It Can Be a Challenge To Balance Van Travel With a Remote Work Schedule
If you’re considering taking the leap into the world of van living, then no doubt you’ve already wondered how to balance your work and play while on the road. As more and more people opt to become digital nomads, it is essential to figure out an effective way to manage your remote work schedule in order to stay productive and enjoy life at the same time.
It’s no secret that making your dream come true is hard work, but it can be done! With careful planning and organization, managing your remote work schedule while exploring new places doesn’t have to feel daunting. We’re here to offer some helpful tips so you can learn how to balance all that van life has to offer while also staying productive during your work hours. Let’s dive in!
Tips for Managing a Remote Work Schedule in Van Life
Van living can be an exhilarating lifestyle filled with adventures and incredible new experiences. It can also be extremely rewarding to create a life that offers so much flexibility and freedom.
This flexibility can sometimes still feel a bit challenging when you are trying to earn an income as you travel. It’s very important to find a pace of travel that gives you enough time to explore while also having enough time to complete work tasks without feeling exhausted or burning out.
Tip #1: Establish a Routine
One of the biggest challenges found while living on the road is finding a routine that works best for you or for you and your traveling partner or family. When each stop in your travels offers completely new adventures and experiences, consistency can be hard to find.
The freedom and excitement that is a huge benefit of van travel is also the part that can make it tough to find a work schedule. When you are always running from this stop to the next, you need to carve out a travel schedule that gives you time to work without sacrificing your adventures.
Maintain a Consistent Schedule
The easiest way to find a balance between traveling and working is to create a consistent schedule. For example, you may find it best to spend one of your days off traveling to the next destination and then stay there for at least a week.
Your second day off that week could be spent doing the number one activity on your travel list to make sure that you get that one in. Then you can try to hit a few other must-see activities during the week before or after your work hours.
Or maybe two-week stays are more your pace? It may take a while for you to find the best speed of travel for you. Also, don’t feel like you have to stick to a certain schedule. Feel free to slow down your travels to catch up on life any time you need to!
Just like you want to define your top must-do activity at each stop, you also want to prioritize your life and work tasks for each stay. What do you have to get done for work each week? What life tasks must be completed this week? Then you can set boundaries to not take on anything further until those priorities have been completed.
Tip #2: Find the Right Work-Life Balance
Van life is not all about traveling and everyday adventures. It is also about simply living life. You will still have bills to pay, laundry to catch up on, cleaning, work or school, and grocery shopping to do.
Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to see and do all of the sightseeing or activities in an area you are visiting that daily living needs start to pile up. Or other times, travelers make time for travel activities, life tasks, and work but never have enough downtime to rest.
It’s very important to carve out some time each week to relax and rest. Self-care can often be forgotten when traveling, but it is still just as important as when you are at home. In fact, if you travel too fast without downtime, it can be easy to feel burned out on the road.
You need time to savor each activity versus rushing from one thing to the next. Otherwise, too many leisure activities back to back can feel like going through the motions after a little while traveling.
Tired van travelers are often not getting the full experience out of the adventures. Consider having one day each week to just relax in your campsite. This could also be your weekly reboot day to catch up on any daily life tasks you may be behind on. Traveling full-time is not the same as living on vacation.
Finding the best time management to balance leisure, life tasks, work, and rest may take a little time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different schedules to find out what works best for you.
If you start to find yourself feeling worn out or burnt out, then it is time to reevaluate to find a new schedule that works for you. There is no wrong way to travel and work in van life!
Tip #3: Stay Focused and Productive
The hardest part of finding balance in a remote work schedule in van life is keeping your focus. Chances are good that you got into this lifestyle because you want to travel and explore more. You probably didn’t jump into van living because you wanted a van as an office.
However, working while on the road is what makes this traveling full-time dream possible and affordable for most people. The best way to keep your focus is to minimize distractions during your scheduled work hours. This way, you can complete work tasks more quickly and get onto the fun parts of traveling.
Once you have found a pace that works best for full-time travel, define your remote work schedule and stick to it. If you work for yourself, this can be easier said than done, but it is important to keep this consistency and focus on your business during your set work hours.
Find a comfortable place to work that isn’t full of distractions. Some van lifers enjoy working in public spaces with great Wi-Fi, like coffee shops. However, others need to be on calls and can’t have background noise during work hours or may get easily distracted in public spaces.
One great way to create a private workspace on the road is to utilize an outdoor tent room at your campsite. Pop-up screened-in tents like CLAM Tents can offer protection from the sun, rain, and bugs while also creating a private outdoor workspace. You can even use an extension cord to power your electronics or a fan in the tent to stay cool.
You can also set up a little workspace within your van. Consider using a lap desk and sitting on your bed or even in your driver’s seat. You could use a small folding table if you require a larger desk space. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Any place you feel comfortable with could be a great place to work remotely!
Additional Considerations for Remote Work in Van Life
Once you find a remote work schedule that works well with your travels and daily living, as well as a comfortable distraction-free workspace, you are on your way to traveling work bliss. What else do you need to make working on the road happen?
Consideration #1: Internet and Connectivity
Finding reliable internet on the road is a must for van life and working remotely. Luckily newer options have come out in the last couple of years to make traveling easier.
Not only are there more remote jobs right now than ever before, but there are also more internet options to make working on the road possible. This is a huge win for van lifers that need to earn an income online while enjoying this adventurous lifestyle.
New Travel-Friendly Internet Options
The biggest game changer in internet service for van life has been Starlink. Starlink satellite internet is a bit pricier than most cell phone carrier options, but the service is extremely fast and truly unlimited. Starlink is always adding new satellites to increase coverage areas and improve service.
At the time of writing this article, Starlink is performing well out west but is slightly less reliable in more congested areas of the east coast. Starlink also requires a clear northern sky area of at least 100 degrees to be able to receive a signal. If you are camping in an area of heavy tree cover with no clear sky to the north, you may have no service at all. If you have Starlink, it is very helpful to have another backup source.
Another newer popular option for traveling internet is T-Mobile Home. While this service is technically not designed to be a mobile roaming option, many full-time RVers and van lifers are successfully using this option. It’s also extremely cheap, so it may be a great option for you to try out.
Many RV travelers also use different cell phone carrier hotspots as internet sources. Having more than one cell carrier hotspot or using a booster like weBoost can help you receive better service.
MobileMustHave.com is a potential resource for finding industry-leading hardware and solutions for mobile internet. They offer mobile internet bundles, cellular data plans, and mobile routers that have been stress-tested for life on the move. If you’re looking to start your journey to being location independent and need reliable mobile internet, it may be worth checking out their products and services.
We currently use Starlink with T-Mobile phone hotspots as a backup option. If our Starlink doesn’t have a clear sky, we have been able to use the hotspots. Having both sources is more expensive, but when you work remotely on the road, having reliable internet is a priority.
If you work remotely while on the road, it’s never a good idea to assume that a campground’s Wi-Fi will be good enough for your needs. While some campgrounds are improving their internet options, the quality is often hit or miss. Additionally, Wi-Fi may only be available in common spaces like clubhouses or at the swimming pool, leaving your campsite without reliable connectivity.
To ensure that your internet source will work at a campground you’re interested in, a great way to check is to look at the internet reviews on RV LIFE Campgrounds. These reviews can give you a sense of the speed and reliability of the Wi-Fi at a particular campground, as well as any potential issues that other travelers have experienced.
If you ever find yourself in an area with poor service, you can always visit a local restaurant or coffee shop to find good Wi-Fi. If you need to use public Wi-Fi but also need a quiet space to hop on a call, consider connecting from the parking lot and taking a call in your van. Keep in mind that there is always a slight security risk when using public Wi-Fi.
Consideration #2: Take Care of Your Mental Health
Traveling can sometimes feel a bit lonely or isolating at times. It’s worth it to take time on the road to connect with other travelers.
Attending a campground event or rally can be a great way to get to know other campers and connect with like-minded individuals. Additionally, Facebook groups and chat rooms, such as the Class B Forum, are excellent resources for finding other van travelers or van lifers in your area to meet up with.
Once you are on the road for a while, ideally, you will find a crew of friends that you meet along the way who are also facing similar experiences. Once you tap into meeting others, van lifers are a strong and helpful community.
If you feel worn out or frustrated with van life, don’t forget to go back to the reasons why you began this lifestyle, to begin with. Sometimes it’s helpful to slow down your travels and revisit your initial reasons for wanting to travel full-time.
Practicing mindfulness and gratitude can go a long way in appreciating the incredible experiences from your travels. If things aren’t going the way you envisioned, don’t be afraid to make some changes. This life is amazing, and sometimes you just need a minute to focus on how great this opportunity really is!
From Distractions to Perfection: Mastering Remote Work in a Van
Finding the right balance between work and play while living in a van can be tricky. You may find yourself juggling your days between enjoying the outdoors or creating a traveling office that allows you to complete tasks without distractions. With some practice, flexibility, and patience, you’ll soon have this remote working life down to perfection!