Like a lot of young couples, Heath and Alyssa Padgett entered marriage with a mountain of student debt. But instead of finding desk jobs, the couple opted for a life on the road, where they've been traveling the country in an RV since 2014. Last fall, they paid off the last dollar of their $30,000 burden, thanks to a freelance video production business run from their mobile home.
The Padgetts are an example of a new breed of so-called location-independent workers seizing on the new economy to work, travel and play—all at the same time. "If I'm 25 and I could work from anywhere, why not go see the world?" says Heath Padgett.
Their adventure started four days after they got married, when they packed up a used RV, eyes set on an epic honeymoon during which they planned to visit every state. He gave up a software sales job in Austin, Texas, and she left a nonprofit in New Orleans. "Originally, the plan was go do the trip, come back, get jobs, figure out life," he says.
But they had so much fun, they never settled down. The couple started earning money by filming weddings, conferences and even a promo video for an author's book tour. A year ago, Heath Padgett opened a software business that enables online campground bookings.
The Padgetts are evangelists for the nomadic lifestyle, running blogs, a podcast and writing books, including one called "The Beginners Guide to Living in an RV." In February, they hosted the second annual RV Entrepreneur Summit in Fredericksburg, Texas. Speakers included Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard, self-described "technomads" who run a tech consulting business and a website with tips for mobile internet options for RVers, boaters, truckers and other nomads.
Dunphy, a former Silicon Valley tech worker, and Ve Ard, a software developer, have been on the road together since 2006. "We're not on vacation. We're not taking a gap year(s)," they say on their personal website, technomadia.com. "We just took our careers on the road with us."