Living the van life might be tempting, but then the logical side of your brain starts asking questions like “how to make money living in a van?”
If you’re stinky rich, there’s no problem, but most of us aren’t. So how to afford van life when you don’t have millions in your bank account?
We started out with nothing and have made money on the road as we travel, mainly with blogging and freelance writing (and very soon our Youtube channel will contribute to the income list.)
This has kept us on the road for a year and a half at the time of writing.
But there are so many ways to make money on the road.
Since we all have different talents and different things we enjoy doing, I decided to not only talk about how we make money on the road but also list up many different ways you can make money while living the van life.
We’ve met heaps of interesting people on the road and learned that there are no limits to how you can earn money depending on your skill set and passion.
Read on to find out how to make money while living in a van with these van life jobs.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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How to make money living in a van – Top van life jobs
As I mentioned above, there are so many jobs for van life that you can find (or create.) It depends on your need for security in your income and your spending levels.
We live pretty cheap now as we are in the beginning of the journey. We basically started our van life without money. Others, prefer to save up and build the van before starting their journey. But this is a story for a different time.
Now, let’s have a look at ways you can make money on the road while living and traveling in a van.
I love writing and have been doing freelance travel writing for years. But you can write in any niche you enjoy.
Imagine any online magazine, news outlet, or blog, whether they write about cars, motherhood, hotels, or wooden tables. They need writers.
Find your passion and find your tribe. While it can be difficult to enter the writing space, you can try sites like Upwork and Fiverr to get writing gigs.
Or maybe you’re a member of Facebook groups where your ideal clients hang out and can get clients that way.
Social Media manager or VA
But before becoming a full-time freelance writer, I tried being a social media VA (virtual assistant) which was fine, but it was just not my passion.
However, I have several full-time traveler friends who earn good money on social media managing for big brands and even for travel bloggers.
I know I will hire one as soon as I can because I don’t have the time to work on my own social media.
And there are thousands of other travel bloggers out there that are outsourcing exactly this.
But it could be in any niche. Small businesses and big businesses in all niches are looking for strong social media. So if you’re not into travel, you can basically work within any niche you feel passionate about.
Musicians, artists, lifestyle bloggers, and Formula 1 drivers, all have someone managing their social media. And you might just be the one they’re looking for.
It can be a good idea to ask friends to do some samples for their businesses to build up your portfolio and spread the word.
Maybe someone you know talk with anyone who needs help with social media, and then it can come in handy that they drop your name.
Many companies offer remote work which you can do while living the van life. It’s a good idea to ask your current workplace for the opportunity to work remotely before you quit. If you like your current job, that is!
It can be a good transition as you do something you already know while accommodating to a new lifestyle.
Make sure you check local rules for remote work in another country than your own if you plan on traveling abroad with your van.
I know that many companies in the US don’t allow remote work outside the state or the country due to work regulations.
YouTube is a popular way of making money on the road. But you need to know that it’s not a fast route to money.
We started our vlog just over a year ago and it’s still not bringing in any money. But we are very close to monetizing through ads and are just starting to add affiliate links to Get Your Guide.
I believe it’s possible to do it faster by traveling to more sought-after destinations, but we have been forced to stay in Andalucia and have traveled to mostly unknown places, thus mostly filmed well-hidden gems and unknown hikes.
With the speed it’s started to grow now, I expect it to bring in money within 2-3 months from now.
So if you plan on monetizing on YouTube and making it your main income stream, I recommend finding a freelance job or a remote job on the side until it starts earning you anything.
While it can feel natural to vlog about your adventures, you might also have completely different hobbies you prefer to vlog about, so be creative and find a niche you love.
Two main keys to a successful vlog are niche and SEO. Learn about these two, and you’ll get a good start. We’re still just using an iPhone for filming and editing, so there’s no need for fancy gear when you’re starting out.
That said, I do recommend a good phone for videos, and not even my Samsung is up to speed with the iPhone when it comes to quality and stability.
If you’re passionate about music and play an instrument, you can earn good money by playing on the street.
We’ve met several buskers on the road playing guitar and singing, but you can basically play any instrument.
Of course, this requires that you’ve got a musical talent (which I don’t) and a passion for it.
I also want to be real when it comes to this profession. While it can be very lucrative, it’s also an insecure income source.
From what buskers I’ve met tell me, they can earn great money one day and nothing the next day. So you need to be wise with your income and not spend it all at once.
I can’t talk about how to make money while traveling in a van without mentioning my biggest passion, which is blogging.
While I still do some freelance writing, I mainly sustain our lifestyle through passive income from my blogs. Yes, I do have more than one, that’s how passionate I am about blogging!
While I’m a travel and outdoor blogger, you can blog about anything.
But to make it a business and not just a hobby, you must learn how to make money blogging. The keys to a successful moneymaking blog are niche, SEO, affiliate marketing, and selling your own products.
This is also a business that takes time to build up and can take anything from 6 months to several years to give you a sustainable income. It all depends on how much you are able to invest in your blog initially.
If you can hire a bunch of writers, editors, social media managers, a Pinterest manager, and get lots of SEO-optimized content out there in a short period of time, you can make a six-figure income in 2 years.
But most of us don’t have the possibility for such investments when first starting out. Yet, I suggest you start by taking a good travel blogging course to learn how to start out, don’t worry too much about design, but more about quality content that is SEO optimized.
I could probably talk about this for another 2 hours, so I’ll stop now, but make sure you invest in the right things if you’re serious about making a living out of your blog, because you can.
I’ve talked a lot about online work, but how do vanlifers make money if they’re not musical geniuses or they don’t like working online?
A lot of vanlifers I’ve met do seasonal work. Some work in restaurants, hotels, and bars during the tourist season and earn enough money to keep them going the rest of the year.
Others, are better at building things and using their hands and spend some months of the year working in the building industry and save up to travel another few months before looking for more work.
Paid opportunities on Workaway
Workaway is an excellent platform for volunteering abroad. Most of these opportunities only offer free lodging and food, but some of them are paid opportunities.
When looking for how to make money on the road while making a difference, this is a great choice. It can also often be combined with other van life remote jobs as long as they are flexible.
Sell your own artwork
Finally, I’ve met people selling their own artwork to fund their van life. How to make money differs. I know some that have displayed their art on the van itself and as they met people they would sell different pieces.
Others, sit on the road and sell, but note that this is not legal everywhere. I believe you can check at local town halls or police stations for permission.
You could sell anything you make, like bracelets, paintings, rock art, and photography. An artist’s imagination never ends, and so is the case with the list of things you could make and sell.
Reflections on how to make money on the road as a vanlifer
Summing up how to make money living in a van, these are just a few popular options that I have seen others earn a living from or that I do myself.
While these are great suggestions for how to make money, van life might make it harder to do many of these things.
Sitting in front of the laptop in the van is not always as comfortable as it is at an office. And sometimes the idyllic images of vans parked up in front of beautiful views are not the reality.
In my experience, beautiful places hardly ever have internet coverage, so we mostly end up sitting on ugly parking lots in urban areas.
Not to pop your bubble, but it’s important to keep it real. There are many pros and cons of van life, but in my opinion, the pros beat the cons over and over again.