Travel While Working As A Virtual Assistant Pt 2
Travel while working, is it possible? In last week’s blog post, Association of Virtual Assistants founding member, Jamie Feinberg, shared her story of how she became a VA and full-time RVer. Now Jamie will share how she runs a successful business and what you should know if you would like to become an RVer too.
Becoming a virtual assistant happened gradually for me, and in the last six months, I’ve made it my #1 focus, so that my VA business alone is now the majority of our income and the focus of my time. Here are some suggestions to help you balance work with travel, to indeed travel while working, especially if you want to become a full-time RVer like I have.
Create A Consistent Schedule
Consistency = efficiency for me! From maintaining a great self-care routine (meditation, exercise, winding down at night) to establishing predictable work hours for myself, I’ve found that I thrive in my career and my life when I create a consistent schedule and stick to it. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for flexibility.
I build in at least a walk or two every day (sunshine is one of the best things about full-time RVing – we can follow the great weather), and I can take time off for family obligations or sightseeing whenever it works for me. But if I don’t have a sense of consistency, it’s very hard for me to stay focused enough to do great work.
My tools have changed over time – I’m currently using Trello to plan my tasks for the day and week, and I’m loving it. It’s also important for me to keep in contact with some of my clients about my schedule. For a few of them, we have a weekly meeting or otherwise need to plan to keep in touch. And for others, they expect I’ll be relatively accessible, so if I’m taking off for the day and won’t be looking at email, I find it’s helpful to keep them in the loop. (Of course, I’ve got other clients that I work with on a monthly basis – no need to update EVERYONE when I’m taking a hike!) Also, this probably goes without saying, but keep in mind time zones amongst clients.
Eat Well & Sleep Well
I mentioned the importance of self-care above. Eating well and sleeping well are such an important part of that! One of the best parts of full-time RVing is we bring our kitchen and our bed with us wherever we go. That means that getting a good night’s sleep is usually pretty easy. Pro tip: if you ever get a funny feeling about the spot you’ve pulled in for the night, no need to chance it – your best bet is to drive down the road and find someplace else!
Our kitchen may be small, but it’s got all the essentials for healthy meals while we’re traveling. I can keep up with my routine of lots of vegetables and meat and seafood in moderation. That being said, I do blog about ice cream, so you can be sure I’m indulging my sweet tooth too!
Make Internet Your Number One Priority
In a sticks and bricks home, you probably have been able to take for granted having access to decent wifi and internet. Prior to hitting the road, my husband and I lived up in the mountains in Franconia, New Hampshire. In that apartment we were introduced to the wonders (ha!) of satellite internet. We had a 15 GB data cap except between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 p.m., which meant my husband couldn’t use the internet at home (except during those hours) because I needed the data for my (mainly) virtual arts administration job, and when I had to handle photos and video, I had to wake up at 2 a.m. to take care of it.
Nowadays, we sometimes miss that satellite internet! Unless you’ll be parked in one place for many months, it’s rare as a full-time RVer to be able to access traditional cable internet like Comcast or Spectrum. And even when you’re parked, it’s normal for campgrounds to be in areas without access to internet at your campsite. Be aware that about 95% of campgrounds that offer “ wi-fi” can’t accommodate streaming at your campsite and even checking your email may not happen.
What’s a VA to do? My number one suggestion is the Mobile Internet Resource Center. Our membership pays off time and time again as they keep us up to date on new deals, devices and great plans that are getting retired. As full-time RVers working on the road, we always have to have a backup or two available in the event that our primary internet source won’t work. or us, internet typically means a) Verizon cell coverage aka my husband’s cell phone b) Verizon Mi-Fi aka a hot spot and c) T-Mobile cell coverage aka my own cell phone. Using those three devices, we can almost always provide our own internet via a hotspot, and when we can’t, we keep moving down the road or negotiate with the campground to make sure that we can get usable wi-fi.
Keep in mind that our current setup runs us more than $200 each month, just for internet. hen you’re planning your work-life balance, be aware that many of the most beautiful campgrounds won’t have any cell coverage or usable wi-fi. In a pinch, be sure you know the hours of the local libraries and coffee shops. I’ve made ample use of both!
On days when I have video calls or even audio calls scheduled, I always allow extra hours to get settled with a great signal, just in case. Maintaining your professionalism at all costs is important. And the reality is that some of your “bucket list” places just won’t lend themselves to work, so be prepared to take a weekend or a week off here and there to get off the beaten path.
Networking Is Key
My final tip for full-time RVers is to always take advantage of the opportunity to network. Full-time RVers may find that many of their friends and family aren’t willing to make the extra effort required to stay in touch while they’re traveling. At the same time, one of the best parts of traveling is getting to meet new people, and those in-person connections can really enhance your stay. Be open to leads wherever you go – I’ve attended full-time RV and other RV meetups and have gotten new clients in Facebook groups and through friends, family and past clients. Join whatever professional or social associations make sense for you – we get calls and emails from campgrounds all the time who’d like us to come work for them! I’ve also found that churches, yoga classes and other local businesses can lead to new clients. Be humble but forthcoming about your work and your interests wherever you go – you never know what it might lead to down the line!
About the Author
Jamie Feinberg is a virtual assistant, writer and blogger, online music educator and performing artist who’s been traveling the U.S. in her RV full-time since the fall of 2016. She documents her travels at RossAndJamieAdventure.com, her search for the best homemade ice cream at InSearchOfAScoop.com and shares her musical theater prowess on her and her husband Ross’ musical theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season.