Having an RV office is a game-changer for being able to be productive on the road as a digital nomad and in this post, we’ll lay out everything you need to know about how to incorporate a mobile office into your campervan.
Living the van life and being able to travel around is incredible. But if you would like to sustain this lifestyle then you may need to get a campervan that is suited for both living and working.
Setting your campervan to have a great workspace is so important for your to get the job done. If you don’t have a dedicated space but switch between your sofa, bed and a camping chair set up outside then you’re going to have a difficult time being productive.
You need to allocate a spot for working and a time so your are focused.
Read on for tips on setting up the ultimate van office to boost your productivity on the road!
NOTE – Check out down the bottom of our post for some #vanlife office inspiration from other van lifers!
RV Office Setup 101 – Making Your Van Work For You
Working on the road can be difficult without the right mobile office setup. Let’s cover the important things to consider in any van office.
Get the Right Vehicle for you
When it comes to finding the right vehicle for your van lifestyle, it becomes all about space and your work set-up.
Having a small car or campervan may not give you enough space to work and be comfortable, which may lead you to work outside a lot or in cafes. Both of these situations cause a lot of distractions.
By thinking about this when you are buying your campervan, or before you build one out, you can alleviate a lot of stress that other digital nomads face.
Consider where would be the best spot to set your station up. You also need to think of the electricity situation. How are you going to charge your laptop?
Making sure you have the right battery system is extremely important to keep the money rolling in. Also, be sure to have an adequately sized inverter so you can stay plugged in wherever you may find yourself working.
When we bought our Sprinter van, we wanted the campervan to be large enough for living but also as a mobile office.
We opted for the Sprinter over other available van models particularly because of all of the space that it offered for us to be able to both live and work on the road.
The Internet Situation
Your mobile office campervan needs to have good internet for your to get your work done. You need a connection to communicate with your clients or to showcase your work.
Knowing what internet company can serve you best is one of the first things you should do.
For us, we worked off our mobile phone and used the hotspot to access internet on our laptops. We made sure we had enough internet data as we do use a lot daily and did not want to be stung with extra fees if we go over the limit.
Telstra works best when you are going into the rural parts of Australia. Optus works best in the populated areas. A good way to ensure that you always have connectivity is to consider having a plan with each.
I am with Optus and Jarryd is with Telstra. This worked well for us as we always knew one would work where ever we are.
Make sure you do your research to get the best service so you will be able to move around and work from your campervan where ever you would like.
You can access telecommunication companies reception maps on their website so you can see if that provider will work in the areas you are going.
Having a cellular phone booster in the campervan is a great option to get a stronger signal for your internet. We know many people that have it and speak highly of it.
You can also get a wireless internet device that permanently lives in your campervan and provides you with internet. You could pay a monthly fee for this and have a limit with your data.
Sometimes these have stronger signals than when you hotspot off your mobile phone. We tried our phones first and felt it was good enough for us.
But other people felt their phones weren’t strong enough and went for the wireless device instead.
Create a Dedicated Workspace Area
This is so important. Having a dedicated workspace is a must for your focus during working hours.
This took us a while to get settled in and find our places before we felt like our time behind our computer was purposeful and not wasted.
We both have a few online businesses in the marketing world, so when we were buying our campervan this is what we thought about.
We bought our Sprinter van where the bed turns into a table for daily use. Yes, it does take a little more time for us to in the mornings and evenings to make our bed and pack it up but it is so worth it.
During the day we have a full table that turns into a workspace desk with enough space for both of us to spread out and work. We love this work desk.
We have seen some people set up a work station in the passenger seat of their vehicle. They have a table that connects to the dash and works as a table.
If there are two people living in the campervan this works very well as it acts like another room. So you know that when you are in the front seat, it is your work station and you are there for a purpose.
You could even use your 12v TV monitor as a computer screen or a second screen if you need.
Make sure you have a dedicated place so you can focus on your work and get the job done for your client.
Downsize your Work Equipment
When you are at a desk in a home or an office, you have a lot of space to have equipment and other items.
But in a campervan you do not have this much space, so you need to think about your work equipment and do you really need these items.
Obviously your laptop is a must. But do you need the keyboard and mouse extension? How many hard drives do you need to store you photos or video?
With the hard drive situation, we always recommend having two and backing up everything on both on a regular basis.
And when you get good internet that is fast make sure to upload all the documents, photos and videos to an online storage place.
Have a Routine for Work and Play
You need to have an allocated work time and play time for your digital nomad life to be efficient. We did not do this in the beginning and we were all over the place, not seeing results in our business.
Once we established a time period where we work, we were back on track. We felt early in the morning was best for us.
We would get up at 5:30 – 6am and start work within half an hour of waking up. The night before we make a little list of what we want to get done in our 3 – 4 hour period in the morning so we could be focused and on track.
We found this is when we were more alert so we could focus the best.
After we had finished (about 9-10am), we would then go about our day. We would go sightseeing and head to the next destination in our campervan.
We found this worked great for us. But everyone is different.
If you are not a morning person, maybe sightseeing and exploring the morning is best for you and you schedule work for the evenings.
Some people are night owls so getting work done after the sun goes down might be much better for you.
Work hard and fast then go on an adventure to keep your mind and body fresh!
Manage Your Time Effectively
When you sit down to work, making your time efficient is key. Get rid of all those distractions!
Turn your mobile phone on silent or place it in another area of the campervan. Make sure your water bottle is filled or you have made your coffee before you have sit down so there is no distractions while you are working.
Maybe even have a little sign on your campervan door saying “interview in progress” or “do not disturb” if you are afraid your friendly neighbours may be a bit too social.
This is necessary if you are hanging out with friends or family so they know not to disturb you for a period of time while you work. When they see the sign up, they know you are focused.
Van life working remote gigs are not as easy as everyone thinks. You need to put yourself in the frame of mind.
Have a Backup Plan
This is important if you are working on the road. Whether you are a marketer, publisher, designer, photographer, a videographer or a writer, it is crucial to have a back up plan.
Maybe have 2 hard drives and back them up identically. In case one accidentally is dropped or breaks, you have another back up.
Storage is important as you could lose everything if your laptop crashes.
We have about 15 hard drives and we have them all backed up to the cloud. If you have good internet, you will be able to do this. If one breaks, we have a backup.
There are great services online like Google Drive or Dropbox, that offer good packages to store your work.
Van Life Office Inspiration
Check out some van office setups that may inspire you to build or convert your own!
Alesha and Jarryd from NOMADasaurus (And Van Life theory)
We worked out of our Sprinter mobile RV office and are so happy we had the space for both of us to work.
A good workspace is what you need in your campervan to stay focused and get the work done you need to. Get your tasks completed and then go on an adventure.
Chelsea from Yalang a Lang
Chelsea is so talented in jewellery making. She travels Australia creating her unique jewellery to sell at markets and to other people she meets along the way.
This helps her fund her van life trip.
Claire from Road to Thriving
Claire works and lives out of her Sprinter Campervan in Australia. She runs her own podcast interviewing entrepreneurs every week.
She lives in the van with her partner Jake and dog Mia. Claire and Jake have a great understanding of each other’s space and give each other time to work when needed.
Claire’s podcasts can be found here.
Indie & Joel from On The Free Side
Indie and Joel run are a Swedish couple working and living full time in their Sprinter Campervan.
They have a website where they showcase their photography and modelling work. From this they work with brands. They have a beautiful space to work in their van.
Nigel and Sue from NAS Adventures
Nigel and Sue are your outdoor adventurers that love hiking, mountain biking and kitesurfing. Their self built Sprinter campervan is the perfect RV office and living quarters.
They have previously been travelling around in their 4×4 Troopie, and now a Sprinter campervan.
Greg Mills from Greg Mills Photography
Greg is originally from New York but now is living, working, and travelling on the road full time by way of a 1982 VW Vanagon Camper Van.
He is travelling around Canada, USA and Central America. He works as a photographer and sells his prints online.
Sara and Alex from Sara and Alex James
Sara and Alex are a couple that work out of their 2008 Dodge Sprinter. This couple makes their money online with blogging and social media.
Their campervan is set up for full time living and full time working. Definitely an inspiration.
If there are any other van lifers that inspires you and you are impressed by their van life office, please mention them in the comments below.