Taking “Working From Home” On The Road
By now, most of the country is getting pretty used to working from home. But have you ever considered working from home while still traveling every day? Let me explain.
I am a web designer at EPIC Creative, and perhaps I’m equally known as the employee living in a van. One might assume I’m regularly working from a mountainside, beach, or down by a river somewhere. Maybe you’ve seen the #vanlife profiles on social platforms where millennials are eating, sleeping, and living on wheels? Well, my wife and I got tired of watching everyone else do it and thought we’d join the fun.
You may be wondering how we got to the point where we’re living in a 78-square-foot cargo van … and that’s a fair question. I wonder that myself sometimes. The truth is, it wasn’t something that happened overnight. The idea of being able to travel and work at the same time was always a dream for us. We realized the only thing holding us back was our own fear of change and the unknown. A couple of years ago, we took what you might say is the first step and eased into a more mobile, minimal lifestyle when my wife, Cassandra, became a travel nurse.
You may be wondering how we got to the point where we’re living in a 78-square-foot cargo van … and that’s a fair question.
We stayed three to six months in each of the locations where my wife signed nursing contracts. This allowed us to “become locals” in each city. We spent our summers exploring the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, the coastal harbor towns of Maine, and camping with bears in Shenandoah National Park. We avoided Wisconsin winters by eating our way through the big culinary city of Houston, and boogie boarding the beaches of Florida.
This spring, we decided to take the next step by ditching the apartment life and building out a van of our own. An endless stream of Youtube tutorials later, we somehow built out our new home on wheels. Knowing that we would be in it full-time, we made sure it was equipped with solar panels, a full kitchen, and the ultimate luxury: a shower.
Having careers and a desire to travel often seem at odds, but this new setup fits our lifestyle as well as anything could.
So what is it like working as a roaming employee?
It requires a little extra planning to make sure you’re available and connected during work hours. That often means adjusting for different time zones as you move around the country. Sometimes it means chasing that cell phone signal or stopping at a coffee shop for the day to really focus on a project.
The lifestyle is a boon for work-life balance. When possible, we park at trailheads, lakes, and parks. On a good day, I can be on a paddleboard or trail just minutes after I shut my laptop for the day. I try not to take for granted the days when my “office space” looks out to mountain vistas or National Parks.
If this is all sounding ideal, it comes with some compromises.
Communication is even more important when you’re on the road. Asking for help, collaborating on a new idea, or keeping in touch with co-workers can take some extra effort but it’s essential to be as productive as you can be.
There are plenty of days when I would like more space, or when we sleep in a Cabela’s parking lot and miss our friends, co-workers, and family.
But it’s all temporary and it’s taught us a lot about change in life. I’ve learned it’s a force for good. Sure, some things sound terrifying or absurd because they challenge our comfortable ways of life or thinking. But I believe there’s a lot of positive that can come our way if we embrace change.
Each new day has the power to take any of us to a new place. My wife and I just take that sentiment a little more literally.