Photos: Northbound & Down

12/18/16

Northbound and Down

Alyssa and Brian left their full time graphic design gigs in March 2016 to live and work on the road.

Congrats on locking down a paying gig that you can do from anywhere. That’s not always an easy feat, so we’re always pumped about it. But now, it’s time to focus on getting the work done with no office, co-workers or any sort of stability. This is both liberating and stressful, and it can be tricky in the face of all sorts of road life obstacles—flat tires, no cell service, no electricity, no wifi, getting stuck in the mud, losing track of the days, engine trouble, poison ivy encounters, and bears. We find ourselves flexing all sorts of project management and client services skills we never knew we had, and while we’re still figuring out how to be as efficient and professional as possible, we have learned a few things we’d like to share.



Make a Plan:

Since leaving the 9-5 behind, we try to plan as little as possible and avoid any sort of commitments (sorry to our families), but this doesn’t work when we’re dealing with clients or customers. To bridge the gap between their expectations and our lifestyle, it’s helpful to establish a schedule or plan with the other party at the very beginning of the engagement. At first we thought we were creating schedules for the client’s benefit, but we found that it was actually a great tool for us. Having an upfront agreement on when to expect calls or email frees us to spend more time deep in national forest or camping on a remote beach. Without the schedule, we’d likely find ourselves spending much more time than we’d like in towns or cities just in case we receive an important call or email. Also, since we work with the client to create the schedule, we’re empowered to choose when we work. This means when we can plan to work at unconventional times, like by the campfire or while one of us drives. In this way we’re able to ensure that we spend our days outdoors being active as much as possible.
 



Develop a Process:

For us, being on the road means we’re always in new places and unfamiliar environments, so it’s important for us to have a consistent process and set of tools to make working on the road as efficient and easy as possible. There are tons of tools out there and many people may have a better, more sophisitcated method, but we keep it simple by using Google Calendar, any.do and pencil and paper. Any.do helps us prioritize what we have to get done, whether it is work or play related, and Google calender helps us remember key dates. In addition to these pretty simple tools, we use good old pencil and paper to create a calendar and key priorities list in our sketchbooks, this way we’re not lost if we’re out of service range or away from electricity for a few days.



Find a Workspace
Chances are you’ve seen photos of vanlife folks working in a hammock or on a beach, but If you’re like us and can’t see the computer screen in the sun, you might find that won’t always work for you. We’re happiest if we can work from our rig or somewhere outdoors, but if we need reliable wifi and power we’ve found that coffee shops consistently have the best atmosphere and libraries have the best wifi. We’ve also found solid wifi and welcoming vibes at visitor centers, fast food joints, hotel lobbies, and bus stations. It takes some experimentation to find a place you feel comfortable in, so try some out, and don’t feel bad if your special workplace ends up being Tim Hortons or McDonalds.

Continue with part 3: Staying Balanced

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