Digital Nomad Gear For Our Next RV Adventure
We absolutely love RVing, but as homeschooling, work-at-home types, we have some special needs that really haven’t been catered to with the traditional RVing crowd.
Namely: Electric Power & Internet Connectivity.
Imagine, if you will, a family of four motoring through West Texas. There isn’t a whole lot to see in West Texas and it’s a mighty long drive to get to the other side from San Antonio. The boys brought their computers to keep them busy by watching movies or playing Minecraft or Kerbal Space Program (check out my blog on how my kids play video games all day). My darling companion also brought his computer so he could write while I drove.
It was a good plan until all their batteries died and we still had hours of driving to do.
That’s when the plan hit the fan.
Everybody got restless and the driver (me) started getting irritated.
This sort of thing happened several times on our last trip since I made the mistake of planning for long driving days. So here’s what I’m doing to change things up this time around:
The batteries on the boys’ computers are still reasonably new (less than two years old) and hold a charge for several hours but Mike’s battery wasn’t holding a thing. Anything that went into that battery passed right through it. When I checked Amazon, I found a replacement battery for his computer under $12. Bargain!
Bottom Line: My darling companion stays happy and productive.
During the last trip, I had the foresight to bring a power strip with a surge protector. (You never know when something might be plugged in when you switch on the power at a campground.) I’ll be bringing a couple of those with me again this time, just to be safe, but I also purchased an outlet adapter that has USB ports built in. RVs aren’t yet made with the digital nomad in mind and many models still have just a few outlets which would be fine if none of us had computers or electronic devices. This product is a huge help when you’ve got to charge four tablets, two phones, and two computers overnight before you drive all day again.
Bottom Line: Everybody starts with 100% charge.
This is a new item for this year’s trip and I’m really excited about having found it for only $24 at Amazon.com. This is a Foval Car Power Inverter 300W DC 12V to 110V AC Converter with 4.8A Dual USB Charger. In a nutshell: you plug this into the power outlet in the dash and, thanks to it’s built-in cooling fan and circuit breaker, you can run electrical items on it while you’re driving. (Regular wall sockets don’t work when you’re driving the RV.) My dream RV would have this built in for the digital nomad family of the future so everyone could be using their time productively on long drives (working and homeschooling) so that time at destinations can be maximized.
Bottom Line: two computers can draw A/C power from this while we’re driving and two devices can be charging too.
The RV of the future, made for the digital nomad family will have these built in, but until then, we’ve managed to find one at Amazon.com that sells for about $120 and can be set up once you make camp. There are really expensive versions of this setup that cost upwards of $350 but this one received good reviews and was within our budget, so we’re giving it a try.
The Alfa WiFi Camp Pro Long Range WiFi Repeater Kit covers a multitude of internet connectivity issues we’ve faced on previous trips.
First, we stayed at several campgrounds with weak or non-existent WiFi signal. This kit contains a high sensitivity outdoor antenna and wireless adapter so if our campground has WiFi, we’ll be able to pick up the signal. If our campground doesn’t have WiFi, this antenna may still be able to pick up a signal in the area. That, combined with my WiFi Map app should ensure we can log in to a network.
Second, when we stayed at campgrounds with weak signals, Mike and I would have to flip a coin to see who had to go to the clubhouse to get their work done and who got to use the mini wireless adapter (which had 2 antennae on it) on their computer at the RV. The adapter couldn’t be used with tablets and only worked with one computer at a time, so there was a lot of switching off. It was an epic pain in the butt. This kit has a portable WiFi router so when the antenna picks up the signal, it’ll route it to the wireless router which will act as a WiFi hotspot for all of our devices in and around the RV. And in case any of our fellow campers decide they want to ride our hotspot to watch The Walking Dead on Netflix, we’re able to password protect our signal. I know it sounds greedy, but we work & school when we travel.
Bottom Line: No more searching for Starbucks when one of my clients has a social media emergency. (Yeah, that happened last time.)
So while we’re still renting RVs for our trips and until we can buy our own and make some custom improvements like solar power, electrical wall plates with charger outlets, and satellite internet, these are the devices we’ll be using.
Look for a follow up post on how they all worked when we return from our trip in October!