Every year we try not to work more than 3 to 4 months so we can travel and have more fun. However, we get so many inquiries about how to make enough money work camping following the links on our make money page we decided to Vanabode work camp for 8 months and show an example of what can be done. We wanted to have fun while answering one big question: “Can we Vanabode year round and easily pay for it all by working a little and trading some low skilled labor for a free camping spot and a paycheck?”
We accomplish this using our new Vanabode and accompanying strategies. This page is a quick overview of some of what we experienced in 2018 over the course of thirty seven weeks starting first of April, traveling up the east coast from Florida to Niagara Falls, working in New York and Kentucky, and exploring places like Savannah, Charleston, Virginia Beach, Gloucester, Vesuvius Virginia, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Albany, Fort Ann, Lake George, and the areas within 2 hours of Campbellsville Kentucky. The key is we did it on less than $20 per day per person, including food, gas, and lodging. Vanabode contains all the information you need to travel forever NOW and earn your way around the country as you wish.
Above: The spectacular Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in the diverse city of Savannah, Georgia. This great American historical city is full of style, 200+ year old oaks, historical architecture, and offers great shopping and fun along with free boat rides on the Savannah River.
Above: Later in the week we hit the big mansion showcase of Charleston and Beaufort's well aged attractions.
Above: Angel Oak Park on Johns Island near Charleston is home to the 400+ year old Angel Oak, the largest oak tree east of the Mississippi river. No picture can capture the enormity of this spectacular plant. Some of the branches are over 180 feet long. The weather this behemoth has survived, and many of today's houses are doing good if they last 70 years.
Above: Augusta Georgia's Riverwalk was the only thing we really enjoyed about this city. They are working on reviving the downtown area but they have a long way to go.
Above: Athens Georgia Museum of Art offers a lot of fun at no charge complete with gardens, sculpture and mixed media works. When traveling extensively Vanaboding allows us to effortlessly alternate between high brow cultural activities and those of the more wild and woolly wilderness variety.
Above: Shows the kitchen used by Billy Grahams family to cook and prepare meals growing up. Notice the massive porcelain sink and the built in stove, big deals back then. The Billy Graham Library (big tourist destination) in Charlotte, North Carolina offers a great half day of free activities in a sprawling complex of buildings and outdoor space. It's easy to include these kinds of places in our plans because our smaller Vanabode offers no parking troubles.
Virginia Beach is a staple for us offering big beach fun and rugged state parks. Gloucester Virginia is quite special as well. Look up the history surrounding this interesting place.
Above: We camped creek side in Vesuvius Virginia, a rugged place in an outdoor oriented region of Virginia just west of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Panthers have been reported in the area so we were on our guard at night.
Above: Be sure and visit Wades Mill in Raphine Virginia, a massive restored and active working mill built in 1750, plus free tours, shopping, gifts, and tourist activities.
Above: McCormick Farm at Walnut Grove is home to restored original antique farmstead structures and property, location of the first reaper invented for massive productivity gains in farming. We also hiked up to Crabtree Falls in the nearby George Washington National forest before leaving the area.
Above: I wouldn't go anywhere near Washington DC without visiting the incredible not to be missed National Bonsai & Penjing Museum which is part of the FREE U.S. National Arboretum.
Above: Stunning architecture, unreal specimens of exotic plants, and hundreds of acres to explore make this place something special.
Above: The incredible National Air and Space Museum in DC is free and easy to get to (we were able to park curbside a few blocks away). These are NOT replicas, these are real aircraft, missiles, jets, and spacecraft. You could spend as much as two full days here.
Above: The famous Renwick Gallery hosted us for yet another fantastic exhibition in DC.
Above: Renwick Gallery Burning Man exhibition.
Above: The museums and galleries in Washington are pinnacles of learning and beauty. Being a foodie though means my favorite part of the area is the astonishing Peruvian charcoal rotisserie chicken, the very best I've ever had. Get here.
Above: The Library of Congress offers spectacular architecture, art, and beauty both inside and out.
Above: Philadelphia is worth seeing with lots of historical interest, great street food, (and hot chicks!) Parking is a chore though so bring a credit card. Special thanks to my wife Kelly for shooting 90% of the photo's for this trip.
Above: Philadelphia's old houses the new with unexpected architectural surprises.
Above: Philadelphia architecture cannot be adequately described with either picture or word.
Above: We enjoyed Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, New York and Vasser College is worth a look.
Above: The New York State Museum in Albany is huge, well appointed, and you could spend a few days here. We had great Thai food at a nearby restaurant and hit a seasonal farmers market across the street. Parking for vans like ours is free during certain hours and very cheap the other times. Free admission.
Above: The New York State Museum Native American displays were especially well done. Albany is a big city affording us both a Promaster dealership for our second maintenance service as well as a great Indian buffet for lunch.
Above: We got settled into our free camping spot in Fort Ann New York in early May to begin our 18-20 weeks of work camping for Moose Hillock Camping Resort. Vanabode's don't use much electricity so our total cost for power for the entire 5 months was around $180. Pay is about $12 an hour if you complete the season and we worked about 42 hours a week each (no time and a half pay). Here's my review of the work camping job in particular set up for couples only.
Above: Some days I worked as a pool pirate (gate attendant).
Above: As work campers on staff we were granted full season unlimited access and use of the pool from opening until closing at 9:30 nightly. This extraordinary fun spot is the largest heated campground swimming pool on the entire East Coast.
Above: During our months at Moose Hillock we explored the surrounding areas each night and on our two consecutive days off together each week. Here is the Minne Ha Ha ship like the Mohican we cruised Lake George on for a few hours for less than $20 each before the busy season started.
Above: Wild flowers at the park surrounding the lake. Outside the campground and only about a 15 minute drive away, Lake George is the areas biggest attraction. We recommend the weekly fireworks because you can picnic right on the beach and watch the fantastic pyrotechnics display over the water, reflected in the shimmering surface, flanked by massive cruise ships with neon lights, and hear the spectacular boom of the explosions ricochet off the surrounding mountains.
Above: We saw some extraordinary waterfront resorts while cruising on Lake George. Swimming and boating and camping on the lake itself are big draws with hundreds of state run campsites on islands in the middle of the lake.
Above: The downtown area faces the lake so you have perfect beach access with showers, shops, tourist attractions, live music and bars, boat rentals, fishing trips. Liberty Pizza has great inexpensive pizza by the slice. Every week we purchased a pound of locally raised beef from Strawberry Ridge who set up lakefront at the weekly Farmers Market. Their beef comes from locally raised grass fed cows and cost only $7 to $8 a pound. I've never cooked burgers this good while camping in my life. I highly recommend Oscar's Adirondack Smokehouse located at the bottom of Hackinsack Mountain in Warrensburg. They are the best makers of fine smoked meat & cheese (for over 70 years) that I've ever had. Tandoori Grill between Moose Hillock and Lake George served good curries and rice dishes. The Log Jam has a great fresh buffet right across from all the outlet shops in town. Hillbilly Ice Cream across street from the campground served fantastic rich creamy ice cream as good as Ben and Jerry's. We walked from our camping spot a few times to Scrappy's Diner for rich big portion breakfasts. One night we splurged and spent about $70 for double entree dinners at Bistro LeRoux. They have high end tastes covered. We hit Hatties Chicken Shack in Saratoga Springs a few times for seriously good fried chicken from a well known New York restaurant. Saratoga also had fun weekly events and horse tracks plus a sweet casino.
Above: New York's Bigfoot got Back. Serious Back. I did not know this.
Above: A few hours from our campground the Edgewater Gallery at Middlebury Falls Vermont provided some fantastic art for sale and viewing.
Above: While road traveling mostly back roads around the Adirondack region and through Vermont we had many opportunities to park just off the roads and explore little parks, meadows, forests and abandoned houses usually with small streams nearby.
Above: Work camping allowed for many days off so we were able to spend a lot of time visiting places far from the campground. Here is an example of fine art in glass from the Mill at Simon Pierce in Quechee Vermont.
Above: The Mill at Simon Pierce is complete with a mill, glass foundry where you can watch the artisans create the glass wares with glowing rods of metal, restaurant, bar, gift shop, and retail store.
Above: We visited dozens of farmers markets (see Vanabode book for how we keep our food costs in check while eating very well), blueberry farms where you pick them yourself, produce stands, Alpaca farms, specialty trade schools like the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne, covered bridges, local museums, and seasonal shops selling extraordinary tasting locally made things like maple syrup, bread, and honey.
Above: Lavenlair Lavender Farm in Whitehall New York is only about 30 minutes from the campground.
Above: Kelly shot this sweet picture of a wild mushroom on the Inman Pond hike about 25 minutes from Moose Hillock.
Above Pictures: We were at the massive Washington County fair and rodeo (New York's biggest agricultural fair now held in Greenwich) for so long I went back to my Vanabode in the parking lot and took a nap in the middle of the day.
Above Pictures: I hope this ends well.
Above: They had thousands of animals on display like this colored pheasant, hundreds of food vendors, free parking, shows, rodeos, agricultural displays, a carnival, petting farms, and more.
Above: Does this cow make me look old? I'm not sure where I've been the stupidest, 1) that I thought it wise to pose with an ox, or 2) that I put a Vanabode Copyright on this picture as if somebody is going to steal it.
Above: After we're done with the campground work camping gig we head to Niagara Falls. Here over six hundred thousand gallons of clean clear water per second rush over the cliffs and drop hundreds of feet into the chasm and lake below.
Campbellsville Kentucky and Surrounding Areas with AMAZON Work Camping Overview
From Niagara Falls we head south and work Amazon's work camping job. It lasts from the last week in September until a week before Christmas earning $15.75 on the night shift schedule of 5:30 PM to 4 AM four to six days a week depending on company need. You can also make between $500 and $800 for end of season Amazon completion bonus. With overtime pay kicking in after 40 hours, all camping fees paid by Amazon including full hookups, and little fuel needed since we walk to work, even the additional New York state taxes and County taxes can't squash our overall budget. It's grueling work (we stowed for Amazon last year, picked this year) in a tough environment of strong fans blowing hot and cold air in your eyes constantly, poor warehouse style lighting, concrete floors, and constant loud industrial noise. Plus we were walking 12 to 15 miles a night. You can see why hundreds of campers and locals show up and drop out every year. Amazon is the perfect work camping job for us though as it affords the opportunity to make enough in 3 to 5 months to Vanabode travel all year.
Above: We hit the Livestock Auction that runs weekly in town first. Then visited Green River Lake State Park (free admission) about 10 minutes from Amazon and even closer to some of the Campgrounds Amazon pays for. The first day we were there swimming we had the place to ourselves except for occasional boaters passing by. While working for Amazon we'd come down and park waterfront three or four times a week for great views, grilling out, and quiet time. The campground and forest available for hiking and horseback riding is over 1,330 acres, while Green River Lake covers over 8,000 acres.
Above: Layo Taco rotates the surrounding towns weekly and hit Campbellsville Kentucky on Mondays. They serve the most incredible Mexican style open faced steak and chorizo tacos I've ever had and at only $2 a real value. They also had the best real-corn pork tamales I've ever had (We've eaten Mexican food at hundreds of restaurants and mobile food trucks all over the country) Amazing burritos for $6 became our dinners for nights working Amazon. If we missed them for any reason we cried.
The great food around Campbellsville is one of the main reasons I've no problem working this Amazon gig for three months in an area not well known for fun stuff to do. Best Donut served the best private shop donuts I've ever had, easily on par with Krispy Kreme. Brothers BBQ I reported on last year, still here, still serving the most incredible brisket I ever had along with spectacular pork ribs. The Bowling Alley has a great rib eye, Garcias serves upscale Mexican, Colton's Steakhouse lunches are a real solid meal for less than $10, Wings Pizza N Things serves the towns best thin crust pizza, Fiesta Azteca offers huge portions of delicious Mexican fare, Tastes Like Home, a Mennonite staffed wholesome natural foods located in nearby Greensburg, was certainly worth visiting. There are plenty of cheap buffets in town, all good for the price (less than $8 each), but were not good enough for us to patronize more than once or twice. Take your pick: The University College daily buffet, Creekside, Asian Garden Buffet across street from Walmart, Gatti's Pizza Buffet, and Lees Famous Chicken.
Above: We met and spent time with hundreds of workcampers. Here Allison, and friend, plus Ken, and Debbie, join us and many others at Druthers at 5 am for a very special night.
Amazon paid for our full hook up campsite at Heartland across the street from the fulfillment center where we worked. This enabled us to walk to work and put us within 8 minutes of town and everything there. Campsite included wifi, hot showers, small kitchen, giant meeting room with television and cable, and laundry facilities. All were pleasantly adequate though wifi could use improvement. I recommend Heartland over the Stables ONLY if you do not have animals and you insist on walking to work. Otherwise the Stables is a more scenic experience.
Above: When we travel we stay in commercial campgrounds less than one day per month. Usually we are the smallest rig. Not this time. Two women beat us out: The Great Western van (background) and the Runaway Trailer. Still there are TWO of us in our Vanabode so maybe we still win by the "square foot per person" formula? Ha!
Above: All kinds of people choosing all kinds of different rigs make up the work camping community.
Above: Our newest Vanabode parked beside our Florida friends.
Above: Heartland common building with kitchenette and television for use by all campers.
Above: Author Jason Odom "I wish I had thought of Amazon before that Bezos guy" on Lake Erie. See Master Vanabode Travel List.