How to Make Money in Van Life
Would you like to explore the world independently, all from the comfort of your own home? Do you want to live a simpler, more minimalistic lifestyle where you spend less and get more from your time? These are just a handful of the questions people ask themselves when deciding whether to start van life.
Of course, many critics will tell you this is too good to be true. People will assume that living in such a way means you are rich and fortunate or hippyish and lazy. However, this is far from the case with most van travellers. In fact, the vast majority of overlanders have figured out ways to make money in van life and work hard to do so.
Learning how to make money is a crucial aspect of living a fulfilling and long-term overlanding journey. To accomplish this, there are lots of different ways to earn cash on the road. The best method for you will depend on factors such as your time availability, access to electricity or WIFI, and current skill set. To kickstart your earnings, here’s how to make money in van life.
If you are born in the UK and speak English, you are sitting on an uncashed cheque with your name on it. People all over the world want to speak English and you can seize this opportunity by teaching them! If you enrol in one of the many TEFL courses, both online and in person, you can get certified to teach English as a foreign language.
You then have two options for how to make money in van life by teaching. The first is to drive your vehicle to another country and teach onsite at a school. This is a fulfilling way to immerse yourself in the culture and it helps you get full interaction with the children. However, your services are often required for a minimum of 6-12 months. Alternatively, you can now teach English online and help students from all over the world from the comfort of your self-converted van!
Before COVID, this would have been a radical solution. However, since everyone with an office job now has experience working from home, this has become the status quo. These days, transferring your desk job to remote work is much simpler. The only factors holding you back are how much contact time you want with team members, how many hours you need to work, and how you feel about working in a vehicle every day.
Truth be told, most people who make money in van life don’t have a full-time contract where they work 50 hours a week. That would be impractical and unnecessary. Instead, people may work as consultants or be in part-time employment. The most popular solution to make money in van life is to work as a freelancer using solar panels or batteries to turn your van into a mobile office.
Travellers who make money in van life tend to utilise their current skills or learn new disciplines to suit the schedule of a traveller. Any sort of computer analyst, investor, or coder can earn great money, but they do require good internet access. Popular remote jobs also include writing, photography, filmmaking, marketing, and social media. These “digital nomads” often wear lots of hats and have multiple streams of income from blogs or websites while offering freelance services on the side. It’s a good way of saving money and working around the system!
Merchandise and Odd Jobs
A less reliable source of income involves selling products or picking up odd jobs as and when you need money. Occasionally, you see people selling crafts and paintings from their van to fund their trip. Creating an e-commerce store to sell anything from t-shirts to stickers is also a way to make money in van life.
If you are practical with your hands or like working a more physical job, offer your services for temporary employment to earn a bit of cash in hand as you go. This sort of temping work can be hit and miss but if your primary skill is hands-on, this could suit you better than a remote job. Find opportunities on Craigslist or Gumtree.
Strangely, rather than trying to make money in van life, you can sometimes think about how to save money instead. You might also find opportunities of making money if you use the opportunity as a springboard (HelpX is a good website for this). Overall, it allows you to stretch your money as far as possible and ensures you don’t overspend your budget. For example, if you are driving your van to France (an expensive country) and want to spend a month there, look into volunteering.
You could find a job volunteering in a winery where you get free accommodation and two meals a day in exchange for 4 hours of work every weekday. You can volunteer for charities, sustainability projects, ecolodges, farms, and many more locations. Check out Worldpackers and Workaway for more options!
There are plenty of ways to make money in van life. Creativity is the key. The question you must ask yourself is simple: what skills do you have that could provide value to others? Once you have this figured out, try to channel it into a format that works while you travel and spend time building your network to get it off the ground.
Managing your time is another important aspect of enjoying your travels or hobbies and it helps you make money in van life as a result. If you work too hard, you won’t have time to enjoy your travels or the places you visit. If you don’t work hard enough, you will run out of cash and get yourself in a difficult position. However, once you’ve found the right balance, you can work a few hours or days a week and manage your own schedule to ensure it fits your lifestyle!