Make money and travel with
lets play ride and seek

We started a blog series where we interview various full-time travelers, sharing how they make money and travel. Our goal is to help inspire and educate others on the various ways to work remotely while living a nomadic lifestyle. If you’re new to our blog, we have been full time RVing for over two years. We support ourselves by investing in real estate; specifically in mortgage notes.

Today’s interview is with Natalie and Abigail Rodriguez from Lets Play Ride and Seek. This fun loving couple traded their day jobs for the road, to become full time travelers living in their renovated van. Their unique work experience has allowed them to find creative ways to earn money while they travel while doing things they love and enjoy.

Tell us your story! What made you want to pursue van life?

I (Natalie) was the first to initiate the idea of van life after I met a fellow who was living in his VW bus before it was even a thing. Abi was already a world traveler before I met her so it took no convincing at all. It was mutual which solidified our decision on purchasing our van. We left our home base of Charleston, SC in 2019 and have never looked back.

Tell us about your rv!

Our current van is a 2004 Dodge Sprinter named ToWanda. (Named after an ode to women’s empowerment from Natalie’s favorite movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”). It is a diesel, 177” wheel base, traveling machine. Originally the van transported prisoners so we enjoy knowing we’ve turned it into our freedom vehicle.

Building out the van took us a year and a half.

It was quite the challenge as we knew nothing of building a tiny home and had no previous skill set working with tools necessary for getting the job done.  As frustrating as it was at times, we had some major help from family and a dear friend we met serendipitously during the process. A blessing in disguise really. Also “YouTube University” is your friend. Trust me.

 

How are you able make money and travel?
Our story is a bit different as we do not make a set annual income on the road and we didn’t have a definite source of income before we embarked in van life. The year and a half we were building the van, we diligently saved money because we knew going into van life that we wanted to be able to go at least a year without working on the road. It was important to us to be able to really throw ourselves into travel so we picked up extra jobs to allow us to save what we felt would be feasible to live off of. 

Collectively, Abi and I saved roughly 25k to get us through the year. We came upon this number by adding up what our monthly expenses would be for 12 months. Expenses including, top notch vehicle insurance plus road side assistance, phone bill including a hotspot, Spotify, fuel, our website domain, Adobe for Abi’s video editing software, and food. This does not include individual savings we already had which we deemed (emergency funds). We also made sure with purchasing an older vehicle that we factored in vehicle maintenance funds. Basically money set aside for a new transmission as we know it is sadly in our future.

Abi has own her photography business, Nonpareilphotography.  She had a studio in Charleston and had an outstanding client base, however, she ended the lease as well as sold everything because we were not planning to return to live there.  She does some client based photography work on the road and also sells stock photography. She also does product photography for different companies and we do some brand ambassador work now that our social media handles have gained some traction. 

Previous to van life, Abi worked seven hard years to get her photography business to where she could financially sustain herself on that alone.

I am a chef and was making a decent salary as Sous Chef, running the kitchen before transitioning into van life. When we decided to pursue the dream of van life, we downsized our house and moved into a friend’s studio which helped me sock away half of my paycheck every month towards van life savings. I also did personal chef work and pop ups at restaurants for extra cash and because it was my true love within the business, however, it has not been feasible while traveling.  

Because we knew we did not have set jobs once we took off, we made the decision to eventually focus our efforts on digital nomadism. Because Abi can make our content look pleasing to the viewers and I enjoy writing, we’ve been able to slowly get that brand ambassador/product work via social media. We also decided we are going to slowly work towards monetizing our Youtube Channel.  There are plenty of resources on how to do this if you feel your are interested via YouTube. It is a lot of work but we are traveling and documenting our experiences anyway, why not make some earnings along the way?

What has been your favorite part of RV travel so far?
Our favorite part of traveling full time answers itself. We get to constantly travel, see new things, experience new landscape and culture whenever we want.  Our house was designed to be fully off grid, which allows us to stay in remote areas for weeks at a time if we wanted. It is absolute freedom and constant education. It is constant growth and I could not imagine living any other way right now. 
what has been on of your favorite places so far and why?
We have so many favorite places it is hard to choose one. We spent 3 months this past winter in Baja, Mexico and it was definitely a highlight.  The energy there was unlike any we’ve experienced.  It was humbling and soul satisfying. We met a couple that we ended up caravanning with for almost two months and went on to do pop up restaurants on the beach.  I got to cook the way I like and feed guests out of my van and over an open fire while making some money.  Imagine waking up and seeing whales by the shoreline every morning and sunsets to die for. Also we go to a lot of national parks which are so beautifully unique. I’d say Big Bend in Texas, Glacier in Montana, King’s Canyon and Yosemite in Cali are a few that stand out. 
What’s your biggest van life expense?
Our biggest expenses are fuel and food. We are foodies. We eat a lot!
what advice can you give to someone who wants to pursue van life?
If you are interested in this lifestyle, we suggest watching van life videos on YouTube. There is so much excellent content on the day to day, build outs, and tutorials on just about every facet of the process.  As far as work goes, there are also a ton of digital nomad resources.  Just go to YouTube and type in “van life how to make money” and there will be a ton of excellent videos on all the ways to do just that. We also suggest Basecamp Outdoors on Facebook. There you can post and or find jobs on the road in all areas of outdoor work. Another great resource is our friends GnomadHome. They have everything to step by step build outs to knowing if van life is right for you to how to earn income.
It is never too late or too far fetched to jump into a new way of life. If you love travel and living minimally, this is absolute an amazing way to get out and see the world.  I was not happy in my day to day life. I always felt there was something missing within that grind. When I decided that the 9-5 dream was one that didn’t fit my idea of a fulfilling life, I took steps to change it.  We both downsized, sold everything, paid off our debts, and started saving money.  A year and a half in and I am now the person I admired growing up. It has been one hell of a fascinating ride. 
how can our readers get in touch with you?
If you have any questions for us and/or would like to follow our journey, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

We also have our website which gives more on our build, Abi’s photography projects as well as info on booking sessions with her, my food recipes and blog, as well as my poetry and other fun stuff. 

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Liz & Dennis

Liz & Dennis

ESRV Team

We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!

 

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