Creating a motorhome for Digital Nomads . . .
The term digital nomad is rather cool and trendy at the moment. As soon as you say that you are a digital nomad, people view you in a different way – not a traveller! All we can do (you and I and all other travellers) is our best to promote a responsible nomadic lifestyle.
This article is about a digital working space and not a physical working space. The needs are quite different. A physical work space requires travelling around to be somewhere to do a job. A digital nomad job requires your motorhome or van to provide you with key pieces of functionality.
It can be really hard to work when you look out of the window and have such beautiful views, such as the one above! You have to be very motivated, set yourself regular hours or goals to achieve. It helps to enjoy your job as well (most of the time at least).
If you are employed – then part of your routine will be working 9am – 5pm (for example) and your hours are defined. for you – that is much easier because you have little control over it – you rock up, do your job and then lead your life in the same way that you might do if you lived in a house.
Working for yourself – it can be much more difficult as there is always temptation around you – that walk you want to do, or mountain you want to trek or river to kayak etc. This is the space we operate in. We are still feeling what works best for us – but it tends to be a 4 day week, starting at 6:30am until about mid day. Then we can do those things we want. We may work a weekend so we have time in the week to do things without the crowds. Sometimes if there are deadlines (a music composition) then it may be 12 hour days for a few days. Its all ebb and flow really. Make hay whilst the sun shines as they say. . . .
We both work from our motorhome. We still need to earn money to support the basics in life – like feeding ourselves, getting petrol or diesel, pay motorhome insurance and all the general bills that most people have to pay. We aren’t in the position to be retired yet!
The ‘office’ in our motorhome is very different for each of us.
Lets just list the jobs that we do first.
- Business Analyst
- Graphic Designer
- Digital Design
My office set up
It looks pretty much like the picture above. The laptop and screen positioning may vary depending on the sun coming in the windows! Its not quite the setting that you often see – on a beach with a laptop – but life is rarely like the Instagram images that you see! There to sell a lifestyle – but rarely real life.
I have one additional screen, one or two laptops and two phones. We are an electricity hungry motorhome office. I mean – that is just my stuff and it all needs to be powered. I have written an article on electricity in your motorhome which you really should read.
Damo’s office set up
Damo has a whole different office set up. In fact he has two office set ups depending on what he is working on.
He creates music for TV and Radio so his first home office is a music studio and the ‘other motorhome office’ is a laptop and limited music equipment as he is working on his own website, sticklebackmusic.com, Here you can purchase music for various publications, subscribe for music downloads and get great original quality music by hand chosen global artists.
He also has his own blog where he creates loads of interesting articles for compositions, inspiration and tutorials. Having covered off what he does – let me show you what his ‘music studio’ office looks like . .
How do I tell my boss I am working in a motorhome or campervan?
So you have decided to make your motorhome your office – so now your ‘work-from-home’ days are different from what most people see as ‘normal’. Post pandemic – it is much more acceptable to work from home – or work fully remote contracts. Or maybe you are a digital nomad in another field.
What do you tell your boss?
Well – you don’t have to tell them anything! And that’s the truth. You will need to have an address which is care of address and that is all they need to know. I do get questions asked of me about my home set up – I just tell them that I have everything I need to do my job.
As long as you are able to perform your role, connect to your IT system if that is what is needed, or get into the office, then you are good to go. I worked for a very large corporate company (20,000 + employees) and was always able to work within the boundaries of my contract. I also spoke to HR to ask them about “what if. . . ” to see what would happen.
This was completely independent of anything my boss/line manager/director was in control of.
My best tip – “ask for a friend” to get your companies policy on this – and then just update your address to a care of address and keep your lifestyle to yourself!
Motorhome office top 3 worries . . .
The top 3 things that you will likely be concerned about if your motorhome is your office is:
- Do I have a good mobile phone signal?
- Are all my laptops and phones charged up?
- Have I enough power to get me through the day?
The first one is the most essential. If I have no phone signal, then I can not get onto the office network on my laptop and can not work. It can be pretty stressful sometimes. When I am working I don’t like to move around so much. If I have 4 bars of 4G, I am ready to party!! I don’t need to have that strength – that is just the best. I can manage with 4 bars of 3G – but sometimes it can be a bit flaky for the connection.
The next most important things is making sure all my gadgets are charged. If I need to, I can go down to one laptop and one phone. So that reduces electrical needs. I ALWAYS turn off laptops when I am not using them – even at lunch times. I shut down to ensure I don’t waste energy.
How do you power your motorhome office?
Our key piece of kit is a very cheap 12v charger hub. We connect that to the leisure batteries which then offers an array of output slots – i.e. USB, C, cigarette lighter splitter so we can plug multiple items into the hub. I then purchased a multi voltage car charger, that gave me different ‘ends’ for all my gadgets.
We have lots of solar panels on our roof and also 2 leisure batteries to store our power. This is absolutely critical in our ability to power our devices. This is also a subject that I have written a separate blog on that. Make no mistake – a van in the UK in the winter on a rubbish day – has been the bane of our life.
We use Anker power banks, as our back up, which are the best on the market, but laptops – especially modern day laptops are very power hungry. An Anker power bank – the top of the range ones will give you maybe 1.5 – 2 laptop charges, We use them all the time.
When we drive – we have our own ‘checklist’ that we have to run through – and that includes- “Is everything plugged in for charging?”. And then we frantically plug everything in to charge whilst we are driving from A to B.
Where is the space for your motorhome office?
Not going to lie – this is a difficult one. You kind of just have to ‘make do’ and work with each other on what you have available.
We have found adaptations for our motorhome office. I try to extend my part of the desk by creating an ‘L’ shaped desk. I only have out the equipment I need to do that particular job. Our dining table is split into two – he has one half and I have the other. If we only have one laptop out each – wow – we have LOADS of room. We place laptops at an angle and work away happily.
We both wear headphones when we work. Damo, because he listens to/creates music and me, because I do a lot of conference calls.
The most recent addition to the office space is this fab ‘standing desk ‘ which allows me to stand up with my office space near the door on the hob giving Damo more space on the table. The best thing about this desk is that it just locks together by placement and balance, and pulls apart to store flat. Such an easy but great idea. I like standing when I work. It has proven health benefits and it keeps you mentally engaged with the task in hand.
So – if your motorhome is your office – personally I think you are very lucky! What an amazing office to be in.
You should have a good idea of what is required to allow you to be employed whilst living in a motorhome – being a digital nomad to allow you to have the best of both worlds.
It can be done, it takes some planning and organisation and a little bit of trial and error to find out what works for you specifically, but the effort is so worth it if you want this kind of lifestlye.