working hours really helps some people sleep at night; if that’s you, maybe check out this path!
56 – Software / Coding / IT / App Development, etc.
I will lump this into one, as I have no real connection to the tech world. It is well known though that some of the highest paying remote jobs are in the tech world, so if you have any inclination to that sort of thing–go for it!!
Extras! – True Vagabond Jobs!
57 – Busking – musician or street performer
Taking the instrument to the street is one of the most timeless ways to make some money in the world. It brings joy to you and the passerby. It is a simple life, a happy pursuit, and it can be lucrative.
You’ve got to be good and you’ve got to be persistent. You must also research the legality of performing in a given area. Touring around from Boulder’s Pearl Street, to Uptown Sedona, to the Huntington Beach Pier – these are all legal locations in which I’ve played my piano for a few bucks and had a great time!
Put a tip bucket out with a sign on it and people will be bound to donate and appreciate your work!
58 – Coolworks
Coolworks is a website with seasonal job postings for nomads. The employers who list here include resorts, lodges, restaurants, ski areas, and more. They hire seasonally and appreciate the nomadic culture. You’ll be a waiter, housekeeper, driver, cleaner, etc. for hospitality locations typically set in wild places like National Parks or quaint tourist towns.
The pay is low, typically around the state’s minimum wage, and they’ll usually have you pay for lodging with a roommate and take that out of your paycheck. The savvy nomad with a rig might be able to find work that would let them park and sleep in the rig for free on the property and keep their whole paycheck.
59 – Workamping
A tried and true method for retirees who live in RVs. Many campgrounds need a camp host and maintenance staff for their high season. Workamping refers to those jobs where the campground offers a free camping spot and maybe some minimal pay in exchange for this work. You will never get a lot of money from this, and it would only be good for someone whose other income sources did not require them to leave the campground for months at a time.
60 – Pop-up shop from van
It’s not uncommon to see people’s vans be traveling shops, from which passersby purchase goods directly out of the van. You can arrange to set up at Farmer’s Markets, craft shows, flea markets, mass yard sales, and so much more. Some people even set up at rest areas and trailheads if there are no signs prohibiting it. You can sell anything from clothes, to gear, to jewelry, to coffee.
61 – Boat transport
If the long haul trucking lifestyle appeals to you yet you only own a van, that van could make some serious money transporting boats across the country. Boats are typically light enough to fall well under the towing capacity of a van. Looking on sites like Uship and Citizen Shipper, you can find many boats just waiting for a bid to take them to their destination. A lot seem to need to go between California and Florida, so if you like seeing the 10 freeway and want to make some money just cruising, check out this awesome and unsung job.
62 – Parts hauler with van
There is a market out there for Sprinter van drivers known as expedited transportation which typically involves hauling auto parts that have been requisitioned for needed repairs. Someone will often drive all night to make sure these parts get there ASAP and the mechanic can finish the work on the customer’s vehicle as quickly as possible.
These gigs are often one-time and would be perfect for someone who wants to be constantly on the move. The pay can be quite good, but I heard of one guy who took it so seriously his whole van was filled with parts and he was sleeping on top of them!
63 – Pet Transport
UShip often has pets that need to go from one state to another, as does the app Roadie. A good pet transporter knows the needs of pets and loves animals. This gig is not hard to pitch and is another that is great for people who just want to drive, drive, drive and often be on a deadline to reach the destination.
64 – Auto Driveaway
Drive other people’s cars across the USA. The company Auto Driveaway pays the gas and reimburses hotel stays but does not pay a fee or wage. This is a good option for on-foot or bicycle nomads if they want to get across the country quickly and free.
65 – Fieldworks
If you follow local elections state by state, you will see hiring ads all over Craigslist for Fieldworks. This is a legit company that pays you around $17/hour to gather signatures for local initiatives. They operate out of many cities and hire for just a few weeks at a time in each place.
66 – Fruit Picking / Farm Work
WWOOFing is a common way nomads find work on farms. Pay is normally only in the form of lodging and organic produce, not money. If you are savvy and search online though, finding farm work that pays is not impossible. If you like that feeling of digging in the dirt and being immersed in nature, this might be an idea of another “vagabond job.”
So there you have it! 66 Ideas to get you started on your journey on the road!
Let me know in the comments what you have done for money on the road or what you’d like to know more about!