It’s a little-known secret Campground owners have really low to non-existent labor costs for the people who work at the office and grounds. They barter/trade the RV spaces, Campgrounds, and Utilities, and even a salary in many cases, for work in park management, cooking, gift shops, landscaping, and more.
Talk about an incredible side hustle too, working in the great outdoors!
This creates an excellent opportunity for a digital nomad or retiree who wants to hit the road and travel in an RV while visiting different campgrounds. Not only will you have a great time traveling the country, you’ll save a ton of money because you won’t have to pay high rents living in the city.
Did you know?
- Many baby boomers are retiring, estimated at 10,000 per day, without enough income from investments and social security to enjoy the lifestyle they envisioned. As many as a third of retirees have no income other than Social Security, and with that averaging only $1.400 monthly in 2019.
- Most digital nomads want to become financially independent and retire early, but still need a means to earn extra money.
- There’s plenty of people who just want to travel on a budget and take an extended vacation, so having a free place to camp is awesome if they don’t mind doing some side work.
Working at a campground for a free place to stay solves a big problem these various types of people have.
How Free Camping Programs Work
It seems like a pipe dream when you must pay as much as $600 to $1,000+ per month just for the RV space. And, without exception, most seasonal destinations charge more in the high season than out of season stays. So, that cool mountain destination in the summer and the warm beach location in the winter will be more expensive when you want to be there the most.
However, the average RV park is full during the high season and much less so in the off-season. So, they need more staff when it’s the prime time to be there. If you want to lay in the sun on the beach in the winter, you can get that coveted RV space and pay as little as, well, zero. That’s no charge for the space rent, electricity, water, sewer, possibly propane, laundry privileges, and even Wi-Fi.
How To Find Free Camping Opportunities
Start doing web searches on work camping and you’ll find hundreds of opportunities with private parks, government, forest service, and even national parks.
Here’s a few links I found when I searched recently.
The Trade-Off And The Perks
What’s the trade-off? Couples are in high demand, with one manning the office or gift shop while the other does some landscaping or maintenance tasks. The time required in trade for the amenities can be anywhere from 12 hours to 40 hours per week. When it’s more than around 20 hours, many parks pay an hourly rate for the time.
Some pay an hourly rate plus the free space and amenities!
There are RV parks with golf courses, and you’ll get to play free on your off days. Parks with cafes need cooks and others and free meals come with the deal. Amenities that are offered at an extra charge to guests, such as boat tours, fishing trips, mountain ghost town tours, etc., usually give free access to work campers.
If your traveling solo, some campgrounds want a park guide who just gives information to visitors and a free site comes with the job.
Consult An Accountant On Taxes
Before you get carried away with bartering and working for a free place to camp make sure you consult an accountant first. Generally, you will not have to report your free site and amenities to the IRS. Wages on the other hand, are another matter.
Are you doing any free campground programs right now? Share about your experiences below in the comments. Thanks!