Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too: How to Take an RV Work-Cation

Want to travel but can't take time off of work? Here's how you can see new places without using your PTO. #travel #rvlife #roadtripideas
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If you’re pretty much any working adult in the US, loving to travel and longing for a more adventurous life can leave you feeling torn. You want to get out and see the world, but you have work (and possibly family) responsibilities keeping you at home. And in the time of coronavirus, travel might feel like a distant dream.

But if you travel by RV, you can do it all: you can take “home” with you and hit the road for a while. Social distancing is easy when you have your own private space that lets you stay as isolated as you want. And if you are in the fortunate position of being able to work remotely, your work can be done from anywhere, so you might as well take advantage of that fact, right? You can continue doing your job while simultaneously experiencing the thrill of visiting new places. It’s the best of both worlds.

My partner and I are on a kick of taking these types of work-cations in our truck camper, and we’re starting to get our system down. We’ve got a list of everything we need to do to prepare and pack before we leave. We create our route plan and book a lot of our campsites ahead of time. Plus, my techie boyfriend ensures that our camper is rigged with the latest and greatest devices to help us get decent phone and Internet service even when we’re far away from all civilization. It’s pretty great.

And now that we’ve done a couple of trips like this together, I can tell you from experience that this kind of travel works and is totally doable. Today I’d like to share some pointers on how you, too, can have your own work-cation experience if you so desire.

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Make a plan for your trip.

If you are planning to work while on the road, I highly suggest you plan your route ahead of time. Decide, at a minimum, what cities you’ll visit and how long you’ll stay in each place. Unless you’re up for boondocking (aka dry camping), it’s a good idea to reserve most or all of your campsites ahead of time if you can (some places tend to book up well in advance).

You’ll also want to think about the roads you’ll be traveling on. GPS can help you navigate around accidents, construction and closures, but plan in advance for local road and weather conditions in the places you’ll be visiting. Make sure your vehicle can handle conditions like snow and ice if there’s any chance you’ll be driving through them. You might even like to get an old-school paper map and draw out your route in case, for whatever reason, you lose access to your phone or GPS.

The key is to take as much of the guesswork out of traveling as possible. Of course, it can be really fun to fly by the seat of your pants and spontaneously go from place to place — but if you’re intending to keep working while you’re away, it’s best to keep surprises and potential mishaps to a minimum.

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Make sure to get your RV serviced and in good working condition before you leave.

Seriously, it’s worth it. If you’re going away on a long trip, it’s smart to have someone take a look at your RV before you leave and make sure everything’s working as it should, especially if you haven’t driven it in a while. At a bare minimum, according to Camperland, you should check that these essential items are in good shape:

  • Oil levels
  • Battery
  • Engine belts and hoses
  • Oil, air and fuel filters

Even if your RV isn’t having any problems that you know of, there’s a lot to be said for doing preventative care and making sure things are running as they should. Mechanics can spot potential issues before they become a problem so that you can have a smooth and safe trip.

Optimize your RV for productivity.

If you’re going to be away from major cities and you’re at all concerned about having reliable phone and Internet service, there are ways you can enhance your signal quality. Equipment like WiFi hotspots and cellular boosters can help you stay connected even in places that are pretty remote. You’ll want to get these set up and test them to make sure they work properly before you head out on your adventure.

Also, think about where and how you’ll do your work on the road. What equipment will you need? Is there a space within your camper where you’ll be comfortable setting up a mobile “office”? In our camper, we didn’t have a space like this — so my boyfriend built us a simple wooden table with swiveling boat chairs to sit in. It works great and it’s big enough for both of us to share during our workdays.

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Indulge in some sightseeing.

Once you’re on the road, there’ll be so much for you to do and see. No doubt you’ll have all kinds of great stops planned for your trip — so make sure you allow time in each place to take in your surroundings and experience the things that drew you to visit. You may still be working, but don’t forget you’re still allowed to travel and have fun while you’re doing it.

Plus, when you’re on a road trip, half of the fun is the journey of getting from place to place. Whether you’re driving through majestic mountain ranges, wide-open desert plains or wild grasslands, you’ll find all kinds of scenery and hidden gems along your way that will inspire you and lift your spirits.

Be ready to change your plan on a moment’s notice if needed.

The final piece of advice I have is this: remain flexible, and go with the flow. There are always things we can’t predict or control when we travel, and that’s part of what makes it exciting — but it also means that sometimes, things just won’t go the way you plan. You have to be ready to think on your feet and come up with solutions to any problems you might run into.

Case in point: we just planned a 5-week trip around the Northwestern US. We did everything right — we got our truck checked by a mechanic before we left, we updated our phone and Internet gadgetry, and we packed all the stuff we could possibly need. We got all the way from Denver up to Bozeman only for our truck to start showing signs of engine problems. The truck’s still drivable, luckily, and should be for a little while longer, but sadly, it does mean that we have to cut our trip short. We’ll most likely be heading home within the next couple of days.

Disappointing? Sure, absolutely. But this is life when you’re traveling. You can spend weeks planning and preparing for your trip, but once you’re out on the road, anything can happen. It’s still been an adventure, we’ve still gotten to see a new place, and it’s still an experience I’ll look back on fondly. In the end, we can’t ask for more than that from a trip.

How about you? Are you ready to try your own RV work-cation? Or have you done it before? Tell me all about it in the comments below!