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When we first started RVing back in 2014, we knew very little about remote work. Being location independent or a digital nomad was just starting to trend as a cool hashtag (or maybe we’d just discovered it).
But by now, almost everyone has a little taste of what it’s like to work from home. Which has people thinking, if I can work from home, can I work from anywhere?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Quite a few of the people I know today are traveling full-time and running their own business (Is it obvious I meet a ton of my friends at the RV Entrepreneur Summit?)
This year, more people are RVing than ever before with so many kinds of travel limited, so I scoured our community for advice and we came up with our top 14 tips for working in an RV—whether you’re running your own business or simply taking your job on the road. I hope these can be helpful as you’re navigating how to work from your RV.
Don’t want to read? Watch the video ⬇️
1. Set your hours and decide how much you want to work.
When you work from home, you have a whole new level of freedom. There’s no boss around pressuring you to pretend you’re being productive. There’s no accountability to stay camped in front of the computer screen from 9 to 5.
You get to decide how much you want to work. (This isn’t necessarily true if you’re a remote worker with a job and boss, of course. But if you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got the reins.)
As an RV entrepreneur, the pendulum will swing one of two ways at first:
- You spend too little time working and don’t get everything finished and don’t make enough money to sustain yourself,
- Or you spend too much time working and forget that this digital nomad thing is supposed to be fun!
Before my daughter was born, I said my ideal work week was 20 hours. Other than the weeks leading up to our annual conference when I work 40-60 hour weeks, that was enough time for me to do everything I need to do. Now that I’ve got a baby at home, I end up working only during nap times which is closer to 15 hours/week. For every one thing I check off my to-do list, I swear three more appear.
On the other hand, in late 2017, I launched my book, Heath & I had a major ongoing client project demanding most of our time, and we hosted our second business conference. We worked so much and for so many hours that we burned ourselves out big time.
There’s no set number of hours you need to work each week. Everyone is different. And that number will fluctuate based on your business. We are always super busy all winter and after RVE Summit, take things easier for a couple months.
Think about everything you need to get done in a week and how long it will take you. I do this using Trello to organize my tasks and list them like this:
- Finish blog post (3 hours)
- Write weekly newsletter (1 hour)
- Pay taxes (15 minutes)
- Schedule social content (45 minutes)
- Reply to Grace (5 minutes)
This helps me batch how I should get my work done, plan my days, and see just many hours I need to work that week.
If your mobile business involves working with multiple clients, you’ll also want to set specific hours for when your clients can reach you—and note that those hours may change as you change time zones.
2. Nail your internet setup.
People are their worst selves when confronted with slow internet.
If you don’t nail your internet setup from the get-go, you’re going to find yourself getting frustrated often.
We use an unlimited AT&T data plan as our primary source of internet on the road (we also have unlimited Verizon on our phones). Combined with our new Netgear MIMO antenna, we’ve had coverage almost everywhere during our travels—even here in the mountains of Colorado. We check Campendium before arriving anywhere to see how the cell signal is,
In addition to our cellular data plan, onboard our Winnebago we have a King WifiMAX Extender. We’ve used this most often while moochdocking in Heath’s family driveway when their wifi was faster than our AT&T. A wifi extender will repeat the wifi signal through the RV so even though we are far away from the router, we can still use the wifi. We’ve used this a few times at RV parks as well (but typically AT&T plan works better).
Quick question and answer before you ask:
I’m in budget-mode. Can’t I just use RV park wifi?
I mean sure you can! If you like to make a sandwich while you wait for your email to load, you totally can! (This is not to say that we never use campground wifi, as we do sometimes. However, It’s not something we would ever rely upon solely to run our business.)
But if you want consistent internet that doesn’t involve relying on RV park wifi, then you will want a data plan, a cell booster, and a wifi repeater.
3. Carve out intentional workspace.
When you can work from anywhere, you tend to really work from everywhere. Standing in the kitchen. Laying in bed. Sprawled on the couch. Wolfing down lunch at the table and typing with one hand.
If you’ve ever tried to work from home, you’ve probably done all of these things in a day.
When you don’t have a designated workspace, you open yourself up to a WORLD of distractions. If I work in the kitchen, I can see the dirty dishes in the sink. They are practically BEGGING me to get up from my laptop and clean them. Or worse, when you work from bed, and goodness me isn’t it so comfortable? I’m just going to close my eyes for a quick second…
While many RVs don’t have extra space to be deemed an office, you can still create a space for yourself. Lots of ideas in this blog post: 25 Mobile Office Set-Ups to Inspire You to RV Full-Time.
Creating your own office space is a great way to tell your brain—and any family members you’re traveling with—that this is the time and place to get some work done. If you’re traveling with kids and cannot seem to find a place to work in your RV, you can always mix it up by working from a coffee shop, sitting outside at a picnic table, or utilizing a coworking space.
4. Batch your work.
If I want to be truly productive, I can’t write a blog post, then hop over to a client project, then reply to some emails, then go finish up that blog post, then fix an issue on my website. Everything will take way longer than necessary and I’ll lose momentum by hopping from one task to the next.
Batching is one of the easiest ways to get your work done more efficiently. All you do is intentionally set time aside for doing similar tasks. Specifically if those tasks are ones you end up doing every week or every day. This way your brain is fully focused on doing a single type of work and you aren’t being pulled away (physically or mentally!).
For me, this looks like intentionally not checking emails or social media when I know I need to write. If I get caught up in the world of notifications and quick tasks, then my energy and creativity get zapped before I even open up a blank document.
Other ways to batch include:
- Choosing one day of the week and scheduling all of your meetings for that one day, no exceptions
- Recording podcasts or videos all on one designated day
- Carving out three hours each morning to write (blogs, newsletters, reports, etc) and opening your afternoons to admin tasks or ongoing projects
- Making a list of all the updates you need to do on your website and tackling them all at once
The real key to batching is actually finishing a project fully and then moving on. Once my writing is done today, then I can work on my taxes without distraction.
5. Find your balance.
Being a digital nomad or RV entrepreneur or location independent or remote worker—whatever you want to call it!—means you have that control over your schedule and over your days. This can bring a whole new, unexpected set of problems.
Thinking back to #1 (figuring out how much you want to work), you will crave work-life balance more than ever before. You may sometimes feel like a workaholic and other times feel totally lazy. (That’s all normal by the way. We’ve gone back and forth many times over the past six years!)
My friends Kara & Nate have been traveling full-time for over 4 years. For the first two years, they would travel non-stop for 6+ months and then take a few months off in the winter or spring to hustle on work. It worked, but they found themselves getting exhausted from constant travel or antsy from sitting for so long.
Now, they travel for 2-3 weeks, and then take two weeks in one place to work. It took some testing, but they finally figured out their perfect balance.
Maybe for you, balance means keeping it traditional by working for five days in a row and then exploring and traveling on the weekends. Maybe you kayak every morning and then work in the afternoons. Maybe you work weekends and explore all week.
There’s no perfect balance that works for everyone, but whatever your days look like, you should be able to get your work done + appreciate the lifestyle you’re living. Too far one way or the other and what’s the point of being an RV entrepreneur?
6. Maximize your travel days.
For a while, travel days were a wash for us. We got NOTHING done. Then we started trying to squeeze in some work before we hit the road and ended up having RV park employees knocking on our door telling us we were past check out time.
But we’ve learned a lot about how to make sure our travel days aren’t losing us a workday or stealing a day off.
If you want to feel productive and call a drive day a work day, you can make the most of your travel days by:
- Listening to industry podcasts or audiobooks
- Calling to check in with clients, mentors, and friends
- Recording voice memos for yourself (when I’m working on a book, I send myself soooo many audio messages!)
- Handling calls you’ve been putting off (i.e. insurance companies, suppliers, airlines, anything you can do that is hands-free)
- Having meetings with your business partner
Or if you’re spending most of your time in the passenger seat instead of behind the wheel, choose a couple of tasks you know you can tackle during the duration of your drive. I typically choose admin tasks that are easy to look up from if I need to help Heath navigate. Such as:
- Updating our website
- Replying to emails and comments
- Keyword research and brainstorming blog topics
- Scheduling posts for social media
- Reaching out to podcast guests
You’ll also want to carefully plan your routes and what times you’ll be driving. Will you be hitting rush hour traffic in a major city? Can you leave one hour earlier or later to avoid it? A little planning can save you hours of time spent in traffic and get you there faster.
7. Use all the tools.
Video conferencing? Zoom.
Noise-canceling so you can work from coffee shops, bars, or outside? Krisp.
Customer support? Help Scout.
Sales and customer management? HubSpot.
File editing and sharing? Google Drive.
File sending? Dropbox.
Email marketing? Convertkit.
Use what you need and make working in an RV a little easier.
8. Get dressed.
My new year’s resolution this year: get dressed every day.
What can I say? I like to aim high.
After years of working from home, I slowly developed a terrible habit of spending the whole day in my pajamas. (Pregnancy and life with a newborn did not help!) And while it didn’t necessarily affect my work, it did affect my mindset. It was harder to start the day, easier to get distracted, and naps were soooo much more tempting.
So this year I started getting dressed as soon as I had my coffee each morning and it was like sending a little signal to my brain: “Okay let’s start the day.” And I’m not getting too crazy here. I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt, not a blazer and heels. There are no shoes or makeup required for this step. But you gotta at least switch out of your jammies and kick the day off right.
Plus now if someone knocks on my door at noon, I don’t have to spend five minutes looking for pants.
9. Take weekends!(!!!!!)
It is HARD to take a weekend off as an entrepreneur.
First of all, you rarely know what day of the week it is.
And second of all, your business is your life sometimes. Or at least, it can feel that way. You can’t just turn off your brain while you’re hanging out at home when it’s also the place where you hustle on the daily.
This is how you become a workaholic.
Fortunately, there’s an easy remedy.
Take your weekends!
I like to stick my computer in the pocket behind our driver’s seat so that it is completely out of reach. Out of sight, out of mind. If taking weekends seems too hard, just try spending one day without opening your laptop. There may be a long list of work you NEED to get done ASAP, but the burnout you face will hurt you worse than taking a day off.
Your brain (and your family) will thank you for it.
10. Use a VPN.
Virtual Private Network.
Sounds fancy. Sounds slightly intimidating. But it’s simpler than you think. A VPN is going to protect you online. As my friend David says, “It’s not a matter of if you get hacked. It’s a matter of how bad it is when you do.”
He works in cybersecurity and has taught us a ton about how we can protect ourselves online when we are traveling and constantly connecting our devices to public wifi networks. (We have a podcast interview with David here for more cybersecurity tips.)
My friends Kara and Nate recommended SurfShark to us. This particular VPN service will:
- Access locked content safely
- Block others from seeing your location
- Keep sensitive data secure
- Protect you from hacking, identify theft, malware, tracking, and ad manipulation
(If you use Kara & Nate’s link, you can get the service for under $50 for the next TWO YEARS. Which is crazy since it’s normally $12/month. The coupon code KARAANDNATE is automatically applied.)
If you’re managing multiple clients’ passwords or handling sensitive data (think taxes, finances, anything you wouldn’t want a hacker to have), using a VPN can help keep you and your business safe.
11. Find a mastermind or a partner to connect with.
Being a traveling entrepreneur might be the loneliest business you can be in.
You’re away from a stable community like someone in a house or office might have. You’re spending most of your days working alone. Your computer is your BFF. And you might go crazy from lack of human interaction.
Which is why finding a mastermind or a partner is so critical.
My friend Kelsey is my go-to partner. When I’m strategizing on new products or book ideas, I can always call her up and she helps me refine my ideas and see new opportunities. It’s my chance to talk through projects, share dreams, and get new ideas from someone who isn’t as emotionally involved in the business. (I’ve also got Heath of course, but since we run our business together, having an outsider to bounce ideas off of yields better results.)
So how do you find a person like that?
Odds are your BFF might not be the person for you to call. Kelsey is also a writer and an entrepreneur, so she gets it when I bring specific problems to her. If I called my sister Sara, she would probably shrug and say “sounds cool.” Love you, Sara! But that isn’t helpful.
The best mastermind and partners work in the same or similar fields as you and have varying levels of experience.
I’ve found all my favorite people to bounce ideas off of in two main ways:
- Industry events (conferences, book signings, meet ups, etc)
- Facebook groups (Like our RV Entrepreneur Facebook group!)
These are guaranteed places to find someone with similar interests and experiences as you. The hardest part is simply finding a person, asking them to join your mastermind or be your accountability partner, and then actually following up. (Most relationships end after the ask because no parties remember to follow up or people get busy and forget!)
Set a time to meet once a week or once a month or once a year. It doesn’t have to be a frequent or consistent thing. Just enough to establish the relationship and rapport so you can be there for each other when it counts.
At the end of each year, Kelsey and I spend a few days getting together in-person and working through our plans for the following year. Then we check in every few months with phone calls to really dive deep into issues we’re having or products we are creating. (Not to say we don’t talk more than that. We do. But our heavy business conversations don’t happen every week.) It isn’t scheduled or regimented, but we both know when we want to talk through a business idea, the other person is there.
I think this is one of the hardest and most overlooked parts of being an entrepreneur. I challenge you that if you’ve read this far, go find a Facebook group in your business niche or even use ours and find someone to be accountable with!
12. Find conferences, webinars, or trainings to attend.
Much like how a good mastermind or partner can help push you forward and combat loneliness, there are tons of professional development opportunities out there. (Or virtual meet ups nowadays!)
Whatever problem you’re tackling, or new tactic you want to learn, or community you want to immerse yourself in—there’s an event for it. (If there isn’t, say an event for people who are living and working in an RV, you’ll have to create it 😜)
Regularly attending some type of education in your industry (online courses are everywhere these days too!) will keep you sharp, apprise you of any changes or new technologies you may find helpful, and keep you connected in the industry.
You can easily find events and online trainings by:
- Asking friends and connections in the industry
- Following bloggers in your industry and attending their webinars (some bloggers do this as often as once a week or once a month)
- Search for “events for social media managers” or “conferences for full-stack developers”
- If you search for things like this, odds are you’ll start seeing Facebook and Instagram ads for these types of events!
- Reading the email newsletters from companies (like I listed on #7) you use regularly. These will often share webinars and online training videos.
- Or you can always join industry organizations and check out industry calendars (i.e. the American Marketing Association)
The con with any of these (other than the current threat of pandemic) is the cost. Some conferences may be $500 plus travel costs. Many webinars or trainings can run you $100 for an hour. But there are also great free or cheap resources too. I bought a course on how to start a business last month for $7 (regularly over $500 but on sale during COVID) and attend free webinars and classes as often as I can.
I recommend setting aside an annual budget so that when you find an event or training that’s really worth it, you’re willing to pay the cost.
13. Reply to emails quickly.
Some people are amazing at email. I love working with my friend Jenny because she is so good at email. She tells me what she needs, sends me the files, and the project gets done wham bam.
Some people suck at email. You send them multiple follow-ups. They reply a couple of weeks later asking where something is and you have to resist saying DUDE I ALREADY EMAILED THIS TO YOU JUST READ MY EMAILS.
Now if you’re working remotely and traveling full-time, there’s a chance some people will view your lifestyle as a vacation. Which is why fast, clear communication is so valuable. It makes you instantly more professional and reliable. (You’ll also want to notify clients ahead of time if you’ll be out of reach and put up an autoresponder saying “I’ll be off the grid for 7/3-7/8. Please contact mya[email protected] for immediate assistance.”)
The faster you reply to your clients’ emails, the faster you get projects done, the happier your clients will be.
14. End your workday.
This a tip I heard years ago that I unexpectedly loved. Just like we get dressed and drink coffee to start the workday, we need something to signal the end.
For me, it’s checking my email on my computer. I reply to any that I can—ones that won’t result in me continuing to work for another hour, but short ones that are easy to clear out of the inbox so I don’t have them nagging at me. And then I close the computer. There’s no work left to do until tomorrow.
Maybe you write tomorrow’s to-do list. Journal and reflect on your day. Put your computer in a drawer.
Whatever your short ritual is, do something to end the workday.
You killed it. Now it’s time to relax.
We’ve been working remotely for over six years now and love the freedom it gives us. For more on how to find a remote job, check out our free ebook: