Not knowing how to earn an income on the road is the number one factor that keeps people who want to fulltime RV from doing it.
I actually made that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.
If nothing else, it was certainly true for us. If it’s also true for you, let our story be motivation and inspiration. With planning and courage, you can live in an RV and travel fulltime.
RVing is personalized in so many ways, from the RV you choose, to the types of campgrounds you like to stay at, to the way you earn an income. Rather than providing an exhaustive guide to working on the road, my goal is to share what we’ve experienced. I hope you can relate to the pros and cons Eric and I assessed as we prepared to change our lifestyle, and be inspired by what it’s actually like to be a fulltime, working RVer.
Preparing to Work on the Road: Our Fears and Concerns
Could Our Business Continue to Operate Successfully?
As we began to contemplate becoming fulltime RVers, Eric and I wondered how we could continue our business as a mobile venture. In our day-to-day operations, would everything still “work” and could we keep our clients happy?
Eric and I started our own business, Knektion, in January 2011, but we didn’t focus on our company fulltime until the beginning of 2012. Knektion is a boutique online marketing company for small businesses. Our services have morphed over time, but we now primarily provide social media management, running Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and the like for business owners who don’t have time to do it themselves.
Since Eric and I don’t have any employees, we reach bandwidth after a certain number of clients. But we actually love that aspect of our business. It allows us to deal personally and regularly with each of our clients, who inevitably become our friends.
Back in 2012, our first clients were based in Austin, where we lived. We met with them regularly, and we were unsure how they would respond if we went on the road fulltime and weren’t able to meet often. Fortunately, this problem solved itself over time. Our client base grew more diverse. Not everyone lived in Austin, so face-to-face meetings became less important. Of the clients who were in Austin, we developed trusting relationships with them, and we knew they would support our decision to go fulltime.
The other half of our business is our blog about Austin, The Austinot. It operates under Knektion’s umbrella, but it’s not a money-maker for us. We launched it to grow our Austin-based network and serve the community. I’m thankful that we continue to succeed in both areas, while covering our overhead through sponsorships.
Going fulltime while continuing what we were doing at The Austinot seemed impossible. Eric and I were doing most of the writing and going to a ton of events around the city. But this problem also solved itself. We attracted Contributing Bloggers who we could trust, and they gradually took on the tasks of writing articles and representing The Austinot at local events. From the road, Eric and I manage the publishing calendar, edit the articles, manage the social media platforms, onboard sponsors, and respond to contact forms and emails. Our writers are our feet on the ground, interviewing community members, attending openings and events and ultimately writing the articles we publish every week day.
As you think about earning an income on the road, consider whether you can take what you’re doing right now and make it mobile. Even if it’s possible, it will be a process. Make time-specific, measurable goals and move forward gradually.
If there is no way to transition your current job, don’t despair. There are many articles online about the things you can do to earn a living as a fulltime RVer. We know at least one couple who even left retirement so they could achieve their travel dreams. They’ve been camp hosts and worked in an Amazon distribution center, and I’m not sure they’ve ever been happier.
As our business model began to transition and we could envision taking our work on the road, I still had a huge concern: would we have trouble accessing the Internet as we traveled? An online marketer can’t market very well if she’s not online. Not only that, but our client work and Austinot publishing are based on vital routines. If the Internet is down at 8 AM on a Monday morning, we’re in for a world of trouble.
After a few months of research, we made an Internet access plan and I was pretty convinced that connectivity wouldn’t be a problem. We started with a Millenicom device that provided 20 GB of Verizon data every month. Millenicom no longer exists, but you can get a virtually identical device directly from Verizon. Everywhere Verizon’s signal reaches, you will have coverage.
We now have a Verizon device with 30 GB/month, and two tetherable iPhones with a total of 30 GB/month through AT&T. That’s more than enough data for us to do our work every month, and still have some data left over for Netflix.
Having both networks has come in handy multiple times. In almost two years of travel, I can count our connectivity issues on one hand. And, for the record, they were all problems with our phone signal through AT&T.
We’ve made Technomadia’s Coverage app part of our campground selection process. As we research campgrounds, we take a minute to pull up the Coverage app and examine the location in question. The app has never steered us wrong, and it always gives us confidence that work life won’t be interrupted by Internet issues at our next campground.
Working on the Road Requires Flexibility
You can plan your work routine and connectivity, but you can’t plan for everything. Traveling as a fulltime RVers requires flexibility, so know that there will be disruptions no matter what.
There will be times you have to work from the lobby of an RV mechanic’s shop. There will be times you have to drive to the entrance of the state park to call your client because you just can’t get a phone signal. There will be times when you have to secure everything in your RV as fast as you can because your grey water tank is overflowing into your bathtub and you have to go to the dump station.
Not that any of those things have ever happened to me.
But look at it this way: I’m a compulsive planner, who has a habit of planning out entire days by the half hour, who gets upset when things don’t go according to plan. If I can be flexible enough to make this lifestyle work, then you can, too.
The Beauty of the Focus Bubble
Working on the road as a fulltime RVer isn’t all fears and upended plans. There is so much beauty to this lifestyle and what it means for your work life.
Travis Carr, co-founder of Xscapers, recently used a term I love: the focus bubble. Though I hadn’t heard the term before, the concept is extremely familiar to me. The gist is that, when you work from your RV, you have none of the distractions that accompany traditional office life. There are no pointless meetings or people stopping by your desk to ask questions. There’s no water cooler you make excuses to visit, so you can shoot the breeze. Instead, there’s a confined space where you can sit at your computer and knock out your to-do list for the day.
According to a #Millennials survey, 45% would choose workplace flexibility over pay. They know that time is a non-renewable resource.
— Chris Makell (@Chris_Makell) October 16, 2015
Of course, like any type of self-employment, self-discipline is still vital. You can be distracted by chores, what’s in your refrigerator, YouTube or the view outside. But if you let the focus bubble work its magic, the 6-hour workday becomes more than just a possibility.
When I don’t have special projects to complete, I’m often finished my work by lunchtime. I still monitor my emails to make sure my clients don’t need anything, but I can close my laptop, leave my “desk” (our dinette) and explore or relax.
The Changing View Outside
I mentioned getting distracted by the view outside. This is a regular torment to working RVers. It is so hard to concentrate on work when there’s something going on outside, or the weather is just beautiful and I want to be frollicking around in it.
But there’s a flipside to the struggle. As I write this, I’m sitting at our campsite picnic table. I’m barefooted in a t-shirt and sweat pants. It’s sunny and 70 degrees, as a breeze comes off the lake. Did I mention I’m sitting by a lake? There’s wildlife all around me, and I can’t hear anything but the chirps of birds and the wings of grasshoppers as they take flight.
I’m away from sound pollution and distractions of every kind, miles from the nearest town. And when I get restless, I can pack up and move to the next place, perhaps a bustling city with entertainment and craft cocktails.
And all the while, no matter where I am, I’m working Monday-Friday, making a living to support this lifestyle.
Don’t Stop Dreaming
Keep dreaming about becoming a fulltime RVer. Though I’m sure your circumstances are different from what ours were, advance planning and creative problem-solving will get you closer to your goal. Don’t let fears and concerns slay you. As you feel yourself inching forward, know that life is going to bring you to the point where you’ll have to throw your final cares to the wind and leap off the edge.