My Second Big Full-timing Mistake

my-second-big-full-timing-mistakeThe sun is shining, it’s 89 and muggy outside, flowers and vines are threatening to take over my hoses yet again, and the chirping of birds greets me when I wake up in the morning. It might seem kind of early to be thinking about winter, but that’s exactly what I’m doing.

For those wondering at the title, my first big mistake in this full-time RVing adventure was taking so long to get to know my coworkers when I was at Amazon last fall. When you’re traveling solo, you gotta get your socialization from outside sources, and I failed to get started on that early enough. By the time Amazon was over I was drained and in a bit of a funk. I learned my lesson though and did a much better job of it here at Cedar Pass this summer, and wrote two blog posts about how to avoid loneliness as a solo RVer to show for it.

My second big mistake was failing to look for a winter job after Amazon soon enough. RVing was so new that it didn’t even occur to me to start looking until it was already November or so. Then I only went at it halfheartedly because I knew I’d be visiting family and relatives after Amazon and I didn’t want any potential job to require me to show up before the holidays were over. So I figured once I got up to Wisconsin I’d have time to figure out my next gig. But then once I was there I was seeing friends and family that I hadn’t seen since I moved to South Carolina over three years ago, trying to cram time in with all of them left no time for job searching.

So after the holidays were over I still had no job lined up. I drove back down to South Carolina without a solid plan and bummed Julie’s internet, figuring now that I had ample free time landing a job wouldn’t be hard.

The first issue was location. RVer friendly jobs are harder to find east of the Mississippi I’ve noticed. There are less parks, more local workers to fill seasonal jobs, and RV sites cost more because space is more at a premium. That’s not to say that a full-timer can’t make a go of it out east, it just definitely takes more effort and costs more money.

The second issue was the season. For most of the U.S., prime tourist season is in the summer, and so that’s when you find an abundance of seasonal jobs. There are fewer places who’s prime time is in the winter (okay, ski resorts and stuff yeah, but what RVer is going to want to brave those conditions?), and more competition for those spots because besides all of the full-timers, there are seasonal RVers who have homes up north and then just travel south for the winter.

I sent out 32 applications and resumes before I heard back from a single place, and when I heard back from that single place (Lowe’s) I pretty much had to take the job even though it wasn’t a living wage. But I survived, and learned another valuable lesson for this year: Start searching for winter jobs sooner.

This year I think I’m going to break down and finally pay for the Workamper Network job listings. Several people have recommended the service over the years that I’ve been interested in RVing, and I’ve been leery of it before because I just couldn’t see paying to look at job opportunities that I could likely find on my own. My RVer job search site of choice ( does well for opportunities out west, but in Florida for instance they have no listings at all, and I know there must be work camping opportunities down there in the winter.

My options will be more limited as well since working at Amazon cuts into the winter season, and many places only want to hire workers that can do the full season. Forever Resorts for instance runs a lodge down in Big Bend National Park and several of my cohorts working here in the Badlands will be heading down there when the season here is over. I’m pretty much guaranteed a job down there if I want it – but only if I can show up right when this gig ends in October, and that just isn’t as happy for my bank account since Amazon pays so much more.

And so the search for winter has already started. Mistakes are inevitable when you make a dramatic lifestyle change like this, it’s impossible to avoid them all. What you need to do is learn from them, to avoid a repeat. I’ll let you all know if I think paying for the Workamper Network is worth it when I’ve had some time to go over it. If any other work campers out there have job finding resources you’d like to share, please do!

Image courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Jackie on September 22, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Oh, and there are a lot of places where the work is better in the summer because of the tourist trade.

    • Becky on September 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Huh, interesting. Maybe I should poke around and see if there are other easy to obtain degrees/certificates that would make good part-time work as a traveler. Thanks for the idea.

  2. Jackie on September 22, 2013 at 12:07 am

    This is something you may not have thought of but it might work for you if you want to put the money and time in. If you go to massage school and take the national test, you and get licensed in most states. There are areas where doing massage on a seasonal basis makes sense. Winter resorts in the mountains hire for ski season but since you need to stay in a warmer place, there is usually good money to be made in Florida from Thanksgiving through Easter. You have to plan ahead as it can take a couple of months to get a license in most states and the cost is usually between $100 & $200, Liability insurance is $99 per year and some places require it. Nice spas may pay as much as $50 per hour and the franchises pay around $18 plus tips. Either way, you don’t have to work more than 20 hrs a week to get by which leave you time to develop other income streams.

  3. Marsha on August 26, 2013 at 6:06 am

    Just a suggestion, but your Amazon link should be easier to find. I almost gave up before I found it at the bottom of the page.

    • Becky on August 26, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      All the pictures Amazon gives me to use are so big. I need to find a way to design my own that’ll link correctly. Been working on it actually but haven’t figured it out yet. 😛

  4. cozygirl on August 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    I’m hopeful you can come farther West….i so want to connect. Nice comments with helpful info…someday we may choose to do that. On the Mississippi right now…headed to Panhandle by late Fall and then Westward….good luck with search…betting the next one will be your best ever!

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      Glad to hear things are going so well for you Carla! It might be easiest for me to head west after Amazon since the SW seems to be where most of the winter opportunities are. I’m still trying to swing things so that I can afford to work at a renaissance farie near Julie either in spring or fall though, it’s something we’ve been trying to do for so long. Just requires so many pieces to fall into place to make work, gah. All things in good time I suppose.

  5. Jeanne on August 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I recently discovered the site. It lists farm and homestay opportunities across the country and around the world. In exchange for 20-25 hrs. of work you receive meals and a place to stay. We’re planning to do an exchange for a few weeks or 1 month at a time in between the paid work assignments we travel to. It will help us save on expenses while we see different parts of the country. Plus we’ve always been curious what it is like to work on a farm. The nature of the work varies from place to place. Some of the work is construction related, some is animal care, and there are even fruit orchards on the list that sound appealing for harvest season.

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      I like being outdoors and would probably enjoy this kind of work Jeanne, thanks for sharing. Might be hard to do until I’ve either saved up some more or have alternative income coming in since I still need to be earning enough every month to also pay for insurance, gas, phone, etc.

    • k&p Catalano on August 21, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Hello Becky and Jeanne,
      I just spent the last half hour looking through this helpx site. It is really amazing. And if you look closely and read through all the descriptions there are actually a few that offer monetary compensation as well (not too many, but they are there) also I noticed that some of the duties are minimal enough in nature to afford you the opportunity to take on a paying job in a nearby community. What is interesting is the variety of jobs and locations.
      Jeanne thank you for sharing this link. I am definitely adding it to my list of favorites. Definitely worth it’s own blog post in the future!!!
      (gets ready to sign off singing to herself…”Becky has the greatest commentors and online friends…hummmhummm…”)
      k&p Catalano recently posted..Veni MIDI ViciMy Profile

  6. Norm on August 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Whatever you do for that all-important expense money, please keep writing. It was your detailed explanations of obtaining S. Dakota driver’s licenses and vehicle registration that was a great help to us. You have a gift for sharing the full-timing life. Keep working on that e-book as well as blogging. Cheers.

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      Oh I will be Norm, no worries. 🙂

  7. PamelaP on August 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Here is a list of all the free sites that I post on to find working campers. You already know about Coolworks & WKN – and, I’m assuming, the forums. The forums are sort of hit & miss for jobs but people do post jobs there.

    I think looking under Craigslist is a good idea – especially the “gigs” – Before I became a corporate person, I used to find work there as everything from a bartender to gaffing on a movie.

    Best of fortune to you!

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks Pamela, that’s quite the list! I hadn’t even thought about Caigslist for finding temp work but it makes sense.

  8. Susan Bryza on August 20, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Becky,

    We love Workamper News and have attended their Rendevous in Heber Springs. For $42 they send you an email hot list daily. It contains 3 to as many as 12 different opportunities each day. It is well-worth the fee. We have also used coolworks and
    there is no comparison.

    I am a concierge for them and would appreciate it if you would put in my number if you do decide to join. It is Bryz9862. This is another money making opportunity. Steve Anderson will send you the total amount of money for the first year’s membership for each person you sign up!

    Best of luck! If you have further questions, please feel free to send me a personal email.

    Take care,

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Haven’t made the leap yet Susan but I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.

  9. William on August 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

    I look forward to see what you think abi=out Workamper Network job listings. I have several friends that have recommended them.

    You do such a thorough write up, that is very helpful for us learning how to make it all work. Hint Hint 🙂

    William recently posted..What to do for my 50th birthday?My Profile

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Wow, so subtle William, haha.

      I haven’t delved into it yet, spent this weekend focusing on writing, but soon.

  10. Monte Stevens on August 20, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I’m enjoying following your journey as I had a dream at one time to do as your doing. As we learn those lessons from last year we are able to move forward with fewer hiccups and worries. Good luck in whatever you find.
    Monte Stevens recently posted..Licking the WhipMy Profile

    • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks Monte, and glad you’re enjoying IO. Maybe I’ll see you on the road one day?

  11. Emily on August 20, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Have you tried rv workers on wheels? It is a free service.


    • Becky on August 20, 2013 at 11:18 am

      Yep, I peek through it! Not a bad little list, and it’s hard to beat free.

  12. Tonya on August 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Ok so here’s some more accurate info:
    the thread is in Workamping for Full Time
    Rvers under Sandy Williams on June 28th.
    Hope that helps! Safe travels!!

    • Becky on August 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Thanks Tonya, I’ll have a peek.

  13. Tonya on August 20, 2013 at 8:57 am

    There’s a thread on the Facebook
    group workcamping for rvers that lists
    a bunch of free sites. I think it’s
    under Sandy ( can’t remember last name.)
    It was posted in July. She wanted to know
    if was worth the $40 fee.
    If you can’t find it just let me know.

  14. k&p Catalano on August 20, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Hi Becky,
    Not sure how you feel about ‘serving jobs’ but I worked for Cracker Barrel for a couple of years and they actually had a pretty good insurance plan…but my point about them in particular is that when I wanted to pick up stakes and move from Virginia to Florida to go to school, they were very accomodating when it came to letting me transfer locations. It was a huge sigh of relief knowing I already had a job waiting and one that I was familiar with. I’m sure there are other ‘chain’ businesses where you might be able to do the same thing with. A friend of mine changed locations with one of those 24 hour copy places (the name escapes me). Florida actually has lots of jobs…granted they only pay minimum wage or slightly above.

    To save money on campground fees, see if there are any folks out there that would be willing to rent you space and electric for a reasonable fee. You could post an add on Craigs list in the area you are interested in just to see if you get any bites. Try to get in with a house-sitting agency or if you like kids there are a lot of sites like They have anything from very short term to long term commitments. And it’s not only kids. Some want pet sitters, and help for an aging parent or spouse. If you did a write up on yourself that stated you have your own living accomodations and would just need a place to park and hook up you might be creating a win win situation for yourself. Start out slow and build a solid reputaion and maybe even repeat clientele.

    Finish your e-book and here’s a subject for the next…even though you don’t currently travel with pets, you have an area of expertise not matched by many. Put together a traveling with pets e-book that also lists by state, all of the 24 hour vet services, You could even write a questionaire and contact all of the vets in question to get a good vibe on what they are all about and how they operate. You could expand it with a section of uber pet friendly campgrounds and cool places to visit with your pets.

    well…hope a little of this might be helpful!
    k&p Catalano recently posted..POST-ITs, POST-US, INTERUPT-USMy Profile

    • Becky on August 20, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Between choosing a minimum wage full-time job and a work camping host type job where it’s a free site in exchange for 20 hours of work a week or so, the second sounds more and more like a better plan because that would give me time to work on other income sources.

      As for serving, I hated it in high school, but I might be better at it now. I’m not a natural conversationalist, so it takes a good deal of effort on my part to figure out the ‘right’ things to say to people I don’t really know. Writing is ideal, I can take as much time as I need to get my thoughts sorted in a way that makes my point and makes sense to others.

      My first guide is coming. I’ve often pondered how I can turn my experience with animals into something that can make me money, but I’m not sure a listing of vet services is the way to go because it’d need to be updated continuously.

      Thank you very much for the ideas K, I’ll continue to mull them over. 🙂

      • k&p Catalano on August 20, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        Good point about having to update the data all the time. Maybe someone reading this, that has the time, could start a website with a way for users to comment…kind of like a ‘PET Trip Advisor’.

        Cracker Barrel also has Gift shop workers, you wouldn’t have to do serving…it would be alot like working in the gift shop you are at right now. Even though CB is popular with locals, most of your traffic is travelers and tourists to the area. I’ll bet you’d have alot to ‘chat’ about with them.

        Best of luck!!!!! I know you’ll get it all worked out in a way that’s going to make you happiest!
        k&p Catalano recently posted..POST-ITs, POST-US, INTERUPT-USMy Profile

        • Becky on August 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm

          True, I keep forgetting about the gift shop component, it’s been a while since I’ve been in a Cracker Barrel. And yes, like everything else I’ll figure this out. 🙂

  15. Marvin on August 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm


    Becky ,

    Florida is tough for people that need income , as many snowbirds volunteer , and most of the paid positions are part time .

    Part time positions will not allow for much more than the monthly costs of living .

    Many companies in central florida have converted full time positions to part time , and they are not concerned with housing or subsistence .

    Good Luck in your job search .


    • Becky on August 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Actually I figured it probably would be Marvin, being such an ideal location to winter. But that doesn’t mean I still didn’t hope.

      Onwards and upwards!

  16. Colleen Phipps (longdog2) on August 19, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Try this workamping newsletter

    • Becky on August 20, 2013 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Colleen, I found that one a couple days ago through a work camper facebook group, it’s a good resource.

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