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Transportation Wireless Networking Technology

Taking Telecommuting To the Next Level - the RV 365

Posted by samzenpus
from the dear-indugu dept.
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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Taking Telecommuting To the Next Level - the RV

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  • Service quality (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:10AM (#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 (Score:4, Informative)

      by Adriax (746043) on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:31AM (#41213957)

      No laws like that around here, they would be "undue burdens on the poor defenseless companies just trying to meek out an honest living with their regional monopolies, ever increasing prices, lack of investment in infrastructure, and billions in tax breaks and government handouts..."

      Wyoming is particularly bad, I think we have one 4G tower in the entire state, 3G coverage is pretty spotty even in populated areas, and chunks I-80 don't even have voice cell coverage (I-90 and I-25 are even worse).
      If you're lucky, you can find a mcdonalds that actually bothered to setup their corporate mandated hotspot (on a sub 1meg DSL line).

  • Showers (Score:5, Informative)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:14AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:17AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by gatkinso (15975) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:53AM (#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.

        • by Shavano (2541114)

          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 appreciat

          • by Dunbal (464142) *
            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 (Score:5, Informative)

              by Mathinker (909784) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:21AM (#41212867) Journal

              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...

            • by Doc Ruby (173196)

              The fireants are part of the environment. The campers and their borax far less so.

              • by hawguy (1600213)

                The fireants are part of the environment. The campers and their borax far less so.

                The most troublesome species of fire ant in the USA (the Red Imported Fire Ant [wikipedia.org]) is an invasive species that costs $5B a year in medical treatment, agriculture losses, and eradication efforts. It's no more a part of the natural environment than the campers.

          • by pla (258480)
            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.

            You just want a gas-powered "steam pressure washer"... Not usually hand-carryable (they usually mount to a frame very much like a dolly), but portable at least. You can get basic models for under $300, and can find them a lot cheaper on eBay or Craigslist (but caveat emptor).
        • 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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dr_dank (472072) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:22AM (#41212875) Homepage Journal

          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 (Score:4, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @10:05AM (#41213205)

            Then we bring in some spiders to take care of the mosquito problem...

          • A couple of bucks and you can buy a gallon of bleach. Throw a cup in the water every so often.

            If you've got kids around and want something safer, go to a pool supply place and get some chlorine tabs. A little more expensive but same result.

          • If you're a true "travelling man," you won't be in one place long enough (3 weeks) for mosquito larvae to mature.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

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

          Don't this if you're a Buddhist, or your next few lives are going to suck real bad.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>place a small inflatable pool on the ground where the wheels will go.

          I'd rather live in a hotel.
          Oh wait. I already do that. You can find hotels that have Cable, internet, and of course hot showers, for the same price as renting an apartment would be. (In contrast an RV is expensive to buy and the camping rent is not exactly cheap.)

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            >>>place a small inflatable pool on the ground where the wheels will go.

            I'd rather live in a hotel.
            Oh wait. I already do that. You can find hotels that have Cable, internet, and of course hot showers, for the same price as renting an apartment would be. (In contrast an RV is expensive to buy and the camping rent is not exactly cheap.)

            Some people want to stay where there are no hotels. You can get a RV site with full hookups (water, sewer + power, sometimes cable TV and internet too) for around $20 - $50/day. Can you get a hotel room with full cooking facilities, separate sleeping and living areas, your own clothes hanging in the closet, etc for under $50/day? And if you want seclusion, you can find isolated camping areas where there are no neighbors within sight or earshot and you can live quite comfortably for a week or so using the wa

      • by couchslug (175151)

        I have plenty of fire ant mounds on my property and have found an easy, effective way to kill and repel ants. It's worked for twenty-plus years.

        Laundry detergent or other strong soap works perfectly. I leave plastic buckets of soapy water around my buildings for quick cleanup before going indoors, and dump them on ant mounds as needed. The soap penetrates the mound, the ants die, and the mound cannot be reoccupied. I fill emptied detergent jugs with water for hand washing and anti-ant ops. (Why so much hand

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      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.

      • Re:Showers (Score:4, Informative)

        by faedle (114018) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:47AM (#41213041) Homepage Journal

        I would argue doing this with your greywater makes you a douche.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        Most good RV's have showers. heck mine has a full bathroom and a queen sized real bed in a bedroom.

        I wonder, just for the heck of it, how does the carbon footprint of an RV "liver of life on the road" stack up against your average city dweller.

        Living my life in short periods at campgrounds punctuated by endless periods driving 60' of steel on tollways does not really appeal to me, but I can see how it might appeal to some. I prefer a home, a spot on the map that is me. A backyard and a front porch from wh

        • Re:Showers (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hawguy (1600213) on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:25AM (#41213917)

          Most good RV's have showers. heck mine has a full bathroom and a queen sized real bed in a bedroom.

          I wonder, just for the heck of it, how does the carbon footprint of an RV "liver of life on the road" stack up against your average city dweller.

          Probably much higher than an average city dweller that lives in a small condo or apartment, but maybe not much worse than a suburban dweller that lives in a 2000 sq foot house on an acre of land.

          Living my life in short periods at campgrounds punctuated by endless periods driving 60' of steel on tollways does not really appeal to me,
          but I can see how it might appeal to some. I prefer a home, a spot on the map that is me.
           

          Most full-time RVers I know have the opposite lifestyle - long stretches in a campground with relatively short stints of being on the road - with no particular destination or timeline (except migrating south to avoid harsh winter weather), there's no need to drive endless miles on the highway.

          Oh, and there's not much steel in an RV, I saw the aftermath of a rollover accident and there was a hundred feet of aluminum siding, wood and personal effects, but about the only thing left intact was the steel framed floor. It was a windy day, the driver overcorrected after the RV swayed off the road, and it ended up tipping over and down a hill. Not sure how he escaped having his towing vehicle dragged along with it, something must have snapped.

          A backyard and a front porch from which to watch the universe revolve around me.

          With an RV you can have a nice porch that looks out onto a variety of different scenery (or the RV next door depending on how cramped the campground is)

    • Re:Showers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HangingChad (677530) on Monday September 03, 2012 @11:32AM (#41213971) Homepage

      it will always feel like a small step above camping.

      Say what? I don't know where you've been staying, but none of what you said is true. RV parks, unless they're wilderness campgrounds, always have electric, water and sewer connections and many newer RVs have 10-12 gallon hot water tanks which a lot more hot water than my wife and I have ever used at one time.

      Not something you will want to do for several years.

      Says who? The longer you're on the road, the less inclination you'll be to ever go back to bricks and sticks and having your house nailed to the ground. We've been on the road for three years [amazon.com] and found that many of our problems with traditional housing stem from a lack of convenient mobility.

      Most generators will run an A/C unit on an RV just fine. If your RV has two A/C units most likely your generator is already sized for the load. The only time we've ever run ours is when we stopped at a rest area and wanted to take a nap or make lunch.

      For the OP I have sections on wifi, satellite and wireless internet coverage. Right now we get high speed to our 5th wheel from the cable company, just like we did at the last two parks we've stayed in.

      And as far as comfort goes, you have to learn to live in less space but the space you have is better organized. And there's someone else taking care of the yard work, cleaning the pool, grooming the golf course and stocking the bar.

      Full time RV living is more comfortable and way more convenient than you might imagine. It's not a great choice if you have kids, but my friend up the street is a Unix admin for a hospital chain and he's lived in RVs for the last 10 years. You couldn't get either one of us back in a house. Traditional housing sucks in comparison.

  • Tiny home instead? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrLogic17 (233498) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:16AM (#41212219) Journal

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

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

  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:20AM (#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.
    • (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.

    • by vlm (69642) on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:41AM (#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.

  • Non-Internet issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Bresnahan (638668) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:21AM (#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.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      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.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      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.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        You know that satellites cover forests, mountains, and as much of the West as of the East, right?

  • by mattr (78516) <mattr&telebody,com> on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:23AM (#41212263) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

    • by garcia (6573) on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:56AM (#41212711) Homepage

      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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    • by faedle (114018)

      Yeah, the problem with most RV camps WiFi hotspots is very few are "managed", and all it takes is one teenager's laptop to BitTorrent the connection into oblivion.

  • by Yoje (140707) on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:45AM (#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).

  • by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Monday September 03, 2012 @07:47AM (#41212375) Homepage

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      Many storage unit places also have reasonably priced parking for trailers, motorhomes, and boats.

  • 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 pro

  • 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.

  • 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.
    • by biodata (1981610)
      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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:15AM (#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.

  • by tech10171968 (955149) on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:15AM (#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).

    • 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

    • by Frankie70 (803801)

      What is a freight jockey and what is a diesel jockey?

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:23AM (#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 mor

  • 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 t

  • 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 rela

  • 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

  • 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.

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerte.gmail@com> on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:46AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:46AM (#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

  • 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

  • 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 s

  • 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.

  • Some Tips.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:35AM (#41212947) Homepage

    #1 - strip your RV of ALL fancy vinyl graphics and paint it stark white. You need urban camouflage. Bonus to add AT&T or VERIZON logo graphics on it to further make it look like a Company work trailer.

    #2 - All Walmarts let you boondock in their parking lots for 2 nights without hassle. more if you go to the edge and look unobtrusive. The camouflage works here too.

    #3 - Buy and install Limo Tint on all the RV windows. also install black curtains on all windows so at night nobody outside can see that you are inside. A cop will investigate your Rig, but if it looks like a corporate work RV and nobody is in it, he will go away after checking that it is secure. Putting lettering by the door that says "Fiberoptic Splicing TRAILER" help convince a cop you belong there.

    #4 - learn where fill and dump stations are, but try to not use your toilet in the RV unless you have to. It is a lot easier to find where to fill up fresh water at, and you can dump the grey water on the ground. but finding a dump station to get rid of all your turds is not a fun part of doing this. Leave your duces at restaurants and stores.

    #5 - if you dont own the RV, get a "toy hauler" that has a garage. that way you can bring a scooter, Motorcycle or Smartcar and not burn 3mpg gas driving around.

    #6 - unless you get an insane deal. do NOT buy a motor-home. Motor-homes are crap compared to a pickup truck and 5th wheel. Why? if you have any breakdown on your truck, you can park and get the truck fixed. If the Motor-home breaks down, you are in a hotel for a week while the RV repair center rapes you and your wallet over and over again. Having your 5th wheel towed to a local KOA campground for a week is a lot cheaper and you still have your home.

    • I figured with some experience here, I should add:

      All Walmarts do not let you boondock. Most do, but it pays to ask. If I don't see several RVs already set up in the parking lot, I go in and ask. I have been told several times, usually in the South East, that they do not allow any overnight vehicles.

      Believe it or not, there are state operated rest areas that don't allow for overnight parking as well.

      You can always find something, but when you're really tired it can suck. My Sprinter was lightly urban ca

  • Why not rent an RV for two weeks and see how it goes?

  • by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot on Monday September 03, 2012 @09:44AM (#41213015) Homepage Journal

    I've never done it full time on RV-based, but I've spent sometimes more than a month away from my conventional home, and working from the road on either solo or two-person road trips. For a few years I did a 4-6 week cross-country trip from Seattle to various east coast destinations and back. Some great upsides to it:

    - While gas is (relative to the rest of the world) cheap in the U.S., it gives a (again, relative) bargain on seeing an interesting country. If you have friends scattered over North America and the flexibility in schedule to visit them, it's more economical than dozens of commercial plane flights. I've gotten to see old friends all over the country this way, and that's a hard thing to overprice, because seeing friends in small batches is my ideal social experience. It's neat to catch up to people, make dinner with them, see how their kids resemble them or not, etc.

    - You can follow the seasons as you see fit. I happen to like Seattle weather year 'round, Texas weather part of the year, and New England mountain weather when I'm not the one driving on a road made of equal parts ice, mud, and gravel.

    But I was driving a passenger car, not an RV -- I spent my nights either parked in a safe spot (safish, at least), visiting with friends and family, camping, or at a hotel. While RVs are cool technology, as you know the big ones take a lot of gas and take more planning to park for the night.

    Besides gas and parking, the worst-case scenarios with a full-size RV could be pretty bad ... if you hit ice and slip off the road, even if no one's injured it takes a pretty big effort to get it back on the road. Even without going off the road, there are camp roads, long driveways, and twisty paths along which I'd rather be in my nimble little car than in anything much bigger. When I have idly considered trying the RV-only life for a while, my plan has always been for a small one, like a RoadTek conversion van or just a small SUV outfitted for sleeping -- I'd rather pay for shower facilities on a piecemeal basis than have a vehicle big enough to contain a full-size one. (There are some van-sized shower units, but I wonder whether they're too much contortion and hassle ...)

    Horses for courses; if RV travel is your thing, you may see the worst-case scenarios as easy to avoid or just interesting challenges, and just build in the expense or hassle of getting places the RV won't easily reach.

    Connectivity is getting better all the time. I have used a Mi-Fi connection quite a bit (using both Verizon and Virgin devices), and found it to be a mixed blessing: when it works, it's fine, but slow as the 3G device that it is, and a bit flaky. When it doesn't work, well, I hope you don't *really* need to be online in the next little while. As with cellphones, the coverage map is always a lie. (Verizon, on this one front, has had better customer service and more consistent coverage, but the actual service is much more expensive; Virgin, in my experience -- matched by Samzenpus's -- tends to fail more often, and for longer at a stretch, and has customer service that Douglas Adams could have used without exaggeration in some part of the Hitchhiker's books. Cheery, youth-oriented, and hip is not what I want in a phone tree.

    But with the carrying capacity of an RV, there are now some decent satellite options, and of course many more 3G/4G internet choices, including tethering. All depends how much your per-month budget for communications is, and how much your work requires being ensconced in your own office / surroundings and how much you need big data transfers. Even with "unlimited" service, if you've got a 3G connection, you're not watching streaming video much ;) [If you're patient, low-bandwidth video -- YouTube, for instance -- can work pretty well.] Some days, I can work fine from a Starbucks, and do -- that's been a frequent spot from which to work: they are nearly always friendly, have good-enough-for-me coffee, and sometimes nice cush

  • So, I live in a cabin "off-grid", and I'm a technology professional. I'm fortunate: my employer operates an LTE system that I'm just BARELY in the coverage area of, and there seems to be adequate service from most of the major US cell carriers that I have backup options when the LTE goes out (which it does every time the wind blows my directional antenna off the mark).

    Believe me, you develop a "sixth sense" for Starbucks locations when they are the primary source of high speed Internet. Granted, I'm in th

  • John Madden's fear of flying has translated in having his coach bus with all the comforts. Satellite internet is one of them:
    http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/John-Madden-s-first-class-coach-Voice-of-2770534.php [sfgate.com]

  • Hi:
    Lots of good observations in this thread from both land and water born travelers. But here is a suggestion that didn't come up.

    The Great Loop is a 6,000 mile waterway built by the Corps of Engineers to protect U.S. shipping. It's pretty incredible and every year sees sunbirds making the migration from the Great Lakes down to Gulf, hybernating in FL for the winter, then returning north via the Inland Waterway along the eastern seaboard.

    Passage is slow, through both rural and urban landscapes. Marinas are

  • How many MPG do fully loaded RVs get? I drive about 25Kmi a year including daily commute, but I get about 25MPG average. That's only about 1Kgal:year. If an RV gets only 8MPG, 1Kgal is 8Kmi, which is less than coast-to-coast (3Kmi direct) 3 times a year. The average driver goes only about 15Kmi:year, though getting an average 22MPG, or 682gal; an 8MPG RV will go only 5450mi, not even roundtrip Disneyworld/Seattle, even by the most direct route.

    Also my house is highly energy efficient, both in its consumptio

  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Monday September 03, 2012 @01:13PM (#41214919)

    I worked as a contract controls engineer (still do), and did a lot of startups & commissioning gigs.
    I lived in a 40' 5th wheel, and enjoyed the flexibility. I could go from fully set up to fully set up within 24 hours. The flexibility made it a LOT easier for my employer to stick me into a gig, so the job security improved a lot.

    The moves were not that often (every few months or so), so my employer hired an over-the-road truck to move the RV and I met them at the new site. It's cheaper than a week in a hotel, and WAY cheaper than paying to move an employee.
    As an out-of-town resource, I still received the same housing and M&IE per diems as any other contractor (see your federal regulations on that one; there's charts for every major metro & surrounding area). This pays for the site as well as repaying the cost of the investment in the RV. (Investment--a thing where you spend money and expect to make money with the thing you bought. Like a carpenter who buys a good set of tools.)

    I worked a lot of automotive gigs and found that there was NEVER a gig more than about 1/2 hour from a full-time park with Winter sites. Generally if you stay for a few months, they will give you a big discount on the slot, esp. Winter. Only one site didn't have sewer hookup (it did have electric & water), and the honey wagon came by every week.

    I met some really great people full-timing in an RV; there's a real community out there. I've never had a bad neighbor, and the good thing is if you do, you can always move! Also, I met my wife while full-timing. We lived together in that 5th wheel for 3 years, and if we had an argument, there was no avoiding an issue by stomping off to the other end of the house. We pretty much had to deal with it then and there!

    Some suggestions
    You will need a "tax home" when you file your taxes and to maintain your driver license. If you qualify for residency in a state without income taxes, this is a good choice. If you move around a lot, get a forwarding mail service. This can also help with the item above. Personally, I used the post office of Mom & Dad. Every month or so they'd throw all my mail into a box & UPS it to me. If I needed something in a hurry, there was fax (ok, I guess it was a while ago...) and email.

    If you plan to do this for a while, get a nice RV. If you live in rathole you will feel like a rat.
    If you buy the RV new, have it prewired for generator, satellite on the roof and cable in the side. I used sat & cable both when I was on the road; cable is better, but SAT is not so bad. After you've done it a couple of times you can point the dish in about 10 minutes. I never needed a generator, so I never bought one. RV generators are not cheap, they're noisy, and the take up a lot of space.

    If you need AC, get more than the vendor says you need. The folks that sell them lie. On the days you need it you will be very glad you got it. Either a roof-mounted RV unit (or two) or a window unit. You have to reinstall the window unit every time you move, but it's a lot cheaper and works just as good.

    Water in Winter
    Get some Raychem Frostex and heavy pipe insulation for your water hookup if you plan to Winter in a cold area. Dig out the water tap to below the frost line and run the heat trace and insulate. Buy a tankless water heater! I installed a precision temp RV-500, and believe me--a long hot shower in the middle of Winter is wonderful.

    Heating in Winter
    Don't get the tile floor. They crack up and are cold as hell. Do buy some good thick house slippers. I think we had "Uggs" or a knockoff like them. Thick wool sheepskin slippers. RVs floors get cold in Winter; your feet will thank you. Keep a spare furnace motor on hand. The DC motor has carbon brushes which are a wear item. Once they're go, you need a new motor. And they die when it's cold. Get the double-insulated windows, or just cut some Plexi to size and cover the windows on the inside. It makes a significant difference in the temperature and your propane bill.

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday September 03, 2012 @08:06PM (#41218229) Homepage Journal

    Make sure you don't get the wrong tow vehicle. My brother got a used truck. One of the previous owners had a fifth wheel installed for a horse trailer I believe. Turns out the truck was a giveaway because both the axle and tranny were dying. Both were severely underspecced for towing something as light as a horse trailer. Read the magazines and online reviews. Don't go cheap.

    Second, get thee to a truck stop (or Amazon) and purchase a Rand McNally trucker's atlas. I was particularly fond of the large print one while I was driving. Don't rely on your consumer GPS. You'll want to go to the paper. If you must have GPS, get one specifically for trucks. If decent, it will route you away from roads that have corners that are too sharp and bridges that are too low. You'll also want to pick up a truckstop guide. A few years ago, that little book was about $4. Worth its weight in gold.

    When fueling, if you are at a truck stop, don't get in the truckers' way. They are trying to make time and make money. They aren't on holiday. In fact, get out of the trucker lanes and go to the other side of the station. There is usually a nice diesel (your tow vehicle IS diesel, right?) pump with plenty of room to get your rig in and out of. Moving a rig like that through the car pumps is no fun (and there's often not enough overhead clearance). And pick up some loyalty cards. Every so many gallons of diesel (usually 100) you get a free shower. Not the best in the world at most places, but better than the ones at campgrounds. And if you don't ask, everyone will likely look the other way if you and the Mrs. enter at the same time. (Wear shower shoes whether at the truck stop or at the campground)

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