By Janet Groene, F47166
Job searching while full-timing; accessible travel resources; a Titanic book; and coach organization tips.
For some folks, becoming a full-timer is the ultimate retirement adventure. You live where you want, do what you like, and enjoy the fruits of all your hard work over the years. But there are others who still need to work, for reasons such as income, personal satisfaction, or because they just have to be doing something.
If you’re in the latter group, you might be interested in attending one of two Workamper Job Fairs scheduled for early 2008. The first will take place January 10 and 11, 2008, at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Florida. The second is scheduled for January 29 and 30 at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona. These events help match RVers looking for work with employers searching for full-time, part-time, or seasonal help. During the two-day event, seminars also will be given by work camping experts. To order tickets ahead of time or to reserve booth space, call (501) 362-2637 or visit www.workamping.com.
Are you thinking of retiring early and working out of your coach? Are you retired, but looking for a part-time job to help pay for little extras? Do you love your career and want to keep your resume up-to-date? The job market has changed, and so have technologies that allow full-timers to telecommute or run an online business. Here are thoughts on meshing full-timing with a full-time or part-time job.
* How much space do you need? If the RV is your business office, you’ll need room to keep the tools of your trade. This space could be as small as a computer desk or as large as a basement filled with woodworking tools. If your outside job requires any “homework,” such as record-keeping, answering a phone, or planning, the employer should pay for the time and space. See your tax adviser about deductions, too.
* The climate factor. Some jobs, such as selling on eBay, can be pursued anywhere. However, take into account the misery factor if you’re considering a job that requires you to work in extreme heat or cold, during hurricane or hay fever seasons, and so on. A six-month temporary contract, for example, might start out in bonny springtime but extend into the bitter end of autumn.
* Know before you go. Up to a point, you and your prospective employer can tap dance through the preliminaries. However, once it’s established that you want the job and the employer wants you, the burden is on you to make a trip to the job site for a firsthand look if you haven’t done so already. Careful research ahead of time can keep you from wasting time and fuel.
If the employer is providing a campsite as part of your pay package, learn everything you can about the site. Do a Google search on the park, see its ratings at www.rvparkreviews.com, and check its ratings in your favorite campground directory. Pinpointing the campground on a map will reveal such things as rail lines and interstates where trucks hum by all night. Looking at a topographic map can tell you whether the site is in a flood zone.
A map also can show you nearby cities where you’ll shop and travel to for entertainment. Research the community to find out about its crime rate, state and local taxes, houses of worship, etc.
Know what type of phone, cable TV, and Internet access you’ll have at your site and whether it’s included or at your expense. Find out the size of the site and where it is located in the campground. What kind of security is in place? Will you have free or discounted use of the park’s features, such as the golf course, spa, laundry, and propane refill? What are the rules regarding guests? If the campground owner/manager doesn’t live on-site, what kind of backup will you have in difficult situations?
Second, be sure you understand the job description. One of the most common mistakes made by couples is to misunderstand how many hours are required per person. Will you have the same day off as your spouse, or must one of you always be on duty? Are uniforms required and, if so, are they supplied? What about laundering them? Ask whether it’s possible for you to see a copy of the written contract before you make the trip.
In addition to www.workamper.com, other places to look for campground jobs include www.happyvagabonds.com, www.workersonwheels.com, and www.coolworks.com. Also check with each state’s division of parks and campgrounds, www.funjobs.com, and www.nps.gov/personnel. All of these are likely to provide a campsite in partial payment. These listings also include volunteer jobs that pay only in use of a campsite.
If you’re looking for a job to make use of a specific skill, it may be better to forget the free campsite. Kellyservices.com is a nationwide temporary employment agency offering benefits that accumulate and follow you from job to job. Monster.com has a master list of jobs, while jobs also are listed city by city at www.craigslist.org.
Accessible Travel. Candy B. Harrington, an expert in handicapped travel, has written 101 Accessible Vacations ($24.95, Demos Medical Publishing). Unlike guides that focus only on wheelchair access, this one keeps in mind people who use walkers, canes, or crutches, or otherwise move at a slower pace. The best part is that Ms. Harrington, who is herself on wheels, provides very specific information about what to expect at each destination. Because she knows what to look for and look out for, her firsthand advice is invaluable. Order the book through bookstores, online booksellers, or go to www.demosmedpub.com and enter “101 Accessible Vacations” in the search box.
If you are facing the end of the road because either you or a loved one requires hemodialysis treatments, look into NxStage System One therapy. After a couple of weeks of training, some kidney patients can take off anywhere with this portable dialysis machine. One full-timer has been performing dialysis on herself for 14 months. Medicare covers all or most of the cost for patients in the End Stage Renal Disease program. For more information about this product, visit www.nxstage.com or call (866) 697-8243.
A Book For All Seasons. Interest in the Titanic never fades. Now a new book by Jim Pipe, appropriately named Titanic ($19.95, Firefly Books), brings the intrigue of the ship’s doomed voyage to life. It’s a perfect gift for winter evenings on the road, because it keeps on giving. On every page is a little envelope that contains a reproduction of a Titanic memento, such as a business card or menu. Guests and older children love it, too, so keep it on board as an entertainment alternative to cards and board games.
Full-Timers’ Forum Feedback. When it comes to organization, Bob and Betty Allison decided it was time to put their own coach in order. The couple has been full-timing for more than five years, wintering in Florida and spending the summers in Pennsylvania. They spent this past summer organizing a five-year accumulation of Family Motor Coaching and other magazines by clipping articles and putting them into separate notebooks categorized by recipes, new products, tech tips, travel dreams, and maintenance/repair articles.
Here are some other tips for getting and staying organized:
* If you’re addicted to magazines (and who isn’t?), purchase an inexpensive scanner, scan the articles you want to keep, and store the files on your computer. The magazine itself can then be passed along to other readers.
* Observe the “one thing in, one thing out” rule. If you get a new one, discard the old one. (The laws of nature, however, exempt women’s shoes from this rule.)
* Organize your way, not “their” way. Many things come in sets, but that doesn’t mean you need the entire set. If you never use the two-quart saucepan, the midsize Phillips screwdriver, or half of the tools that came with the vacuum cleaner, leave them behind. If you can make organizers out of old checkbook boxes or egg cartons that divide up your storage areas perfectly, don’t buy store-bought bins and boxes that are too big or small for the job.
* Occasionally browse an office supply store to see what’s available in organizers.
* Try color-coding everything from stuff sacks and hangers to notebooks and flash drives. You might, for example, color-code his things in green camouflage, hers in lavender, and joint items in bright orange. Organize savory spices in a green box and sweet spices in a red box. Use colored tape to indicate his-and-hers shares of the bookshelf. Put yellow dots on dinnertime music CDs, silver on the workout music, pink on her ’60s music, and brown on his country and western.
Question Of The Month: Based on your experience as a working camper or volunteer, or on experiences that have been told to you by other full-timers, what advice or warnings do you have for would-be workers who need to make a living on the go? Send answers to [email protected].