Jesse & Rachael: full-time rvers who make 6 figures with remote jobs
We recently started a new 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 Rachael and Jesse from The Taste for Adventure. A lot of people believe you have to be an entrepreneur or have your own business in order to RV and travel full time, but Rachael and Jesse actually took their prior 9 to 5 jobs with them on the road! They have a unique opportunity to work in jobs and companies they love while traveling across the country making over 6 figures a year. Let’s dive into the interview and get to know this awesome couple further!
Tell us your story! What made you want to take the leap to full time rving?
We had been living in Boston, MA for ten years, and although we loved our lives there we were ready for a change. Many of our friends were purchasing their first homes, so we figured that would be the next step for us too. Real estate in the Boston area is crazy expensive. We loved our neighborhood in Cambridge, but two-bedroom condos on our street were selling for $800,000! That was unrealistic and living in the suburbs didn’t appeal to our current stage of life.
There were dozens of other things about our lives that we wanted to change too. Ultimately, we felt like we were spending too much of our lives waiting for our very limited vacation days so we could travel. To complicate things more, Rachael’s family lives all over the country while Jesse’s family is in spread out in Maine, and it was becoming impossible to spend time with them and have days left over for personal adventures.
At some point it occurred to Rachael that if we could travel full-time, we would be able to spend evenings and weekends with our friends and family around the country, not vacation days. We had seen YouTube channels, blogs, and Instagram accounts of full-time travelers online, but that seemed expensive and unattainable. We honestly had no idea that full-time RVing was even a thing! One day it just popped into her head – maybe we could afford full-time travel if we lived in an RV! We started researching online and guess what – it turns out full-time RV travel was and is definitely a thing!
did you both want to rv full time – or did one partner take more convincing?
We had been looking for the right life change for a long time, so everything happened very quickly. Rachael had the idea while we were driving back to Boston after the holidays. We talked about it the rest of the car ride and it was immediately clear that full-time RV travel checked all the boxes we had been searching for. It felt so right that at one point in the conversation I said, “so, if we decide to travel in an RV…” and Rachael cut me off and said “No. When we start traveling in an RV.” Even though we knew absolutely nothing about RV life, from that moment on we kind of knew in our hearts that we were going to make this happen.
Out of the two of us, I (Jesse) was more nervous because I had literally never set foot in an RV before and had no idea what to expect. Rachael on the other hand, had a family motorhome that they took summer vacations and short trips to state parks nearby so she felt more comfortable with the idea of RVing.Even though I was slightly nervous with the idea, it didn’t take long for me to jump on board.
We were at an RV show researching rigs two weeks later. Five months later, we purchased an RV. In just under a year we were on the road!
Tell us about your RV (or your first rv if you have a different one now)
We knew we wanted a towable, and as soon as we started researching we knew we wanted a fifth wheel. With the high ceilings and the slide out, fifth wheels just felt the most like a home to us. Our biggest requirement was a big back window because the extra natural light made the trailer feel much more like an apartment.
We have a 2002 Keystone Cougar 29’ fifth wheel. We bought our RV on Facebook Marketplace for only $5,500! She’s an old girl, but she’s in good shape. We spent every weekend of our summer renovating our fifth wheel. It was one of the hardest projects we’ve ever accomplished as a couple, even though many of our updates were cosmetic compared to the insane renovation builds you see online these days.
How are you able make money and travel?
We are very fortunate that we were both able to keep the exact same jobs that we had in Boston, except now we work remotely. We work for different companies, but we are both marketers. There’s definitely a lot of digital nomads on the road, but we don’t meet as many people like us who work true 9-5 jobs with an employer. The only change in our jobs when we hit the road is that now we work remotely from our RV instead of going into the office.
if you don’t mind sharing, how much do you make annually?
Because we both work full-time we make over $100,000 a year. That’s definitely more than most people in this lifestyle, but it comes with some sacrifice. We both work more than 50 hours a week and we have no flexibility unless we use vacation days, all our travel and exploring happens on nights and weekends. We were blessed that we both had good careers that we wanted to stay committed to, but it means that our freedom is more limited than the average RVer.
How were you able to transition into working remotely? What was that conversation like with your boss?!
We both felt very committed to RV life before we asked our companies permission to take our jobs remote. By the time we asked, we had already purchased the RV. We agreed that if one or both of us did not get the permission to go remote, we would find an alternate online job. This was key in the negotiation because it flipped the table. Instead of asking our bosses for a benefit, we were presenting the ask as, “These are our plans. I am passionate about this job and I would love to keep it, but if I can’t take it remote, I will have to move on.” We were both fortunate that we had worked for our respective companies for several years at this point and had proved our value. So, when we presented the ultimatum, both our companies decided it would be well worth letting us go remote because they didn’t want to lose us. Also, they think it’s pretty cool that we’re on this adventure!
Jesse works in tech and we knew that his company was about to be acquired. This was actually what we used as our trigger to put our RV life plan in motion. When the acquisition happened and Jesse’s position was re-negotiated, he told them that he wanted to go remote up front. It actually ended up working out well because most of his new team was on the West coast, so in a way he was already remote to them. Jesse’s company is really proud that they are enabling him to travel. He recently got a shout out in an all-company meeting for embodying the company value of “embrace life.”
Rachael had worked for her company for several years and has a close relationship with her boss. She asked her boss out to dinner to present and talk over the idea. She was so nervous! She couldn’t believe it when her boss said yes immediately without even asking a further question, because he thought the idea was so cool that he wanted her to do it. There were a lot of complications to work out on the back end though. Rachael had the additional challenge of being a manager at her job, so she calls each of her team members every day and is constantly texting with them to maintain those relationships. Rachael also has to fly to her offices a few times a year when her presence is required for meetings, training, or events.
what advice can you give on taking my current job on the road?
Every company has a different culture and attitude towards remote work. If you work for a company that already has some fully-remote employees, and most of your job takes place at the phone/computer, then maybe it is a possibility for you!
If you are committed to the dream of RV life, then it can’t hurt to ask! But before you do, be sure you fully consider:
- What are the tasks at my job that would be difficult or impossible to accomplish remotely? Is it something you can pass off to a colleague or take off your position? Be prepared to talk about these tasks with your employer.
- How will you maintain the relationships with colleagues, vendors, or clients once you are remote?
- How will you ensure that connectivity and travel will not interrupt your work?
- Can you guarantee that you will be just as available and productive remotely?
It is also a huge help if you have tenure and trust established with your company before you ask to go remote. Both of our companies had complete confidence based on years of good work that we would be productive, committed employees outside of the office.
What does a typical “day in the office” look like?
As people who were used to going into an office every day, we were a little nervous about the prospect of working together in a tiny space. But now we love it! We work a normal full-time office schedule, so it really doesn’t look that different from the average person who works from home. We wake up, dress, make coffee and breakfast, and hunker down at our laptops. We have two work spaces in our RV, a desk that we built in the back window and our kitchen table, and we switch off the desks each week. One unique aspect of our workday is we work east coast hours no matter where we are, so when we wake up and whether we work out before or after work is dependent on our time zone.
For our tech set up, we have a Verizon Jetpack with an unlimited data plan that we set up with a Peplink router for connection stability and a WeBoost to improve signal. Our biggest challenge has been video conference calls. We both have headsets, but the small space makes it a challenge. If someone is sitting at the desk you can see the other person opening the fridge to grab a snack in the background, which can be awkward on some calls! It gets especially tricky if we both are on video calls at the same time because you can hear the other person talking too. We’re still figuring that one out!
As for the actual work, it’s super varied and we won’t bore you with that. We are both full-stack marketers. We spend a lot of time looking at spreadsheets, email platforms, and WordPress on our laptops, and the rest of the time managing colleagues and vendors on the phone.
What has been your favorite part of traveling full time or rv life?
We love this lifestyle for so many reasons, and we truly feel like we are where we are supposed to be. We love that every single day is a brand new experience – a new view outside our window, local culture, landscape, and adventure. If you follow us on Instagram you will quickly learn that we love food and beer. Being able to try the local specialties around the country is such a treat and something we seek out in every destination.
We also love having much more time together! Some people think we’re crazy to spend 24/7 next to each other in a small space, but we are so grateful for the proximity. When we lived in Boston we only saw each other 1-2 waking hours per weekday. We really love each others’ company, and this lifestyle has improved our marriage.
Side Note from Liz: We “met” this awesome couple on instagram and asked them to be a part of our blog because we loved their humor, passion for adventure, and love of beer, good food, and Harry Potter! If any or all of those things sound like your jam, give them a follow on instagram!
How do you save money while rving?
We were living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, so we wanted to use this opportunity to save money and pay off student loans. Our goal is to average less than $30/night on campsites. We spend most nights at state parks, and the majority are below that rate. We spend some weeks at affordable full hook-up private campgrounds, but we balance those stays with free boondocking. Basically, we sacrifice sewer hookup and extra amenities to save money. If we ever feel like we’re going over budget we spend a few nights sleeping in a parking lot. We love that flexibility to easily cut back on our biggest expense!
We wanted to be able to enjoy our destinations to the fullest. Of course we don’t spend money as if we were on vacation, but it’s important to us to be able to eat out and see the sights on weekends. We balance that out by cooking the majority of meals at home in our RV.
Another area for saving money is the simple fact that we rarely have access to a shipping address. Before all of this, we both had pretty bad online shopping habits and our apartment was often half Amazon boxes. Now, we often go weeks or months between being able to get anything shipped which really reduces impulsive spending habits. Now, if we need something we write it down and then figure out if we really want it next time we make it to a Target or Walmart.
One of our biggest savings was buying an inexpensive used RV with cash, so we don’t have those payments hanging over our heads. We do make monthly payments on our truck, which we also bought used and for a great price. We were planning on buying a new vehicle anyway, so the added cost was expected.
what is one of your favorite places you’ve visited so far?
We’ve learned from our travels that the United States is diverse and every destination is so unique that it can be hard to compare one spot from the next or choose a “favorite”. However, we just stayed near Big Bend National Park and we loved it! Up until this point we had mainly been visiting cities due to the winter season and being on the East Coast. Big Bend was the first place we visited that felt a little foreign and wild! It’s a 9 hour drive from Austin, so it feels removed from day-to-day modern America. The national park is beautiful, but west Texas truly is the edge of nowhere. Miles of nothing is dotted with tiny towns bursting with artsy, adventurous culture. Big Bend felt like a re-birth of our travels because it’s so perfect for RVs that it felt like we were fully embracing this lifestyle for the first time.
how can our readers get in touch with you?
Liz & Dennis
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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