GoCampingAmerica.com | Posted December 8th, 2022

Living the Workamper Life

Happy Camper Blog

In case you’re not familiar with the term, a workamper is an RV owner who agrees to work at a campground for a specified number of hours each week in exchange for getting their campsite free of charge. Their duties may include activities such as landscape maintenance, preparing food, cleaning, helping guests get settled into their campsites or working at the campground’s office or camp store.


Kelli has been living the workamper life for nearly a year and a half. She described what attracted her to the lifestyle.


“When I was growing up, we would go on a two- to three-week camping vacation every summer so my parents always knew about workamping. Then it just worked out where I had a motorhome and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be, so I thought this would be the time to try it.”


So far, Kelli, who is a native of Rockford, Ill., has workamped in South Dakota, New Mexico and Colorado and she’s planning to head to Arizona next. The northeast is also on her radar. She has been staying at each campground an average of six to seven months before deciding that it’s

time to move on to a warmer or colder climate. She lives in her 22′ Class A motorhome and tows her two-door car.


“It’s definitely enjoyable,” Kelli says. “It’s probably one of the best things I’ve done so far with my life. I’m very happy.”


To find new opportunities, Kelli relies on several workamping websites as well as Facebook groups devoted to the lifestyle. If there’s a specific area she’s targeting, she’ll also look up campgrounds and send them her resume. She actually sends two resumes, one focusing on her pre-workamping life in accounts receivable and other office work, and a more informal resume outlining her workamping experience. She says most campground owners want to see a photo of her rig, but she also includes one of herself and her loyal pound puppy companion, Bella.


“She has never met a stranger,” Kelli says, “so she’s great at a campground.”


Workampers may also have an opportunity to earn an hourly rate for any additional hours they work over their weekly agreement if the campground owner is willing to make that arrangement. Some campgrounds offer a formal contract while others take a more informal “let’s see how it goes” approach to workamping.

Kelli says the ability to stay flexible is an important quality for workampers because the opportunities vary in terms of availability, length and location. She has been invited to return to campgrounds where she has workamped before, but for now, she’s enjoying going to different places to meet new people and explore new areas of the country. She’s always on the lookout for the place that feels most like home.


She says all the likeminded friends she has made along the way are another major benefit of workamping. They’ve also been helpful in pointing her toward new places to discover.


“It’s like I pick up little pockets of people everywhere I go,” she says.


Down the road, Kelli would like to buy some land she can live on and take some time off, but she would still want to continue workamping on a seasonal basis.


When asked what advice she would give to people considering workamping, she had a few suggestions.


“Have as few bills as possible. Workamping is not a high-income field. If workamping is your only income, you will need to be frugal, budget yourself and be resourceful. I would think it would be a difficult lifestyle for anyone who wants the newest hottest tech, clothes, gadgets, etc. You have to ask yourself what you’re really out there to do. Is it to buy all the ‘things’ or see places and enjoy where you are?”


“If they think they could live in a small space and live modestly,” she continues, “they absolutely should do it. It’s a great lifestyle. The hustle and bustle of ‘normal’ living does pay a lot more, but you’re always busy or on the go. When you’re a workamper, you work, but you also have the time to slow down and be a camper and tourist as well.”