The sun is shining, it’s 89 and muggy outside, flowers and vines are threatening to take over my hoses yet again, and the chirping of birds greets me when I wake up in the morning. It might seem kind of early to be thinking about winter, but that’s exactly what I’m doing.
For those wondering at the title, my first big mistake in this full-time RVing adventure was taking so long to get to know my coworkers when I was at Amazon last fall. When you’re traveling solo, you gotta get your socialization from outside sources, and I failed to get started on that early enough. By the time Amazon was over I was drained and in a bit of a funk. I learned my lesson though and did a much better job of it here at Cedar Pass this summer, and wrote two blog posts about how to avoid loneliness as a solo RVer to show for it.
My second big mistake was failing to look for a winter job after Amazon soon enough. RVing was so new that it didn’t even occur to me to start looking until it was already November or so. Then I only went at it halfheartedly because I knew I’d be visiting family and relatives after Amazon and I didn’t want any potential job to require me to show up before the holidays were over. So I figured once I got up to Wisconsin I’d have time to figure out my next gig. But then once I was there I was seeing friends and family that I hadn’t seen since I moved to South Carolina over three years ago, trying to cram time in with all of them left no time for job searching.
So after the holidays were over I still had no job lined up. I drove back down to South Carolina without a solid plan and bummed Julie’s internet, figuring now that I had ample free time landing a job wouldn’t be hard.
The first issue was location. RVer friendly jobs are harder to find east of the Mississippi I’ve noticed. There are less parks, more local workers to fill seasonal jobs, and RV sites cost more because space is more at a premium. That’s not to say that a full-timer can’t make a go of it out east, it just definitely takes more effort and costs more money.
The second issue was the season. For most of the U.S., prime tourist season is in the summer, and so that’s when you find an abundance of seasonal jobs. There are fewer places who’s prime time is in the winter (okay, ski resorts and stuff yeah, but what RVer is going to want to brave those conditions?), and more competition for those spots because besides all of the full-timers, there are seasonal RVers who have homes up north and then just travel south for the winter.
I sent out 32 applications and resumes before I heard back from a single place, and when I heard back from that single place (Lowe’s) I pretty much had to take the job even though it wasn’t a living wage. But I survived, and learned another valuable lesson for this year: Start searching for winter jobs sooner.
This year I think I’m going to break down and finally pay for the Workamper Network job listings. Several people have recommended the service over the years that I’ve been interested in RVing, and I’ve been leery of it before because I just couldn’t see paying to look at job opportunities that I could likely find on my own. My RVer job search site of choice (coolworks.com) does well for opportunities out west, but in Florida for instance they have no listings at all, and I know there must be work camping opportunities down there in the winter.
My options will be more limited as well since working at Amazon cuts into the winter season, and many places only want to hire workers that can do the full season. Forever Resorts for instance runs a lodge down in Big Bend National Park and several of my cohorts working here in the Badlands will be heading down there when the season here is over. I’m pretty much guaranteed a job down there if I want it – but only if I can show up right when this gig ends in October, and that just isn’t as happy for my bank account since Amazon pays so much more.
And so the search for winter has already started. Mistakes are inevitable when you make a dramatic lifestyle change like this, it’s impossible to avoid them all. What you need to do is learn from them, to avoid a repeat. I’ll let you all know if I think paying for the Workamper Network is worth it when I’ve had some time to go over it. If any other work campers out there have job finding resources you’d like to share, please do!
Image courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis