What To Know About Working From the Road
Even though remote work was a rising trend in the past, it’s more popular than ever before. The American Opportunity Survey, conducted by McKinsey and Company, found that 58% of workers in the US can work remotely part of the time. 35% can work remotely all of the time. Of those offered part or full-time remote work arrangements, only 13% declined.
In all, McKinsey estimates that 29.3 million workers function without ever going into the office. These professionals are free to live wherever they want. Some of these so-called digital nomads move to other countries, while others adopt an RV lifestyle.
Fully-remote work has challenges, and you need to prepare and address specific issues to succeed with this professional arrangement.
Embracing the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
A 2022 survey by MBO Partners found that 16.9 million Americans identify as digital nomads. These are either people who work remotely or operate their own business or freelance full-time.
Many professionals in this demographic have embraced the open road. Hashtags like #vanlife often trend on YouTube, and it’s easy to find videos from digital nomads living in converted vans, RVs, or other types of camper vehicles.
RV life for any adventure seeker. You just need to plan carefully and assess how this lifestyle may affect your professional life and career. You may also need to worry about the practical aspects of this lifestyle, such as planning for RV repairs, stocking up on supplies, and purchasing the correct RV insurance.
You’ll also have to consider internet connections, devices, equipment, and backups should Wi-Fi become unavailable or laptops break down. As long as you make these considerations, you can enjoy your accomplishments at work while enjoying life on the road.
Choosing the Right Remote Job or Business
You also can’t exactly hit the road the moment you decide you want to become a digital nomad. Often, you should already work in a career that allows for a flexible environment or seek one out. The MBO Partners survey found that one in five digital nomads worked in IT. Creative professionals, sales reps, PR and marketing pros, finance workers, accountants, consultants, and researchers were the next most common traveling professionals.
These positions allow employees to access necessary information and resources online and communicate with co-workers, clients, or peers without being face-to-face. Jobs requiring completing manual tasks or using equipment larger than a computer are not conducive to life on the road.
People often choose these careers because they can choose to live in an area with a low cost of living. Even if your “home base” is in a big city like Chicago, you can work in your RV from a state like Missouri that has a low cost of living. You could even settle down for a temporary period and store their vehicle if you want to explore more of each town while soaking up the cheap lifestyle.
Staying Productive On the Go
Although each digital nomad may have their own unique troubles, many struggle with productivity. Employees may have trouble remaining productive while on the road. Some may get distracted by all the possible activities available while traveling, while others could lack motivation.
While there are specific steps to manage time, create routines, and overcome distractions, sometimes a change of location can help.
For instance, remote workers who stop in Dallas will find new business and employment opportunities that could reinvigorate their work routine. They might store their RV in Dallas for a while and take advantage of the professional offerings.
Beyond that, there are other ways you can stay productive as a digital nomad, including:
Creating a Daily Routine
One of the advantages of office work is that it comes with a built-in schedule. You can create a similar routine on the road, completing the same work tasks each day and creating a dedicated workspace within your RV.
Routines can improve mental health and help alleviate work-related issues like anxiety and stress. A steady pace of work can also reduce the dangers of burnout and help you remain productive.
Managing Distractions and Time
Distractions exist in the office and on the road. Some of these are easy to manage. For instance, you can put your devices on do-not-disturb mode to avoid calls or texts. If social media is a distraction, you could block sites from your browser or remove the apps from your phone.
However, most of the time, these distractions can be minimized through time management methods. Things like creating a set schedule for working and relaxing time may help you feel more motivated to complete your work.
You can also choose leisure activities as an incentive to finish your work. If you’re working in an especially distracting town, such as Houston, you can store your RV and rent a hotel during your working hours so you won’t feel compelled to tour around. Once you’re finished with work, you can do as you like — whether that’s checking out the hottest tourist destinations or finding hole-in-the-wall shops.
Maintaining Work-Life Balance
Even though a large aspect of a digital nomad lifestyle is making sure your travels don’t distract you from your work, you shouldn’t overcorrect yourself either. Let yourself have fun in between your working hours. Establish a work-life balance. A proper work-life balance can positively impact mental health whether you work from an office or a laptop in your RV.
Research published in 2023 found that a healthy work-life balance can improve overall mental health. In this study, subjects who lacked a work-life balance were often more physically unwell and neglected their hobbies and loved ones due to job commitments.
To avoid this, follow these tips:
- Set realistic and achievable goals: Put a premium on consistency instead of working long hours sometimes.
- Limit distractions and focus fully on work during designated times: This approach allows you to reach goals efficiently
- Turn off your phone or silence email alerts after work hours: This step can be especially important when working remotely and in a different time zone from clients or employers.
- Take days off: It can be tempting to continue working when you are a digital nomad. However, you should step outside of your routine regardless of your work arrangement.
If you are a digital nomad with an RV, you can take a practical step by renting out your RV that’s in storage and not used by you to earn income while you are on vacation from your work routine.
Incorporating Leisure and Exploration
Here are some options for achieving a proper work-life balance by taking a break from your usual routine.
- Set aside time to explore the areas around your location. Make these excursions part of your regular daily routine.
- Stay at a hotel or Airbnb for a change of setting.
- Visit a place like Florida, which is the number one visited state for its many accessible tourist attractions. Store your RV in Florida and stay at a beachside motel or theme park or rent a vacation home for the month.
Ideally, the digital nomad lifestyle should allow you to have as much time available for leisure activities in comparison to a commuting office-based employee.
Prioritizing Health and Well-being
Remote workers who travel may not have access to the same fitness facilities, medical services, and dietary benefits as those who live in one place. The general stress of traveling to unfamiliar places and dealing with sleeping schedules in different time zones can add to health-related challenges.
Here are some steps to reduce the strain on your health.
- Travel health insurance plans can ensure you always have access to medical care when needed.
- A fitness plan that doesn’t require gym equipment can ensure you remain fit.
- Make healthy eating a priority. Rely on non-perishable health foods like nuts and dried fruits, and purchase healthy fresh foods when possible. You can use the USDA’s local food finder to locate fresh produce in your location.
Physical well-being will also affect work performance and mental health, so it is important to make it a priority while traveling.
Safety and Security Measures
Not only do digital nomads have to worry about a stable and secure internet connection, but they also have to worry about their physical safety.
Here are some tips for building a reliable connection while working — no matter what you do:
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
- Turn on the tracking feature on your devices to ensure you can locate them if someone steals them or you lose them.
- Always use a passcode or biometric lock to ensure no one else can open your device and see work-related information.
Physical safety is also important. The best way you can do this is by doing your research beforehand. If you need to store or repair your RV, find places to go to beforehand. Research crime rates before they settle in a new area. Especially in large states like Arizona, it will be worth knowing that, when you are not using your RV, safe places to store it in the state.
Embracing the Rewards of Remote Work
Remote work allows professionals to experience new places and cultures and learn about different perspectives and worldviews. This arrangement allows time and flexibility to pursue passions and experiences that lead to personal growth.
Yes, RV-based professionals need to focus on practical considerations, like safe RV storage locations, travel health insurance, and secure internet connections. However, don’t let these considerations build into chronic worries. Think about all the freedom you have as a digital nomad to choose your location and time for leisure activities.