**Collaborative Interviewing, Editing, and Writing between Katie Larsen and Laurén Ettinger**

We have all spent time scrolling through an Instagram feed populated by beautiful women frolicking in the mountains, enjoying picture-perfect picnics, and sipping wine in gorgeous natural hot springs.

The reality for most nomads living on the road is quite different and typically involves work, lots of it. Whether working one full-time remote position, piecing together multiple revenue streams, or setting their travel schedule around work opportunities, these women hustle. For those looking for advice on how to hit the road AND make some money, we’ve talked to eight women who dish up their tips and tricks to nomadic employment.

Bridget Sweeney – @anewvantagepoint

What do you do for remote work/employment/making money on the road? 

  • HR Representative for a human services company: full-time, fully remote
  • Brand rep for a nutrition and skincare company (Arbonne): side hustle

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female? 

My favorite thing about working on the road is the ability to have a stable income while also not compromising my outdoors time. Prior to working on the road, I worked in jobs where I often had a cubicle and couldn’t even see a window from where I sat. While I don’t get complete flexibility because I still work formal 9-5 hours, at least I can do my work outside in the sunshine. It makes a huge difference in my mental health!

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female?

I think one misconception people have about full-time remote work is that you need to have some sort of special tech skill to find a job, like software programming or graphic design. In reality, there are a ton of jobs out there for those of us with more liberal arts or general business degrees, as long as you know where to look. I see jobs for sales, marketing, customer support, and copywriting positions all the time.

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

When people are interested in remote work, I feel like they often ask what I do and then breeze on to other questions because they don’t see remote work as a possibility for them. I think anyone with any kind of background can find something remote that will work for them, so I wish people would ask more pointed questions about how to actually get a remote job. From there, I could share resources and tips with them. Similarly, I wish people would ask how I ended up in a remote position because I work for a company where I am not the norm, but they valued my work. I took a risk and asked if they would be willing to keep me on in a remote capacity, and they said yes! Don’t just assume the answer is no… always ask!

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

While my current situation is pretty good, I am currently seeking a career change where I can do something more fulfilling. I am trying to get a job as a wrangler on a guest ranch next summer because it is an itch I need to scratch and am really excited about. After that, I will likely come back to remote full-time work for a couple of years, but doing something different that challenges me and pays better, maybe in a sales role. In 3-5 years, I plan to be running my own small farm for income and doing some remote work on the side if I need a little extra money.

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road. 

My first piece of advice would be to recommend people make a strong effort to accurately picture what they want their day-to-day life to look like and let that drive the type of remote work they seek. I work 9-5 Eastern time Monday through Friday so my weekdays don’t look like a lot of vanlife Instagram accounts. Instead, they look like being in town where I have reliable cell service and may be working from a nice city park rather than a remote mountain vista.

Additionally, being tied to a formal schedule means I can’t just take off for three days with friends and make up the work at night or the following weekend. If you are seeking that type of flexibility, freelance work or self-employment might be the way to go but if you’re craving a balance of flexibility and stability as I do, then full-time remote employment can be a great option. (Especially in the western time zones – I get out early enough to go on weekday hikes!) My second piece of advice would be to reiterate… always ask your current employer if they’ll let you go remote! The worst that happens is they say no and you have to find a new job, which you were going to have to do anyway! 

Laurén Ettinger – @flitfloatflyaway@goodvibecaravans

Photo credit: Eizabeth Barnett @nauticalnomads / @blackpineapplephotography

What do you do for remote work on the road?

I do not really have one job title. I’ve worked over the past year to bring together a lot of disparate skills into a few different money-making opportunities and I’m continuing to evolve and diversify my portfolio. I recently left my long-time role at a Washington, DC-based non-profit where I managed State Department-funded youth and professional exchange programs. Now, I’m focusing more on supporting my family’s publishing business and expanding my freelance career.

  • Assistant Editor and Graphic Designer, Must Do Visitor Guides
  • Freelance Proofreader and Technical Writer, Kinetics Consulting
  • Chief Operating Officer, Good Vibe Co.

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female?

The community of other women on the road (and other digital nomads in general)! The vanlife community is filled with so many talented people. There are so many opportunities to meet amazing females working their asses off. It offers endless possibilities for mentorship, collaboration, and inspiration. 

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female? (Again, not necessarily in regards to being a woman)

I think there is a weird conception that as a female on the road, you must be getting support from somewhere other than yourself. I studied hard for my bachelors’ and master’s degree, hustled for multiple promotions during my corporate life, and spent a lot of time developing marketable skills. The assumption that anything I have is through someone else’s charity versus my own hard work is insulting.

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

People constantly ask me if I work and sometimes even how much money I make. I’d prefer people to ask me how I was able to turn my 9-5 job into a remote opportunity or how to best utilize existing skills into gainful employment.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road?  Where you do see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

When I moved into the van, I kept my Washington, DC-based job where I had been working previously for five years. I spent about a year in the van working as a part-time remote employee with regular hours. I’ve just recently transitioned away from that more structured job and am focusing on putting more time into my family’s business (Must Do Visitor Guides) and my passion project (Good Vibe Co.). In three to five years I hope to have grown my freelance related skills (graphic design, proofreading, writing, and social media) and to start receiving income from my passion project.  

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road.

Start with what you know. If you already have a job that you like (or even a job that you could tolerate for another year), be real with your boss and ask to transition into a role that better supports your mental wellbeing. You may be surprised that many employers are willing to open their minds to non-traditional work arrangements once you have proven yourself to be a reliable team member. 

Jenny Leveille – @adventuresfromthevan

What do you do for remote work on the road?

I am an online ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. I teach English to kids in China through a Chinese company where I video chat in a one-on-one classroom setting. In addition, I write for a van blog (VanSage.com) and generate income through my own blog as well.

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female?

Working on the road allows me to live this way indefinitely. I’m able to fund my travels and be independent and self-sufficient. I also believe it helps me structure my days better than if I had nothing but free time, even though that may sound appealing.

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female? (Again, not necessarily in regards to being a woman)

I think most people don’t realize just how hard I work. Since I work on Beijing Standard Time, my hours are usually from 3-8 am, so it looks like I just play all day. Through the Instagram lens, I’m sure people think I don’t have a job because they don’t see me sitting at my computer before the sun comes up.

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

I wish more people would ask me about how they could do it too. Although my background is in Education, you do not need an education degree to teach for this company. The requirements include a bachelor’s degree in any subject, any form of experience working with kids, and the ability to be enthusiastic early in the morning. It’s a fantastic job for this lifestyle and could be the perfect gateway for getting out on the road.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road?  Where you do see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise? 

My employment on the road is really focused on providing enough income to sustain my life on the road. Before vanlife, I was a first-grade teacher, and although that’s related to what I’m doing now, it’s not a career field focused on promotions or “climbing the ladder.” I love teaching and it’s something I’m good at, but I’m still undecided on whether I’ll return to the classroom someday. I hope in 3-5 years I’m doing whatever work is going to provide the lifestyle I want to live.

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road.

My best advice is to be persistent. There is a lot of remote work out there, you just have to find what matches your experience and skills. It took a little time for me to figure out how I would work remotely and find a job that fits my life, but I didn’t give up the search and took the chance that I would figure it out. Talk to people, network, ask questions, put yourself out there and you’re bound to find something.

Martha Hudson – @luv_martha

What do you do for remote work/employment/making money on the road?

I run a bespoke swimsuit company on the road. In other words, I handmake custom bikinis in my shortie school bus while wandering (mostly) the western US. My business is mostly Instagram based, so working in conjunction with my website shop, I can basically run my business almost anywhere. My limitations to “anywhere” are that I need cell phone service or WiFi regularly and access to a US post office at least a few times a week. 

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female? 

Living and working on the road as a female, or more specifically in my case, as a solo female traveler,  is wildly empowering. I answer to absolutely no one but myself—- meaning I have the freedom to explore what I truly want/need to do, in what timeline I’d like to do them, how I’d naturally approach them, etc… I am my own boss in every sense of the word and it’s given me the opportunity to know myself on a deeper level.

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female? 

I think lots of folks imagine me on a perpetual Instagram-worthy adventure somewhere picturesque. In some ways, they’re not completely wrong, but there’s also a massive amount of time spent looking for cell signal to respond to my emails or driving back out of that campsite because there’s not enough solar to keep my fridge on. There are deadlines missed because of flat tires and many nights spent in friends’ driveways because I needed the power to run the sewing machine… it’s beautiful and definitely a perpetual adventure, just not the adventure many people imagine. 

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

I’d love it if people asked if I have any stories about proving someone who didn’t believe in me wrong. Id love it if people asked what the final straw was that made me just go for it. I’d love it if people asked what I’m most proud of or what I am learning or what surprised me most about running my business on the road…. because the thing is, this is my entire life, not just a job and it’s hard to talk about it in regular job terms—- I’d rather talk about it in a “this is who I am” bear my soul kind of way.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

In all honesty, I have no idea. I love my bus house, my lifestyle, and the people and places I get to see. I don’t see myself moving into a stationary house anytime soon but I do see the potential to one day need a larger workshop space for Luv Martha Swim. Because I make a physical product, as opposed to working remotely in other ways, I am limited by my fabric storage potential, my electricity potential, and my personal physical potential. As my swimsuit business grows, I can see that one day I may need another employee to help me handle orders and emails, a larger space, and a somewhat more permanent location to stay up with demand. 

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road. 

I like to tell people to be afraid and full of doubt and just do it anyway. Don’t wait until you feel ready, because it’s always going to be a little scary and if it’s something you really want, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. And honestly, doing something you love and being able to do that wherever in the world you feel like being is one of the best feelings in the world, and will make dealing with the broken down vehicles, gas station “showers”, money stresses and less than picturesque camping spots worth it in the end. 

Mandy Adiutori – @2girls1camper

What do you do for remote work/employment/making money on the road?

Account Manager at a marketing firm with an all-remote, female team.

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female? 

Being able to travel without taking a bunch of time off.

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female?

People tend to think I have a lot more free time than I actually do. People forget you’re still working Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week. Even though it’s remote, it’s still a full-time job. 

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

People tend to shy away from asking me about the challenges of working remotely. It can be hard to motivate yourself when you’re not surrounded by coworkers or in an office. Especially when you’re constantly traveling, it can be easy to want to push your work off until later. I think minimizing distractions and staying motivated are major challenges for remote workers that aren’t talked about often.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

I love my job. I definitely like having multiple clients, but I’d like to work in the marketing department of a single company instead of in a marketing firm. I’d also like to stay with a company that is fully-remote. I can’t see myself going back to working in an office.

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road.

I think your first step should be to ask your current employer if you’d be able to work remotely, maybe even one day a week or for a short period of time. It would be great to be able to get a feel for it, and maybe your employer would be open to eventually letting you work remotely full time. But obviously, this doesn’t work for all jobs. Check out different job sites and see what’s available for your profession. Sites like flexjobs.com, weworkremotely.com, jobspresso.com, etc. are awesome places to start your search!

Katie Larsen – @soweboughtavan

What do you do for remote work/employment/making money on the road?

I am a digital marketer and freelance writer. What this means is that I am self-employed and can be hired as a freelancer for short or long-term contracts. This gives me the flexibility to make my own schedule and choose my clients and projects specifically.

  • So We Bought A Van: Digital marketing and freelance writing. I monetize my social media and website/blog through collaborations, partnerships, and affiliate marketing.
  • Go-Van: Editor-In-Chief. Working anywhere between 20-40 hours per given week, based on the current project size load.
  • Travel Her Way: Social Media Specialist. About 20 hours per week. I handle all social media, including Facebook and Instagram. Post daily, engage with the audience and manage discussion community groups.

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female?

The thing I love the most about working on the road is the control of my time. I am able to schedule my work around my life accordingly, instead of scheduling my life around my work. It really has made a huge difference in my ability to practice self-care and thrive within my relationships. It also means that I can spend time while it is nice/light/sunny outside and then work either early in the morning or in the afternoon/at night! When I worked a stationary job, I hardly got to spend any time outside during the day, with the exception of weekends. It’s amazing what spending at least a few days per week in nature and fresh air can do for your health.

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female?

I think a lot of people just don’t understand exactly that I DO work and HOW MUCH I work. This summer, I worked 55+ hours per week and still received many comments in regards to how I’m “being lazy” or “simply not wanting to work a normal job.” I find this frustrating and a bit belittling. I truly believe that remote work is the future and soon, more and more companies will offer remote positions. In fact, even now, nearly 30% of all companies are completely remote, with over 50% of companies allowing at least certain positions to function remotely!

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

People often ask me what I do for work or how I found my current remote positions/contracts. Once they hear my response, many people simply write off remote work. They may think that unless they do exactly what I am doing, it isn’t possible. The truth is, there are so many options for remote work! For example, check out this video where a bunch of digital nomads sit and talk about forms of remote work, the good, the bad, etc. 

Another thing people don’t ask about is balance. Balancing remote work can be very challenging. There are times where I am surely working too much, and times where I am surely not working enough. The thing with being your own boss is that you are never really “off”. So, those fine lines of working hours or a “work shift” mindset doesn’t really exist. Those lines can easily become blurred, and I find that I need constant check-ins.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

I would love to continue expanding the digital and affiliate marketing side of my work. This is a wonderful form of passive income that allows me to travel more and monetize those travels specifically with blog posts and my website. Client work is great but definitely requires me to sit at a computer more often than I would like. It also means managing multiple social media accounts, multiple email accounts, and reporting to multiple clients. That side of things can get overwhelming, whereas affiliate and digital marketing allows and encourages me to get outside, document my travels and the things I use to make traveling easier, and share that knowledge with others, all while making a small percentage of income through affiliate links!

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road.

The most important thing to start off is to make a list of what is important to you within the construct of your work. Then, make a list of your skills that you believe are valuable to work (not just remote work in general, but all work, as if you were applying for any other office job!) Then, think about what you would actually like to be doing. This will help narrow your options down to working online, seasonal work, becoming an actual employee of a company, starting your own business, etc. There are many options and, in fact, I hardly know two digital nomads that do the same work for money! Asking people questions and learning more about remote work or income options will always benefit you. Like anything you are looking to dive into, research is valuable and will help you get more creative with reaching your goals.

Meag Poirer – @wilddrivelife

What do you do for remote work/employment/making money on the road?

About a year before we hit the road full-time, I started my own marketing and strategy consulting business called Wild Roots Branding. I work with a lot of tourism-related small businesses and nonprofits. I show up as MEAG, approachable, energetic, quirky, and intuitive. My top priority in entrepreneurship was, and always will be, to maintain that authenticity, and quite honestly, FUN. My husband and I also have a blog that generates income, thewilddrive.com where we share free resources on our deliberate lifestyle.

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female?

The challenge and opportunity to support yourself financially and mentally, independent from any single location, is an incredible privilege. I’m still working toward a balance of freedom and stability, but working on the road has given me that chance to try.

Photo credit @garrickhoffmanphotography

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female?

I think there’s a common misconception that freelancers and remote business owners aren’t as productive as 9-5 staff in house. I couldn’t disagree more. Working remotely and working independently on the road is not for everyone but for those that thrive on autonomy and flexibility, it’s worth the leap and effort. You directly drive your own progress, YOU get to decide HOW you want to deliver your product/service. Some days I feel like I’m dragging but most days I get twice as much done in half the time as I did when I had to show up to an office every day.

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

Social media makes road work look so easy, instant, and glamorous. The WHAT of self-employment is the easy part. It’s the HOW that takes time. How do you stay sane, balanced, and fulfilled on the road while trying to support yourself financially?! Let’s get deeper and chat more about the systems, schedules, and habits that help us move forward with our goals.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

I gravitated toward marketing and business because that was my field for 10 years before living nomadically. It just made sense to start there. Coaching and building more online resources are where I’m transitioning into this winter. It feeds my soul more. My passion behind the scenes is health and healing with diet and exercise. I have bronchiectasis, a lung disease, that I’ve worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to rise above naturally. I want to build a plant-based food truck and take it to events on the road within the next couple of years. We shall see!

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road.

There are so many possibilities to make work on the road; my story is just one of MANY. Your goals are possible! Be yourself, be patient. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are not others. You are YOU, and that is incredible.

Destiny Clayton – @becomingborderless / @claytonmade.destiny

What do you do for remote work/employment/making money on the road?

I am a business owner of a traveling photography and video company called Clayton Made Media. We dabble in a lot of work and creative outlets, but weddings are a large portion of what we do. We book weddings globally so get to travel all the time creating beautiful memories for couples and families.

What is one positive thing about working on the road as a female?

I am outdoors a lot. Being immersed in nature and through new experiences every day is very inspiring for my creative drive. I constantly feel empowered to do my job well and I even feel my capacity to do more increase. 

What is one misconception about working on the road as a female?

People tend to think we can go where we want, whenever. I have to be places all the time because only a portion of my work is done on my laptop. The other part involves showing my face and getting content. This involves a lot of traveling, but to destinations where I am booked by clients. It’s not always a free game decision of “where do I want to go explore today?”

When discussing our lifestyle, it is common to receive the same types of questions repeatedly. What is something you wish people would start asking when wanting to learn more about this unique form of employment?

I feel like a lot of people want to know the hard parts and what I would do differently if I could do it all over again. I was also asking these questions when I was trying to do it myself. It would be nice to chat more about what I am doing right though. These are the aspects of working on the road that I am fired up about; the things I am doing right and WOULD repeat even if I had to do it all over again.

What are your long-term goals with employment on the road? Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years work-wise?

I see myself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur. I am still in the foundation and idea making stages of other businesses I hope to launch. They will all permit me the freedom to travel and continue to explore. I just want to create beautiful things while having a positive impact on diverse areas of life.

Best pieces of advice for females looking to dive into remote work on the road.

Every day is not going to be a day of growth when you get started. That is totally normal and OKAY. There will be good days and bad days. The bad days are no reason to quit or even get super discouraged over. The struggles are normal and you are not alone with them even if you feel that you are. Curveballs happen way more often in this lifestyle so be patient and don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

As many of these working women on the road explained, there are various ways to make this a reality.

Whether your goal is to travel, have more flexibility, or to simply have control of your schedule, there are numerous benefits to working on the road, especially when it comes to a van-focused lifestyle. Ask questions, do your research, and get creative!