Close-Up: Working from the Road

Close-Up: Working from the Road

Sonia Zjawinski
Apr 24, 2009

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In our final installment we meet up the the Janssen's again. You may remember them from our previous look at their home office on the road as well as their previous entry into the Smallest Coolest contest. Now we take a look at just how they managed to live and work while traveling the states for 18 months...

Matt and Sara Janssen, along with their daughter Bella, clocked 23,000 miles traveling across states. Wanting to minimize their carbon footprint, the couple had their 36-foot long RV converted to biodiesel. The conversion cost $8K, but the oil they used was free, given to them by restaurants and bio-fuel coops.

To power all their gadgets, including laptops, printer, and flat screen TV, Matt and Sara spread solar panels across the ride's roof. A 2000-watt inverter made it possible to charge while on the move so Sara, a photographer and designer, could work online via a Verizon AirCard while checking out the moving view outside their huge side window.

During long drives, Bella got to zone out to movies on the family's flat screen using RedBox, a service that lets you grab movies in one town and return them in another.

What kind of changes did you had to make involving your work to sustain on the road? I was already doing photography before we left for the tour, so no big changes were needed. The main thing was just finding enough clients while we were traveling. The host families we stayed with were all readers of my personal blog, so that made networking and word-of-mouth referrals easier.

What has been the biggest dilemma of working on the road? Any hiccups? We've had a really easy time working on the road...I think the biggest challenge is just motivating yourself to work when you need to work. When you are traveling full-time, there is a defnite "vacation feel" to your life, and it's easy to just keep putting things off.

There was one time in a Washington State Park, where we could only get a phone signal while standing on top of the picnic table. I'm sure we looked a little silly to those camping around us. :) We could also only get a WiFi signal with the laptop pressed up to the front window. Doesn't make you feel very "mobile" when you can't move an inch, lest you lose your signal :)

Thanks Sara, Matt, and Bella!

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