When you’re working on the go, it’s important to have a workspace that is both comfortable and inspiring. However, digital nomads are used to working in all kinds of spaces: kitchen tables, the front seat of a car, picnic tables, and camp chairs. If you’re working from the road full-time, you may want to set up a designated workspace. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 13 RV and mobile office van setups to inspire you to work and travel.
RVs With Mobile Offices
Creating a mobile office in an RV is increasingly popular as remote work becomes more prevalent. Manufacturers are starting to build designated workspaces into some new RV models, and many RVers are renovating their home on wheels to include desks. Full-time digital nomads want a mobile office in their RV, but vacationing RVers are also seeking capabilities to work on the road.
Digital nomads create built-in RV workspaces in the bedroom, kitchen, living, and dining areas. Others are retrofitting bunk areas to create a private RV office. Here are some RV workspaces ideas for a wide range of digital nomad and remote jobs:
For Jen and Eric Reinhart (@stairsuphandlein), an RV with an office was a must, and they were lucky to find one that already included a desk.
Jen and Eric share their experience purchasing an RV with an office: “Unless you are moving into a toy hauler or something larger with a bunkhouse or second bedroom, [an office] can be difficult to find without renovating and building your own, so the fact that our current rig actually came with a desk space built in was a plus.”
“Not only did it have the built-in desk, but it was positioned at the back of the camper with storage space in surrounding cabinets and drawers, complete with a large window that provides plenty of natural sunlight (and natural Zoom lighting, if I’m being honest).”
They also recommend buying a tabletop flexible-height laptop stand and investing in a comfortable chair to make your workspace more comfortable.
Amy of @carpediemcampers teaches P.E. online from her toyhauler trailer. Converting the garage at the back of the trailer into the office gives her the space to complete office tasks and conduct virtual classes with an epic view.
Amy says her RV office allows her to have a job she loves: “I am grateful that my teaching job came full-circle. I now have a job I love, working with kids in a new, challenging, and fulfilling way while continuing to live the digital nomad lifestyle.”
RVers will often renovate their home and workspaces to make their home on wheels more comfortable and specific to their style. Julia and Charlie (@_TheHoneyWagon) are no strangers to a renovation project; this was their second fifth wheel makeover. They shared their biggest challenge in creating this warm and inviting RV office:
“…this newer 5th wheel was only three years old when it came to us, so most of the updates were cosmetic. All of our updates were done working on the weekends over a course of only 4 months… The biggest challenge was replacing and finding furniture that fit my tastes, fit the space and fit the weight limit. It was a tough task to find a desk comfortable enough to spend 40 hours a week at, but was also compact, stylish and unique.”
If you have a career that requires a specific workspace setup or equipment, it really is possible inside an RV. Chris and Christi (@kreativefreedom) built a music studio inside their 26’ Fleetwood Jamboree Class C RV to support their jobs as creative DJs and music producers. They shared the tech behind their minimalistic studio:
“The cornerstone of our creative music space was made possible thanks to today’s technology. Everything is ‘in the box.’ In other words, all sounds are emulated through computers or gear with a much smaller footprint. Helping us achieve this is the UAD Universal Apollo Twin, which is our audio interface. This amazing piece of gear allows us to record, track and even emulate those legendary physical machines such as various reverbs, pre-amps, and delays which is important for the right sound for our tracks.”
“A MacBook Pro powers everything up as it’s also linked to a 32” Ultra-Wide LCD monitor on a monitor lift for a comfortable experience. Our studio monitors are KRK Rokit 5’s, which have given us fantastic bass response in the RV. Finally, to round it all out, we added a few multi-use controllers such as the Arturia MiniLab and the Native Instruments Maschine for grooves and rhythm sections. We used to be in love with buying more and more gear. Now, we’re in love with our streamlined studio.”
An RV slide out creates additional space that can be used for work. Keith and Raini (@KeithAndRaini) share their RV workspace, which allows them to work side by side:
“Working on the road has given us a very unique opportunity to create a productive yet cozy space in our RV. We built a desk for two in the nook of our large slide-out, where we can both sit and enjoy the window view while working; and, bonus, all we have to do is swivel around in our computer chairs and BAM! We are instantly in our kitchen!”
Patty Gill (@gills_on_wheels) set up a classroom in her RV to teach students virtually. She doesn’t let her small space prevent her from setting up a backdrop and props to make her classes fun and effective for her students.
Patty told us about a day in the life in her RV classroom: “I usually teach 5-8 classes each morning with about 5 minutes between each class…It usually takes me about 20–30 minutes to make sure I have all my props set up for the next morning’s class. Then I grab my coffee, sit in my chair, and wait for the class to start…I am done around 7 a.m. and have the rest of the day to explore, hike, or go sightseeing.”
Jesse & Rachael Lyons (@thetasteforadventure) are digital nomads in a renovated fifth wheel. They specifically chose a fifth wheel layout with a big back window, so they could build mobile office in an RV that took advantage of the views in their campsites. They shared their simple renovation process:
“Our desk is simply a piece of wood placed and screwed into to the top of the electrical box and supported on the other side by two table legs. We love working in that back window. Our office view has been the ocean, desert, mountains, lakes, and forests.”
Caleb Barnaby crafts jewelry while Crystal Davis plans their travel to art festivals. As @the_renegade_ramblers, they run their business from their Imagine travel trailer. To create on the road, they built a jewelry studio into their tiny home.
Caleb and Crystal told us, “one of the biggest challenges of living and creating in 128-square-feet is finding a place for a mobile studio. Since art is the main source of income to fuel our travels, the workbench is also the focal point of our living space. We completely removed the dinette and built a custom workbench in its place.”
“As most RVers know, small spaces must serve multiple purposes and that is no different with our workbench area. It’s a place to sit and eat our meals, it serves as shoe storage, additional counter surface, and houses all our jewelry-making supplies. This is where you can find Caleb on most days of the week – etching, sawing, hammering, riveting, soldering, creating.”
The Rootless Living editors, Nikki Kirk and Demian Ross, produce the Rootless Living magazine and the Rootless Living podcast from their fifth wheel. They created two workspaces during the renovation of their fifth wheel.
“My office now allows me to have an actual workspace with a desk that has everything powered and equipment secure in drawers,” says Demian. “Most of my tech gear is charging while in their drawers as well as a computer monitor which is able to lower during travel days to keep it safe or when not in use. The monitor lift allowed me to not lose my view out my office window when I was not working.”
Easy set up was important, says Demian, “I went from a stressful 30-minute office set-up to a quick 5 minute set up or take down and everything is exactly where I left it. Nikki removed the dining room table, which we never sat at, and installed a desk that faces out the large window, giving her an awesome workspace and some of the best views.”
A Mobile Office For Van Living & Working
The very limited space in vans means digital nomads have to get creative to make mobile offices in vans that are multi-purpose and productive. These digital nomad workspaces will inspire you to live and work even tinier.
Lisa and Chris Carter work full-time on the road. Chris works for a home goods manufacturer, while Lisa runs her own e-commerce business, roveandswig.com. They squeezed two mobile office spaces into their van.
“We’re traveling in our 2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4×4 170 WB High Roof that we self-converted from a cargo van into our dream home on wheels…We mostly work in our rig. We have two areas that function well for long hours on the laptop. Our passenger seat swivels 180 degrees, and a portion of our countertop can be extended as a desk surface. Chris takes all of his video meetings from there, which keeps his background consistent (a homemade windshield shade to prevent being backlit) and allows me to move around the rest of the van without photobombing his meetings. The other area is a bench at the foot of our bed. It’s not quite as ergonomic as the front work area, but it gets the job done. On nice days when I don’t have meetings or calls, I often work outside under some shade.”
Jack McCook (@thisCAVULife) wanted multiple workplace options in his Ram ProMaster 136” van. He configured five and a half work spots inside his van. He primarily works from the dinette, but his favorite mobile office van configuration allows him to enjoy the outdoors:
“…I had enough foresight to realize that working exclusively at the dinette would drive me crazy and probably make me resentful of the vanlife experience…I ultimately created five and a half workspace options while designing the van to be able to work while standing and sitting…My favorite desk option, however, is my outdoor standing desk. This one by far takes the cake. I installed a table that latches onto the interior of my cargo doors. When the weather is great, I can prop it up and work outside, using the bed or bench cushions as additional countertop space.”
Skoolie and Bus Conversions With Digital Nomad Workspaces
An advantage of building out a bus as a home, work, and travel vehicle is you have more flexibility for customization. These digital nomads took advantage of designing their own layouts to create mobile offices that inspire.
When you have a family doing work and school on the road, you need to create spaces to accommodate everyone. One solution was building this pretty desk, with cheerful blue décor, floating shelves, and file cabinets.
Jenn of @redwhiteandbethune shared their motivation for building a desk into their bus: “When designing our bus for our family of 5, we knew we would need to have multiple workspaces. We have work, school, and creative time for 5 people; we couldn’t all work in the same space. We have a dedicated office space, Jenn’s makeup area doubles as an additional desk, and we made a custom cover to go over our steering wheel. With all of these areas, we can work, live, & play comfortably!”
Tina Wann and her family moved into a renovated school bus with the goal of living a more minimalist lifestyle. They built long, versatile counters into their home on wheels that can be used as a workspace, kitchen counter, and more.
The family says, “one of the things people most often say to us is that they could never live tiny. They have too much stuff. This year, I published an ebook that shows exactly how we manage to fit our entire life into 234 Square Feet. It is available on our website weliveonabus.com. My hope is that it makes this lifestyle a reality for someone who reads it. We aren’t different from them. We just woke up and pretended that we were one day away from living our dream of the nomadic bus life.”
More Inspiration For Your Mobile RV or Van Office & Digital Nomad Lifestyle
If you want a more in depth look into these van and RV workspace ideas, you can read the more in depth features on these mobile offices in previous issues of Rootless Living Magazine. A subscription currently gives you access to all our back issues. Rootless Living releases six issues a year, all featuring ideas, inspiration, and tips for digital nomads.