Further up and Further in
We’ve been on the road about a month at this point. After starting in Denver, we headed east through Michigan and then northwest through Northern Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Canada. All is well minus a few scrapes and bruises, one minor breakdown, a hitchhiking chipmunk, and accidentally blowing through our data plans (more on that later). We’ve learned a lot about adjusting our expectations (or really having none) and taking every day as it comes. We’ve intentionally made minimal plans for this trip following a very loose route. We wake up every day deciding where we’ll go, what we’ll do, and more importantly where we’re going to sleep.
It turns out nobody makes a guidebook for living and working from the road, and even if they did, it wouldn’t work for everyone in all situations as geography makes a huge difference in how hard or easy it will be for you to be a vagabonding professional. Here are some things we’ve learned.
1. Wi-Fi all around me. For the most part, Wi-Fi is everywhere. Gas stations, rest stops, campgrounds, visitor centers, chamber of commerce, parks, libraries, practically every restaurant and cafe, grocery stores, and even in public bathrooms. This is a blessing and a curse. Amazing if you’re working every day and need to connect as you’d be hard pressed to not find Wi-Fi even in the most far-flung cities. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to disconnect. I’ve caught myself searching for a Wi-Fi connection in random places for no reason at all.
2. Data plans and cellular woes. We’ve been flirting with the Canadian border for over 1,000 miles and have had very few instances of losing service between our iPad equipped with Verizon or our iPhones on Sprint. We didn’t exactly read the fine print on our Sprint contracts before we left and both ended up blowing through our roaming data allowance within a matter of days. All it takes is one Spotify playlist downloading in the background and you can kiss data goodbye for the rest of the month. What has saved us is using our iPad with Verizon LTE as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot for our phones. This has been key and gotten us out of many a sticky situation.
3. Traditional voice is dead— all hail data. The ability to dial a 10 digit number has greatly diminished in importance. With a solid data plan, random Wi-Fi connections and a hot spot with a competing carrier, you can get anything you’ll ever need done whether it be real time voice, video, messaging, or any other personal or professional communication.
4. Mobile devices are really all you need. We brought our macbook air just in case… big mistake. Not that it’s taking up much space, but it has been completely unnecessary. Banking, communications, collaboration, everything is mobile first now and our computer has been completely unnecessary. Heck – we even brought our really nice DSLR and have seldom thought to even grab it since our iPhone cameras are so good. I used to heckle people who tried to do everything on their iPads – now I understand just how unnecessary a dedicated laptop is.
In short, working and living from the road has been a breeze so far. Sure there are challenges here and there but the beauty and adventure more than makes up for the inconvenience. If there were one thing I didn’t expect, it would be the lack of downtime. Turns out there is a lot to see and do when all of North America is at your disposal.