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How to Become a Workamper

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Frank and Stacy Pullano workamping

As they sat around the campfire during a chilly night in Virginia, Frank Pullano was in a state of awe as Mr. and Mrs. Smith*, his good camping friends, explained an alternative lifestyle they were about to embark on. It was a conversation that was going to change the way Frank and his wife Stacy lived their life.

The Smiths, both nurses by trade, told Frank they were going to use their profession to take temporary contracts at hospitals and explore the country. They were going to work for three month stints and live out of their motorhome, with their first stop being Missouri.

The conversation planted a deep desire within Frank to lead a similar lifestyle. Since that conversation Frank and Stacy have been workamping throughout the country, "following the sun" as Frank puts it, with no regrets.

As Frank came to learn, becoming a workamper is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for couples in tenuous relationships. But for those who willingly accept the burdens, the rewards are irreplaceable.

Are you considering becoming a workamper? Our step by step guide below makes sure you are ready and tells you how to do it, with helpful information about the workamping lifestyle.

First Things First: Evaluate Your Relationship with Your Partner

Are you good enough friends to live with someone in confined spaces for long periods of time? Taking up the workamping lifestyle typically requires living in a confined space. Remember, you won't have the luxury of a four bedroom house to hide yourself away. Could you handle sharing that motorhome, trailer, truck camper or even tent space with your partner? Even when it's raining out? If the answer is no, workamping probably isn't for you.

Do You Like RVing?

If you've passed the relationship test, the next essential step is to figure out whether or not RVing is for you. "Don't jump right in", offers Steve Anderson, President of Workamper.com "It's a phenomenal lifestyle, but if you haven't gone RVing before, renting a motor home is the first thing you should do. Rent a motorhome for a week or weekend and see if you like it."

Get Educated

When you decide to embark on the workamping lifestyle there are many things you'll need to learn before you hit the road. You'll need to figure out basic considerations such as how you are going to stay connected with family and friends; what to do about your medical insurance; and even how you are going to get your mail! To get answers to such questions we suggest talking to people who are workampers themselves, visiting workamping websites, such as Workers on Wheels, RV Lifestyle Experts, Happy Vagabonds and pick up books on workamping.

Keep Financial Expectations Realistic

Workamping jobs do not produce career level incomes. While they vary, typical workamping jobs pay between $7-$12 per hour.

Some workamping compensation arrangements require the workamper to pay for their site, whereas with others you will get a free site and paid for all hours worked. Jaimie Bruzenak, author of Support Your RV Lifestyle and other books suggests that before you agree to such an arrangement you need to determine what the campsite is worth and if your hourly rate plus site is a fair exchange.

Determine Your Desired Location

Before you begin applying to positions you need to determine where you want to be. Once you have determined your desired location you can apply to workamping jobs specific to your preferred area.

Determining your location prior to reaching out is also important because workamping jobs are typically seasonal and last anywhere between 3-6 months. You want to be sure to select a location you're going to be happy in before committing to any job. A stint in the middle of the Nevada desert in the middle of Summer may be heaven for some, and hell for others!

Create a Resume & Apply to Workamping Positions

You can apply to and uncover workamping positions through a few different channels:

  1. Look for classified ads in camping-related newspapers or by searching online for terms like "workamping" or "camp host jobs". You can even check forum sites like our workamping discussion board.
  2. Inquire at the front desk of a campground that you like as to whether they have any available positions.
  3. Attend job fairs in popular RV destinations, such as Quartzsite, AZ.
  4. Apply to jobs on workamping-focused Web sites, such as Workamper.com, Camphost.org, RVparkstore or Workers on Wheels.

Job Seeker Beware

To assure that you have good workamping experiences there are a few things you can do minimize the chances of winding up with a less than desirable job. Coleen Sykora, co-founder of Workers on Wheels, offers two great suggestions:

  • Never travel across country for the sole purpose of a job. Go where you'd like to spend time, work or no work. If you are looking at campground work, go to the campground, pay to stay there for a few days, and get a feel for the place prior to committing to work there.
  • Be wary of a campground job that has detailed job descriptions and requires extensive signed agreements as it likely means they've been burned in the past and are suspicious of new hires.

Talk to the Employer.

Before accepting a position, be sure to get the terms of the agreement in writing. Frank Pullano, a veteran workamper, suggests that clarification with an employer is vital. "You need to make sure you chat with the employer and clarify what your duties, compensation, and hours will be. Will you have time off? Why did the previous workampers not come back? These are all questions you need to have answered before you move forward."

To be a workamper is to truly "cut loose," explore and discover. workampers make new friends wherever they work, see new sights, have unique experiences, and discover and integrate themselves into local cultures. Clearly, becoming a workamper can be hard work. It requires planning, dedication, persistence, commitment, and a special bond with your partner. But for those who are willing to put in effort, the rewards are endless.

*Names changed to protect the innocent!

Copyright ©2012 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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