Jeff Zbar is the ultimate home office road road warrior guru. We’re honored to have him share with us how he travels across America in his RV and stays connected and productive.
If you wanted to create a portable home office, what tools would you use?
Last year, Home Office Highway traveled almost 4,000 miles of Atlantic Seaboard highway – staying portable, remote and productive the entire way. This July, we’ll tour the South.
From the start, the tour was and is NOT about using fancy, early-adopter technology that created a whiz-bang workspace. It’s always been all about using off-the-shelf stuff that’s easily accessible and priced right for anyone to creates a workspace that mimics the home office.
Here’s what we used to make it happen
Last year, we used an HP Compaq 2710p Ultra-Light Tablet Notebook PC (at the time, from around $1599). This pint-sized powerhouse was a winner on the trip.
Faster than my workhorse HP Pavilion (which we also brought along), it won kudos all around — from family (who fought over using it and its nifty tablet / stylus capabilities), and even guests along the way. Its 12.1-inch screen, the sub-four pound size and generally lean design facilitated in-an-instant computing; have something to blog or write, pull it out, power up, and you’re good to go. And as people move toward netbook computers, I can safely say were were almost there as early as last summer. Very cool indeed.
Connectivity is key when traveling – especially when this trip is part vocation, and part vacation. My Verizon Wireless’s BroadbandAccess USB wireless Internet service (starting around $40 a month) kept me connected with work – no matter where we went.
Most of the RV parks we stayed at last summer promised free Wi-fi. Few delivered. This year – as with last – we’ll be prepared. My “aircard” was flawless. In the parks, in friends’ homes, on the highway, we had service. Whether traveling for work or play, Internet completes the “digital adventure.” Without this service, we might have well been phoning it in.
Speaking of phoning it in, we used Verizon Voyager and Verizon Dare wireless phones. The Dare was in the driver’s cab the entire trip. Verizon’s VZ Navigator gave turn-by-turn directions loud and clear, competing with our portable GPS for our attention, and eventually edging the traditional GPS out of the competition. With other services like email, Verizon’s VCast service, IM, and Voyager’s QWERTY keyboard, they were reliable fan favorites along the way.
I stashed everything in one of two places. First was my Office Depot Foray Mobile Workmate ($89.99). This 14-inch-square wheeled portable office held everything I needed to work along the way. With room for my laptop, cables and more files than I’d ever want to take on this “digital adventure,” it literally was my office organizer on the road. Open it up, and my office is ready for business. Close it up again, and the office is closed.
The other storage space was a Targus Flare backpack (from around $69.99). The Workmate was cool, but when I wanted to take the office with me, the Flare was my portable office. Big enough for a 17-inch laptop, it comfortably housed a pair of HPs nowhere near that size. It provided ample space for all we wanted — laptops, booklets for the tour, ID and keys. It even has a built-in rainfly. It went to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond, and was an otherwise faithful companion for almost 4,000 miles.
Each item on this list is off-the-shelf. Nothing fancy. No steep learning curve. No fancy bells and whistles to get in the way of reaching near peak productivity from jumpstreet. With so much to learn about business and life from aboard an RV, the last thing we needed was to learn a bunch of new technology.
This year promises to be much the same – trying new technology, staying connected and productive, and enjoying a three-week getaway without scuttling my home-based business. After all, any hybrid family / business trip should live up to the mantra, “Where vocation meets vacation on the open road.”
Got something you think could make me even more productive? Drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org