In the summer of 2016—way before Zoom was common vernacular and Slack was ubiquitous—I decided to change my life and live on the road full-time. For two years, my boyfriend Jonathan and I lived in the New York City area in what felt like a long-distance relationship commuting from Brooklyn to Hoboken. Instead of just moving in together he came to me with a crazy idea: “What if we moved into an RV, instead?” We’d dreamt about traveling the country together and watched episodes of Going RV on the Travel Channel, but I never took it seriously. After deciding I could find freelance work if I couldn’t keep my job at M Booth, we took the plunge.
That summer, we bought an RV (a 35-foot Fleetwood Bounder named Doris, a tribute to Almost Famous) and took it to Burning Man as our first outing. It wasn’t until a few months later that I mustered up the courage to broach the subject of working remotely as a nomad in a glorified van with my mentor and manager EVP, Jon Paul Buchmeyer, at the local LPQ over avocado toast. After he picked up his jaw from the table, he looked at me squarely and said, “We can figure this out.” I have been forever grateful for his flexibility, and his confidence in me to test these uncharted roads of remote work before “van life” was a common reality. This open-mindedness has kept me here for more than a decade.
Since then, Jonathan and I decided to hit every state and National Park in the U.S. Just this past week, we visited our 50th in the wetlands of Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota. We’ve earned our “desert pin-stripes” (tiny scratches that graze along the sides of our rig from squeezing between Joshua trees and barrel cacti) while boondocking under the pink skies of Alabama Hills, CA, amongst the cattle in Crested Butte, CO, nestled between cacti in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and on the beach of Lake Powell, UT. We’ve taken advantage of Harvest Hosts, a membership for RVers that provides unique RV camping at wineries, breweries, and farms. We’ve parked everywhere from a locally owned horse farm outside of Alafia River State Park in Florida to Big Sky Brewing in Montana. But it’s not always glamorous! We’ve spent many a night camped under the fluorescent street lights of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, snuggled between 18-wheelers at truck stops, and parked on more concrete slab campgrounds than I can count.
Going fully remote for me was about more than work-life balance, but work-adventure balance. Working east coast hours regardless of where we park allows for added hours of daylight to hike when we’re out west. Summer Fridays make it possible to add an extra day of camping in places as remote as Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Unlimited vacation has made it possible to create multi-destination road trips through unforgettable places like Utah and Colorado.
Living in and exploring every corner of our country has given me the opportunity to break beyond the bubble of coastal goliaths like New York and San Francisco. We’ve lived in one-stoplight-towns, rural farmland, mountain hideouts, desolate deserts, and coastal beaches. Cultural shifts become as clear as the changing landscape on the horizon. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this experience and the opportunity to bring my fellow Booth crew along for the ride.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about working remotely along the way:
Working remotely isn’t all that different from working in an office.
My house just happens to move all the time! Sometimes where we land can be noisy—like if we’re overnighting at a truck stop or department store parking lot—but after working in New York City for so many years, we’re pretty used to ambulances and street noise making background appearances during meetings.
Your space can be efficient AND inspiring.
Because we have such a small place, efficiency is key. Nestled between two closets in the bedroom, is my tabletop standing desk. Two soundproof curtains separate the bedroom and living room where my boyfriend works. We’ve hung plants, put up peel-and-stick wallpaper, and added fun patterned chairs to keep the place inspiring. Sometimes we work outside or even from the passenger seat of the RV, but usually we’re most productive at our desks.
Be disciplined with your time.
It’s easy to work extra hours at home. I like to start the day with a workout and walk to simulate a morning “commute.” We then plan afternoon activities like hiking, biking, or swimming before dinner to make the most of where we are.
Invest in good Wifi.
The number-one question people ask me about working remotely from an RV is, “But how do you get WiFi?” No matter where we are, we are always connected with cell-service and WiFi. Before we set our sights on our next destination, we check apps like Campendium and AllStays that offer cell coverage maps and reviews from fellow full-timers. We have both Verizon and AT&T LTE to maximize our coverage and oscillate between the two depending on what works best in the area. We’ve installed a high-gain antenna, which we point towards the nearest cell tower for optimal speed. Recently, we purchased a Starlink Dish to supplement our coverage even further. In the last six years, there has been only one occasion where we parked somewhere and realized we couldn’t get a strong enough signal to work—Monument Valley, AZ. (We subsequently hightailed it to a Burger King parking lot in a nearby town, and worked from there instead).