‘What can you do for work while traveling full-time?’
This is a question we get quite often as a family of 5 (sometimes we’re called Digital Nomads since we run a business while traveling), and while we spend much of our time RVing in North America, we also have started to explore Europe and would like to explore even further.
Most people admire the freedom of the digital nomad lifestyle but think they lack the expertise or business idea to help them continue generating an income.
Others are entrepreneurs who love running their businesses but feel tied down to being in the office and managing customers, inventory, or employees.
Maybe this list will help spark new ideas for a business that will help you earn money without having to show up at the office daily.
We’ll dig into the pros and cons of each below (this blog post might get quite long), so if you have a specific idea you’d like to jump to, here are three lists – Mobile business ideas, RV-specific business ideas, Remote work ideas (if you don’t want to run a business)
Mobile Business Ideas (aka Online businesses)
Ideas of mobile businesses that you can start or run while enjoying travel life (in no particular order)
- E-commerce store (like Shopify or Etsy)
- Website Design (my cup of tea)
- Virtual Marketing Agency (simpler than you may think)
- Network marketing (multi-level marketing)
- Virtual assistant business
- Build a personal brand (creating your own content on a YouTube channel or social media platforms, podcasting or writing a blog like this one)
- Content Creator (creating content for brands or small businesses)
- Freelance writing
- Online teaching or tutoring (From school subjects to fitness)
- Travel Agent
- Real Estate Agent (yes, really)
RV Business ideas (specific to the RV or camping niche)
- Remote RV Technician (RV repair business)
- RV relocation
- RV cleaning services
- RV Rentals
- RV Renovations
BONUS: Remote job ideas (work ideas) if you don’t want to run your own business
- Instacart or grocery delivery
- Uber, Skip The Dishes, Door Dash Delivery services, etc.
- Workamping at National Parks, State Parks, Private campgrounds
- Secret shopping
- Customer Service Representative
FIRST: In the digital nomad Facebook groups (RVing or otherwise), the question gets asked all the time:
“We’re ready to start traveling. What do you do for work?”
My gut instinct is to suggest you don’t start a business simultaneously as you change your lifestyle from living in a house to RV Life.
Both are challenges that many people (who are not rocket scientists) have tackled, but tackling both the challenges of starting a business (choosing your target market, learning about small business taxes, or finding clients) or transitioning to a full-time job that can be done remotely while also learning about backing in an RV, travel planning, and working in a mobile office with your family can cause unnecessary stress, both with your family dynamics and with money.
You don’t have to take years to onramp your business before moving into an RV or spend years traveling in an RV to get the hang of it before starting your own business, but it seems like six months to a year is a good amount of separation between the two – my 2 cents; go ahead and prove me wrong.
If you want to start RVing and haven’t hit the road yet, check out these 21 easy RV hacks to improve your RV experience.
You might also find this blog post helpful about easy ways to make the most of your RV’s storage space.
(Side note: this blog post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase based on a recommendation, we’ll make a commission at no cost to you. Groceries aren’t getting any cheaper.)
Remote Business You Can Run From Your RV
This list is compiled of businesses you can run from an RV and remote jobs that we know other RVers actually do. If you have a question about one of these business ideas, let us know in the comments, and we’re happy to connect you with someone making it work!
Create a product or a line of products and sell those products on an e-commerce store. Find a specific niche (like organic coffee, funny coffee mugs about the open road for RVers, or gag Christmas gifts for seniors, for instance).
I’d avoid trying to sell everything (since you won’t take down Amazon) and instead create a brand around a specific theme.
You can also start a white label store (like someone else produces the organic coffee and puts your label on it and ships to your customers) so you don’t have to worry about order fulfillment and can simply concentrate on using social media and email to drive new clients to your company website.
Upside: You can sell a physical product without having to deal with fulfillment, shipping, production, or returns on your own. You can be anywhere in the world and selling to anyone in the world. People can find your website and make purchases while you sleep (or enjoy a day on the beach) and the business can be mostly run from your phone.
Downside: There’s a lot of competition online, and while many have found success, it can be a difficult road to get started.
There’s so much I could say about this (actually, I have on my online course for web designers at BuildThatAgency.com) so while I won’t bore you with details, I’ve found a way to use websites to create monthly recurring revenue while charging clients $0 upfront.
The client loves having a website that is always maintained and up to date for them, and I love having a reliable monthly revenue for my business.
This can also be run as a white-label model (like ghost-writing for website design).
If you’re great at sales and know a specific industry inside and out, then you could find a web designer to create the websites that you sell (something I also do – you sell the websites, I build the websites, we share the ongoing revenue and you never have to learn to code or troubleshoot!)
White labeling (like the coffee fulfillment place or what I offer for salespeople who want to sell websites but don’t want to build them) can be applied to create your own virtual marketing agency.
If you’ve got a knack for reaching potential clients, some sales knowledge, and might already have contacts in a specific industry, this could be a good business option for you. In that case, you can offer those clients marketing services (like graphic design, web design, content creation, freelance writing, editing videos, and email creation) and then use services like fiverr.com or upwork.com or a virtual assistant to find talent to get the work executed for you.
Since you already have contacts in a specific industry, finding your first client and understanding how the industry will view pricing can give you the upper hand in providing the services they need at a price that makes sense for their business.
You can start by offering a campaign approach (Christmas marketing, seasonal marketing, league marketing, new product launch, etc) and then start to create longer-term contracts as you see the services that are really working to generate results.
If you haven’t specifically been in marketing before, then offer a potential client a review of their marketing. Start by getting a client’s current analytics, which might include:
- Their current monthly or yearly revenue
- Profit vs expenses
- Number of visitors to their website
- Number of subscribers (YouTube, Facebook, email newsletter)
- Current walk-in traffic
Next, look for opportunities to improve that one metric. Show how your campaign improved their numbers throughout the campaign, then use those before and after results to renew their contract and show results to your next potential client.
Sometimes, multi-level marketing (or MLM) is often perceived as a pyramid scheme. If that’s you, then you know this idea isn’t for you, and hopefully, something else on this list is helpful for you.
There are many legitimate multi-level businesses you can run from your RV with little to no inventory (unlike a true pyramid scheme or ponzi scheme where you pay money to join and recoup your money by getting more people to pay money to join without an actual product being sold or service provided).
Consider the most successful network marketing business as providing a retail product without the costs and overhead of a retail location, and choose something that matches your interests. Product categories might include;
- Health products
- Financial services
- Essential oils
Do you know an industry inside and out and have ideas on how to tackle common challenges in that industry? A consulting business is a great opportunity to showcase your expertise and charge for it in ways that scale to the value you provide and not just the time you show up for.
If a day with you can save a company $10,000 per month for the next year, then your day with them is easily worth $5,000 to them.
You could also choose a profit share: You’ll spend a week with them, and in exchange, you’ll receive a percentage of the profit growth they see in the next six months for instance.
Foolishly, I once charged a client $1500 to help with their daily digital marketing. The difference in what we changed on that day meant they made an extra $30,000 in the next quarter. Don’t underestimate your consulting value, and factor in the background work that goes into providing your consulting services.
For instance, you might be very happy making $100/hour consulting, but if you only charge your client $800 for an 8-hour day, then you’re losing money once you factor in your time for finding that client, writing the contract, researching their analytics ahead of your meeting, paying an accountant to file your taxes, following up on the invoice, and travel time to get to or from the client meeting.
You could develop a process combining Zoom calls from your RV or meeting with clients across the country in person.
Factor in how many days it takes to prepare and provide a client with the best value and any behind-the-scenes costs that go into running your business before setting your price.
Many entrepreneurs get bogged down with the administrative aspects of their small business and are looking for reliable virtual assistants to help them with those admin tasks, but not ready to bring on someone full-time. Some VA tasks could include:
- Filing taxes
- Logging receipts
- Setting appointments
- Organizing calendars
- Managing projects and deadlines
- Editing videos, podcasts, or blog posts (or finding contractors to edit and making sure the work gets done)
- Freelance writing
7. Build a personal brand (creating your own content on a YouTube channel or social media platforms, podcasting or writing a blog like this one)
While this can take time, personal content creation comes naturally for some people and many platforms will compensate creators for those views. As your personal brand grows, you may also get sponsorship opportunities where companies will want to pay you to review their product or service on your channels so they can reach your audience.
Try to leverage as many platforms as possible to reach the broadest audience with repurposed content.
You could create a video for YouTube, then post the link to that video on Facebook and use the audio from the video for your podcast. Write a blog post about that video and embed the video on your blog, then collect email subscribers and send an email with the link to your blog.
While this may sound like a lot, it is much easier to repurpose a single piece of content (like your YouTube video) and make a few modifications for each platform than to create unique content for every platform.
8. Content Creator or Content Strategist (creating online content for brands, local tourism offices, or a small business)
Many businesses recognize the value of having videos and images about their products and services on social media and posts highlighting their products and services, but many hit a roadblock where they run out of ideas or don’t have someone on staff to invest time in posting, research what’s working for competitors, and engaging followers.
If you have a knack for getting attention on social media, you can help businesses create engaging posts for their social media channels.
You could start by offering free services to a non-profit organization, and then when you learn what’s working for reaching a specific audience, you can show those results to potential clients.
If a client already has someone they use for marketing projects or content creation but they’re not getting results they want, then maybe they need a content strategist – someone who will build them a strategy that their team will execute.
Since you’re traveling anyway, consider contacting tourism offices to find out if you can help them promote their area, an event, or a particular attraction.
When you’re great at proofreading, want to ghostwrite books for business owners, or would like to help businesses communicate better on their blog, there is always a need for people who can help with written content.
You’ll find that once you’ve found a client willing to pay for one project, that will open the door for more work with that client as you start to create a portfolio of work for future clients.
While you may not make your fortune writing 1000-word blog post articles, editing written work can be very profitable and work you can do on your own schedule. Editors will often charge (something in the neighborhood of) $0.05-$0.10/word, so a 45,000 word business book could be a $2500-$4500 editing project.
As your experience increases, so can your pricing.
There are plenty of online schooling platforms (like outschool.com, for instance), so you could apply to teach for an existing online platform or create your own audience and online training or live teaching classes.
Ideas of things or ways you could teach:
- A hobby
- A hands-on version of what you studied in school
- A language you speak
- Step-by-step recipes or crafting
- Pre-recorded online training
- Live group training sessions (like fitness classes or Q&A about specific subjects)
- Group coaching on a specific area of expertise
- One-on-one coaching from your mobile office
If you’ve got an eye for photography beyond the capabilities of your iPhone, you can upload your photos to paid stock photo platforms for people to purchase. You’ll make a commission when someone chooses your photo, so while you might love taking photos of obvious landmarks, the real profitability is in taking the photo that few other people have taken, but someone might still be searching for.
Your photo will get lost in the thousands of photos of “The Grand Canyon,” but you might be one of the few photographers who has taken extensive high-resolution photos of the “Grand Canyon Visitor Center.”
Take an evening course or an online course to get certified as an accountant if you’ve got a knack for numbers and enjoy highly-detailed tasks. You can communicate with clients remotely and work online from anywhere with your laptop and an internet connection.
Since you’re traveling anyway, you might have already seen the “Coolest Hotel in San Diego,” or the “Canadian hotel with the best view of Niagara Falls,” or “The closest hotel to Zion National Park,” so you could leverage that knowledge and help other people plan their trip.
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We get asked about things to do in a specific place we’ve been when someone is considering traveling there. We already got turned around on the subway or caught the wrong way trying to turn on a one-way road or the best parking garage within walking distance of a landmark, so we’re happy to pass that information on to a friend who will be traveling soon.
As an example, when staying in Versailles, we caught the last train out of Paris after watching the Eiffel Tower after dark. Had we missed that train, we would have been stuck in Paris for the night instead of returning to our hotel, so we’re quick to pass the information on.
Leverage that expertise with hands-on knowledge and get certified as a travel agent.
We met a friend on the road and he sold real estate from his RV while traveling full-time. This is probably one of the rarest RV business ideas that we’ve come across since you usually need to be in person to show a home.
He would make connections online, refer to agents in his network or at his office to do the property showing, then write up the paperwork and make the sale entirely remotely.
Some of his clients he had never met in person, and almost all of the properties he had never stepped foot in. In a few rare cases for large commercial projects, he would get to the nearest airport and fly in for a few days to be in-person with a client, but most of his work for home sales was done remotely.
If you’ve got the skills to network with people online and making new connections through social media, then there’s success and a generous income potential available here.
RV Business ideas (specific to the RV or camping niche)
If you’re staying at campgrounds or RV parks surrounded by RVs, you’re going to find people who have a small leak in their toilet, have a wiring issue to sort out, or want to make a change to something in their rig.
There are so many possibilities for this business idea if you’re willing to let people know about your services, provide some advice around the campfire and slowly start to be well known in the community.
While this may not be a consistent, reliable income, it does mean that there you’ll have access to potential clients all around you.
Many RVers are not full-time in their rig. They might use their RV on weekends or as a getaway during the summer. These people might not have a vehicle to tow an RV but might need to get their RV towed for service or replacement occasionally.
You will also find snowbirds who may want their RV north during the summer and brought south for the winter (but they might not be comfortable towing or driving the long haul).
In another example, someone may live in their RV full-time and has decided to change parks.
Hang out on the RVing facebook groups, and it won’t take long before you’ll get the question, “Anyone able to tow my RV from X to Y?” and your business could be the perfect fit for that client.
Both inside and outside, offering a reasonable cleaning service for RVs (while you’re stationed at RV parks) means that your clients are never far away.
Be sure to check park regulations for cleaning and water usage for the outside of RV rigs (some parks won’t allow it because it causes mud or for municipal water restrictions), but as far as the inside goes, plenty of people would love a freshening up of their RV and in such a small space, you’ll see big results quickly.
Like Airbnb for RVs, some platforms will allow you to rent out your RV for a night, a week, a month, or longer. If you can find a park close to a major landmark or tourist attraction that will allow you to use a site for this purpose or have space on your property for a full hookup camper, you can lease an RV from a dealership and put it on a full hookup RV site then rent it out for a substantial profit.
You may also find a market of people who want to tow or drive an RV themselves to the park of their choice, so gradually building a fleet over motorhomes could be the RVers version of being a landlord.
Keep in mind that, unlike property, RVs won’t appreciate over time, but that being said, the cost to get into an RV lease (or pay back a line of credit for an RV) will be substantially less than the cost of purchasing a rental property.
If you’ve got some renovation or interior design skills then renovating RVs as a business can be profitable if you can figure out how to connect with your audience.
Instagram and YouTube are great places to show off before and after samples of your work and design style, and with full-time RVing becoming a popular option for people looking to become digital nomads, there are people who want their RV to be less like what comes off the factory line and more like their home.
Start by finding a great deal on an RV and flip it yourself, then use that as an example to show future clients.
Which of these businesses you can run from an RV resonates with you?
While running a business from your RV can seem like an ‘out of the box’ idea for someone who has always lived in a home (or what we might call ‘sticks and bricks’) there are plenty of people doing it well. Join a facebook group. Ask lots of questions. Figure out how to start a small business and generate an income with this digital nomad lifestyle.
BONUS TIP: Speak with a tax accountant about your RV business as early as you can.
Whatever business you decide to run, speak with an accountant right away to learn what can be expensed as business use in your RV according to your local laws. Learning from the beginning what qualifies for a tax deduction can help keep more money in your pocket and help you make business decisions (like internet and phone expenses) as you’re growing your business.
Ready to get started but not sure how you’ll actually get work done in an RV with your family? Here are some tips on actually getting work done in your RV! (Tips we’ve learned since we hit the road in 2018)