Money doesn’t buy happiness, but the experiences it affords can help. If you’re a full- or part-time van lifer, making extra cash could mean checking out more museums and restaurants in a new city, replacing well-loved adventure gear, or even getting to extend your time traveling.
We’ve already covered the topic of ideal jobs to do while living in a camper van. From seasonal posts to nursing to digital nomad careers, there are a variety of ways to make a regular income as a full-time traveler. But what if you already have a job and are just looking to make some extra spending money? Or perhaps you’re taking an extended break from work for an epic road trip but still have an entrepreneurial spirit. Enter side hustles, or flexible gigs that turn your existing skills and interests into a paycheck.
With the boom of social media and job-finding apps, gone are the days of needing personal IRL connections to get work. This means you can make money almost anywhere the wind takes you. From product- to service-based side hustles, we’ve compiled an extensive list of the best ways for van dwellers to earn extra income. Read on for the details.
Product-Based Side Hustles
If you’re the crafty type, you can turn your van into a mobile workshop and your hobby into extra cash. Spend evenings and rainy days making unique products like jewelry, soap, crocheted beanies, hand-drawn greeting cards, or anything else you can dream up. Then sell your creations online on Etsy or in person at craft markets and fairs. Get inspired by our interview with Ashlee Potter, a full-time leathersmith and van traveler.
If you’re a digital creative, consider making your own products like graphics, fonts, icons, procreate brushes, and wallpapers to sell on platforms like Creative Market. The best thing about virtual products like these is that you can earn unlimited sales from a single upload. Hello, passive income!
Photos and Videos
Similarly, you can sell photos and videos you’ve already taken through stock photography websites. This is a perfect way to add to your travel fund with an activity you’re likely already doing on the road–capturing the beauty around you. No fancy camera? No problem. Modern phone cameras can produce images worthy of this side hustle.
If you’re an artist or photographer, monetize your work by making a print-on-demand online store. Add your original imagery to T-shirts, yoga mats, stickers, water bottles, phone cases, and more. When a client orders, the service prints and ships the product, while you receive a portion of the sale. This is one of the easiest ways to start a small business without investing startup capital. You also won’t need to deal with storing and shipping products, which can be a hassle when you’re on the road.
Van dwellers with some marketing savvy can make a side income with dropshipping. You’ll act as the middleman between wholesale suppliers and customers, focusing your energy on creating an online store and advertising your products. Similar to the side hustle above, you won’t need space to store items or time to ship out orders.
Homemade Food and Drinks
Foodie van dwellers can make some extra dough by, well, making some extra dough. Prepare consumables like baked treats, jam, or iced tea in your van kitchen, then offer them for sale at campgrounds or other busy locations on your travels. One idea is to set up your van at popular climbing spots and offer coffee or hot chocolate to fuel early-morning adventurers. If you go beyond doing this casually, you’ll need to look into obtaining permission for a cottage food operation.
If you’re a van lifer who enjoys shopping, you’ve likely found more treasures on your travels than you can keep in your van. Turn this hobby into an eco-friendly income stream by perusing thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales for unique goods, then listing them online. You will need to keep your inventory on board until it sells, so consider focusing on flipping smaller, higher-priced items.
Service-Based Side Hustles
Another side hustle for those that enjoy retail therapy, Instacart provides flexible gigs shopping for and delivering groceries. If you don’t want to use your van miles and gas on delivery, there is an option where you stay in the store putting together orders. Pick up shifts in any city with Instacart–the app will automatically update when you open it in a new area.
Many van dwellers make at least some of their income through content creation. Whether you focus on Youtube, Instagram, TikTok, blogging, podcasting, or some combination of these, there are opportunities to monetize your work through ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing. Your lifestyle on the road makes it easy to create aspirational and helpful content about van life, adventure sports, or travel in general.
In addition to selling your photos and products made with your photos, you can take on freelance photography jobs whenever you need some extra funds. Ideally, a compelling portfolio of work and social media connections will get you gigs across the country. You can also find and apply for one-off assignments through sites like Flexjobs, Fiverr, and Upwork.
The platforms mentioned above are also a resource for finding freelance jobs in other creative industries like graphic design, web design, and writing. Upwork tends to have more lucrative and involved listings, while Fiverr is great for simple projects at a lower price point.
Proofreading and Transcribing
Van dwellers with strong writing skills, a good command of the English language, and a high level of attention to detail can earn extra income with two different freelance jobs. Both proofreading and transcribing offer well-paid and flexible gigs. Surprisingly, you can get started in either industry without any certifications or credentials.
Dog Walking, Pet-Sitting, and House-Sitting
Looking for a side hustle that doesn’t involve sitting at a computer? You might enjoy taking care of people’s animals and homes. Sign up with Rover or Wag to get well-paying opportunities walking dogs or pet-sitting. Both apps allow you to update your location to find jobs wherever you venture. There are also many platforms for house-sitting listings. House-sitting can involve pets or simply occupying a home, watering plants, bringing in mail, and generally taking care of the space. Besides earning money, this side hustle can also provide a nice little break from your home on wheels.
Add to your rainy day fund by picking up odd jobs on Task Rabbit. Examples of one-time tasks include assembling furniture, running errands, helping with moving, doing yard work, and even sewing. The carrying capacity of a camper van is a bonus for transporting jobs. If you happen to be a licensed electrician or plumber, you can also find clients on this app.
While this side hustle isn’t the highest paying, it is the very definition of mindless work. Plus, you can do it anywhere with an internet connection without needing to constantly update your location. If you make filling out a few market research surveys part of your daily routine, you’ll slowly but surely see your travel piggy bank grow. There are many legit survey sites but also a fair amount of scams, so make sure to choose a reputable company like Swagbucks, LifePoints, or Survey Junkie.
Testing User Experience
Like taking surveys, this side hustle requires no special skills and can be done anywhere and anytime. Simply sign up with one of the many remote UX testing services to make some extra bucks. The job entails checking out websites, apps, and other digital products for companies in need of data. You might also be asked to complete tasks and give feedback.
The amount of miles you drive is usually a drain on your wallet, but what if it could be an asset? Make use of your nomadic lifestyle and your rig’s large surface area to offer mobile billboard advertising on your van exterior. Several companies like Wrapify and Nickelytics pay frequent drivers to take part in ad campaigns. This is another industry that can be fraught with scams, so be sure to sign up with a reputable company. Or skip the middleman and approach small businesses directly about advertising for them.
As you can see, regardless of what your financial goals, skills, and work preferences are, you can find a van life-friendly side hustle. In many cases, it is the inherent practical and aspirational qualities of van travel that can be harnessed to earn money. For more on van life careers, read “How to Work on the Road.”
If you’ve been dreaming of a flexible, adventure-filled lifestyle, check out RecVan today. We offer a wide range of new and used camper vans from brands you can trust.