So you’ve decided to go RVing! You’re excited. You’re ready to explore. But whether you’re a full-timer or just a summer months traveler, you will quickly notice that parking your rig in campgrounds starts to add up pretty quickly. Enter Workamping. I’m here to share with you our personal Workamping experiences. We’ll talk about the in’s and out’s of finding the perfect fit, what kind of questions to ask, and how it may not always turn out in the way it’s cracked up to be.
Finding the perfect job may not be as easy of a task as you may think. Luckily, there are typically plenty of options. It’s just a matter of cutting out a chunk of time to do some scrolling on your computer. I would say that most Workamping jobs can be summed up in two categories.
Campgrounds: They’re probably the most common job you can find. The daily tasks may differ, but there are a plethora of campgrounds around the country who need help. Choosing between Workamping for a privately owned campground vs one that is state-owned is going to be completely up to you. There are benefits to each, and we’ll go over that later.
Farms: Surprisingly, there are a good deal of farms, large and small, who look for Workampers to come and help out with the daily chores. If you’ve spent time on our blog at all, you’ve probably already noticed that we tend to choose this option the most. We have yet to be Workampers for a campground.
Choosing a Workamping Job
When choosing a Workamping job, there are many things to consider when finding your perfect place. Most hosts conduct interviews. If you can, request a video call interview. This will even give them the opportunity to take you on a tour of the property as well as meeting them face-to-face. Remember, you’re acting as an employee for them. It’s important that you take it seriously like one. Interviews are going to be key to giving you the information you need to make a decision of whether or not you want to work for these people.
There are several things to take into consideration.
Location: What part of the country do you want to be in? What kind of weather do they get? How close are they to amenities like groceries and medical care?
Recreational: If you like to be outdoors, make sure you’re researching what recreational activities the area has to offer.
Hours: Do you want to work full-time or part-time hours? Will you still have time to explore?
Scheduling: Do you want a set schedule or are you okay with working random hours/days every week?
Benefits: Do you want a free campsite. Do you want paid an hourly wage? Free laundry?
Amenities: Do you need Wifi? Laundry? Privacy? Full hookups? A pool? A game hall or things to do within the campground?
Type of Work: What type of work do you want to be doing? Indoor or outdoor? Cleaning, maintenance, office work?
Questions to Ask Your Workamping Host
How many hours per week/day am I expected to work?
Some hosts are way more flexible than others. Depending on how big the campground is, you can probably gauge time commitment. Some hosts allow you to be done once your chores are done, so it’s up to you how quickly you achieve them. Some hosts require you to work for the full number of hours you agree on.
Will I have a set schedule?
Again, it’s important to know exactly what your host will be expecting from you. Many campgrounds have multiple sets of Workampers who share work, making your schedule different from week to week.
How often will I get paid? (If you’re negotiating hourly wages)
While discussing this, also make a note to mention that you would prefer to be paid in cash. Checks leave room for hosts to not be hasty with getting you your money, and also leaves room for checks to bounce (worst case scenario).
What exactly will I be expected to do?
It’s important that you understand exactly what your job will require you to do. If you have any restrictions, now is the time to discuss them.
What amenities are included, and what do I have to pay for?
Hosts are free to create their own terms. It’s your job to make sure that your terms align with their’s. Don’t expect to change their terms to your liking. You can negotiate terms, but never go into it expecting them to accept your terms completely. Make sure you know if water and electric are included or not. Do they have laundry? If so, do you have to pay for that?
Once I put in my hours for the day, am I allowed to go explore, or do I have to stay on the grounds?
Many campgrounds still want you to stick around even though you’re done with your actual chores. One campground we interviewed with said we had to have a walkie-talkie on us at all times, and basically be “on call” 24/7 even though they only required 20 hours per person per week.
How long are we required to stay?
This is going to be different for everyone. Most campgrounds want you for the entire season (May-September). This is one of the most important things to consider. You’re committing yourself to a long period of time, so you want to make sure you’re choosing a place that you can see yourself being happy with for 3-5 months.
Do you have a contract?
Especially when working for any campground, I would highly recommend making sure that all parties sign a contract. The contract should have all aspects of your job duties listed out in detail, compensation plan, and ways to protect yourself if either party fails to adhere to the terms.
Pros and Cons of Workamping
Camping for free is great, right?! Who wouldn’t want that? Turns out, it’s not always that simple. If you think you’d prefer to work for a campground vs a farm, here are a few things to consider before you make a commitment.
Not all campgrounds are the same. Duh, right? More specifically, do you know if you would prefer working for a privately owned campground (including Mom and Pops, KOA’s, and other franchises), or would you prefer working for a stateowned campground like State and County Parks? Not sure? Here are a few pros and cons to each.
Privately Owned Campgrounds
Pros: (Amenities) – Typically, you can expect nicer amenities at a private campground. Full hookups, wifi, and laundry are usually easy to come by.
Cons: (Busier, Payment Security) – Private campgrounds are busy. Plain and simple. You’re more likely to find yourself putting in more hours than expected (especially if you’ve agreed to a full-time position). Payment security can be an issue. Not all the time, but can be. There are horror stories of folks never receiving their checks, which is why asking to be paid in cash isn’t such a bad idea.
State Owned Campgrounds
Pros: (More relaxed, Atmosphere, Payment Security) – In general, we find state park campgrounds to be very low-key. People who camp here are more worried about spending time in nature than they are with playing golf or having a pool for their kids. The atmosphere is all about being in nature, and there are typically many outdoor activities nearby to keep you busy during downtime. And since it’s run by the state, you can be sure you won’t be stiffed on the money you’re owed (if you negotiate hourly wages).
Cons: (Amenities) – Not all state campgrounds are alike. Some have full hookups, some don’t. Some have wifi, others don’t. And often times, laundry isn’t even an option.
Our Workamping Experience
We’ve had great success Workamping. We worked for three different farms in 2017. Two in Florida and one in Sandpoint, Idaho. A small goat farm in Tallahassee was our very first Workamping experience just weeks into hitting the road as full-time RVers. Goat House Farm ended up being our home for about a month. We kind of got spoiled. Our host cooked us an amazing dinner one of the first nights we were there. She let us explore Tallahassee as often as wanted to, and we never felt like we had a checklist of things to accomplish each day. “Whatever gets done, gets done.” That was pretty much the vibe.
Our second Workamping commitment ended up being at a larger goat farm near Miami, FL. I learned how to milk goats, and our knowledge on growing organic food grew immensely. Daily tasks were a lot more calculated there, as we shared duties with about 6 other people. Jon and I took on the evening chores including (but not limited to): milking goats, collecting eggs, feeding the other animals, and even butchering chickens (on Wednesdays). We spent a month here as well.
Our last stop of the year was at a small hobby farm in Sandpoint, ID. This was a pretty good mix of the two Workamping jobs prior. We typically had a list of chores to get done each day/week. The animals were really the only time-sensitive tasks as they needed fed no later than 8am each morning, and not let out to pasture too long each evening. Our host was very accommodating, giving us long weekends off to go explore. We spent a 4-day weekend tent camping in Glacier National Park, and another long weekend tenting and mountain biking at a State Park close by.
All three places had different levels of work requirements as far as hours go, but all three offered us free hookups. We did not take an hourly pay. However, choosing to pay a small amount for hookups and negotiating an hourly wage could actually prove more beneficial financially, and here’s why.
Let’s Run the Numbers
If your campground charges $35 a night for a full hookup campsite (which is what we spend on average), that means you’d be saving $1,050 a month on lodging costs. That sounds pretty great, right? Sure does! Now, here’s some food for thought.
Even if you and your spouse were to negotiate terms with your campground to be paid an hourly wage of $10 an hour for 20 hours a week each and have the cost of your campsite deducted from your pay, you would still be making almost $600 a month! That’s a lot of money for some people to consider. A couple would make $1,600 a month if they each worked 20 hours a week at $10 an hour. After paying for your campsite (assuming it’s not discounted), you’re still left with $550 that you could easily use to pay for groceries and sightseeing. That’s even considering you’re not working for minimum wage.
So as awesome as a free campsite sounds, you could be losing out on making some extra cash. But if making extra cash isn’t a necessity, then no worries. You just do you. In the end, it’s about making the numbers work for you and your lifestyle. Workamping, if done right, is a great way to explore a new place at a fraction of the cost.
And that’s it, folks! So if you’re looking to go full-time, or just looking to escape the winter, I hope this helps gets you started off on the right foot if you’re trying to RV on a budget.