Working while traveling full-time
I sit at my desk in my RV, where I work full-time. Light pours in through the window, the mountains outside my window capture my gaze. Adventure awaits right outside my door…
But I have to work.
While this may seem like a bummer, I am grateful for the opportunity to work remotely out of an RV. For the past three years, I have worked a full-time job in the market research industry while living and traveling in my RV. My position was not designed as a remote position, but since I had an established track record in the company, my manager was willing to let me telecommute. The deal-breaker? No decline in my productivity.
While I have always been a hard worker, it can be difficult to focus on a computer screen when you have beautiful views and new adventures waiting outside your door. I had to find ways to maintain my productivity while working from the RV.
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Tips for staying productive
After 3 years of working out of the RV, I’ve gotten used to juggling my desire for adventure and my need to be productive. Below are my proven tips for how to maximize productivity while working full-time from an RV. These tips apply to all types of digital nomad work whether you are running a small business, writing a blog, or telecommuting to a normal office job.
1. Create a Defined Work Zone:
Anyone who works from home will tell you that you need a defined workspace. There is no room in our fifth wheel for a dedicated workspace, so our living room doubles as my home office. I selected the recliner (the most comfortable seat in the RV) as my preferred work zone. When I am sitting in this chair with my computer open, my husband knows that the room has to be quiet and I am not available to chat.
Every individual has different needs, so you should consider your personal situation when buying an RV. If you have two working adults, you may consider an RV with a bunkroom or garage to convert into someone’s office space. If you feel more focused in a typical work environment, then remove the dining table and install your ideal desk. Check out these awesome RV workspaces set up by full-time RVers.
2. Avoid Multi-Tasking:
Many digital nomads have multiple sources of income. I personally telecommute to my office job forty hours per week, but I also run a blog on the full-time RV lifestyle. While it can be tempting to jump back and forth between projects every time a new email arrives in your inbox, multi-tasking will kill your productivity. A recent study showed that workers take fifteen minutes to refocus on a task after breaking to respond to an email.
To ensure one project does not interfere with the other, you should create set hours to focus on each. I work on my blog in the mornings and devote my full attention to my market research job during standard office hours. I also recommend that you create separate email accounts for different business ventures to ensure you are able to avoid the temptation of jumping between tasks.
Multitasking decreases productivity whether or not you are working in an RV.
3. Know that Travel Days are not Work Days:
Before I started RVing, I imagined myself sitting in the passenger seat and working away during long drives across the country. In reality, the dog is in my lap, the roads are bumpy and it is impossible to focus on complex tasks.
Block off travel days as personal time and enjoy the scenery.
Of course, it is possible to complete simple tasks, such as responding to emails or scheduling appointments, on the road, but avoid working on anything that requires your full focus.
4. Use Noise-Canceling Headphones:
RV parks tend to be noisy during the day with kids playing outside and maintenance people cutting the grass. Headphones increase productivity in two ways. First, they block out the noise from surrounding campers, airports and roads to allow you to focus on the task at hand. Second, they reduce background noise on the phone when you are on ca
lls with clients and colleagues, which allows you to communicate professionally.
These noise-canceling headphones made by COWIN are the bestselling set on Amazon and come in a range of fun colors.
Noise-canceling headphones block out distractions and help you to focus.
5. Have a Reliable Internet connection that Travels with You:
The best way to derail a working day in an RV is to have a bad internet connection. If you are not connected to a stable network, you will spend half your day yelling at the computer instead of completing your work. Relying on public campground Wi-Fi will result in poor connections more often than not, so it is important that you provide your own traveling internet connection. Check out my blog post on full-time RV internet to learn more about mobile internet options or see how this couple stays connected.
A reliable internet connection means you get your work done.
No one moves into an RV with the goal of sitting inside all day typing away at a computer. You want to travel full-time so you can enjoy the great outdoors and cultural hubs throughout the country. Just as you schedule set hours for work, schedule time to play and explore.
Taking time away from work will not decrease your efficiency; in fact, it will benefit your business. Research from the American Psychological Association that found when “the brain can think positively, productivity improves by 31 percent, sales increase by 37 percent, and creativity and revenues can triple.” *source below
While we are traveling, I use all of my paid vacation days and leave my computer shut all weekend. If you are running your own business, pick one or two days each week when you will not work and take at least a few week-long breaks each year, just as you would if you were working a traditional job.
Take plenty of time away from work to spend adventuring and enjoying your travels.
Ultimately, if you were productive before moving into an RV, you will be able to accomplish the same amount or even more while traveling full-time. Be aware of your needs, set realistic goals and enjoy the journey.
Christina is a 30-something professional living on the road in a 34-foot fifth wheel with her husband, Justin and their two fur babies, Mr. Man and Ted.
After living in New York City for almost a decade, they decided it was time for a little more nature and space, so they moved back to her home state of North Carolina.
Christina and Justin purchased a 2,000 square foot house and settled down, but after two years, they were feeling the urge for a little more adventure and a little less routine. In May 2016, they sold their house and hit the road. Christina runs the Travels with Ted blog where she shares her experiences and advice with anyone considering full-time RV living.
Related To Working Remotely
Check out Camille Attell’s Remote Work 101