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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

What You Need to Work While Overlanding

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I know, I know…

Overlanding is supposed to be a time to disconnect from the world, get away from work, and enjoy the beauty of the world around you.

But sometimes, work needs to come along with you, and when it does, there’s some things you need to do to ensure you can get your work done.

Besides, if you can work remotely, why not work remotely from the wilderness rather than your home office?!

In this quick guide, I’ll go over some of the necessities required to work as you overland.

What You Need to Work While Overlanding: Cell Phone Booster and Accessories

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By and large, remote workers need a good internet connection, and last time I checked that’s not something you can rely on in the wilderness.

In some cases, you might be able to get a good enough cell signal to create a hotspot without a booster, but it’s better to be safe with a booster than sorry without one.

There are all kinds of booster kits you can get that have an outside antenna to acquire a cell signal, a booster to amplify it, and another antenna inside your trailer to spread the signal around. This way you can get enough coverage to work inside your trailer, outside next to the fire, or points in between.

You might also want to invest in a directional outdoor antenna and a telescoping mast, that way you can get some height to improve the antenna’s chances of picking up a signal.

Work-Related Gear

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Of course, you also need your work-related gear…

For me, that means my laptop, a portable external monitor, an external keyboard, a wireless mouse and mouse pad, and an external hard drive, to name a few things. Extra HDMI, USB, and other cables, plus batteries (for the mouse) and battery packs (to use as backups for my laptop and other electronics) are needed too.

Having a solar system or a generator to charge your work-related gear is also a necessity. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a big solar setup on your trailer, either. There are many solar-powered battery systems that are relatively small and easy to pull out of storage when you need to power up for work.

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For me, having a comfortable place to sit while I work is a must. Most of my foldable camp chairs are great for kicking back and relaxing, but not so great for sitting up straight and working.

Instead, I use a small, foldable camp stool and a roll-up table as my workspace. It’s not ideal, but then again, working while you’re overlanding isn’t ideal either! It beats sitting on the ground with my laptop in my lap, though.

I’ll also set my laptop on the tailgate of my truck so I can get some standing work time in. Sitting on a camp stool for hours on end just won’t do it for me.

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Where to Work While Overlanding

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Obviously, where you work will depend first on where you can get a signal…

Finding a signal in the wilderness isn’t always a possibility, but to find a signal, you need to avoid valleys and head for higher elevations that give you a better line of sight to distant cell phone towers.

There are a variety of resources you can use to pinpoint areas where you’re likely to find service, including Open Signal, which has iOS and Android apps for identifying coverage on-the-go. Just be aware that not all service providers have the same coverage, so you might need to set up multiple devices on different providers to ensure you get a signal.

If you rely on solar power, you’ll need to set up in a location that offers direct sunlight throughout the day. Having shade while you work is great, but you can’t get much done if your solar panels can’t collect the sun’s energy!

What You Need to Work While Overlanding: A Commitment to Your Health

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Earlier I noted that I have sitting and standing options for when I work while overlanding. In addition, I stick to my healthy working routines.

For example, I work for about 45 minutes and then take a 10-15 minute break. My neck, shoulders, back, and eyes need the rest, and the last thing I want to do is get aches and pains from working that prevent me from enjoying overlanding.

I also stick to my usual routine of drinking plenty of water, taking breaks for light exercise, and avoiding snacking while I work. Just because I’m in the wilderness doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stay on track to be as healthy as possible!

Working While Overlanding is Hard Work

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Working while overlanding requires you to spend a good deal of time planning ahead, getting gear ready, and setting up shop while you’re on the trail. Patience is key to your success.

I find that I need to set fairly minimal expectations of what I can get done while I’m overlanding. There’s too much to see, too much to do, and too much excitement for me to sit myself down to work for hours on end. By setting realistic goals for work, I can get critical things done without stressing about all the work stuff that I should be doing.

But then again, perhaps I’m just not as disciplined as I should be. Being able to focus your attention and stay on top of the work you need to do is just as important as planning ahead and having patience in the process. You need to roll with the punches too – an ill-timed storm could reduce your cell signal to nothing, leaving you without the ability to work.

At the end of the day, working while overlanding is very possible. Just have the right gear and the right attitude to get things done!

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