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.
Thanks for the tips! Do you have any experience with the Airstream Connected setup? https://www.airstream.com/connected/ I plan to purchase a Basecamp later this year and I am researching various setups for wifi connections. Thanks, Sandi
Hi Sandi! Thanks for reaching out! Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with the Airstream Connect Setup.
Hi Sandi! I’m reading all of Cass awesome blog posts and came across this. I’m a Realtor and Designer and plan on hitting the road in 2021 with my basecamp that’s on the way. Nervous about WiFi and was wondering how this has been working for you?
Cass, I’m taking my girls( dogs) with me, Bella & Grace which are 2 Aussidors( lab/auss) and they can’t wait to explore. They love the outdoors as much as me and you totally gave me the final push to chase my wild side. I’m 33 and will be looking for community on the road, maybe we will run in to you! I’m excited to set up my same year and model 4runner as well and try some things out before the basecamp arrives. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Lindsey! I hope you enjoy this time of transition over to traveling in the Basecamp! Hopefully see you out on the road someday!
Hey, Tailsofwunderlust, what are the dimensions for the bed and the table you use?
Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your site. You have some really good articles and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested. Cheers!|
I want to to thank you for this good read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to look at new things you post…|
This web site really has all of the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask. |
Thank you for checking it out Donn! Glad you found it useful!
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!|
hi, and thank You for the reply and link… to your cell booster.
I am still unsure…. and I tried to google things and phrases that were unknown to me….. hummm.
Simple put… I use my iPhone 7 as a hotspot for Zoom meeting.
is there something that boosts the data signal?
I know 2 people who work for ATT, they both say boosters only help voice calls?
Hi Dwight – I use mobile hotspots for my internet, which are standalone cell devices to provide the internet. And yes, the WeBoost does help to boost the signal to them. Let me know if you have any other questions!
hey Cass, so I ended up choosing the weBoost single user with the cradle… as the other ones … the comments and one friend say connection is best close to the inside antenna…. the cable on my cradle one is long enough I can easily sit outside….it works well for me now, 7 days..through Amazon I Knew I could return it if necessary …. thankfully I don’t …..
mainly I am hear to offer lifestyle thoughts and not as many would read it.
Water… a X style key is sold at Lowes … Small, fits in your hand….inexpensive, made to access business outside water faucets …. the Key has 4,different size tools ….. One on each end of the X ….
works well on weekends and evening at many businesses or gas stations….. my fresh is small also, 20 gallons, so it only takes a few minutes to fill. …. I have never had a problem …..
also, I don’t know if if matters … But … You did not look like you needed a shower. 😊
Your videos are fun, and it’s nice people are leaving thoughtful comments.
best regards, and thx again for your booster links.
Hi. I’ve been searching for someone with your experience all weekend! Thank you for posting this. I am trying to plan a long road trip in my car (car camping with two small dogs) and the internet is the one big thing I’m concerned about. I’m a Graphic Designer and some of the files I have to work with or download can be very large. Not sure the comparison with the large Excel files you work with, I know those can be huge too. Do you think I’d have issues? I am looking into the jet packs and boosters for sure, just wasn’t sure what to go with, so this is super helpful.
Really glad it was helpful! Not only does the size of the file matter, but also how much you are uploading or downloading that file. I use about 80GB per month working full-time. I download excel documents but I’d say minimal content and mostly email. The other thing to keep in mind is for large files, if you are running out of GB on your hotspot, you can always park outside a library, Starbucks or McDonald’s and transfer large files on their free wifi.
how are you liking the new all electric refrigerator?
have you really got the chance to use it in boondocking mode?
do your lithium batteries do OK overnight
Thanks for checking Dwight. With the holidays I haven’t used it much at all. I’m hoping in Feb/March I’ll put it to good use and can make a future video about whether it was a good upgrade or not!
Have you looked into Starlink? Its a bit pricey at $99 a month but it gives you 50-150mb speeds. https://www.pcmag.com/news/tested-spacexs-starlink-satellite-internet-service-is-fast-but-itll-cost
I’m very excited for Starlink! It’s not available for mobile use yet unfortunately.
Wow! I love what you are doing! My husband and I have an Airstream Nest and we are about to be using it pretty much full time. I’m a writer, so can work from anywhere, and most the time don’t need internet, but my husband’s job requires him to be on line most all day, so we’re trying to figure out our best method for him to have high speed internet for work. We’re also trying to figure out if we can get enough signal while driving that he can work on travel days too, whenever it’s my turn to drive. 🙂 He has a global AT&T plan through his work. Mine is just AT&T GoPhone, so often out on the road I have no signal, but he does, though not always full strength. So I guess my question is, do you know if any of these can be used while driving to boost his signal? Also, I’m assuming you have to have both AT&T and Verizon plans for your method of using the hotspots? I’ll continue doing research, but thought I’d see if you know about this. I’ll definitely be following your blog! Thanks for all the info. Safe travels.
Thanks for checking out my article Jane! You can get a WeBoost for the vehicle. This would then allow you to boost the signal. Although, if you are driving through a zone without any signal at all, these still wouldn’t work. There has to be some amount of signal in order to boost. The antenna is also very portable and you could easily plug that into a hot spot while driving. Hopefully that helps answer your question!
I’m looking to transfer into van life, your article was extremely helpful!
I’m also curious, your setup is specifically equipped to work in excel and large spreadsheets like you mentioned, how do you think this setup would perform running 2 & 3D modeling programs? AutoCAD for example.
I’ve been working remotely ever since covid started and my company is selling their local office to keep us all remote. I’m currently running my entire computer tower, monitor system off VPN but thinking of switching to a laptop set up for van/ camper living.
Hi Zoie! I’m not sure what the internet requirements are for the 2 & 3D modeling. If it’s all online and you will be using a lot of data, you would want to look into internet plans with high data caps. I can download excel files as well as video conference but that is about the extent of high demand on the data end. Hope you are able to get your setup for remote work!
Aloha! I have been searching for an office-type 9-5er that makes this work! I have been completely remote since covid and live in Hawaii. It is paradise, but I’m getting wanderlust and missing my family on the mainland. So my costar, Ludo (husky), and I hope to hit the road soon. My biggest concerns is wifi. I am an analyst for a hospital network. We need to be available (online) on MS Teams during all working hours. The programs that I work from are currently within a company portal where I login to my remote desktop in the office. We will possibly be switching to VPN. With file transfers happening on a server, does that limit data use? Why was the VPN a hindrance for you before your current position? With the interest boom for this, have you seen new and better options coming out?
Hi Ariel! Yes, there are a lot more options out there nowadays. We used a Juniper router which is what caused a lot more logistical setup. I still have a VPN, but now it works with Wifi where the Juniper didn’t. I’d recommend checking out the Mobile Internet Resource site, as they keep up with the most current internet options. Aloha!