I’m often asked what I do for a living. Many people assume I blog or earn money online like many RV Entrepreneurs do. Or perhaps have some sort of sponsorship. Instead, I have a “normal” corporate, 9-5 job!
I started working in an office cubicle over 7 years ago for a large insurance company. At that time, it took three years to earn the ability to transfer to a remote work opportunity. As soon as I could, I took this option so I could stop fighting Charlotte traffic every day.
After moving to Austin and working 100% remote for almost two years, it occurred to me that I didn’t need to stay in one location. At that time I needed Ethernet (or hard wired internet connection) to run my VPN router. Since I couldn’t get this in a RV, I decided to travel the country and stay in AirBnBs.
It was quite entertaining finding places to stay. I would have to reach out, ask if they had an Ethernet hookup, and allowed a dog and a cat. Luckily, there are a lot of amazing hosts out there and I was able to travel to over 16 states via this method.
Then, over the spring of 2018 I was able to move into a Process Consultant position with the same company, and could now work off WiFi. The option to live in a RV was now possible. That began months of research to find reliable internet. Over the past 2 years of living in a RV, I have been able to ensure adequate internet access for each day of work. It takes a bit of extra planning, but with the right resources is possible. I’ll share what I have learned here, but if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.
Internet Hot Spots
This is by far the most important item to have in place. Not only do I need internet for the basics such as email, but I need significant data so I can download large Excel spreadsheets as well as a steady connection to use my internet Skype phone for meetings.
Google offers some great blog posts about internet on the road, but the resource I found the most helpful was the Mobile Internet Resource Center. You can sign up for their membership or use their free articles. There is also a great Facebook group that they run where you can ask questions and see others’ setups. The best part of this group is they let you know when the cell phone companies are having special offers or are bringing out new data plans.
I have two separate hot spots that I use: an AT&T Mobley with unlimited data and a Verizon Jetpack with 25GB per month. I find it to be extremely valuable to have two different carriers as well as two separate hot spots. There are sections of the country where you may have blazing fast Verizon signal and absolutely no AT&T (such as Ouray, CO). Also, as with all technology, some days one of them just decides they just don’t want to work. Having a backup hotspot is essential when you have regular work hours you must meet.
Unfortunately the AT&T Mobley plan is no longer available, but the 25GB Verizon special is still available through the FMCA discount programs.
Since I work typical Monday to Friday office hours and have regularly scheduled meetings, I must have reliable cell signal during the week. At first I was very worried this would be difficult to find, especially when boondocking. Luckily, there are a lot of amazing places out there, all with adequate cell phone coverage. Just a few days ago I was staring at the mountains in Moab presenting in a meeting. You can’t beat that office view!
Campendium is my go to resource for finding camping spots with cell signal. This app lists out a variety of camping spots including RV Parks, state parks and BLM land. It also lists the cell signal and carrier information based upon user submitted reviews. It will show you how many bars of signal there are, and the user reviews usually detail the speed and connectivity that others experienced in the area.
I then make sure to always run a speed test for the hotspot prior to unhooking the trailer. The goal is to not wake up for a 6am meeting just to find out I can’t log in. If the signal isn’t strong or fast enough, it’s time to move.
In two years on the road, there has only been one morning where the signal I had the night before disappeared. I woke up to 4G service with terrible upload/download speeds. This is why backup plans are always needed. The back of my 4Runner has a bed set up in it, which makes for a great mobile office. In this instance, Jasper and I jumped into the truck and drove until we found signal. It’s not ideal, but can be necessary!
Coffee shops, libraries, Lowe’s parking lots, etc. can also be a great backup option. At one point I needed to download the entire Microsoft Office suite. I parked between a Lowes and a McDonald’s and used their wifi to download the program. This allowed me to run a speedtest off both wifi signals and determine which was better. Jasper and I also had funny eating sausage McMuffins and wandering around Lowes shopping.
I carry two different items to boos the signal and increase speeds. First is a WeBoost OTR Cell Booster. It is not permanently installed on my RV, but instead on a small stand with suction cups that I can take on and off my roof as needed. In two years on the road, I have only ever used the WeBoost twice, so to me is debatable as to whether or not the high price tag is worth it.
The first time the WeBoost was a necessity was at the Xscapers Annual Bash. There were over 500 people in attendance and this caused a huge demand on the local cell towers. Without the booster, I couldn’t even connect to the internet. With it, I was able to work the entire week with no issues.
The second time was in Moab while camping on BLM land. I had two bars of intermittent 4G signal. After turning on the booster, it turned into 2 bars of LTE. This was enough to work for the day, but I ended up moving spots that evening to ensure I had a more reliable connection the next day.
The other item I use is the Netgear MIMO Antenna. This is a very simple, lightweight antenna that is easy to connect to your hotspot. Both my Verizon Jetpack and AT&T Nighthawk have ports for the antenna to plug in. This is a newer edition to my wifi setup, but so far has helped to increase speeds up to 3x as I was receiving prior to plugging in the antenna. It doesn’t require any setup or batteries and is extremely easy to use.
I’m lucky enough that I have an amazing work team that supports my traveling ways. But it’s still up to me to ensure that this lifestyle does not get in the way of a normal productive 9-5 workday. The above tips have helped me travel and work this way for over two years.
If you have questions or are thinking of trying out this lifestyle while working, comment below and I’ll answer any questions you may have!
Note: The WeBoost and Netgear links provided above are a part of the Amazon affiliates program. If you make a purchase through this link, as an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not cost you anything extra.