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Working remotely from an RV: Taking the first step

It’s all my fault. I regularly send pictures and sightseeing reports back to our children. I endlessly and enthusiastically endorse the RV lifestyle and promote the benefits of moving from place to place as my husband and I meet new folks, learn new things, and enjoy almost every moment of living in our RV for months on end. It’s no wonder I feel like it’s all my fault they want to start working remotely from an RV!

Our son and daughter-in-law recently announced that they plan to work remotely on the road. They no longer plan to pay exorbitant rental fees. Nor do they figure on remaining a mere 35 minutes away from our stix-n-brix home. Come summer, this adventurous young couple plans to hit the road, work remotely, and never see us again. (They didn’t say that last part. It’s just how it feels to me right now.)

My son and his wife are not alone. Many, many folks are taking their jobs on the road. Working remotely was boosted along by COVID, but people have worked “on the road” for years. If you are considering such a transition, I recommend this important first step. My son and wonderful daughter-in-law say this is the most important thing they’ve done while considering whether remote working will work for them. If you can be successful in this one thing, working remotely may just be for you!

Working remotely from an RV: What to know

Living small

Practice “living small” in your big space (current home or apartment) as you work from home. Choose two rooms from which you’ll work, eat, and relax for the next several days. It’s best to try out your “living small” experiment during a two-week period, at least according to successful, remote workers I’ve spoken to. It’s about the length of time needed to give the experiment a fair trial. If that time frame won’t work, at least try it for one week.

Workspace

Working remotely is one thing, but working remotely from an RV in a small space is quite another. During your two-week “living small” experiment, set up your workspace so that it takes up the smallest footprint possible within your two rooms. Some considerations: Can you effectively work without an actual desk? Must you work inside or on nice days can you take your work outside? What kind of chair do you need to still feel comfortable at the end of the workday? Can you easily put everything away at the end of your workday, or is it better to keep your work out in the open? All of these questions will help you plan a remote office later on.

Personal items

Clothing: Choose two weeks of clothing and fit them into just one or two small dresser drawers. Why? You’ll see which items are absolutely necessary and what are not. You may figure out that some pieces of clothing will easily layer to provide more warmth. Or you may discover that you really don’t need those five pair of shoes. Why two weeks? After that amount of time on the road, you’ll no doubt want to take clothes to a laundromat or campground laundry facility. If you plan to do laundry more often, plan clothing accordingly.

Hygiene supplies: Move your essential hygiene supplies into a small drawer or cosmetic bag. Remember any prescription drugs as well as the OTC products you use regularly. Don’t forget a toothbrush, toothpaste, brush/comb, soaps, deodorant, etc. While you’re at it, if you’re traveling with a travel buddy, see if you can share some products (e.g., shampoo) and by doing so save valuable space.

Food storage and prep considerations

Meat/protein: Grilling every night sounds so good, but it’s not very realistic. When planning your “living small” meals, think about ways you can cook the protein once and use any excess food for leftovers or use the food in a different way for an additional meal. In other words, make more protein than you’ll eat at one sitting. It will mean less work, take up less space, and require little clean-up for the meals that follow. Check out these meal prep ideas for delicious chicken dinners.

Shelf-stable items: Put two weeks of menu supplies into one cupboard. Will it fit? Think about shelf-stable foods that may take up less space. Pasta works well, as does canned meats, like tuna. Can you put breakfast cereal in a different, space-saving container and fit more into a smaller shelf footprint? Again, if you plan to shop more often than every two weeks, adjust your shelf-stable foods accordingly.

Kitchen appliances/gadgets

Pots/pans and utensils: That full set of cookware probably won’t fit into a van drawer or even an RV’s cupboard. See if you can pare down the cookware to just a few versatile pieces. Think about which pans might be used in several different ways. Same goes for cooking utensils. As your two-week trial period goes along, see if you can whittle down your meal prep items even more. Something like this set is probably all you’ll need.

Special machines: Okay, I understand that you absolutely need to have fresh coffee each morning. I get it. You might find a smaller coffee-maker that makes great-tasting java while taking up much less space. As to the insta-pot, crockpot, blender, rice cooker, etc., you will need to decide which machines you can/can’t do without. Plan creative ways to store the essentials in small spaces. Think: Can other items be stored inside the machine? Can it be safely stored on its side? Is it really a necessity?

Microwave: I give this “machine” priority over many of the others. Why? Because of its reheating and thawing capabilities. Consider whether a microwave will be on your “must-have” list and keep it in mind as you research van and RV interiors later on.

Refrigerator: The fridge in your van or RV may be very small compared to what you currently use. Look at what you currently store in your fridge. Not all condiments need refrigeration. Check labels carefully. Consider storing some refrigerated items in smaller, easily stackable containers. (Hint: Square containers will store better in less space than round ones. Keep this in mind if you plan to shop for new.) Try using only two shelves in your fridge for the two-week “living small” period. See what adjustments you can make, if needed.

If you happily (most of the time) breeze through your two-week “living small” routine, you may be ready for the next step to working remotely in an RV. What is it? You’ll see in next week’s article. In the meantime, good luck on “living small”!

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Jeff M
6 months ago

How do I go about finding remote jobs? I live in a rv now but tied down to a 9-5 job. What resources are there?

Eric Ramey
7 months ago

We are in the process of spending more time on the road! A few tips from our experiences
1-Start off slow-spend multiple Fridays or Mondays working from the road. After you get back to your normal office be honest with yourself “Is this something that you can do long term?
2-Set up your work place in different places in your RV. Initially working from the dining room table seems like a great idea…but…if that is the gathering spot in your RV then it’s tough to focus. My idea area is the drivers seat (turned around) with a rolling desk.
3-Power-Where and how are you going to plug in your laptop/cell phone charger? In my current set up if I kept working at the dining room table all of the cords would have tripped me every time I got up.
4-Reliable internet. Please, please, please DO NOT rely on a campgrounds free wifi. It is comical when I read posts from people that complain about FREE Wifi. Find an solution that works for you (speed and price)