Contrary to what many of my friends and family members think, living and working from the road isn’t always as freewheeling as it seems. Like any self-employed person, when you don’t work, you don’t make money. And when you don’t make money, you starve.
Trying to conduct any kind of income-producing business on the road has challenges that most self-employed people don’t typically face, such as:
Imagine trying to get work done when your office window overlooks some of the most spectacular landscapes this country has to offer. From the top of the Appalachian Trail in Maine to the edge of the Rio Grande, I’ve had the privilege of working from the best views that this continent has to offer. But getting work done when those landscapes are calling out your name is tough! There have been many times when we just didn’t get to experience a location as much as we wanted because of heavy workloads.
No Defined Boundaries
Being a home-based business owner means learning to accept that there is no real physical separation of work and home. When my office got wheels back in 2007, my dining table became my workspace for the first 7 years of our full-timing travels. Now that I have a real workshop in the back of my RV, I still don’t have a door that I can close at the end of the day. And as my business grew a 24/7 Internet-based operation, I also came to accept that there is no virtual separation either. Jim and I have been awakened at ungodly hours more times than I care to count because an East Coast customer was calling our “office” early in the morning, while we were still asleep in California.
Internet Connectivity (or lack therof)
The U.S. has some of the poorest WiFi Internet coverage of all Western countries. Knowing this, Jim and I invested in a satellite Internet system so we could keep our business going no matter where we are. However, this technology has many challenges. Anyone who’s not as geeky will have a tough time getting online in the backcountry. Most self-employed full-timers who rely on WiFi broadband from Verizon, AT&T, and the like usually stick to less isolated areas to ensure good coverage.
We try to carefully time our driving days to coincide with slow business days. That’s because every time we move to a new location, an entire business day gets eaten up by breaking camp, driving and re-establishing ourselves somewhere either for the night or longer. Because our RV of choice is a fifth-wheel, everything stops when we’re on the road. As the navigator, I’ve tried working from my laptop while Jim drives, but that’s usually a short-lived endeavor since battery time only lasts so long and Internet connectivity on the road is often sporadic. I try to use those driving days at time to sit, knit, breathe and soak up the scenery, but it’s tough when deadlines loom heavy on my mind.
Working full-timers face more challenges than people think. During that first year on the road, you’ve got to find work-arounds to keep income coming in or your full-timing adventure will end much sooner than you hoped.