How We Make A Living On The Road

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We’ve been asked lots of questions about how we make living full-time on the road work. But by far the most asked question we get is- How do we make a living while on the road? 

The full-time RVing life may seem dreamy and carefree to some. And contrary to what friends have joked with us about, we aren’t irresponsible hippies traveling around the US in an RV with no money or plans for our families’ financial wellbeing and future.  🙂 We DO have to concern ourselves with earning a living just like everyone else.

We have just chosen to do it ….a bit differently!

Like most sensible people, our original life plan was to buy a house & settle down, (which we did!) work most of our lives, save up for retirement and then do the things we really want to do….like travel. And then we got to thinking, what if scrapped part of the middle and just got straight to our end goal WHILE we are young and working? And what if we did it with our kids instead of waiting until they are grown and gone?

So, we decided to take our current reality and find a way to make it work along side of our dreams, instead of putting them on hold.

My husband (Anthony) works in the industrial construction industry. Which basically means he is employed by construction companies to go into big industrial plants like power plants, paper mills and any other kind of large manufacturing plant you could think of and do the jobs they need done; whether that’s the construction of a new plant, or any kind of large scale work in existing plants.

This means his job requires him to travel a lot. When a new job opportunity comes along, he needs to be able to go to wherever that job is, for the duration of the job. The time-frame could be anywhere from 2 months to a year or so. It just depends on the size of the job.

This way of life just gives us the flexibility to live comfortably off of only one income while paying down any existing debts, put away money for the future, and take long periods of time off from work to rest and spend together as a family. 

THIS was the life we had wanted more than the typical American Dream. 

When we were living a more “normal” life (house, family, schedules, ect.) the fact that he needed to travel for work has sort of been a sore topic in our marriage and needless to say a huge inconvenience in our lives over the past almost 12 years. Traveling meant he would be away from the kids and I for months and months at a time. At one point just before we hit the road, I was working part time & homeschooling the kids alone and we were together as a family for maybe 4 days out of a month.

It was a TERRIBLE way to have a family life….and all for what? Just to own stuff and pay bills.

Our day to day lives had become a rat race and our choices had become painfully limited because we had become tied down by owning stuff. 

One day while he was out of town on an extended job I had just had enough and sent him this text, “I’ll go ANYWHERE as long as I can be where you are.” 

I meant every word and haven’t looked back for a moment since!

So about five months later, here we are!  A big house, lots of stuff and a ton less bills later we traded it all in for a small home on wheels that goes where we go and little stuff except for the basic necessities…. and each other.

We decided to see what we had once viewed as a roadblock to our goals as the path to our dreams. We changed perspective and stopped trying to figure out how to get around it and chose to just move with it. 

Yes that required some sacrifice, but I don’t even have to talk about whether or not all that stuff we gave up is something that keeps us up worrying at night.

It’s funny now, because the very things that had once enslaved us, are what ended up freeing us.

We realize that our reality isn’t everyone’s. This way of life wouldn’t necessarily be something doable (or desireable) for everyone – to sell off everything they own and travel around the US while working. I totally understand that!

But I do believe there are little ways that everyone can (and should) whittle down & eliminate the things in our lives that are actually enslaving us to a world system we weren’t even aware of when we started out.

With every thing we get rid of, every debt we pay off, every material item we say no to – we move towards living a freer, lighter kind of life. The kind in which we aren’t quite as enslaved to a life we we ended up with only by default.  

No matter the situation, everyone has the capacity to make their own path towards a much lighter, freer life.

Own less, live fully, travel light. 

About Rachel Rowell

A true southern gal at heart, Rachel was raised and lives in the deep south and spends her days raising her own babies, writing, making music, reading out on the front porch, and cooking supper for her family to sit around the table and enjoy together at nights! Her ultimate girlhood dream was to raise a family in a house just like "Anne of Green Gables" and now she is living her dream and inspiring others along the way.

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34 Responses to How We Make A Living On The Road

  1. Susie October 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Great post Rachel. I hope we get to meet somewhere down the road, and break bread together.

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

      I would absolutely love that Susie! Blessings to you and yours. <3

  2. Darryl (@lovingthebike) October 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    You may not be living the traditional American Dream, but you’re what I would call the “New Rich”. You’re living a life so much richer and healthier than the majority of people choose to follow. Good job, you’re totally on the right path.

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Daryl, I absolutely love that term! It so adequately expresses exactly how we feel. We may not be rich, but we do FEEL like we are living a much richer life by far than the one we had with the big house and lots of stuff. Also, our money is truly SO much more freed up now to actually live and afford trips and experiences!

  3. Lori October 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    Great post! Si true. Lighter, free and happy!

  4. Philip October 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    I think what you guys are doing is awesome, most of us would love to be able hit the road. You always will find someone that wants to fault you for what you are doing. The life history that your kids are getting as a family will always trump that house with a picket fence. I look forward to the day when we hit the road for more than a few weeks at a time!!

  5. mrsd October 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Lol! Irresponsible hippies…I’ve been called that for so long now, I just roll my eyes. And then there’s “must be nice to be rich”. People don’t realize how much we do without, and find we really don’t need. Wealth is a happy family with needs met.

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

      Exactly. You hit the nail on the head. Although almost everyone we know has been super supportive of our new lifestyle, there have been “the looks”. I don’t worry about it, they aren’t having to live our lives. And yes, wealth is relative. And for us wealth is a strong family life with room to take trips and ENJOY life, not just exist through it.

  6. John fort October 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Congratulations on making it work for you. I have a family member who also is in construction, and I think it would be cheaper to bring the RV closer to the worksite instead of driving so many miles and using so much furl.

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

      Thanks John! Yes, being right there close to every new job makes like SO much more peaceful and laid back. We really are enjoying all the family time we didn’t have before. It’s not for everyone, but it certainly works so much better for us.

  7. Domini Hedderman October 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Great post- it’s sort of your manifesto. We are doing the same, albeit on a temporary basis. We are loving the simplicity of living in a trailer and not being surrounded by stuff. Thanks for sharing your story!!

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      Yes, actually I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it IS sort of our manifesto! Stopped by your blog and caught up on your journey as well. LOVE IT. I look forward to staying connected with you guys as we take parallel paths in our lives! Blessings.

  8. Kirsty October 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Just saw this poster before reading your post…seems to fit you perfectly!
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/108700394/inspiratonal-quote-print-shasta-trailer

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Haha, Kirsty it is perfect! Think I’m gonna order it and hang in up in our camper. 😉

  9. Cindy Brown (@hiyacynthia) October 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Rachel, it is so interesting that our lives have so many parallels. My husband is a union Boilermaker. When we were first married, he was an apprentice and he worked nights and traveled often for work. The kids and I saw him one day a week and that one day was usually rough. He was tired and there was much to do. I am so interested in this journey of yours! I don’t know you, but I hope this life change you’ve made enriches your family. I am pleased to be along for the ride.

    • Rachel Rowell October 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Thank you Cindy! Actually, I’m pretty honored that you would want to “follow along with us” as we travel along this new road for our family. We are well over a month in and so far it’s looking like a VERY good decision…albeit, it was certainly a scary one. 😉 It has certainly brought peace into a family life that had become disconnected and overwhelmed. I look forward to staying connected with you. Thank you for stopping by and reading! Many blessings to you and yours.

  10. John Lamb October 12, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    I just found your blog, not sure how but here I am….kudos on the decision to get out of the rat race and truly live! I did it 4 years ago, entirely by choice, and was the single smartest thing I have ever done! Minimalistic living is so freeing. Less truly IS more!

  11. kim October 15, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    Hi, I found your blog post from the Fulltime RV group on facebook. So happy I did =) We are embarking on a career change for my husband which will involve a life change for our family. We are making plans now to hit the road with him in the not so distant future. All sorts of emotions are running through my mind, but peace is in my heart. Being TOGETHER as a family is the cornerstone of my belief system even if that means together on the other side of the country. Looking forward to following along on your journey. Thanks for opening up your lives. Good stuff!

  12. Catal Huyuk February 10, 2014 at 2:28 am #

    Perhaps you might want to consider this option for a hear source.

    http://www.foodshare.net/files/www/Roots_to_Rooftops/2-6-6_Ren_energy-pop_can_solar_heater_Supporting_Materials.pdf

  13. Christy March 12, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    I found your blog on Pinterest and just wanted to comment on this post because it relates so much to my life right now! My husband is a welder and builds big storage tanks for oil, asphalt etc. which in turns means he travels where the jobs takes him. He has been doing it for as long as I can remember. It finally got the point of him and I needing to be together all the time. My boys were in public school however so I am now a homeschooling mom and it’s terrifying! I am happy I found your blog and I am definitely going to be following along. You give me hope!

  14. roadtotherealyou June 27, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    We are looking at getting rid of everything, and moving either into a fifth wheeler or bus conversion. We are still trying to figure out how to make money on the road though. My husband is a machinist, so his job doesn’t travel. I’m looking into doing medical transcription or something similar as a full time income, since our expenses will be alot less. We are also looking into buying a piece of land, and parking our bus there as our house. We have two young girls that I homeschool, and we just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of it all, and concentrate on God. Any advice for those just starting out? I’ve searched every blog I can find LOL

    • Emily June 21, 2016 at 2:47 am #

      I read your comment and my mouth literally dropped open. My husband is also a machinist, and I’ve been doing a medical transcription program to try and make full-time RV living possible. Lol. We also homeschool our 4 kids. Did you ever achieve this dream, and if so, how did you end up making it work? We so desperately want to hit the road full-time and see the entire country.

  15. Jackie July 11, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    I think what you and your family is doing is the American Dream!!! Good Luck!!

  16. stef July 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    We are on the road now and looking for work.
    I have tried workamping and amazon, does anyone know of any other work out there?

  17. o nadine o December 13, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    It’s nice to read so much sense. Thanks for the good read.

  18. Gary February 29, 2016 at 4:28 am #

    Congradulations on seeing how to work out your dreams into husbands job(s) and family!

  19. Gary March 22, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    I’m not an RV’er, but this life style intrigues me. I have no retirement at this time. My wife and daughter sounds god to them. Aquiring an rv might be a challenge. Learning how to do this is to read more about it. Yes, selling whats not needed at home is to think sbout.

  20. csroth3 April 12, 2016 at 3:08 am #

    You are living my dream. I wish I had been that brave when my kids were young.

  21. Inna July 3, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Hi! I realize this post is OLD, but I love it when I find full time (or part time) rv families! My husband also has traveling job for boilermakers Union, and ever since I graduated college we have been traveling together for work in our rv. Now we are planning on selling our house and full timing!
    Are you still on the road three years later??? 🙂
    Blessings to you and yours!

  22. Tiffany July 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm #

    This is an awesome post…. My husband and I are fixing to start our lives in a 30′ 5th wheel…. My husband just turned 50 and I’m 44…. We have 3 adult boys 25,24,20…. And 2 granddaughters 3 and 1..
    . we are planning to get out of California and Head up to Oregon to be closer to the grand babie before winter sets in….

    My husband told me a year ago he wanted to get up north and I of course was all for it…. He sold his beloved 68 ss camaro to buy our 5 the wheel and that when I knew he meant business…. He recently quit his job that he loved and now we are getting all our PS and qs in order….

    I can actually say less is more….. I love my 5 the wheel….. I do have a few things I need to store but that isn’t an issue……

    We have one dog and one cat that will be traveling with us….. That isn’t an issue either…..

    The issue is we aren’t there yet! Lol….I’m soooo ready to go…..

    Happy Rving and Happy Trails

  23. Mechel September 14, 2016 at 10:54 pm #

    A fantastic article!! I shed a couple years while reading. My husband and I are in a similar situation and were faced with the same decision. We are choosing to do the same thing. Thank you for sharing and for giving hope.
    Peace, love, and many blessings sent your way!!

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