A Day in the Life: Virtual Work from the Road (1 of 3)

A Day in the Life: Virtual Work from the Road

2014 has been a really exciting year for me. When the lease on the house I was renting in south Florida expired early and I was searching for a place to live, rather than finding another house I chose an RV and hit the road.

My van is a little different from your average recreational vehicle — it’s a converted delivery van and my living space is only about 14 feet by 6 feet. All of my work is virtual and every day is different.

My mobile office

My mobile office parked at Pisgah National Forest campground, near Asheville NC, July 2014.

It’s been nine months of this great virtual lifestyle experiment so far.

I’ve had adventures in 18 different states around the U.S.. I often remember a quote from my hero Bugs Bunny when he said to Gossamer, the big red hairy cartoon monster, “You must meet the most interesting people!”

Like Gossamer, I sure have met some of the most interesting people as I’ve traveled through the country.

I met a barge worker in Louisiana, a couple of young, motorbike-riding locals in the wild grasslands of northeastern Wyoming, a Russian restaurant owner in eastern Tennessee. It’s been really fun to learn about what people do in various places around the country, and to hear from locals what it’s like to live there.

I’ve asked people how they landed where they are, and I’ve learned a lot listening to them. Around the U.S., it seems that hardly anyone is “from” where they are now. Most of the people I’ve talked to are from somewhere else.

People ask me questions as well. The common query to me has been, “How is it that you can travel like this? You’re too young to be retired!”

Working online makes my lifestyle possible.

I can do all of my banking, working, trip mapping, and more using various online tools. A chunk of my day is for working, just like anyone else. I get up in the morning, I do my morning routine (coffee, meditation, running or hiking, and breakfast) and then I get to work.

I use different clocks to keep track of time in various time zones. Most of my work is based in the U.S. Eastern Time Zone, so when I’m located in a different time zone I have my RV dashboard clock, wrist watch, cell phone (which always shows me local time) and computer screen clock all set to different time zones so I can quickly tell what time zone I’m in, or the time in other zones (without having to think too much)!

When I go west, I still live as if I’m in the Eastern Time Zone. That means I’m “early to bed and early to rise” when I’m in the western states. But it makes the experience physically “even” for me. The physical adjustment is very easy.

Along the way lots of people have told me they’d love to live the way I live. I’ve even been stopped in parking lots of grocery stores. People stare as I jump out of the van and ask, “Hey, do you live in that thing?” Then I end up giving a tour of my little home on wheels and we talk about living without a bunch of stuff.

I knew I wanted to see the country when I started, and I didn’t have specific dates for most of my stops. When I visited friends I did set dates though, for their convenience and planning. But for the most part I could adjust my travel around my work schedule. After breakfast I set up my work station either in the “sunroom” (the passenger seat of my truck) or in my dining room (sitting at my fold-down table in the center of my living space). If I was in an area I’d never seen before I’d spend a few hours during daylight hours to drive. In warmer months I’d schedule driving time during afternoon, daylight time so I wouldn’t have to run the RV air conditioner (too loud!) and I could see the countryside as I drove. Sometimes I’d use a route on the interstates, and other times I’d travel on smaller, country roads.

Wow! What was that?!

Another exciting part of traveling without deadlines is that when I saw a road sign identifying a point of interest along my route, I could just go. For example, as I drove south on Interstate 25 from Wyoming into Colorado, I saw a sign for Estes Park. I thought, “Oh wow, I’ve never been to Estes Park before! I’d love to see that!” and off I went for a few hours’ detour along my jaunt. I’d already put in about 7 hours that morning on work, but along the way I had some emails and instant messages to respond to, so I stopped in Estes Park with an amazing view of the snow capped mountains (in August!) to answer before I got back on the road.

In other words, if it looks interesting, I go there. Fun!

I anticipated that I’d have concerns about safety but in the past nine months I’ve only worried once about my personal safety. I’ve found people to be friendly, helpful, and kind. I’ve found beauty every place I’ve gone.

There are so many details to share about virtual work — balancing work and travel, making sure I’m eating properly and not eating junk food or too much restaurant food (more expensive and less nutritious than I could make on my own) — but the last bit I want to talk about for now is how to stay connected online.

For internet access I use a personal hot spot device through my cell phone plan. I’ve had to learn to budget my data usage so I don’t stream videos or music very much anymore. Once I got used to data management and knowing how much data I’d need in a month, I could relax and enjoy being online again.

In the next installment of my virtual living and working series I’ll talk about downsizing from feet to bits to make this virtual lifestyle work in my tiny mobile space.

Ready to start your own virtual lifestyle and live the life you’ve imagined? Get started with SBI! today!

Articles in this series:

Amy Biddle
Amy Biddle is Director of the Advisor Team for SiteSell. Amy lives in and works in a small RV, and explores marketing frontiers as well as the frontiers in the lower 48 states of the US.