Unlike our time in Latin America, Chris and I will be freelancing consistently while on the road. As a result, there are additional logistics we need to consider as “digital nomads.”
Digital nomads are individuals who leverage telecommunications technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner. (Wikipedia)
Here are the three big things we’re doing to prepare:
Since our van doesn’t have a permanent, physical address, we’re using a virtual mailing service. Even though 99 percent of our accounts are paperless, we still need a) an address to associate with those accounts, and b) a place to receive the 1 percent that isn’t paperless.
For a monthly fee, these services receive, scan, and email your physical mail to you. They’ll even forward mail to wherever you are. The Professional Hobo has a list of useful services in the U.S. and Canada. We’re using Virtual Post Mail and it costs us ~$10/month.
The biggest feature for us is their check deposit service. While we are paid most of our income via PayPal and wire transfer, we still receive rental and some freelancing income via check.
Here are a few other virtual mail services worth checking out:
Working remotely means jeans or PJs count as work attire. It’s a beautiful thing. But I can already anticipate some in-person client meetings where I’ll need multiple days of office-appropriate attire, which poses a challenge to my minimalist wardrobe and our limited van space.
The solution? Space bags.
This is a week’s worth of work attire, which I can also supplement with jeans or sweaters I’m already bringing to dress down as needed. Place the clothes in the space bag, roll the air out, and a quick iron or tumble in a dryer will smooth out any wrinkles when it’s time to wear them. Here’s what’s inside:
The only thing not pictured here is a pair of kitten-heel pumps: they don’t take up much space, are comfy, and match every outfit combo. Boom.
Phone/web connectivity + work space
Most importantly though, we can’t work unless we have connectivity. We’ve freelanced from cafes in Buenos Aires and jungle bungalows in Costa Rica, so we’re not stressed about this. However, we made some preparations in anticipation of van living.
- Changed mobile providers. We switched to T-Mobile. While it doesn’t have the best coverage of all the carriers, it’s cheaper, their coverage is decent, and they offer unlimited data. That’s huge, since we’ll be using our phones as wifi hotspots for our laptops as needed. The other perk: free data and text messages while abroad (calls have a small charge). So if we cross into Canada or Mexico, everything will still be seamless. Nomadic Matt has a helpful article about this.
- Experimented with work spaces. The other thing we’ve done is experimented with different locations with (almost) free internet. The big two that work best for us are coffee shops and public libraries. But we’ve also worked from the van or at picnic tables at a park on a sunny day. It really depends on the level of quiet and concentration we need.
The real benefit of coffee shops is that you can stay there for a long time, but it’s inconsiderate to stay there all day. So it forces us to get our work done efficiently, leaving the rest of the day for exploring.
So there you have it! With some small adjustments, you can make anywhere your office.