One of the most frequently asked questions on full-time rv family forums is “how do you afford the lifestyle.” I get it! Trying to figure out not only living on the road but also paying for it can be a daunting task, mentally.
But let me assure you, there are a myriad of ways to supplement income with the goal of traveling full-time.
One such way is “camp hosting.” Generally camp hosting is an exchange of hours worked for pay or for a campsite. Now this can range from state parks to KOAs, and the pay and sites can be different in each case. For instance, we camp host at a state park in California right now. Mike and I work twenty total hours a week to “pay” for our full hookup camp site in the state park.
Privately owned camp grounds and rv parks will have their own system of hours worked for pay and sites. Some rv parks will pay their hosts and charge a minimal fee for the campsite. However, we know of some camp hosting gigs in Alaskan state parks that give camp hosts a site and a small monthly stipend. Again, every place will be different.
The type of work will be unique as well in each park. Our state park only has three camp sites for enroute camping, meaning there are no hookups, and most campers are only staying one night. Our main source of hours worked comes from volunteering at the entrance kiosk and closing the park at sunset. Work for hours can range from working in kiosks to helping campers with firewood. Our personal favorite is working directly with campers over day use public. We find that more often than not, people do not like to pay for using the state parks during the day (day use). (Many citizens think that their taxes pay for state park budgets, but in California, this does not seem to be the case. Most of the park rangers and staff are paid from “day uses fees.”) Therefore, we can deal with very irritable or flat out angry people on a daily basis.
Of course, the experience is not all bad. We are able to live surrounded by nature while being a few miles from a theme park, grocery store, ferry, train, etc. The sunsets here are a constant reminder that we love the opportunity that camp hosting affords us.
Choosing a gig
Be realistic with what tasks you are willing to do and how many hours you want to work. As tasks can be anything from managing people to scrubbing bathrooms, decide before you look for camp hosting jobs what will work for your situation. Also consider how remote a camp ground will be. Ask if the site has full hookups, including septic or just a holding tank, and what kind of it’s a 30 or 50 amp service. (Learn from our experience, ask!) State parks have their benefits, but their drawbacks can be old septic tanks that may not work well, old electric wiring that may need to be replaced, etc. Understand that you will have to be flexible not only if something doesn’t work well, but also if rangers or managers need you to change your schedule.
Think camp hosting might be for you?
Well, here are some resources to help you find camp hosting gigs across the country.
Also, visit your states’ website and search “camp hosts” or “park hosts” or “volunteer”.
We found our state park volunteer position through the California site.
You will be asked to fill out paperwork for a background check and submit finger prints. The background check and finger prints do cost money up front, but you may be able to have those fees refunded to you. (just ask)
Mike and I have enjoyed camp hosting in California thus far. We look forward to more opportunities to meet people and travel this beautiful country of ours.
Happy Camp Hosting!