The working life is shifting. Gone are the days when you had to wait to retire before you could hit the road for months at a time – or year-round. Full-time families are not just the stuff of Instagram and TikTok, it is a real thing that is becoming ever more common, whether you choose to document it on social media or not.
So how do these people earn a living? By and large, they have set themselves up for remote working. With a good laptop, other technical equipment and decent WiFi, you too can explore the country (or the world) and still make a living. All it takes is a little planning and know-how.
The number of Americans telecommuting for work has tripled since 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That makes working while traveling a whole lot easier, and people who work from the road tend to be more productive because of the work-life balance lifestyle. However, that’s not to say that FOMO doesn’t happen, especially if you’re in some really awesome places.
Luckily, thanks to advanced technology, it’s easy to stay connected, even in the great outdoors. But there are some best practices to keep in mind so that you stay productive – even when you are exploring a cool new place.
Stick to A Regular Routine
This one is important for productivity. Successful athletes such as Michael Phelps, who has won 28 Olympic medals, attribute part of his success to his elaborate pre-competition routine. Most experts will tell you the secret to success is often found in establishing a daily routine, especially when you’re on the road. Decide what a typical workday needs to look like and stick to it as much as you possibly can.
Invest in Some Juice
The electronic kind of juice, not the fruit juice – although a daily dose of cranberry, beet, or grapefruit juice never hurt anyone. But we digress. Unless you are an artist, most remote workers need electricity, a computer, and good WiFi to function. Full hook-ups at your campsite is a plus (we have it!) but having a backup power generator is always a plus when you travel.
Have a Dedicated Work Space
This is just as important as having a routine. A comfortable, stationary work space is essential for productivity. Sure, you can use your RV kitchen countertop in a pinch or take over a random picnic table, but there is something to be said for having a permanent, dedicated work space. Even if this means renovating your RV slightly to accommodate a workable space to call your own.
Don’t Move Too Much
We don’t like to tell people NOT to go out exploring, but too much moving around tends to cut into the work day. Try to limit going from campground to campground to no more than once a week. It can be stressful to make sure that your internet setup works with sufficient power every time you set up camp in a new space. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to find adequate internet when you have a deadline to meet.
Multiple Sources of Internet
With many campsites offering WiFi these days, it’s still a good idea to have a backup in the event the WiFi goes kaput or is not fast enough for that Zoom call. That’s true no matter where you are. Consider having hot spots with more than one carrier (typically Verizon, AT&T, or similar) and WeBoost to enhance your signal if it’s weak. Another option is Starlink, a satellite internet provider.
Having Cell Service is Essential
If you rely on your cell phone’s data plan to stay connected, make sure there will be cell coverage at your destination. A great way to find this out is to utilize apps that crowdsource reports on cell coverage from other people. A quick Google search will bring up several options, but perhaps the easiest way to find out how many bars you’ll have is to simply leverage the FCC’s LTE coverage map.
Invest in Essential Equipment
Whether it’s a battery-powered computer mouse or a separate monitor for your laptop, just because you’re mobile does not mean you should skimp on some good equipment. Get the accessories that will make your job easier and more efficient – they will more than pay for themselves along the way. Make a list of what is on your technical wish list and prioritize them if money is an issue. As time goes on, you’ll get a good idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.
Know When You are Most Productive
Are you a morning, midday, or night person? When are you at your most active and/or creative? This may take a little time to work out, so try all three. Do the same task at different points during the day and record how long it takes. The shortest time is your sweet spot. Play to your strengths, and don’t try to get something accomplished when you’re starting to nod off and the hammock is calling your name. Whatever hours of the day you are most alert, take advantage of that and work during those times. In short, know what schedule works for you.
Don’t Forget the Weekends
When you are living the RV life, limiting your work to just weekdays is often not practical, or even possible. Learn to enjoy working on the weekends. Because if a certain attraction is only open during the week or is too crowded on the weekends, you’ll want to take advantage of that, and then leave a weekend day for catching up on work. It’s all about flexibility and having an open mind!
Chase Goals, Not Hours
The typical 9-5 work day is all but gone when you work remotely on the road. It is not uncommon to work around a travel day, or even a sightseeing day, which can mean early morning or late at night – whatever works for you to get your goals accomplished. If you shift your thinking to set daily or weekly goals instead of the time you put into meeting those goals, it will better set you up for success.