Q&A: What Does WFH in an RV Really Look Like?

Q&A: What Does WFH in an RV Really Look Like?
A nomadic van lifer answers the top 10 questions about working from the road.
Interview with Merrisa Petersen

With remote work becoming such a popular option and realistic possibility, many travel lovers are now making their dream of working from the road in an RV a reality.

While Instagram may make this seem like a dream life, working from the road isn’t all cute cafes and scenic vistas. There are a lot of logistics that need to be taken into account to remain a reliable employee while traveling in an RV.

Thinking of packing up your computer and wondering how well WFH life combines with RV life?

Luckily, we have an insider out in the field to answer all of your top questions! Our Winnebago team member Merrisa Petersen (@_girlgonenomad) has been living, working, and exploring in an RV and she’s happy to share her insights!

Top 10 Questions About Working from the Road in an RV

1. What are the biggest differences in working from a house vs. an RV?

The first difference that comes to mind when working from home in a house compared to on the road in an RV is having stable WiFi all the time. However, with the right tools and a little planning, you can manage your connectivity from the road (more on that later!).

One of the biggest – and best – differences about WFH in an RV is there are way more opportunities for taking enjoyable breaks from work and chances to get outside to play once you clock out for the day.

Being parked in or near a scenic area definitely helps promote that work/life balance more than just seeing your backyard or neighborhood every day.

2. Do you have to plan ahead for WFH in your RV?

If you have meetings or other projects that you need to have reliable internet for at specific times, planning ahead really is key.

I use the iOverlander app to check for camping options with WiFi and Outly to check for connectivity – it actually has a map of what cell carrier is best in that area. However, it is still a good idea to test it out when you get there the night before your meetings. That way, if you need to adjust, you have time.

Some RVers rely on coffee shops with WiFi as a backup plan, but I don’t do that since I don’t want to leave my dog alone in the van. Although, McDonalds and Walmart parking lots often come through with a decent signal.

If your connection isn’t very strong, you can take a call on your cell phone or without the camera on if it is a video call, but I try my best to avoid doing that. I appreciate being able to work from the road and know I’m expected to show up just like everyone else would, so I try not to be the exception.

3. Is there a specific place you like to work from inside your RV, or do you switch it up?

For the most part, the dinette area is my ‘office.’ I’ve been traveling in a Winnebago Solis PX and the floorplan is ideal for having a dedicated workspace.  I’m able to leave my desk set up and I’ll just store my laptop away safely when leaving or driving.

When the weather is nice, I may work outside for a few hours. However, I try to never work from my bed because I do think it is important to keep that as a separate place for sleeping.

4. Are there any challenges to working in a van or smaller RV?

When working (and living) in a van or small RV, you quickly realize you don’t actually need everything you thought you did before. For example, I used to think I would never be able to work without a second monitor, but I have been able to work fine without it.

If needed, the van could accommodate another person working from the road at the same time since the seats swivel and the bed has a table underneath, so they could have a separate work area. However, it would get a little tricky if we both had to be on meetings at the same time!

5. How do you make sure you have internet access?

Internet is critical for doing my job, so I have a few different ways to try to make sure I have a connection.

I actually have three different cell carriers: T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. When traveling, I make sure at least one of those will work where I plan to stop by checking Outly. I also have a MIMO Antenna that works as a booster for my NETGEAR Nighthawk AT&T hotspot and I’ve had good luck with that.

Like many RVers, I also have a weBoost which I do think makes a difference because I had to go without it for a month and noticed my signal wasn’t working as well.

Read more about the logistics of working from home in an RV in this article.

6. Where is the most unique place you’ve worked from the road?

I worked from a dog beach once and (although I did lose an Apple pen!) it was great to get to work while my dog Jessa ran around and swam. Dog parks with picnic tables are another fun option for her that allow me to still be productive!

Many people think working from home in an RV means I’m always in some epic national park, but those don’t often have good signal – if any. However, I have found some that have a good connection near the visitor center, so I can park there during the day and go into the park to explore once I’m finished working. Indiana Dunes National Park was great for this because they even had free overnight parking!

7. Let’s talk coffee - how do you fuel your work days?

I am a coffee and tea drinker, but I don’t have a very complicated setup. For my coffee, I just use a coffee press because it doesn’t create any waste. I simply pour hot water over the coffee grounds, then compost the grounds when I’m finished, and rinse out the press.

8. Have you met a lot of other people working from the road?

Yes! Most of the people I have met while traveling in the van have been working from the road as well. Many of them are content creators or photographers who work with brands. But I’ve also met accountants and freelance writers or designers.

This article shares some other unique jobs of full-time RVers.

9. What are some of your favorite things about working from the road?

For me, my dog Jessa was the biggest reason for wanting to work from the road. I wanted her to have quality time exploring outside which wasn’t happening that much when working from a house – especially in winter, when it got dark around the same time I was getting off work.

Now, we get to go on short hikes together on lunch breaks. And, depending on where we are staying, I can just let her roam around while I work outside in my hammock chair or keep an eye on her from inside.

Plus, there are so many beautiful places to enjoy in every new city. And I love to try different pizzas when I’m somewhere new!

In addition to all the chances for exploring, I also have loved meeting new people with the same interests and a similar way of thinking. A perk of my job with Winnebago is getting to attend RV events and talking with many interesting travelers.

Overall, working and living from a van has allowed me to really broaden my friend group and has brought so much more happiness and meaning to my life.

10. What are your tips for making working from the road in an RV easier?

My best tip for anyone wanting to start working from the road is to not sweat the small stuff -  it will all work out as long as you have internet!

To avoid stressing about connectivity, it can help to stay in one place with good internet access during the work week or when focused on a project. You’ll also want to keep an open dialogue with your boss and coworkers to make sure you stay on track and are meeting expectations.

For me, it helps to keep the time zone on my phone on Iowa time – where the rest of my team is. And, of course, planning ahead and creating a dedicated workspace makes a big difference. But you may be surprised at how quickly you adapt.

If you are hoping to work from home in your RV, you really don’t have anything holding you back … other than internet access!

Do you have more questions about mixing RV life with WFH life? Or maybe you have your own tips! Please leave them in the comments!

Comments

User commented on November 20, 2021 11:28 AM
More of a question- how long do you stay in one area? I’m afraid I’ll spend my days working and evenings driving. When will I enjoy my destination?