On occasion, people e-mail me about things I think a lot of my audience would enjoy hearing the answers to, and this is one such topic. So I’d like to thank Quinn for her patience, as she asked me these questions over a month ago and this answer has been a long time coming. Here’s the relevant part of her original e-mail:
“How has your camping style changed (or not changed) since you first started? I have been reading your blog over again from the beginning (such an amazing resource!) and I have noticed a shift in your work style away from seasonal workamping-type of jobs as the years go on. As a future digital nomad (I will be doing transcription) I was wondering how your camping style has changed with the transition to more online work. Do you boondock less? Have you changed your mobile internet set-up? Do you go into town more (i.e. libraries, coffee shops) to get work done? Do you have an outdoor office set-up?”
I’m going to break this down into parts and answer Q&A style.
“Do you boondock less?”
Nope! I actually boondock a whole lot more. When I work-camped exclusively, a full-hookup RV site was always included as part of the work agreement. So I’d sit in an RV park for 3-6 months and work, then have a week or two to travel to the next job, then I’d sit in another park for 3-6 months. Rinse and repeat. When I had longer periods of time without work, I’d volunteer where I could still get an RV spot for free in exchange for volunteer hours.
I didn’t actually boondock for the first time until 2016, over three years into my life as a full-time RVer. That was also the year I started work-camping less. These days I boondock almost exclusively, I don’t make a lot of money as a writer/author/blogger, and not having to pay for camping is what makes this lifestyle viable for me right now. Eventually, I’d love to get to get to where I can afford to stay in campgrounds more and visit parts of the country where free camping is less of a thing. You can learn more about boondocking here.
“Have you changed your mobile internet set-up?”
Yes, but it’s still pretty bare-bones compared to most RVers who work online. In 2012 when I hit the road, I relied exclusively on free WiFi to get online. I had a small data plan with Verizon that I used to navigate with Google maps and occasionally check e-mail and such, but I relied on the WiFi in the RV parks I stayed at for the most part.
I upgraded my data plan to 3 GB the summer I worked at Yellowstone (2015), since there was no free WiFi there (so yes, I did all my blog updates and online work using that tiny data package). It wasn’t until 2017 that I upgraded to an unlimited data plan with Verizon, and that’s still what I use today. You can read more about my mobile internet solution here.
“Do you go into town more (i.e. libraries, coffee shops) to get work done?”
Much less now that I have an unlimited data plan. I specifically seek out boondocking spots that have good phone signal most of the time, and when I’m somewhere that doesn’t, I’m much more likely to just work in my truck along the side of a road that has good signal than to go all the way into town to visit a shop or library. I visited those much more often when I was relying on free WiFi.
“Do you have an outdoor office set-up?”
Not really. My laptop has a matte screen which reduces glare and I occasionally will sit in my huge camp chair with my laptop and work, but I still find it easier to work inside. I have a tiny folding table I can set up while sitting in bed.
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So yes, my camping style has changed as my work situation has changed, but perhaps not in ways people who aren’t on the road yet would expect. I hope this answers your questions Quinn, and I hope the rest of you potential digital nomads out there also find some value here.
Looking for information on work options as a road nomad?
The Start Here page has a list of the best articles I’ve ever written on the subject.
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