How we upgraded our mobile office. . .
I used to have nice big desk that overlooked downtown Austin. I had plenty of room to spread out two large monitors and my desk would adjust between sitting and standing up so I was never uncomfortable. Life was good and my desk was even better.
Then, we moved into an RV and my spacious stand up desk turned into a tiny circle table that I had to share with my wife.
Don't get me wrong, our new desk/kitchen table in the RV came with views of the Grand Canyon, the Tetons, and everything in between. But the amount of available workspace was extremely limited and we couldn't run our production business from this single, tiny table.
Once we finished our fifty state tour and slowed down our travels, I knew we'd have to come up with a new mobile office space if we were going to sustain this RV lifestyle.
Enter Winnebago Brave.
We first looked at the Brave because the local RV dealer had a bright yellow model parked right in front of their office. I instantly loved the retro vibes, although my life was less than thrilled by the neon yellow interior.
It took finding the 31C model of the Brave in blue to convince my wife, but I was instantly sold on the ample amount of work space.
Unlike our old motorhome, the Brave offered us three official work areas:
- The classic RV dinette, large enough to host dinner for four and a great setup for Alyssa's desktop iMac
2. The passenger seat (AKA my typical office), which is great for panorama views or taking a video call.
3. The optional coffee table, which is great for recording podcasts and offering additional seating when we have guests.
The only thing I really missed was being able to work while standing up. I found that when I stood up for a few hours each day, I felt way more energized after work.
Enter brilliant wife.
To solve my standing desk dilemma, Alyssa made me a free and lightweight standing desk to travel with us in our RV. She took her old piano stand, a wooden cutting board, and created a lightweight and easily transportable standing desk that we can take with us wherever we go.
I use this standing desk almost everyday and while it doesn't yield itself to dual monitors, it does offer incredible mobility and fantastic views.
Upgrading our mobile office has made a huge difference in our productivity while on the road. Instead of feeling cooped up on a tiny table, we can spread out and work in multiple areas.
Since buying our Brave last fall, we've edited a documentary, jumped on video calls while in national parks, recorded podcast episodes, and written countless blogs all from our RV.
If you find yourself wanting to work and travel full-time, here are a few tips for how to stay productive amidst a busy travel schedule.
1. Buy an RV with plenty of table space.
Working and traveling full-time is becoming increasingly popular, however RVs aren't built with mobile offices. When you pick your rig, be sure to choose one with plenty of table space or multiple desk options.
We use the tables built into our rig as work stations, but many people remove recliners, couches, or bunks to build their own desks. Another option is to buy a toy hauler and convert the garage into a spacious office.
2. Stay in locations for a minimum of two weeks at a time.
This past summer our longest stay in one location was a week. Because we'd made reservations in Canada and had a documentary premiere on the west coast, we hustled from place to place.
As a result, I felt stressed because travel was getting in the way of work. While we visited Banff National Park and other beautiful destinations this summer, it was hard for me to enjoy them because of our quick pace of travel.
Even after two and a half years of RVing, we've struggled to hit that perfect amount of time in new locations. Our goal for 2017 is to spend a minimum of two weeks in destinations so that we can have a nice balance of work and play.
3. Go offline while boondocking in remote places.
I know this isn't applicable or possible for people who have to be online all day, but going offline has been extremely beneficial for Alyssa and I. It isn't always possible to get internet everywhere you camp.When we boondock at national parks with no connectivity, we crank on offline projects, such as editing video or writing blogs.
Bonus: Then you're not distracted by email, Facebook, Twitter, et al.
Disconnecting for a few days to do offline work helps us clear our minds, stay focused on the task at hand, and detox from our hyper connected world.
4. Get out of the RV at least once per day.
Most mornings and afternoons Alyssa and I go for a walk together. It helps get the blood flowing in the morning and forces us to relax when we're feeling stressed. If there's a body of water nearby, we try to go walk along it or take our kayaks out. Taking a few minutes each day to appreciate nature is the best reminder for why we chose this lifestyle.
It leaves us feeling calm and grateful when we get back to our work.
5. Listen to podcasts or audiobooks while driving.
I drove over 13,000 miles in 2016. I can only listen to my Spotify playlist so many times before even Ed Sheeran becomes annoying. Diving into podcasts and audiobooks makes me feel semi-productive, even while driving. Most travel days we don't get very much work done outside of moving the RV from location A to location B. Listening to an hour of a podcast makes me feel like I learned something new that I can apply to our business, travels, or life.
Sidenote: I use Audible to download audiobooks and Overcast is my favorite podcasting app. A few of my favorite shows to listen to are: How I Built This by NPR, The Tim Ferris Show, and Startups For the Rest of Us.
If you're looking for a mix of business & RVing in your podcast, I also host a weekly podcast called The RV Entrepreneur that features interviews with nomadic entrepreneurs.
I realize that for most people, the RV lifestyle isn't about "productivity" or working on the road. It's about freedom, exploring America, and experiencing nature at it's finest. I love the RV lifestyle for those same reasons, but also because it's a great way to enjoy building our business while traveling.
What are your best tips for being productive on the road?