🚐 Living full time vanlife for

 700 days
Working as digital nomads and living in a van

Working from the van as digital nomads

Vanlife

Living and working from the van full time can have its challenges but they are massively outweighed by the benefits of working and living wherever and however you want. After selling our home and moving into our van full time we were truly digital nomads for the first time in our lives.

For working comfortably it's important to plan out your space and ensure you have everything you need to work efficiently. Here are some of our top tips for a vanlife digital nomad which have worked for us personally.

Jobs

A big factor for us for filling our dream of working and travelling on the road was going self employed. Instead of being dictated to by a large corporation on how and when we should be working we now control the how, when and where. We both decided to roughly align our hours to Mon-Wed each week which gives us 4 days where we don't have to worry about the stability of an internet connection or taking calls. We always knew we wanted to work whilst travelling as opposed to living off savings in order to sustain our travels and still save whilst living this lifestyle. Marcus is currently contracting as a Senior Product Owner, helping businesses deliver websites, apps and conduct research. Jess is a VA (virtual assistant) and is helping small businesses with general tasks, efficiency improvements and social media.

Vanlife Digital Nomads
Vanlife Digital Nomads

Internet

One of the most important aspects of working on the road is a reliable internet connection. Whether you are working from the UK or further afield there are multiple solutions for keeping connected. We use a mobile router which connects to the internet via a physical SIM card. You can very easily swap the cards depending on location. For our EU travels we use a Tiekom SIM which is a Spanish company based on the Vodafone network. We've found Vodafone to be highly reliable whilst working from Europe. For our phones, we currently have SIMs from EE and Three which include roaming. It's a good idea to have SIMs for multiple networks to ensure you have a level of redundancy for your connection. If your work requires specific connection types or 'secure' connections you can also use a VPN whilst travelling. You'll likely want a VPN for keeping access to things like UK Netflix and iPlayer etc

We've written a bit more detail about our setup here.

Equipment

We both work from MacBooks but equipment specifics will vary depending on what type of work you do. We also use headphones or earphones when listening to music and taking calls. With two of us working from the van at the same time it's good to have some ground rules for ensuring it's quiet enough and remaining professional without background noise speaking with clients. Marcus uses Apple AirPod Pro earphones for audio and Jess uses Sony WH-1000XM3, both of these have great battery life and active noise cancelling. Any handy tip is to use devices that can share chargers or cables so you don't need to carry lots of additional items to charge. Outside of the laptops, earphones and router, we don't rely on any other equipment to do our jobs. Try to use 12v when possible as it's more efficient than running everything through an inverter.

Vanlife Digital Nomads
Vanlife Digital Nomads

Power

It's not much use having great internet and a laptop setup if you can't keep the lights on. If you are planning on working from your van and are building, converting or thinking about a van conversion then it's worth investing in your electrical setup. Our rough power setup comprises of 360ah Lithium batteries, 540w Solar, 60amp DCDC charger and a 3000w inverter. Besides our laptops, everything else we use for work can be powered by our USB C PD chargers which run on 12v. For the MacBooks we use the inverter and the supplied 140w charger.

You can read more about the specifics of our electrics here.

We also made a free tool for helping to calculate electricity requirements for your van conversion called Electrify

General workspace

We've created two working areas in our van. One is the fixed seating and dining area towards the back of the van. Jess tends to work from this area. Our second workspace is the passenger seat which is on a swivel. This in combination with a detachable table on a Lagun table leg creates an area in the front. We've also got a curtain that splits the cab from the main living area if we really need to separate the space. The Lagun table is a great option for building a flexible desk anywhere in the van, it's height adjustable and also swivels/pivots so it's very flexible. We didn't have this in the van initially but added it after spending a few months both working from the same table and seat area for more space.

Your environment

No more rainy commutes, no more traffic jams, no defrosting the windscreen to get to work. Choosing your office view is one of the best things about being a nomad! Park up by the ocean, in the mountains or in the woods. Different environments motivate and stimulate people in different ways. More modern, or forward thinking companies are beginning to realise this and since Covid there has been a big steer towards both hybrid and remote working. It's time to take advantage of this, and if you're current role isn't going to work for the lifestyle you want, find another one or even better, create your own.

Van Life as a Digital Nomad
Van Life as a Digital Nomad
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