This is a question I get asked or accused of occasionally. How do I afford to travel around in a caravan?
The biggest concern with starting this lifestyle is how to earn money while travelling - well, for people who aren’t retired anyway. I’ll admit, I still haven’t got the perfect set-up, but I’m getting there.
I’m a graphic designer and turns out this is a great career for travel. It honestly didn’t cross my mind when I start my university course. I’ve now been workings for over 10 years and was able to still do this job in London and Melbourne as the same software is used worldwide.
When I decided to buy a caravan I’d been saving for a house before deciding that this was never going to happen in Auckland. I switched my aim towards a caravan instead and saved for another 6 months working at my permanent Auckland job.
I then quit and went on a roadtrip to find the caravan and bought one in Nelson in the South island of New Zealand. I had grand plans of starting an online business that would support me. Turns out 3 months is definitely not enough time to succeed and I didn’t particularly enjoy the direction I was going anyway.
After 3 months, I ran out of money and made my way back to Auckland where I freelanced over winter - doing small trips away in the caravan to the Waikato and the Coromandel. I learnt that it’s hard to live in a caravan in a city if you don’t have friends or family with land for you to stay on. After a few false starts, I found the best campground option in Northcote.
In spring, an old workmate asked if I wanted to work part-time for her new graphic design agency in Hawkes Bay. I was desperate to get out of Auckland as living in the city wasn’t what I wanted - especially while living in a caravan. I’ve been at Milk & Sticks for over 6 months now and it’s worked well. I’ve ended up going into the office ⅔ of the time and travelling and working online ⅓ of the time. Working part-time has also enabled me to focus more on TravellingK.
Unfortunately the contract has gone quiet lately and this last week I’ve been worrying about money - which is never fun. I’ve learnt that I can live on 2 days a week of work, and save a little if I work 3 days a week. In the last month there’s been a few times when I’ve worked less than 2 days a week which means I’ve dipped into my tiny savings. And there have been some big caravan expenses lately - from things breaking to getting ready for winter.
So if you know of anyone after a graphic designer let me know! The ideal client would be a small to medium sized business who is happy for me to work remotely. I’m keen to have another day of work a week.
I started TravellingK over 1.5 years ago and have been spending money instead of making money. It’s definitely been a passion project. Web hosting for this website costs money, the website template to make it look nicer cost money, my monthly bill for the programs to edit the videos cost money. I’d hate to find out the grand total I’ve spent and add up all the hours of work.
In the last couple of months - basically since I reached 1000 subscribers on YouTube, there has be a change. I had been making $5 a month through those annoying YouTube banners that sit on the videos. When I reached 1000 subscribers it jumped to $10 a month - this is also probably because of the change to YouTube with needing more subscribers and view to monetisation your channel. Now I’m over 2000 subscribers and earning $17 a month! I’m hoping it just keeps growing.
Also, I can’t touch this money until I reach NZ$130. But the good news is I’m so close to reaching that amount! Soon, very soon.
Have you seen my channel? Click here to see it.
I finally started Patreon which now seems to be the main way a YouTuber can make a living.
You can pay as little as $1 a month and have access to a whole lot more. I am more open on this platform as it feels safer for a solo female than on a public platform like YouTube or Facebook. I share some of the graphics I’ve designed (although I’ve been a little slack and only posted 1 so far, but more are coming!). I share more up to date news and the little wins for TravellingK.
The $5 and $20 a month tier also have a group monthly Skype chat with me.
The $20 tier gets a personal thank you message in my videos!
I think this is the best way for me to make any money for TravellingK at my 2000 subscribers level. I think this is the level YouTubers need support. It’s a tricky balance to keep growing the channel but earn enough to live off. Once I get to a certain level, then I should hopefully have more time to make other sellable products and be more self-sufficent. There are days where I wonder why I’m spending so many hours doing this. So, if you would like to help, please consider becoming my patron.
I’ve also started designing RV and kiwiana designs that a company called RedBubble print and post out to people. I’ve sold 3 products so far and plan to keep adding more designs. Well, when I find the time. I do have plenty of ideas for this.
Click here to see what designs I’ve created so far.
I’ve also started designing stickers. Some small ones to add to journals or walls and also larger stickers for on caravans and motorhomes. Again, this is an area I’m expanding and will keep updating!
Click here to see the latest stickers.
As a graphic designer, I’ve regularly bought images from Shutterstock but it’s interesting being on the other side - contributing the photos. It’s not the fastest way to make money as I’ve sold 1 photo and only made 25c. I’ll keep adding photos and see how it goes.
So that’s it - this is how I afford this caravan lifestyle.
I have been worrying this last week about money with the contract job going quieter. I really really don’t want to end up back in Auckland as I’d be back to full-time freelancing with less time for the videos and they’d surely become very dull too.
The 3 main ways to help:
There’s definitely less certainty to a permanent 9-5 job but there’s no way I want to go back to full time in an office. I’m curious to learn if you have any other ideas for me to earn money? I’d be keen to hear.