Are you a road warrior—working from your camper home while on the road? Or maybe your plan is to create a blog diary of your travels, making an audio or video record of where you go and what you see. In either case, while it may be nice to look out your window and view an ever-changing landscape, there are probably times when you yearn for the amenities of a real home office: a comfortable desk, good lighting, or a better set-up for your recording sessions.
But since most campers and travel trailers don’t have the space for a dedicated office space, you can find yourself settling for a less-than-ideal arrangement. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some suggestions from experts and RVers to help improve your WFC (work-from-camper) setup. (More mobile office tips can be found in this post: Staying Connected While On the Road.)
Even if you opt for digital instead of paper files, a home office comes with a collection of odds and ends that take up space. Cords, flash drives, earpieces, microphones, headsets—you name it and it needs a place. Having a place for everything is the key. Put everything in its place to maintain a clean work environment.
That’s easy enough to accomplish in 2,000-square-foot bricks-and-mortar house, but when your “home” is considerably smaller, you need to be inventive when it comes to creating storage options. Start with a storage ottoman—perfect for storing larger items and using as a footrest. Other ideas from Stacie Spain in 40 Brilliant RV Space-Saving Solutionsinclude adding drawers under the table surface and mounting magazine racks to hold supplies. (Another option is a hanging wall organizer—just be careful when attaching it to the wall.)
If you work in bed, a bedside caddy can provide a handy place to put all those stray items—phone, pens, paperwork—that would otherwise get lost in the bedding. Speaking of little items that can get lost, magnetic spice canisters that mount to any steel surface can hold paperclips, staples, pushpin and mini binder clips.
You could work on the dinette table there, but it’s not always the most comfortable or ergonomic arrangement. And what’s the point in being on the road if you’re stuck inside when working? Instead, consider these desk options that are ideal for small spaces and for use inside and out.
Height-adjustable convertible desks are handy. It can serve as a lap desk (perfect for use while reclining on the bed or sitting on the couch). You can also use it at desk height (ideal on the dinette table if you need more height) or elevated to a standing desk. Folding desks are another option. Open them up and you have plenty of workspace—or an extra table for dining or board games. They close up flat as a pancake when not in use. You can use both convertible desks and folding desks outdoors, allowing you to enjoy the view while working.
Wired’s The Best Laptop Stands to Save Your Neck has a list of desk options, while ProCreative’s 10 Best Folding and Adjustable Computer Desks for Small Spaces has both folding desks and convertible ones, some with wheels and others with separate sections for a keyboard and mouse. For more reviews, read The Strageist’s The Best Lap Desks on Amazon
By the way, if you’re working inside, consider using television as your computer monitor. It might give you a larger screen, not to mention offer a more comfortable viewing angle. This article explains how to connect your laptop to your TV.
Good lighting is critical whether you’re working on paper or looking at a screen. And depending on where you’re sitting, the overhead light or standard wall-mounted lamp might not be the best solution. Instead, consider a double-duty desk lamp that not only provides task lighting but can provide USB and AC power outlets in the base along with space for pens, scissors and even your cell phone. Both Amazon and Target have a selection of organizer desk lamps including clip-on styles, and most use LED bulbs.
So you’re getting ready for a Zoom call or to record a video for your YouTube channel. But first, you have to scan the surroundings of your camper’s interior to make sure it’s free of any clutter that might come into view. Maybe what you need is a portable backdrop to block out the background.
You can use a backdrop with a stand or hang it on the wall behind you. (The Unlocating blog has a great post on creating a hanging backdrop while this Anyvoo post explains how to hang a backdrop on a wall without a stand.) If you need a backdrop stand, both Emart and Tablecloths Factory have stands, with the latter including two free backdrops. Want a custom designed backdrop? Check out VistaPrint’s selection of mesh banners, vinyl banners or foam boards.
Lighting is also important when you’re recording videos. Having a ring light can provide just the right amount of illumination, even if it’s cloudy outside. Digital Camera World lists the best ring lights in 2021, while this Wirecutter video offers general tips on improving the lighting for your video calls.
Finally, don’t overlook the value of using a headset with boom mic when recording. It can improve the audio quality plus keep any ambient noise (pets, people or traffic) from interfering with your recording. Not sure what kind will be best? The Podcast Host and Discover Pods both provide reviews of headsets, while DIY Video Studio and Zoom App Downloadrate stand-alone microphones. More recording tips can be found in this ProVideo Coalition article.
There you have it: ideas for improving your mobile office and keeping you productive while on the road!