Get out and explore
While the benefit of living in your RV or van is that you can carry your home office with you everywhere, sometimes you just NEED TO LEAVE the RV and hang out somewhere else for a while! Especially if you’re traveling to somewhere new– hanging out in any of these places listed below can be a great way to explore a town.
I’m the biggest homebody in the world, and part of the reason I’m getting an RV is so I can stay in it while I’m traveling, BUT I know that eventually I’ll get bored of seeing the same few walls day after day. I’m planning on getting outside the RV and exploring the different office spaces that are available for free or cheap– and I’ve put together this blog post to highlight the best ones I’ve found so far.
Where do you work best?
There are all kinds of different ways to work, and everybody has different needs. Luckily, there’s a space for everyone– we just have to narrow it down.
What kind of environment do you work best in? Super quiet, alone with nobody bugging you, with a nice cup of coffee? Or do you need background noise and a more chaotic environment?
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For me, I can work either in a quiet or noisy place, WITH some tweaks. I’ve written blog posts in coffee shops, in my bedroom, in the staff breakroom at lunch, in libraries, etc. etc. What I need is a comfy chair, a sturdy place to put my laptop, and a plug for my electronics. Noise doesn’t bother me because I always put in earphones and listen to my own music!
Speaking of music: Amazon Music Unlimited (part of Amazon Prime) has amazing playlists for all kinds of situations. If I’m writing and need to concentrate, I load up an instrumental playlist. When I’m commuting or trying to keep my energy up, I blast some pop and 80’s rock.
Personal fav: Libraries
I’m a librarian, so this is a no brainer. My favorite place to work is libraries.
They’re free! Anybody can use the library space, even if you don’t have a card for that particular library. They have tables, comfy chairs, even private study rooms, all available to use and enjoy.
Some downsides include: most libraries are not open all day every day; sometimes all the tables and study rooms are taken; wifi can sometimes be slow; public space means dealing with public people; chairs at the desks can be uncomfortable after a few hours (bring a cushion).
Noise: Varies with location, and even varies within the library itself. Private study rooms can be the quietest, of course, but if you need noise you can sit somewhere close to the lobby.
Amenities: Wifi, computers, printers/photocopiers, scanners, plugs for electronics, tables, reference resources (books!), sometimes coffee and food.
Coworking spaces (WeWork)
Coworking spaces have become the hot new thing in the last few years, and WeWork has become one of the top companies providing a space for business owners and freelancers to work in. How it works is: you rent the space you need for a day, a week, or a month. You get access to your own space, with plenty of amenities, in a peaceful office, for as long as you need it.
If you need to get a lot of work done, video conference a client, or have in-person meetings, a coworking space can be a good solution. Instead of renting an office space in a business complex– or meeting in a coffee shop, which can seem unprofessional– try temporarily renting a coworking space.
Downsides: The cost can be prohibitive for many people; not available in every city or location; you may freak people out when you tell them you live in your RV.
Cost: Varies by location and your needs. Do you need a month in a private office in Orange County? Or just a desk for a week? However, if you get the We Membership plan, you can get a space for about $50/day. More about that here.
Noise: Varies by type of space rented, but usually overall pretty quiet.
Amenities: Wifi, coffee/water/beer(?!), 24/7 building access (HUGE!), printers, mail and package handling (!!), bike storage, office supplies, comfy common areas.
Coffee shops & restaurants
Not only Starbucks has wifi and chairs/tables for working! Some restaurants have wifi and are willing to host a laptop-worker for an hour or two. My favorite is Panera Bread and their broccoli cheese soup, comfy tables, and chill atmosphere.
Places to try out:
- Starbucks (the mothership)
- Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
- Panera Bread
- Barnes & Noble
There are TONS more places, many of them findable by searching for “free wifi” on Yelp!
Downsides: constant smell of food/coffee, can be super noisy, usually has a time limit for how long you can be in there, wifi connection can be laggy, no printers/copiers/office supplies.
Cost: $5-25, depending on what you buy.
Noise: Usually high.
Amenities: food and drink, comfortable chairs, good tables, Wifi.
AirBNB, house-sitting, friends & family
This may be the total antithesis of why you even started LIVING in an RV in the first place, but! You can totally rent a room in an AirBNB, or visit family and use their house, and get lots of work done. Maybe you need to blast through some video editing over the weekend and can’t worry about where you’re going to park for the night. Maybe you just want some home-style comforts and a really good wifi connection.
Whatever the reason, sometimes you just need a house. So why not get one?
An AirBNB rental is available in almost every location you can think of, and depending on where you are, the pricing can be quite reasonable. House-sitting can be a great side gig! And of course, visiting family warms the heart as well as eases the wallet.
Downsides: Cost, where are you going to put the RV?, many distractions.
Cost: Varies, usually $50+ for AirBNB.
Noise: Low (private AirBNB/house) to high (family and friends wanna talk to you!).
Amenities: Wifi (probably), super comfortable setting, food and drinks, private bathroom, 24/7 access.
Parks & public spaces
This would not be my go-to location for working, but it could be VERY interesting! Think about it: park near a beautiful public space, work for a while, take in the scenery, say hi to the people. Move on and find another place and repeat, over and over, looking for pretty locations and nice weather.
Who wouldn’t want to work at the beach? It’s the dream work space– though reality is a lot more sandy.
Downsides: (probably) no wifi, not always open to people, sun can make it hard to see laptop screen, people always wanting to talk to you, weather can be against you, sand.
Noise: Varies, depending on where you go.
Amenities: Beautiful surroundings, perhaps a bathroom.
When it’s time to leave the RV, where do you like to work? Coffee shop, library, office? Leave a comment below with your recommendation!0