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Taking Telecommuting To the Next Level - the RV

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the dear-indugu dept.

Transportation 365

An anonymous reader writes "I have been telecommuting as a software architect for a major corporation since 2007. It has allowed me to live a quality rural lifestyle. Never content, am now considering living on the road for several years. Due to the proliferation of 4G and wireless hotspots, I see no reason I could not do this from a 5th-wheel trailer. Have any slashdotters truly cut the cord in this manner? Any advice or warnings?"

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Work work work work some more! (-1, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 2 years ago | (#41212171)

Keep on working until you die little prole suckers! Bourgeoisie needs more profit! Work work work work vagina work! No time off!

Service quality (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212181)

In Romania (and probably the EU), we have a law that forces all ISPs to publish service quality parameters (such as average complaint resolving time). Make sure you check them if there are any in the US, to help you decide which provider you pick.

Re:Service quality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212221)

He's only got one choice. This is america. It might not be fassist Russia although it gets dangerously close.

Showers (4, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41212207)

Only stay at places with shower facilities. RV'ing can be fun, but without some comforts like the ability to take long/hot showers, it will always feel like a small step above camping.

Not something you will want to do for several years. And find places with electrical outlets. Air conditioning is something to die for during the summer, and you wont have it if you are running a generator only.

Re:Showers (5, Informative)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#41212227)

And avoid states where fireants are prolific. Nothing will ruin your day faster than fireants in your bed. They come in through cracks around the wheel wells, and are notoriously bad in areas where campers tend to be.

Re:Showers (5, Informative)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#41212397)

This usually only happens if you are parked directly over their nest, so scout the area before parking. If you see a nest, pour a few gallons of boiling water down it. Then liberally sprinkle borax over the area.

When you park, place a small inflatable pool on the ground where the wheels will go. When the wheels are in the middle of the pool, inflate and fill with water.

These are completely natural methods to mitigate the ants, cheap, and very very effective.

Re:Showers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212577)

If you see a nest, pour a few gallons of boiling water down it. Then liberally sprinkle borax over the area.

Poor ants :(

Re:Showers (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41212611)

Sprinkling borax on the ground is completely natural? I beg to differ. If there were borax all over the ground naturally, there would be no fire ants in the area. Also, if you don't live in Yellowstone, (where there are no fire ants), boiling water in the ground is pretty unlikely to be natural.

But those methods ARE effective. Perhaps not as effective as Amdro, but effective. Planting the wheels in water is an idea I hadn't heard before. I have friends who live in Fireantland and they might appreciate that suggestion.

Years ago I saw a guy who had built a hand-carryable boiler that shot pressurized steam down into anthills. Always wished I had one when I lived in Fireantland but never saw one for sale.

Re:Showers (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#41212657)

Borax. Someone needs to consult at least wikipedia to find out how harmless this stuff actually is to the environment. Sure the immediate environment of the ant nest will be trashed until it rains a little, but there is no lasting damage to the ecosystem.

Re:Showers (5, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | about 2 years ago | (#41212867)

I thought so too, but recently saw:

@ URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borax#Toxicity [wikipedia.org]

Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. The SVHC candidate list is part of the EU Regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006 (REACH), and the addition was based on the revised classification of Borax as toxic for reproduction category 1B under the CLP Regulations. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings "May damage fertility" and "May damage the unborn child".

Probably still less toxic than most pesticides, but not quite as innocuous as previously thought...

Re:Showers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212695)

I am shocked to learn that is it ok to destroy the habitat of a colony just so you can put your in its place.
Why don't you just parck someplace else ?

Re:Showers (3, Informative)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#41212727)

They are an invasive species with no redeeming qualities. There is no reason to let any of them live.

Re:Showers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212817)

I agree, people in RV's need to die.

Re:Showers (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#41212717)

This usually only happens if you are parked directly over their nest, so scout the area before parking. If you see a nest, pour a few gallons of boiling water down it. Then liberally sprinkle borax over the area.

When you park, place a small inflatable pool on the ground where the wheels will go. When the wheels are in the middle of the pool, inflate and fill with water.

These are completely natural methods to mitigate the ants, cheap, and very very effective.

http://www.amdro.com/ [amdro.com]

Re:Showers (4, Insightful)

dr_dank (472072) | about 2 years ago | (#41212875)

When you park, place a small inflatable pool on the ground where the wheels will go. When the wheels are in the middle of the pool, inflate and fill with water.

That might take care of the fire ants, but now you've got a prime mosquito breeding ground surrounding your camper.

Re:Showers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212773)

And avoid states where fireants are prolific. Nothing will ruin your day faster than fireants in your bed. They come in through cracks around the wheel wells, and are notoriously bad in areas where campers tend to be.

They also get into clothes.

Nothing - and I mean NOTHING - will wake you up faster in the morning than getting up in the dark and pulling on a pair of underwear full of fire ants.

Re:Showers (0, Troll)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41212293)

> Only stay at places with shower facilities. RV'ing can be fun,
> but without some comforts like the ability to take long/hot
> showers, it will always feel like a small step above camping.

WTF? This is Slashdot. Going days without showering is fairly normal for nerds around here.

Re:Showers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212365)

> Only stay at places with shower facilities. RV'ing can be fun,
> but without some comforts like the ability to take long/hot
> showers, it will always feel like a small step above camping.

WTF? This is Slashdot. Going days without showering is fairly normal for nerds around here.

The new tagline will be: "Can you smell me now?" ;)

Re:Showers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212721)

Most all RVs come with built in showers nowadays. You have to get pretty low on the RV spectrum to get one without a shower--about the only things I've seen that don't come with them are travel trailers 14 feet and under, and also most (but not all) tent trailers. Both of those are unlikely to be the OPs choices. I'm guessing he wants a "real" RV--the $100,000 40 foot ones. Those will have a regular bathroom style bathroom, might even have flush toilets instead of RV style pedal toilets.

I will say, of course, the 6 gallon hot water tank smaller trailers have might not be enough to have a *long* shower, but it's enough for a hot one. I bet as you spend more and get a bigger RV you get a bigger hot water tank, although frankly I've never had a need for anything above the low-end since it's only for occasional use.

As for electrical, I have to agree there, unless he buys a beefy generator, in which case, anywhere he can make noise would be fine... Of course, the real problem is dumping the sewage and getting fresh water, and chances are if you have a sewer hookup, you have electrical.

Re:Showers (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41212881)

" I'm guessing he wants a "real" RV--the $100,000 40 foot ones"
You dont know RV prices do you...

The morons that bought that $100,000 RV are now desperate to sell them. I picked up a 48 foot 5th wheel with TWO bedrooms and a freaking garage in it (it also has a gas station with a 30 gallon gas tank and gas pump) plus has a sealed and heated undercarriage for 4 season camping. Got it looking like new but 4 years old for $25,900.

Only a complete moron would buy a new one.

Re:Showers (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41212841)

Most good RV's have showers. heck mine has a full bathroom and a queen sized real bed in a bedroom. Leave the cap on the Grey water tank but drill a 1/4 inch hole and tap in a small petcock valve. so your grey water tank drains all over the road as you drive or when parked. dont be a dusche and do this to the black water.

Tiny home instead? (3, Interesting)

MrLogic17 (233498) | about 2 years ago | (#41212219)

Maybe consider half way between a house & RV. Better when in cold climates.

http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/ [tumbleweedhouses.com]

what's wrong with just normal 4g? (1)

Mirar (264502) | about 2 years ago | (#41212225)

I'm not sure what you're looking for. I thought it would be a quite normal thing to utilize 4g and similar while on the road, whether for work, on vacation or telecommuting (which invariably happens to me on vacation).
But all you need for that is a cell phone, and possibly a small directional antenna. The RV solution shouldn't have an impact?

Working on satellite antennas for moving vehicles, I can confirm those solutions exist as well... but probably a little price-y as well as physically heavy for single user use. But if you *really* need internet while driving somewhere extremely rural...

Re:what's wrong with just normal 4g? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41212621)

Minimum latency via GEO is over a quarter second and service is expensive.

Limited Cell coverage (4, Informative)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 2 years ago | (#41212241)

Many of the places you may want to travel to may have limited cell coverage. I have stayed in many campgrounds where 2G is the most I can hope for. Think about where you want to go before you dive into this plan.

Re:Limited Cell coverage (2)

rapiddescent (572442) | about 2 years ago | (#41212511)

(usual EU mobile coverage disclaimer) but I have a 3G booster antenna [solwise.co.uk] on the roof of my van that I use at mountain bike races. I then bridge it to wifi and the whole lot works off the van's leisure battery (a second battery) topped-up with some solar panels. it quite often will bump up to 3G if you are on the edge of 3G reception where a phone/3G dongle can't.

Re:Limited Cell coverage (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41212623)

Many of the places you may want to travel to may have limited cell coverage. I have stayed in many campgrounds where 2G is the most I can hope for. Think about where you want to go before you dive into this plan.

My father made money with dialup while RVing over a decade ago. "I can't survive without the latest modern tech" is a great way to talk yourself out of it.

Much as probably very few /.ers have Aeron chairs at home yet somehow compute none the less.

There will be "issues" like GUI/VNC is not a good idea compared to CLI/SSH. Learn how to make your computer multitask. If you're the type who can only do one thing at a time, such as watch a download process bar while doing absolutely nothing else, you'll be in agony. On the other hand if you're using something like GIT for distributed VCS you really don't care how long it takes to sync the repos as long as it takes less time that your average successful connection, then OK...

Also since roughly the dotcom boom almost all commercial/non-public campgrounds have wifi. So your 2G campground was almost certainly public, I'm guessing. I've never been to a commercial campground without wifi or a public campground with anything other than cell service. Luckily, being mobile, you don't have to stay at a park thats a telecommunications black hole. All campgrounds, commercial or public, seem surrounded by wifi equipped coffee shops. Even 10 years ago this was just not much of an issue. To some extent a coffee shop is more conducive to work than looking out the window at the ladies suntanning on the beach all day anyway.

You get pretty good at batching too, or you get pretty frustrated. I just did a git push, now I need to immediately instantly sync up with everyone else. Well, no, probably not, not if you're managing it well. Sure you would if you were not communications limited, but if you have to drive 5 minutes to the coffee shop, then it turns out you don't.

Re:Limited Cell coverage (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 2 years ago | (#41212767)

It's possible to work effectively without an internet connection if you download all the documentation packages locally in advance. There will always be small things you have to google though, so there may be some extra guesswork when off line. And the colleagues may expect to have contact by email.

With all the local storage available now, someone should write a Firefox plugin that saves every page you visit, preferably with different versions, so you can access them off line. I haven't seen one though.

Non-Internet issues (5, Informative)

John Bresnahan (638668) | about 2 years ago | (#41212247)

The technology-related issues are easy to solve these days. Unless you're in the middle of the desert, 3G/4G cell phones and personal WiFi hotspots should work. If you are determined to live way, way out in the boonies, then look in to satellite-based Internet. It's not very good, but sometimes it's your only option.

The government and regulatory issues might be a bigger problem. Are you keeping your current home? If not, what will you use as an address? You will have problems with things like driver's licenses if you don't have a permanent address.

There are several RV-related web sites with articles and forums on the subject of full-timing. Make sure to check them out.

Re:Non-Internet issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212273)

Just what I was going to say. It's a mode of life that sounds appealing. But the major apparent problem is that lots of things these days expect you to have a permanent address. I guess you could look at something like a rented mailbox, the same way I know people who live on houseboats do.

Re:Non-Internet issues (5, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#41212367)

A number of permanent RVers or "fulltimers" are residents of South Dakota. The state doesn't require a physical pressure except once every few years to get the driver's license renewed. They get around the permanent mailbox problem by setting up mail forwarding from a permanent address in that state.

Re:Non-Internet issues (0)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#41212279)

Are you keeping your current home? If not, what will you use as an address? You will have problems with things like driver's licenses if you don't have a permanent address.

Well since he's coming out of his mom's basement to go mobile, I'm sure she will continue to let him use her mailbox....

Re:Non-Internet issues (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41212655)

Are you keeping your current home? If not, what will you use as an address? You will have problems with things like driver's licenses if you don't have a permanent address.

Well since he's coming out of his mom's basement to go mobile, I'm sure she will continue to let him use her mailbox....

I know you're joking but more than a decade ago I accumulated vast quantities of postal mail for my parents when they went thru their RV phase. Its surprising if you get half an inch of junk mail per day, then a couple weeks worth is a hell of a lot of paper. They didn't "legally move in" because they maintained a residence with an address, but "stuff that just needs a maildrop" like old fashioned paper ham radio magazines, etc, slowly collected in a big pile at my house. I would estimate I collected about one plastic shopping bag of mail per week for my parents.

This "problem" is one of those stereotypical things that has been solved literally a million times by other RVers in the past, but if you try really hard you can use it to talk yourself out of going RVing.

Re:Non-Internet issues (1)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#41212889)

Actually I work away from home for several weeks at a time, and the backlog of paper mail that builds up over such periods is quite substantial. I sometimes think I got married just so I could have someone to take care of it for me :-P

Re:Non-Internet issues (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 years ago | (#41212371)

you really don't get out much. I know many areas that are only recently getting 3G. Populated areas with multi million dollar homes and they got 3G in the last year.

Also all you need for an address is a PO box.

Re:Non-Internet issues (1)

venom85 (1399525) | about 2 years ago | (#41212513)

Also all you need for an address is a PO box.

After the Patriot Act, you need a physical address for most things now. For instance, you can't legally open a bank account or apply for a credit card with just a PO box. You can add a PO box as a mailing address, but that won't be sufficient by itself anymore. I'm not sure if this extends to a drivers license, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me.

Re:Non-Internet issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212629)

UPS store rents a mailbox. If that isn't good enough "rent" a room in the middle of nowhere on the cheap. $300-500 a month.

Re:Non-Internet issues (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41212645)

The technology-related issues are easy to solve these days. Unless you're in the middle of the desert, 3G/4G cell phones and personal WiFi hotspots should work. If you are determined to live way, way out in the boonies, then look in to satellite-based Internet.

Phbbbt! Cityfolk!

You might be surprised at how much of the American west meets your definition of way out in the boonies, and I don't think you've considered the existence of forests and mountains.

That's a big percentage (4, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | about 2 years ago | (#41212263)

Wow. TFA says 8.9 million American households that have RVs, about a half-million live full-time on the road.
And the National Multi Housing Council [nmhc.org] site I found says there are a total of 118M households in all.
So 7.5% of all households own RVs? And 0.4% live on the road? I had no idea such a huge percentage was doing this.

Re:That's a big percentage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212277)

Visit Florida in the winter some time.

Re:That's a big percentage (2)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | about 2 years ago | (#41212449)

I've met a lot of people in this category while attending music festivals. Most were older couples who retired, sold their home, and bought a really nice RV. They spend the winter in the south and the summer visiting family and festivals.

Re:That's a big percentage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212805)

Well, it's tough to admit, but the USA is in a pretty bad state currently. And going downwards rapidly.

It's actually easy to fix. Same taxes for everyone, including the top 1%. That alone would balance the deficit. End those idiotic wars. That alone *also* would balance the deficits.

What's hard to fix is the industries (banks mainly) that own the country, that like it that way,
and the dumb masses that are deliberately kept uninformed, that will stop you if you try to save them.

I honestly hope, the USA separates into two countries. Neocon Catholibanland (a fundamentalist/fascist industrial feudalism) and the real USA (more European-oriented, looking at Scandinavia and Canada as role-models to beat at their own gay). (Just make sure you get the nukes. ;)

Remote Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212287)

Make sure you have good telecommuting support, so that you don't get disconnected for long periods of time.

We're not there yet. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212325)

I have been telecommuting fulltime for 14 years now and used it to move around the country..not in an RV however. I find 4G coverage still spotty in rural areas and even if it wasnt, the data caps will kill you unless you're grandfathered into unlimited data..Sprint's just getting around to deploying LTE so they're unlimited data is mostly 3G, 3G data is unacceptable for most interactive IT work on the net.

I find working in Rural areas rought..no hardwared internet access unless I want to drop in a T1, The new satellite services(Excede) also have data caps.

I went to a cabin in northern Minnesota this summer..it was on a lake, nice, peaceful and a perfect place for me to work..no cell coverage and certainly no internet access.

Re:We're not there yet. (3, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#41212711)

I went to a cabin in northern Minnesota this summer..it was on a lake, nice, peaceful and a perfect place for me to work..no cell coverage and certainly no internet access.

As a Minnesotan whose dream is to own a waterfront cabin (few Minnesotans don't) and work for three months every year from the cabin with the kiddos running around and playing, I have found plenty of areas in rural Minnesota with excellent wireless and wired connections. In fact, we stayed at a cabin in rural Western MN this summer for a week and I had no problems using the neighbors DSL connection (with permission) to VPN in and do my work when needed (yay for reduced PTO usage while the kids napped). In addition I had a VZW mifi with me for a backup and had 4G connectivity there and found it faster than the metro area.

We were scouting a VERY INEXPENSIVE cabin ($16,000) on Pelican Lake in Orr, MN (way far north) and found that because it was close enough to the main "highway" running North/South, there was adequate 3G service. There was also 4000/2000 DSL available as well. Believe me, I considered dropping the cash right then and there.

Obviously, YMMV.

How sociable are you? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41212329)

I worked a couple of summers in Yellowstone when I was in college. About half of the employees were semi-retired couples living in RVs; they worked in northern parks during the summer and headed south for the winter. That lifestyle really means finding a place to park for months at a time and quickly making friends with the people around you. Otherwise you'll be eating dinner alone every night for weeks on end.

maintain a physical address (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41212331)

There are RV associations which will help you with this. You will need an address for things like bills, insurance, registration of your RV, etc.

Invest in some solar. A handful of collapsible panels will keep you topped off and powered up while you're stationary, no need to run the internal ($$) generator or try and run off the main engine. In fact most main engines on RVs aren't equipped to power the interior. See about getting additional battery capacity as well.

All of these camper technology ideas seem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212355)

well and good. But how about the lack of availability of TELECOMMUTING JOBS?

Most employers do not allow it, and they are few and far between.

Re:All of these camper technology ideas seem ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212677)

Because most employees see it as a chance to slack off. Very few people can work unsupervised in an effective manner. Hell many people goof off even when supervised.

3g 4g free wifi (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 2 years ago | (#41212357)

This is an easy issue to get around. Many RV camps provide free wifi. Get a long distance wifi antenna ($100 will get you a top of the line model).

A 4g (3g will work if all you need is ssh) tether will be fine as well.

Bigger issue is if they want you to come in for meetings occasionally with little notice.

It's fun, but Internet access not there yet (5, Informative)

Yoje (140707) | about 2 years ago | (#41212363)

There's some good and bad sides to this. I actually tried this out about 3 years ago, wanted to travel while I'm still young and can do more. Me and the wife bought a 35' fifth wheel, moved out of the apartment, and put excess stuff in storage. After about 6 months, we moved out of the RV and back into another apartment. (Kept the RV though, still like to travel!)

The good:
- Having a new backyard every day/week was great.
- Met a lot of friendly people along the way. Many having dinner outside their RV would frequently ask if we wanted to sit and eat with them when we were walking around the park. In turn, we always tried to do the same when we had cooked something.
- A lot of experienced RVers and full-timers are more than willing to help out with issues you might have, as long as you're open to it.
- Seeing the country is great fun, especially the out of the way areas.
- On some days it feels like a full-time vacation (even when working).

The bad:
- High speed Internet access was spotty/unreliable. Being in a rural area, you may be familiar with this already, but when traveling around in an RV to random campsites and rest areas, you find out rather quickly that anything above 3G is still iffy on the open road. Don't count on the coverage map saying 3G or 4G is available in the middle of nowhere, especially if you have time-sensitive work you need to submit.
- Most campgrounds (i.e. RV-oriented campgrounds, not state parks and such) will offer wi-fi access, but it may be spotty, slow speed, or unreliable. And the campground office tends to either be empty when trying to find someone to tell there's a problem with the wi-fi, or if a person is there they usually aren't sure about the wi-fi setup or how to troubleshoot/reset it.
- If you travel a lot (i.e. don't hook up in one place for more than a few days) you will spend a lot on gas. And if you do stay in one place for a period of time, don't forget to account for campground fees.
- Most trailers aren't made for "permanent" living. You'll notice this most with the walls and lack of insulation, especially in peak summer and winter months. Quality counts here.

You'll definitely want to budget things out though, as you can easily spend a lot more than you would in mortgage or rent. Joining Good Sam helps some, committing to a place for 2-4 weeks at a time can help out more with campground prices. Some campgrounds will even let you do odd jobs to help decrease the "rent", but you'll usually find that "regulars" that have been there for extended periods already are doing those jobs. If you do commit to full-time, let your insurance agent know - most major carriers can convert your homeowners/renters insurance into an equivalent "full-timer" RV policy so you'll have coverage on the stuff in the camper.

In short, if you like to travel it's a good experience. If you don't like camping out, you won't have a good time (modern RVs are comfortable, but you still need to remember it's camping out, and you won't have all the amenities of a regular apartment/house). Also depending on how much you need an Internet connection, how fast you need it, and how often you need it, you may not want to commit to it full time. At least, just yet. As the infrastructure and reliability continues to improve, this will become less of an issue as time goes on (I'm sure it's improved some in the 2-3 years since we did it).

Re:It's fun, but Internet access not there yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212603)

Don't think because you pay a lot of money that your RV is reliable... I have friends who retired to live on the road several months every year. They have gone though at least 3 top of the line RVs in the last 20 years... Without fail, its the technology that fails... Built in LCD TV, Computer controlled parking lifts, Computer controlled Slide outs, etc... Do not be surprised at spending 10s of thousands to maintain something that costs as much as a house...

A far as Internet goes, 3G and 4G will be spotty when not near a city. Wi-Fi at campsites can have download limits. You can get satellite internet, but it is slow and expensive.

You can generally get a connection somehow, but plan on low speeds...

Depends where you camp (5, Insightful)

slim (1652) | about 2 years ago | (#41212375)

I assume if you're RVing, you want to be in reasonably rural areas -- not in city RV parks.

I RV'd through British Columbia and Alaska 3 years ago. For much of the route, 3G wasn't available. State/County campsites don't have WiFi. Commercial campsites almost always have WiFi.

However, the quality of the WiFi can vary wildly. You could easily find yourself camped on the edge of the coverage area of a consumer-grade 802.11b access point, sharing a basic DSL connection with everyone else on the site. Sometimes even basic web browsing is frustrating. I wouldn't want to be reliant on it for VOIP, screen sharing, email attachments of reasonable size, or largeish file transfers.

So I think you'll find yourself hunting out sites with reliable WiFi, which means you won't be as free as you might have hoped.

Satellite is the way forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212681)

...at least in Europe.
77cm dish, £20-£50/month, 18MBps down, 2MBps up -- consistently, reliably.

Re:Satellite is the way forward (1)

slim (1652) | about 2 years ago | (#41212803)

Yes as long as you don't mind latency (could be an issue for VOIP)

Been there, done that (1)

sveinb (305718) | about 2 years ago | (#41212377)

For me, the problem was not the cramped living space and lack of creature comforts, but rather that most good plots either don't have a road leading to them or there is already a house there. Maybe finding a good spot is a skill that can be acquired, and maybe you're aiming for more sparsely populated areas than I was. I ended up in parking lots, on camping grounds (which don't appeal to me), next to a noisy road or in the dark woods. As an exercise, try going for a drive and see what spots you find where you could put your future RV.

Be wary of state income taxes. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212379)

Do some research on whom you'll have to pay taxes. States care about where you were when you performed your services.

Physical Address (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212391)

I've played with this idea in my head for a while, but decided against it since, for me, the cons far outweight the pros.

There are many blogs written by people currently doing it, including married couples with kids. Google is your friend here.

Among the inconveniences mentioned by others, decent showers and electricity are the major ones. But I'd add physical address for mail. No matter how tech oriented you are, you still need a physical address. Government agencies (especialy the IRS folks) wouldn't be too happy to know they can't get a hold of you if required.

Remember kids, this is America, if gov't can't find you, you're automatically assumed to be a law breaker or a terrorist.

I heard of a guy... (1)

kenh (9056) | about 2 years ago | (#41212403)

There was an editor it Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calestenics and Orthodontia that did something similar - lived and worked out of a trailer for most, if not all, of the year, but his work was with embedded systems.

Hi-speed/4G coverage will be spotty (at best) where you will likely want to AND be able to park a fifth wheel trailer, and Internet cafe's (AKA book stores, coffee shops, libraries) will be a drive from the campground.

Worked in Africa (1)

alabandit (1024941) | about 2 years ago | (#41212409)

Did this in South Africa, and other than making sure you in a good spot for reception (or drops you you 2g), it went quiet smoothly. The local cellular companies have maps of coverage and what to expect through out South Africa, so I made sure I only selected places to stop that had coverage.

Watch the police and the taxman miss me (1)

enjar (249223) | about 2 years ago | (#41212411)

I'm mobile!

A guy did this in our office for a while. I think eventually the difficulties of finding a place to keep the 5th wheel trailer in an urban environment ended the experiment. Companies (and residential neighbors, zoning laws, HOAs) might all grow objections to having a semi-permanent resident around.

If you kept it truly mobile, though, and kept the trailer in trailer-safe places, it could be awesome for a while.

bandwidth expectations (1)

smillie (30605) | about 2 years ago | (#41212419)

Depending on what type of job you are doing, bandwidth could be an issue. As a sysadmin, when a server goes down my boss expects me to fix it "right now". Excuses like storms took down my internet connection aren't acceptable. I was expected to have alternate internet and as a last resort, drive into the data center to fix the problem.

Some Linux servers only had GUI interfaces for the hardware connection. Dial-up wasn't fast enough for these.

A programmer could be off line for a few days and still be productive as long as phone service was available so conversations with coworkers could still take place.

Ask someone who has done it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212433)

If you really want good advice, ask someone who has done it and it currently doing it.

Ben Willmore has a blog about converting an old bus over to a full RV. He lives most of his life in the bus, only taking a few breaks for teaching / photography trips.

http://digitalmastery.com/creativecruiser/

I was at one of his seminars and he is more than willing to talk about the good and the bad of life in a bus.

Fun with caveats (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212437)

I lived in a Camper(small bed of truck type) for several years while working as a developer on site at a company in a large city. A few things to note:

1) Mailing address - I got a PO box, you could also use a friend or family physical address.
2) When boon-docking I was occasionally hassled by police. Get a nice looking clean RV and truck to minimize this.
3) For some odd reason chicks dig RV's. Oh the memories!
4) W/O a physical address you might have problems with Licenses, tabs, Insurance, etc...
5) The ability to pickup and move is awesome. Take advantage of this!
6) Look for an RV with: large water and waste storage tanks, well insulated, Good storage and at least 1 slide!
7) Look on CL for people renting RV parking, RV parks are typically setup for max RV's with little privacy.
8) You will go food shopping more often as the refer is much smaller.
9) You will likely discover just how little you need to be happy.

Have fun, it is an awesome experience.

About to do the same thing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212447)

Got an opportunity for a really good job but the cost of living is almost 70% more than where I currently live. I'm a motorcycle racer so I already have an RV for hauling my bikes to the track. You can "rough it" and camp but I found trailer parks will rent you a lot and have internet, power, water, and sewage hookups to be less expensive. I'll be trying it out in 2 weeks. I've done it in spurts at many race tracks across the country using my phone as a hotspot when I was on-call.

Data questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212455)

How about your data caps on your service? Clear has 'unlimited', but the AUP cuts your speed like crazy.
How reliable is your service?
What is your back-up?

Some wifi hot sports are locked down so you may no (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41212465)

Some wifi hot sports are locked down so you may not be able to use all the ports that you can use at home and likely they are nated with no port forwarding.

use vpn (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41212473)

he should use a vpn to get around that anyhow, then if he has a port that's enough.

Dice George (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 2 years ago | (#41212469)

I used to be in contact with a guy who was doing this in the mid 90s with solar and wind power in a converted bus. His name was Dice George and I think he still has dicegeorge.com He might have a house now though.

Re:Dice George (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 2 years ago | (#41212487)

Just to clarify, I don't think George was working for major corporations, more festivals, musicians and his own purposes. All the corps I knew were a bit stupid about telecommuting in the 90s, and only paid your invoices for when you were at their desk.

I'm currently doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212477)

It's really not that hard. If you stay in one place for several months at a time, you can probably get cable or DSL. If you have to go with cell coverage, you can get signal booster and external antenna. That will help tremendously. Definitely go somewhere with electricity and city water. Sewer is nice too, it really sucks having to lug gallons of effluent back and forth to a dump station.

Propane goes quick in the winter and an RV is not very well insulated. You can use space heaters pretty effectively, especially if electricity is included in your lot rent.

The small space is pretty easy to get used to. Do yourself a favor and throw out most of your junk instead of lugging it around or paying for a storage room.

As far as the red-tape, again it's pretty straight forward. If you don't keep a residential address, you can either rent a UPS box and get it listed on your driver's license (put down apt 123 not box 123) or go with a mail forwarding service. One of the benefits of this is that you can pick and choose where your official residence is and game the system on taxes, emission testing, etc.

The lifestyle is awesome. You get to live out in the country, spend lots of time outdoors, sit around a campfire whenever you want and meet new and interesting people from all over the world. If you like camping trips, I'd highly recommend it.

I guess overall, my advice would be to not sweat it too much. I've been fulltiming for 3 years now and by far the trepidation and uncertainty leading up to the move was far worse than the move itself. Plenty of people do this, it's really not that hard.

Been there, done that, still doing it. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212499)

I work for a consulting firm so I'm either on-site with a client or sitting at home with my laptop writing reports and managing the rest of my team and I cut the cord last year.

I spent last winter living off the back of my motorcycle in the southwestern US, usually spent my nights in a tent but I would retreat to the occasional hotel room when the weather threatened. If I can do it on a bike you can do it in an RV. I carried a small inverter to keep my laptop charged and powered everything else directly off the bike. Between 3G tethering through my iPhone and WiFi wherever I could find it (hint: due to Mormon sensibilities there are no Starbucks in southern Utah, look for a Subway) I was able to stay online. The "Coverage?" app for iPhone really helped when I needed to find a signal (I'm sure there's something similar available for Android) and I got online in some crazy places (try Googling "Muley Point" or "Dry Fork Coyote Gulch"). I got a small storage unit in Las Vegas for $30/mo where I would keep a suitcase full of "work clothes" for when I had to fly out to a client meeting (something you wouldn't have to worry about in an RV) and as a convenient/cheap/enclosed spot to park the bike while I was away.

The bike is currently stashed in the storage unit and I'm now living on a 41' sailboat (the RV of the seas). I've set it up with a 4G hotspot and some big cell/WiFi antennas so I can get service offshore. Currently located in Manhasset Bay at the western end of Long Island Sound, sailing down the East River later today to tie up in NYC for a month or so.

Advice from a trucker (5, Informative)

tech10171968 (955149) | about 2 years ago | (#41212505)

I'm not an RV'er but, since the economy chased me out of my Unix sysadmin gig, I resorted to putting food on the table by becoming a freight jockey (it was also a nice change of pace). When you're on the road for 26 days out of the month (as well as single with no children) shelling out rent for an apartment is kind of a moot point, so I literally live in the truck. Wifi on the road is really no big deal anymore, especially since most major truck stops, hotels, and even quite a few interstate rest areas now have hotspots.

That being said, there are a few things I do to make online life a little easier for a road warrior:

(1) As I already mentioned, many of your typical diesel stops are going to have wifi but the network can get pretty crowded at times. Some of the best times to use wifi at these facilities is 9 am to 5 pm, when most of your competition is going to be on the road instead of hogging up the bandwidth.

(2) The signal coverage in the places can also be a little spotty: one corner of the lot may have wonderful signal strength but another can absolutely suck. If you can, park so that you can have a clear line of sight to the building in which the antenna is located. Also, try not to put the fuel islands between you and the building if it can be helped; you can go from a really good connection to being knocked offline because somebody's Peterbilt pulled in to the fuel lane at the wrong time.

(3) Many of the wifi hotspots in these stops are managed with OpenDNS and certain websites will be blocked (namely, anything having to do with torrents).

(4) Wifi obviously won't be available everywhere you stop. If you often find yourself in the middle of nowhere (like me) then consider getting something like Verizon's MiFi or Fivespot devices. Verizon's plans seem to be better for heavy users but, if all you do is surf or check email, then there are probably cheaper plans around.

(5) One of the best investments I've made was a wifi repeater with an externally-mounted antenna. A typical trailer is about 13'6" (4.5 meters) in height; when all the diesel jockeys park it for the night there's going to be a awful lot of metal for your signal to try to get through.

(6) I often use my laptop for trip planning as well as keeping my DOT logs via an approved logbook application, so my machine is often running while I'm driving (but I do keep both hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road). Don't know about RV's but trucks bounce around a lot; as you can imagine, this repeated shock-testing can't be very good for the condition of your laptop. If you're going to be doing something similar then I highly suggest getting a laptop stand which bolts to the seat (the seats are usually equipped with "air-ride" shock absorbers and can greatly reduce the constant jarring experienced while driving).

Re:Advice from a trucker (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41212761)

To follow up on #6, RAM mounts make great mobile laptop/tablet mounts. I had one for my pickup truck that bolted to the passenger seat base. I do work on remote sites, so there was often times that I was out in the field and waiting for stuff to happen, and having a mount made it possible to work efficiently. It also makes for an awesome GPS setup. It is very sturdy.

I've since swapped my old high end laptop for an iPad and ultrabook-sized unit. The iPad makes an even better GPS (get Navigon so you're not tied to the grid for maps), and functions as my cellular hotspot now. (I swapped the laptop caddy for the locking iPad mount using the same base hardware from RAM). The only negative is that the locking mount rattles annoyingly on some road surfaces.

Mail forwarding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212543)

I have lived on a boat for many years so have some insight.

You'll need a mail forwarding service or a friend who will do that for you. Many rv parks and marinas will let you receive mail while you are there. UPS lets you use their stores for UPS deliveries. Call the store ahead of time so they know to put your package aside.

Solar panels and batteries are getting cheap. You should be able to run your laptop fine. Try to avoid an inverter as they waste a lot of electricity, instead use a universal laptop charger that can run straight off of the rv's 12 volt system. Belkin makes a nice one. http://mikegyver.com/IdeasnProducts/ sells ready made systems for Macbooks and also has a pdf showing you how to make your own. Check out Arizona Solar http://www.arizonasolar.com/ and Sun Electronics http://www.sunelec.com/.

Internet access is tougher than it might seem. Consider how much data your OS and programs use every time they update. You will have to manage your data more carefully and make sure apps don't do silent backups. Little snitch for Mac is a great way to keep an eye on your programs net usage. For large downloads, go to a wifi location like McDonalds or Starbucks. Get yourself a good long range wifi antenna like an Alfa AWUS036H and a nice directional antenna. On an RV you have the luxury of taking a satellite dish along but I have no experience with that.

Google voice is great and voip are great. Get a phone number where your mailing address will be. Cut back on cell phone use as it gets expensive fast, especially if you are out of country.

Showers can be had at gyms, truck stops, marinas and most rv parks and campgrounds. Your fifth wheel probably has showers already but you'll have to empty your grey water tanks more often. Most state and national parks have free dump sites.

RV parks can get expensive. Many Walmarts and Sam's Clubs will let you park overnight. Some require you to ask. Highway est stops are usually safe places so take advantage of them. In either case, be discreet and safe.

These guys make a pretty good reference app http://www.allstays.com/iexit/camprv.htm for finding resources while under way.

Finally visit Canada. You'll fall in love with the place.

Re:Mail forwarding (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41212833)

Many Walmarts and Sam's Clubs will let you park overnight. Some require you to ask. Highway est stops are usually safe places so take advantage of them. In either case, be discreet and safe.

My father's life as an RVer results in the advice that if you buy a pop-up or a slide-out camper there is no way to argue with the cops or rentacops or just jerks in general that you're camping/sleeping. The slideout / pop up is kind of a give away that you're doing something "not allowed". However if you buy a completely fixed RV with no moving parts, there is no way for "the man" to know you're sleeping in the back of the RV vs maybe inside the store shopping.

In an urban environment if you take a pop-up/slide out RV to the mall and obviously camp, you can expect to be very severely hassled. On the other hand, unless you offend them somehow, there's no way for a mall rentacop to figure out if you are shopping or sleeping in a fixed configuration RV. If they start chalking and towing then "regular customers" are going to scream bloody murder when their car is towed away while they're shopping, so thats a non-starter if the TV and newspapers could ever hear about it.

So no slideout / popup is a HUGE logistical advantage. Also what you don't have, can't break. So you'll never be "stuck" unable to leave a campground because your slideout is stuck open or the pop-up is jammed.

This leads to a vampiric lifestyle. Wake up around mall closing time, lets say 9pm, drive until the next big city mall opening time, lets say 9am (with stops for meals along the way, etc) then sleep or sightsee or shop or whatever until 9pm again. It sucks being exhausted at 8:30 am but can't park until the mall opens. Also being on the road shortly after bar closing time is often far too exciting... thats a good time to park somewhere for your "lunch".

The cheapest daily urban camping rate I've ever heard of is sports stadiums, assuming you can sleep thru the sporting event. Sometimes as low as $3 per sleep period, which is amazingly cheap in a heavily urban environment. I've heard some places demand to see your event tickets before you get to park, but almost all do not. In urban environments there are also airports and convention centers and strangely enough, hotels, all of which are often pretty good places to park for cheap/free. Hotels will often hassle you if you park there overnight, but rarely if ever during the day.

Better off with a boat, and stay close to office (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41212547)

My father RVed (not full time, but a large fraction of the time) and consulted during his psuedo-retirement in his 50s.

First of all RVs are incredibly expensive to maintain, fuel, buy (if new) and park. They're designed to separate retirees from their money in the couple years it takes for them to get sick of it. Assuming you're not a confirmed landlubber, you're about 1e9 times better off on a live aboard sailboat. You'll get more space for cheaper and it costs virtually nothing to move it and maint costs aren't any more or less than a RV. If you love the sea you want a boat, if you love the mountains, well, maybe not. Also boats are awesome in the summer and generally suck in the winter, assuming you're in a climate that has a real winter. TIME also strikes in that simple things like doing the dishes in a sink about the size of a large salad bowl simply takes a long time compared to the dishwasher at home.

RV takes more maintenance cost / ability / TIME and guts than a house. As long as you're cool with spending 4 hours rebuilding the generator carb instead of billable hours during crunch time deadline instead of just calling the local electrical company during an outage... If you are used to doing housework/repair/improvement on saturday morning, maybe a RV will realistically require housework/repair/improvement all day saturday and maybe some of sunday if you're full time or pseudo-full time.

Clients understand if you're living in a cabin in Wyoming and they're in NYC you aren't going to just drop on by the office. Clients do not understand that at $4/gallon and 5 MPG you are not realistically able to drive from a state park in Wyoming to NYC to discuss a $1000 contract in person, I mean, you're mobile and free, right, so you should be parking your RV in their corporate parking lot, not in a national park, and being mobile means you have no commute/travel costs at all, right? Clients have problems understanding the expense per mile of a RV.

Clients understand travel time is an hour at the airport each side plus at most a couple hours in the air. Clients do not understand that RV travel means at least one full day to maybe a week to "travel" during which its physically impossible to generate billable hours.

Its not all perfect with sailboats either.... Clients do not understand how slowly sailboats move. So you want to be 200 miles away from the hurricane that is 3 days away... you need to evac NOW like 3 days before landfall, and clients think 200 miles divided by 75 MPH in a car means you should be working for them right up until hours before hurrican landfall, or at most, a day. It doesn't work that way with boats. 100 miles is a excellent daily run (depending on size of boat, weather, and skill of sailor...) and if your life depends on it, 200 miles should have at least three days budgeted. Of course there will be no marina slips 200 miles away, so you need to go further or pray wifi works out to an anchorage, or work from the remote marina clubhouse, or ... Realize that when evac from a hurricane in a sailboat you do not need to reach blue sky, you merely need to reach a level of storm you're comfortable with. 30 MPH winds are no big deal, and the odds of your marina being ground zero are very low anyway, so you might only need to evac 20 miles or something. Also clients don't understand that a hurricane striking the middle of nowhere is a big deal if your marina is in the middle of nowhere, just because the weather channel isn't FUDing New Orleans or Tampa Bay, doesn't mean there's no personal emergency for you... Clients kind of understand if they see New Orleans being evacuated but if its not leading the news...

You need to understand that you can't drive your RV during rush hour (at least in the cities) and you can't drive during the day because you're supposed to be working, but the RV park office is only open 9-5 so you have to check in and out while you're supposedly working and/or avoiding traffic jams, the logistics are much more complicated than you'd think, unless your contracts/projects are very short (like a couple days) so you can do an entire project at one site.

Major cultural mismatch.... RV parks and camping are for recreation... everyone else is blasting music and blasted drunk and swimming in the pool, why are you sitting in front of a computer, and if you have a teleconference at 9am tomorrow that guarantees your neighbors will be up drinking until at least 3am. Then again your "commute" is pretty short so maybe thats almost doable.

Setup/breakdown time is crucial. You're already burning a minute per mile on the highway, you can't lose the billable hours to re-arrange everything in the RV.

A boat marina, or a deserted cove, is much more conducive to work during business hours. As the child of a guy who did what you are planning and heard all about it, and as a guy who knows how to sail, I'd STRONGLY advise a 30 foot class live aboard sailboat. More than 40 feet is too large and heavy for one sailor to handle (good luck lifting the sails or anchor for a 50 footer by yourself) and much shorter than 25 feet will lack the amenities you'll probably demand (like, for example, a shower) Also as a computer guy you understand big O notation and scalability, so a 20 foot sailboat costs about as much as a used car, a 30 footer is a really nice SUV equivalent price, but a 40 footer costs as much as a house, so for scalability reasons you can laugh at the idea of ever owning a 75 foot yacht, etc. What you'll be confused at WRT sailboats is unlike a graphics card which depreciates about 99% in about six months, a decade or two old used sailboat will most likely not depreciate at all while you own it. Adjusted for inflation and maintenance and insurance costs you are not going to make a profit, but you can very realistically expect the sale price of a 20 year old boat to be about the same as the purchase price of a 10 year old boat, so don't worry about it (its like buying an airplane or ham radio equipment in that way)

Pre-built motorhomes? Ugh! (1)

pev (2186) | about 2 years ago | (#41212551)

This is a topic close to my heart as I've been living out of a small motorhome (RV to my American cousins) on and off for a few years as I balance out my desk-flying tech work by running away in the van as often as possible and being on the road working at festivals in the UK.

One of the things I've learnt is that ready-rolled motorhomes are generally designed for pension age weekend trippers not for hardcore long-term living. The fixtures are often cheap, they're not designed to live easily 'off-grid' and there's never enough storage. If this kind of living interests you I can highly reccommend any geek to consider building your own. It's not hard, it's more satisfying and you can customise to exactly what you really need.

I'd suggest the first port of call to be to buy a copy of John Speed's excellent "Travel Vans" book :
    http://www.travelvans.co.uk/

I'd then have a really good read of the Silk Road site. It's aimed at overlanders but while you might not need to care about issues such as angles of lift-off, at least 80% of the issues of long term living in a van are exactly the same :
    http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/equipment/choosevan.htm

Next, the UK base Self-Build Motor Caravan Club (SBMCC) have lots of great examples of members projects :
    http://www.sbmcc.co.uk/

Lastly, to get your juices flowing, have a look at some nice Van porn courtesy of Unicat and Action Mobil. Gives a lot of food for thought!
    http://www.unicat.net/en/
    http://www.actionmobil.at/

For anyone still reading this far and not bored yet, a few personal suggestions from my experience so far :
    - MOST IMPORTANT : Make sure you have a permanent fixed bed and not one you have to put up and down. Its a right hassle after the first few weeks!
    - Only use a small fridge. A modern compressor fridge can potentially run of 12v with enough batteries and solar (250+ Ah & 250W min solar) but the older ones won't.
    - Have double the storage space you think you'll need. If not triple. Crap always accumulates.
    - Allow some 'outside' storage space to store larger or dirty items.
    - Have plenty of worktop & secured shelves to have things to hand.
    - Showers in vans are a pain - they empty water tanks fast. Use other peoples facilities if poss.
    - Find a friend who's address you can use as a permanent post-drop and registered address for bills such as wifi etc. Being no fixed abode can cause problems.

But give it a go. The freedom it offers is incredible and being able to randomly just head off anywhere you fancy is superb.

~Pev

Re:Pre-built motorhomes? Ugh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212785)

I imagine the OP is in the US, in which case if you spend the amount of money you'd invest in a small house in the non-overinflated areas of the US on a motorhome, it will come with actual furnishings used in a house (granite countertop, stainless steel sink [possibly porcelain], bathroom fixtures from your average "real" bathroom, queen spring bed, etc, etc). In the US most self-built RVs are the sort of thing "real" RVers usually stifle their laughter at--although there are exceptions that are well made--most of them tend to be... ...not so well done (especially the school bus conversions which are popular).

In the US, many RVs have propane powered fridges (which also feature electric hookup as a secondary option). You can get any size fridge you like (assuming it will fit--virtually all RVs come with a fridge, and it isn't easy to replace it with a different size without replacing the RV, but YMMV), you can be on the road for a couple of days before you run out of propane and it's very easy to find somewhere to have it filled.

All of this could be different in the UK, I don't know. I imagine it *is* significantly different in the UK, as you can drive from one end of the country to the other in a day and still get a good nights rest, whereas it takes a week to get a similarly comfortable drive done across the US. A small yet not insignificant population of the US live permanently in trailer parks, too, so technology would naturally improve in that area due to demand.

Re:Pre-built motorhomes? Ugh! (1)

pev (2186) | about 2 years ago | (#41212907)

IMHO anyone that invests the same amount of money as a house in a motorhome really needs their head looking at :-D Seriously, you could build an amazing van for less than the price of a new family hatchback car. Each to their own of course!

It's not that different here really - the difference is that we head off into Europe (and Africa & Asia!) from the UK overland. Not really different to going between states in the USA except it's much more interesting (!) because of differences in cultures, languages, scenery, shops and general fun to be had. Sorry, I know that sounds like a troll but really, come and visit and find out for yourself :-D

Yes, we do have gas powered fridges too (both propane and more commonly, butane) but I was avoiding talking about them. As you've identified, they run out quickly which adds costs up pretty fast. In my van the maths looks like this : 10 days max for 7kg butane. (ignoring water / cooking gas use) over 365 days that's 36 bottles at £20 a pop - i.e. £720 which is $1,143 at todays conversion rate. Just to keep your fridge running. IMO, more to the point is that most gas fridges in vans are VERY intolerant of un-even ground. This makes them a massive pain in the arse as if you're a little off flat when moving around, later you find out the coolant isn't pumping and the food's gone off. I've lost a fair bit of food that way in the past. Modern compressor fridges such as those made by Waeco et al. don't suffer from this nearly as badly.

As for people parked up in trailer parks - I'd ignore them. That's really not that much different to being in a house which I don't think the OP was referring to. Having the availability of running water and electric hook-up gives you a very different (and much lower) level of criteria for the van design.

Working on the road... (1)

jklappenbach (824031) | about 2 years ago | (#41212575)

You'll find that working mobile has amazing rewards, and can be very productive. However, I personally found that my schedule became very organic. I might put in 10 hours in a day, but they were spread out over 2 - 3 hour blocks. In between was hiking / exploring, surfing, laying on the beach... Setting expectations with your client / employer is key. Here are a few tips:

* Ensure you take some habitation time off when traveling to a new location, perhaps even just a day or two, to give yourself time to explore your new area, ensure you have good connectivity, find backup wifi hotspots should your mobile connection die, and have fun.

* Research the area beforehand, as best you can. Know numbers for local rangers or police, fire, legal, mechanic, and medical. If you're going international, having banking / financial workflow sorted.

* Cell, if you're going international, can be outrageously expensive if you plan on keeping your US carrier. Get an intermediate number, like from Skype, and have calls forwarded. If you plan on keeping a smart phone, make sure you pay double to get it unlocked. You can get SIM chips from local providers. Otherwise, just buy a cheap phone in country and pay as you go. Either way, your number will change, but with Skype (or similar provider), everyone back home will use a local number to reach you. If you plan on using VOIP, make sure you test it out before an important call when in a new location.

* Have a 2nd laptop, and external drive for file system images. Be disciplined about making backups. Should you be away from civilization and something goes wrong, this will save your bacon.

* Make sure you know how to cook. Learn to make recipies from scratch, like bread & pastries (if you have an oven), sauces, etc. Good food can be hard to come by on the road, and the last thing you want to do is live out of cans or boxes if avoidable.

* If you go international, and like to legally download movies, make sure your providers don't discriminate based on origin of IP regardless of your account. ITunes doesn't appear to, but Vudu, Netflix, and Hulu do -- as do most networks. To get around this, set up a VPN account with a provider in the source country.

It's an amazing world out there -- enjoy it!

Not a great idea, so maybe spend less? (1)

elh_inny (557966) | about 2 years ago | (#41212583)

There's a great summary about similar project with people who wanted to live off their cars/vans/RVs to cut costs.
The problem is, it's not cheaper and the quality of life isn't superior in terms of daily amenities like Internet, hot water and stone baked pizza.
I think there's a reason a majority of people only go for vacation once a year for a relatively short period of time.

I really fancy travel and I do travel a lot, but some types of work, do not mix with travel that well and by comparison, software related work, having a good and reliable connection to the Internet is one a few concessions I chose to make - by comparison to other jobs it's still great - I can work when I want, choose what I work on etc...
I finally settled down and built myself a small but nice office. It's in the middle of nowhere but it has stable Internet and it's quiet, so I get the job done, with no external distractions.

Still, if I chose to travel, and it was for a fixed amount of time (say a year or two), I'd probably look into the numbers and get a relatively small car rather than RV and stay in cheap motels/hotels such as Super 8 etc. or camp in a tent, when it's warm enough. Small car is much more nimble, will surely fit a laptop and you can go places where an RV won't fit.

If after half a year, you're tired of the idea, it means, financially, you're much better off and you don't have to worry about selling or parking the RV etc...

I've thought about this for metro area consulting (1)

swb (14022) | about 2 years ago | (#41212589)

I work for a small consulting company. We have an office, but in an inconvenient location in the metro area. There are times where I find myself without a specific place to go but where the time spent commuting back home is kind of time wasted, and at home I'm always dealing with the commotion of home.

Lately I've been thinking it would be kind of cool to have one of those Ford Transit Connects as my daily work car, but with a desk-type setup in the back where I could work on all the miscellaneous bullshit that fills the blank time between projects at client sites without hauling ass across town to locations where I won't get anything done.

In some cases, I could probably work on remote project stuff AT the client IN the van as many clients have detectable wifi outside the building.

About the only thing that would be tough would be dealing with heat and air conditioning. These little vans don't have giant engines and sitting parked they may not be able to provide adequate cooling for the back. Heat I'd be less worried about from a comfort perspective, but I suppose it depends on the outside temperature (-10F might be hard to deal with).

The van itself would make for a fun project, but I suspect that the conversion costs wouldn't be worthwhile.

The Programmer, by Bruce Jackson (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41212601)

He outfitted a van with all his computer and living gear. It might not be as useful as a how-to book 30 years later. Then again, it wasn't really a how-to book back then. ... I actually can't believe that this is what I thought of when I saw the post, since I read it less than a year after it can out, when I was ~13. Weird how memory files odd stuff for later recall.

Join Escapees club, make Texas tax home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212625)

Been on road since 1999 & without a house since 2007.

Escapees RV Club (SKP) can provide you with mail forwarding, legal TX address, local medical & financial services but no state income taxes. RVs insured with SKP Livingston TX address have lower than average insurance premiums. www.escapees.com/

3gstore has advice & products for phone & data connections up to 20 miles from nearest cell site. 3gstore.com/

Prepaid phone service & prepaid cellular data services can free you from expensive contracts, especially in areas where contracted service is not available. Excellent 4G or LTE service in city center is not indicative of quality cellular service near 36,247,003 pine trees.

WIFI in RV parks ranges from decent 1 mb/s, to poor 11 kb/s, to broken (Tango) this month. Parks that charge $75 to $155 per night may have better WIFI. Expect to provide your own connection to internet. Satellite services will always have long delays due to travel times from land to satellite & back.

Mostly I work in US area south of Mason-Dixon line & east of Austin TX. 3 Sprint Android phones usually provide all we need, even in Everglades Park. Prepaid phones on other carriers have filled data gaps in odd places.

I recently changed motor homes & cellular frequency bands have changed, so I am shopping for a new cellular repeater system with directional antenna to be mounted on Winegard TV antenna lift. I have used a Wilson Electronics Trucker antenna mounted on extensible 22' flagpole with some success. Shop carefully, it is easy to buy a $500 repeater amplifier that does not cover the frequencies or protocols your cellular tracker uses.

Yahoo groups can be helpful, InternetByCellPhone group is one. Modified cell phones are helpful, see xda-developers.com & cyanogenmod.com. Unlimited data service can be yours with some how to study.

An Onan generator with quiet Kubota diesel generator can keep you in comfort for $ than paid RV parks while you travel. Yahmaha & Honda EU series portable gasoline generators are quiet & small, much better than typical 3600 R/M portable gensets.

One last thing, don't trust RV forums or RV service shops for reliable information. Learn how to maintain your 5er, even if you pay shops to do all maintenance.

I did it back in 2007 (3, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about 2 years ago | (#41212641)

I was working remotely as a sysadmin for a small US telco. Back then 3G coverage wasn't great, but it was there. I traveled constantly, and worked from my laptop. Sometimes, I just cheated a bit with presence on my phone (IM Client), when bringing my laptop somewhere wasn't an option. I didn't go for driving though, I took planes, trains, buses, boats, and every other form of public transportation available. I stayed in cheap hotels. That went on for ~2 years. I had the time of my life, and my employer at the time never noticed I left my house. Go for it, but take into account if you go for the RV, driving is a full time job in itself, and you can't drive and code (or whatever it is you do). You will travel far less than you might expect. Cheap hotels and public transportation, OTOH, allow you to fall asleep at night on a plane, and magically wake up the next in a completely different place. You get used to sleeping on the go. I'd say go for it.

Yes! You Can! We have since 2006... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212647)

Greetings! Yes, this sort of lifestyle is totally possible! Several words for it include: Technomad, Digital Nomad, Location Independent Professional, NuRVer, etc. We're currently in our late 30s, are both software developers and have been on the road working remotely full time in an RV since 2006.

We started out first in a tiny 16' teardrop trailer, then a 17' fiberglass egg trailer and now a 35' vintage bus conversion. All of our homes on wheels have been geeked out with electronics, wireless internet options and solar panels. Our bus currently even has a lithium ion phosphate battery bank to power everything.

4G is definitely making things easier and easier. When we hit the road, finding a solid 2G signal was a struggle,and 3G was just starting to roll out - and even that was workable. More and more RV parks are also installing reliable WiFi networks, and there is WiFi boosting equipment that makes it easier to pick a signal. For cellular, we like a combination of the Verizon & AT&T footprint for keeping online in most places. We purchase our Verizon through bulk reseller www.Millenicom.com - where we can buy 20GB/mo of 4G service for just $69.99 with no contract. For AT&T, we just tether off our smartphones when needed. We also have a cellular amplification system on our roof that helps us boost up a weak signal. We carry an internet satellite dish for when we're somewhere without other options.

We blog about life on the road, particularly the tech aspect of it at: http://www.technomadia.com

Of particular interest, you might enjoy:

Our series going over a lot of the logistics: http://www.technomadia.com/excuses
Our mobile internet setup: http://www.technomadia.com/excuses

And if you're considering this lifestyle, recommend joining a bunch of us doing it at: http://www.nurvers.com (the couple profiled in the article you linked to are members there as well). Many of us rendezvous on the road and co-work & socialize from amazing places.

Best wishes.. and if there are any questions you have, please feel free to be in touch!
  - Cherie & Chris / technomadia.com

Why settle for 4G? (1)

dvazquez (1020429) | about 2 years ago | (#41212665)

You can get decent broadband speed via satellite using direcway or hughes anywhere in the USA, Canada (southern) and Mexico (Northern).

Not quite there (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about 2 years ago | (#41212701)

Depending entirely on where you are planning on staying of course, the cell service is just not quite there. You'd be better off going with a satellite company, but even there you have to make sure you are somewhere that you'll have clear view to the sky.

On the road for 3 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212713)

I've been telecommuting from the road since 2009. I kept telling people that I could work from anywhere so I got on my bicycle in Florida and rode to California, working the whole way. To this day no one in the company knows I did the trip.

Now I'm in a 5th wheel traveling around the western US. Working from wherever I park for the day, week or month. Its a great way to live!

Don't use a 5th wheel (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41212737)

You'll still be stuck driving around in a huge truck when you unhook. Get a motorhome and tow a small car behind it, on a trailer. Then you'll have a backup vehicle to go get help in case of a breakdown.

Sorry, I like my bathtub and real bed and 100Mb/s. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212749)

A trailer has this shittyness to it... tiny cramped shower and fake toilet if it has anything at all and doesn’t force you to go to one of these disgusting camping showers/toilets. ...way too simple, uncomfortable bed... and there's generally way too little free space to live in. Like living in a laying battery. Good luck having a baking oven and four hot plates... let alone the 100 Mb/s line for an affordable price you're used to.

And where would you even put your executive chair and computer setup? You can forget about ever putting a 5.1 hifi sound system with a big subwoofer in there. Or multiple big screens. Don't even dream about a projector. And also forget about shelves for your stuff. They go in the holes deep under the bed or somewhere else hard to reach.

And worst of all, you have no place to actually call "home". Somewhere familiar, where one knows each other. Where the walls are thick and sturdy, and a storm doesn’t feel unnerving at all, behind your nice big windows, and everything quiets down once you close them. Where you can go lay in your bathtub and relax.

A trailer? No. Thanks.
I can barely imagine a worse place to live.

Satellite Sailboat? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 2 years ago | (#41212759)

When I started my career in the early 1990s I planned to get enough resume experience by about 2000 that I'd be totally mobile. I'd sail a boat from SF to Tokyo, linked to the Internet all the way by satellite. I'd get jobs from Internet listings, collaborate with teams across the Net, write Internet SW, upload it, get paid direct deposit, pay (few) bills by charges over the Net.

All that seemed possible, though maybe only a few thousand humans would have agreed at the time. My career took a different (more money, less freedom) path, but the Internet has delivered its infrastructure for that dream.

Except maybe the satellite. What kind of bandwidth is available across the Pacific? How much coverage?

Tynan has been doing it for years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212795)

http://tynan.com/rv2012

Gona get buried but this is useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212801)

Get yourself a mast , an stick a wifi antenna on it. Most RV camps that have wifi , have it stuck on a pole up high.
Wifi antennas usually probate the signal in a plate like shape , so most of it is going to be up there , and not much down where the actual RV's are.

Commuting Technical Architect .... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212819)

I worked as a commuting consulting technical architect for about a decade. Most days are spent on conference calls, but a few days every month were spent either in a lab, at a vendor or physically meeting with clients. If I can I arrange all these physical visits to happen on the same days. With software, you probably don't need to be "in the lab" like I did, but don't under estimate the need to physically walk into an office and talk face-to-face with people sometimes.

More and more, companies are adding remote slide sharing apps to their team meetings. This ups the bandwidth that is required and if you can't see those slides, makes you look like a failure. OTOH, if your part of the project isn't central, then you can probably fake it. 90% of the meetings I was on were for my project and my designs. No faking was possible.

My parents were full-time RVers and I'd visit them a few times a year. They'd claim the RV park had wifi, but almost always that didn't work unless you sat inside the office. More and more, full-hookups also means an ethernet connection, but you really, really, really need to verify that with a 3rd party onsite. I ended up getting Mom to run a port scan before I'd visit to figure out which ports were open, at least outbound.

For me, if I can't connect to the client, I don't get paid, so losing $1500/day over a stupid internet connection wasn't worth it. I schedule more and longer vacations now and set the expectation that I will not be able to check anything ... "going overseas" to rural areas usually covers that. I work about 9 months every year, so there is plenty of time to have great vacations where I can concentrate on that, not work and deadlines.

Some RV parks are like hotels and outsource all the internet connectivity. That means VPNs (IPsec or OpenVPN) usually don't work. Only HTTP and HTTPS access works ... so they can snoop on your connection. I've had this issue at 1-star and 5-star hotels around the world. Ma and Pa running the RV camp usually doesn't know sqwat about internet.

4G is not everywhere regardless of the coverage maps. I worked inside a telecom company and we paid our wireless provider for coverage across the USA for a huge (50K) fleet of trucks. We didn't have access to the real coverage maps even with our monthly payments. Heck, we probably could have built better maps than the mobility guys had with our fleet driving on every road in the USA. Why do you think the coverage maps are so secret? It is because they are complete crap. Get a little away from a city and 10 miles from an interstate and you are screwed. Mountains = screwed.

RVing can be a great time! It is far better than camping. Even a quick and hot shower is amazing compared to some places I've visited. Sure, lots of water pressure would be nice, but you don't need that all the time. I have trouble sleeping around cities or when there is road noise, but crickets and nature sounds are fine. RV walls are thin. Bring some earplugs because there will be nights that you have no choice but to park 200ft from the interstate.

So, you need to decide how much your reputation and being able to do a good job really is for your financial commitments and happiness. Being disconnected is a fact of life when you are traveling. How many big, important meetings might you miss over a stupid internet connection?

I'd take a few trial RV vacations to test the waters before committing. Walk cautiously grasshopper.

Steven Roberts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212825)

He's looked into this and done it.. From riding a bike across the US with radio interconnect, to a tricked out trimaran, to various other nomadic techniques.

microship.com is one place to look.

I have a friend who was converting a city bus to this kind of scheme back in the 80s.

You will find that there are some practical problems (these days, connectivity isn't as much a problem). Fuel economy sucks, so you want to park it and travel short distances (super market, etc.) with another vehicle (scooter? SmartCar? EV?). Water and sewage are problems (although maybe you could do some sort of incinerator/dehydrator to solve the latter). Electrical power is no problem. Cooking may or may not be a problem, depending on your location and desires. If you're a oats and top ramen and peanut butter guy/gal, then you're set. If you want to bake cakes or do a roast, most RV ovens aren't all that wonderful. Bathroom facilities are a pain. If you're custom designing, you can deal with this, but the tiny closet like shower/toilet in many RVs gets old fast, and gets *real old* if you want a significant other to hang out. OTOH, if you're doing the surf bum thing following the waves, then maybe your daily dip in the sea takes care of it. See, e.g., "Step into Liquid" and Dale Webster, who surfed more than 10,000 days in a row.
http://articles.latimes.com/2004/feb/24/news/os-dale24; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Webster

My friend was going to do the ski resort thing in the winter (a mutual friend of ours did a stint at Mammoth.. coder by day, bartender by night); my friend was going to do ski by day, code by night. Some research found that parking by the side of the road in these areas is basically infeasible. And on top of it, there is the whole creature comforts thing: most RVs are NOT designed for -20 weather and feet of snow, although that is clearly fixable with sufficient insulation, good design, and a good supply of propane. Oh, there's also the "find a level spot" problem.

There are a lot of places where you might want to park for "work convenience" that other people aren't so wild about. You, no doubt, have dreams of parking alongside PCH at the beach, or in the mountains. Well, those kinds of places tend to be RV unfriendly, or, what theoretically seems to be available, in practice isn't. (In southern california, the beachside RV parking is de-facto run by these telephone tree organizations, who arrange to always have a spot filled for the maximum 7 or 14 days, and have someone standing by to pull another RV in as the first pulls out)

And, face it, living in parking lots isn't all it's cracked up to be.

RVs are not required (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41212827)

You don't have to live out of a RV to do technical stuff on the road. RVs are for people who simply must have the luxuries of civilization, like space and showers. A person with a camping and backpacking mentality can use an ordinary car. I sling a REI camp bed diagonally in the back of a hatchback. I'm 6 feet tall and I just barely fit diagonally, I can sleep flat. The key to this kind of approach is not to carry very much stuff. The interior of an average car is comparable to the interior of a small tent, so just think about what it would take to not drive you crazy in a small tent. Using an ordinary car, the cost savings are huge. You don't have to buy an expensive RV, you don't have to pay huge dollars for gas when you move around, and you can get to all kinds of places that a RV cannot. You don't have to park anywhere special in cities, and yes, you can get away with "urban camping" aka living out of your car just fine. You don't have to pay anything to camp out in National Forests, just find yourself a "dispersed" campsite and park. If you've got enough room to park your car, and it's off the road and not destroying vegetation, you've got a campsite. You don't have to pitch a tent; the car is the tent and it saves a lot of setup and takedown time. If you want a shower, put a gallon bottle of water out in the sun, then pour it down your back with one hand. If it's too cold for that, go south until it's warmer, or boil your water.

Granted, I have not tried this lifestyle in a "constantly in contact with some business back in civilization" sense. It works ok for my own indie game development, where I don't have to answer to anybody. It's an approach that anyone with a reliable car can do. My car is not well suited to forest roads, it's low clearance, it's not anywhere near as large inside as I might like it to be. But it works, and you'd be surprised where you can get to if you drive carefully. Also, I'm sharing my space with my dog. If I had to share space with a woman and a dog, I'd want a bigger car.

Look at truck stops when you're on Interstates (1)

joelsanda (619660) | about 2 years ago | (#41212831)

I've done a lot of driving in the American west - and I've been impressed at the proliferation of WiFi at truck stops; even those in ten people towns in Montana and Wyoming. Of course, this restricts you to interstate travel for the most part, but that's the same case with 4G I'm guessing.

The Trucker's Guide to the Internet [truckercountry.com] gives some advice on this, and talks a little about MiFi, which may or may not be of use to you. Truckers have solved many of the problems you may face and I'm guessing will have some sound practical advice.

Good luck in this. My approach is similar but involves a sailboat with up times doing software testing when I'm in a marina with WiFi. I can break software from a sailboat salon in the Bahamas as easily as I can in the Rocky Mountains. I won't have any access while sailing, of course, but like truck stops most marinas offer WiFi and many of those have free access.

As long as you're not a Sprint customer (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#41212861)

Which has essentially no 4G. Of course even if you're a Verizon customer, the normal workaday load on 4G is going to bankrupt you.

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