Retiring to be vagabonds

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For some retirees, the road is home. My husband and I have been traveling cross country in our RV for the last two weeks. It’s our first long trip, and one of the surprises is the number of people we’ve met for whom traveling is a way of life.

For instance, we met Deb and Rich Wallace who have spent most of the last six years living full-time on the road. They recently updated their rig, trading in a 37-foot, 5th-wheel trailer and an older truck for a 2003 Chevy Silverado 3500 and a 2007 34-foot, 5th-wheel.

“The gas mileage is much better than the mileage the older truck got, and even though the RV is smaller, it’s better made and more comfortable,” Rich says.

The couple live on their Social Security — about $3,000 a month — which they are augmenting by continuing to work. Rich, 70, is a retired insurance salesman, and 66-year-old Deb worked in the real estate industry. Both continue to have occasional clients from their previous careers, plus they work at various part-time jobs.

Amazon’s ‘Workampers’

They currently serve as hosts in an RV park in California — a job that gives them free rent but no cash. They’ll be in California through January, then they have a cross-country trip planned, including a visit with family in Kansas and a few months working for the giant retailer Amazon in a warehouse in Nevada.

Amazon hires a lot of full-time RV travelers in its warehouses across the country. The work includes packing boxes for shipping during the company’s busiest seasons. “Workampers” sign up for two- or  three-month stretches and earn $12 an hour on average and a free RV site.

Rich says it is a demanding job. Workers must be able to walk 5 miles a day and routinely lift 40 pounds. To prepare, he and his wife joined a gym and are exercising regularly. But the effort will be worth it, Rich says, because they expect to clear about $16,000 working for Amazon to augment their emergency nest egg.

The Wallaces love the RV life. They like the freedom to travel wherever they want and they don’t miss the house and all the rest of the belongings they sold to help finance their lifestyle. The couple did take a break two years ago, but the itch to travel soon returned. “My wife wanted to stay put for awhile, but now we’re back traveling full time after she said, ‘I’m ready. Let’s hit the road again.’”

Here are 10 part-time jobs that are particularly good for retirees.