This blog post is about tips, tricks and advice for working remotely from a van.
Is Living and Working from a Van Possible?
Can you do it? Can you live in a van and work full time?
Yes. A resounding yes!
I have been living in a van and working full-time remotely for the last three years and can honestly say that not only is it possible, but it is also one of the best decisions I ever made.
Does it come with challenges? Absolutely. But the payoff is undeniable. The freedom to travel. To wake up somewhere new every day. To spend weekends exploring new destinations.
Would I throw that all away to go back to the nine to five in an office? Absolutely not.
To be honest, I do not see myself living in a van full time for the rest of my life. Right now, it makes sense. We are young, we are loving travel, and we both have remote work, so living in a van full time works for us. But, living in a van and working full time is not for everyone. It isn’t easy. There are challenges that you wouldn’t face in “normal life”, but there are also fantastic upsides.
This blog post on living in a van and working full time is not a list of all of the ways to find remote work. There are plenty of other blogs out there touting the best remote positions like teaching English as a second language.
This article is about the journey AFTER you have found the job. Tips and strategies to help you maintain living in a van and working full time. How I make it work with my lifestyle and hopefully inspire you to do the same!
READ MORE: 9 Things to Know for Working from the Road
How do You Begin Working from a Van?
Let’s be clear. I am not living in a van and working a full-time job in a city. I am not parked up outside of my office and heading in first thing to grab a shower before anyone else gets to the office.
I did not have a job and then ask for the job to be remote. I quit my job as an auditor for a big accounting firm in July 2018 to travel with my partner Eddie. Three weeks into the trip, we were hooked. We decided we wanted to live “van life” forever, or at least for the foreseeable future. We wanted the freedom to be able to go where we wanted to go and do what we wanted to do, but we also needed a job.
With my background in accounting and my whole entire professional career being an auditor, the only thing I knew to do to find a job was to do what I did best. I signed up for UpWork, created a profile, and waited. After a few interviews, I finally found a contracting role that suited my lifestyle. A job that did not care where I was in the world if I delivered quality work in a timely manner.
Fast forward two years later, I had parlayed this contracting gig into three contracting gigs (more than enough work) and then managed to score a promotion and work for just one client entirely.
Maybe finding a van life job won’t look the same for you. Perhaps you move your existing job to a remote arrangement or find a salaried position that offers remote opportunities. Or maybe you need to switch careers entirely to find something that works for a travel-based lifestyle. The important thing is to commit to going remote and to be patient until you find what you are looking for.
And if you thinking about working remotely, living in a van, and working full time, you have never picked a better time. In 2021, going remote has never been easier. Much of the world was forced to work remotely in 2020 and many companies are still remote today. If you think this is something you want to do, then now is a great time to investigate your options.
Practical Tips for Working from a Van
On average, I work between 25 – 30 hours a week, sometimes as few as 10, sometimes as many as 50. But regardless of how many hours I am working in a week, the challenges and rewards that come with living and working in a van stay the same.
There are times when living in a van and working full time has allowed me to wake up and take phone calls overlooking stunning headlands, pristine beaches, or beautiful lakes. Other times, I am sitting in the front seat of the baking car stewing in my own sweat or waking up at 5 am to drive back into phone service for an important meeting. And sometimes the internet simply drops, and I miss the call, feel bad about it and ultimately have to reschedule.
But even through all the good times, the so-so times, and the bad times, I would not have it any other way. I would not trade in the freedom living in a van and working full time allows me to have over a typical nine-to-five job.
Once we started traveling by van, it was never really an option of can I do it, but how was I going to do it. How I was going to live in a van and work full time. When I step back and think about it, there are five steps that I have taken or things that I have done that have turned my dream into a reality and made living in a van and working full time actually work.
1. Be Upfront about Your Plans
Be upfront with your employer (or client) about your plans. Tell your employer where you are, what you are doing, and develop a plan. People are accommodating when they understand your situation, and if they know what you are trying to do, they may be more supportive than you expect.
Just like if you had a colleague that needed to meet at a different time because of their commitments, people will understand and work around yours, particularly if you are upfront and honest with them.
2. Smart Planning
Planning where you are going to be while living in a van is the most important thing to consider when deciding whether you can live in a van and work full time. By planning, I mean planning your stops to make sure there is enough cell coverage to be able to support your data needs.
In today’s world, it doesn’t take too much to find a stable 4G or 5G connection, and reliable reception can be found throughout most parts of the planet. We have traveled through some of the most remote parts of the world in outback Australia and rural Bolivia and have managed to find a connection.
This does mean, however, that you may be limited in where you can go or for how long, but that is a small sacrifice for being able to take your career on the road.
3. Flexibility Is Key
Depending on where you plan to begin you new lifestyle of living in a van and working full time, it might mean that your hours of operation need to vary from the standard workday hours. For example, I am currently in Australia and my client is on the west coast of the United States. This means that I need to wake up early to make sure that our day overlaps in some capacity.
For you, it could be different. The point is making sure you stay flexible in how you work to try to fit in as best you can to the company’s work environment while still living in a van and working full time is important.
4. Schedule Contactable Hours
One of the best things that I have done to make living in a van and working full time actually work is making myself reliable. One way I have done this is to schedule regular contactable hours. Hours during the week that my clients and colleagues know that they can reach me. This allows my colleagues to schedule meetings and contact me on a regular basis if needed.
Having reliable contactable hours makes others feel as though you are part of the team and are working just like they are working. It is less to do with your life and lifestyle and more to do with what you appear to be doing for your colleagues.
5. Take Advantage of Your Surroundings
One of the most practical tips for living in a van and working full time is to make the most of workspaces, cafes and libraries. By utilizing public and private facilities you can make yourself more comfortable and productive, safe money and headaches on finding reliable internet, and even attend virual meetings with a background that isn’t your messy van.
Identify resources available in the places you travel and create a strategy around them. Some regions have a fantastic network of libraries, some offer free wifi hotspots, others have co-work spaces that are extremely cheap to use.
Utilizing these spots to save on data usage, conserve solar power and stay comfortable has been one of the most important ways to stay productive while working from the road!
Hopefully I have given you some food for thought when it comes to living in a van and working full time! If you have questions about working from a van, let us know. We love to share our experiences with others and would love to help you transition to life on the road!
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