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Filed under: RV Modifications, Traveling Tips, Working From Home

Working From Your RV: Step One–Building an RV Office

June 2, 2011 by · 7 Comments 

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If you are an RV owner, finding a way to balance relaxation time with work time is actually much easier than you may realize. One of the beauties of owning an RV is the ability to have a mobile office AND enjoy a  good ol’ American road trip

Constructing a home office in your RV is the means for accomplishing such a task and believe it or not, is a very real possibility with a little creativity and elbow grease. Not only that, but you can also build an office which is comfortable as well as functional.

Where Do I Start?

It depends. For those individuals looking to do a little casual office work while traveling, a simple recliner and lap tray for your computer can go a long way. However, if you’re the type of traveler looking to build an actual dedicated home office, here are a few tips I’ve found after spending countless hours scouring RV forums.

-          A majority of RVs usually come with some sort of dining table. With that said, many travelers don’t necessarily eat every single meat at theirs, opening up the possibility of being able to use the area as a home office space.

-          Many RVs come with a closet designed to house a washing machine. Many RVers don’t even use their washing machine when out on the road. It may be compact, but the closet can serve as a great place to house your mobile office items, etc.

-          If you’ve got a Class C mothorhome, the rear bedroom can be converted into an office area.  Where will you sleep then you ask? The over-cab bunk of course! It’s a Class C right?

-          Some of your larger Class A motorhomes come with both a master suite and a secondary bathroom. Either of these can easily be converted into a workstation.

-          If you happen to be starting completely fresh with everything, and purchasing a new RV, you can actually have it customized to include a work area. Or, to save a few bucks, you could simply by a cheaper model with a standard computer desk.

What About a Desk?

While you can bring any type of furniture (which can fit) into your RV’s home office, please remember to take the weight of the furniture into account. A huge oak desk might look great in your office, but it could add to much weight to your rig.

In addition to what type of desk you bring in to your home office, you’ll also want to be mindful of other items you bring in like filing cabinets, bookcases and more, which will add weight as well.

Office Toys

Obviously a laptop computer would be more efficient for your RV’s home office, but believe it or not setting up a desktop computer isn’t out of the question.

Be aware that ultimately figuring out what type of computer to use depends on how much time you plan to travel. Do you plan to plug into shore power? Would you be willing to consider using a solar power setup? These are both things to consider if you’re hoping to add a standard desktop to your mobile office.

Another office gadget to scrutinize before adding to your RV is the ever power-hungry computer printer.   A laser printer generally takes more energy to use than an ink jet printer does.

If you happen to go with a laser printer, please ensure you plug into a circuit with enough amperage. It’s also a good idea to ensure no other appliances such as a vacuum cleaner, are running when the printer is in use.

Ideally, one of the most efficient and easy routes to take when it comes to a printer is taking advantage of an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. With one of these devices, you’ll be able to meet all your printing needs in one swoop.

So How Do I Stay Connected to the World?

Getting your mobile office connected to the World Wide Web while out on the open road is actually easier than you’d think and there are a number of options you can take to accomplish doing so.

Although the most costly, a portable satellite will provide you with the best Internet signal out of all the options. You can choose to have a dish mounted on your RV’s roof or have it set up on a tripod. While going the tripod route is much cheaper than mounting one to your roof, it is also much more of a hassle to set up.

While a satellite system mounted to your RVs roof is one of your best options, it will affect where you can park in some cases. Thus, if you plan to do a lot of parking at campgrounds with tons of tree, you’ll have to be extra careful on where you take up shop.

Another means of getting connected to the Internet is by utilizing an Air Card/USB modem. This type of coverage is offered anywhere there is cell phone service.  You’ll want to be sure you pick a provider with wide coverage or one who offers a fair roaming plan.

Also, realize the quality of this type of service can vary. Adding some sort of external amplifier and booster can significantly improve your Air Card’s ability.

Keep It Practical

Perhaps the best thing you can do when designing an office for your RV is to keep it as practical as possible.  Don’t forget: The whole reason you want to build an office in an RV is so you can still enjoy some much needed relaxation time and work as well.  If you’re able to keep things practical and comfortable when engineering your mobile office’s design, then you’ll easily be able to find the balance between work and play you’ve been working for.

About the Author: Darrin Michael has worked professionally in both the journalism field as well as the RV industry. He currently serves as the marketing director at Dave Arbogast RV Depot in Troy, OH, where his duties include everything from website design to SEO operations to daily blog writing.

Comments

7 Responses to “Working From Your RV: Step One–Building an RV Office”
  1. George says:

    I’ve been looking at getting something a little bigger than my car for my mobile office. Great post! I’ve been looking at class b vans because of the gas mileage. Does anyone currently have a mobile office class b van? I would like to see some pictures…. jesusforlife@rock.com

  2. Professor95 says:

    George – OTR Truckers have been using very efficient and compact mobile office equipment for many years. I believe you will find a lot of useful ideas by exploring what they are doing. Space in a HDT truck cab can be a premium – just like in a class B.

    Darrin – Great article! But when I read, “Some of your larger Class A motorhomes come with both a master suite and a secondary bathroom. Either of these can easily be converted into a workstation.”, I couldn’t help but smile and picture a computer sitting on the potty and a printer in the sink. I am assuming you intended to say “secondary bedroom” rather than “bathroom”? – But, on second thought, the second bathroom really isn’t all that bad of an idea. It could certainly add convenience to the office area :)

  3. Professor95,

    Nope, I meant secondary bathroom. A friend of mine actually converted his and it was much easier to do than most would expect!

  4. Gary Worrell says:

    Good article. I work on my laptop about 10-12 hours a day. I chose a Class A Rexhall that has a long vanity in the bedroom. That area is plenty long enough for my laptop, printer, and external hard drive (also have cloud backup). My bed behind provides a larger area to spread out files. What I find absolutely essential is to have enough space for a decent office chair. Anything less is an ergonomic problem. My Verizon air card serves me well, but there have been a couple of times that I wished that I had a booster. Can you recommend one? I would like to find something around $250 and preferably less. Love the life style of traveling and working.

  5. Dan says:

    Just converted our living room in a class A by removing a jack knife sofa on one wall and replacing it with a custom made L-shaped desk with enclosed shelves and slide out storage for a printer and the lap top computer. Still have the sofa sleeper on the opposite wall so we really didn’t lose much sleeping space. Lots of desk top space to spread out work materials and a great place for snacks when company comes. Having the roll out storage keeps lap top and printer secure and out of the way when traveling. Added a leather desk chair for working at the desk. We have seen these type desks on line at $1200-1500 but we had a local cabinet maker build for less. Great usable piece of furniture and weight was not much more than the jack-knife sofa.

  6. Wow…great idea Dan. Using the roll out storage is a nice way of keeping computers and printers tucked away and safe. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jo Cobb says:

    There’s a three-in-one furniture that can be used as desk, an all-purpose table, and a dining table. The great thing is that everything stays on the desk when you use the unit for other purposes. You may view the photos on the facebook page of Hiddenbed of Oregon (www.facebook.com/goldentrees) or inquire via http://www.hiddenbedoforegon.com. The Hiddenbeds can also double your RV space. Watch you tube video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsum0wkgUMo to see how the Hiddenbed works. It’s really neat!

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