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Airstream Mobile Office Setup

Thought I would share my office setup in the Airstream for anyone else working on the road (FYI: "digital nomad" is not my primary job, I'm an ER Nurse, but I do a good bit of photo, video, and blog work). The ideas are adaptable whether you're in a Airstream or any other RV. This setup is non-destructive (i.e. it doesn't require significant deconstruction of the original Airstream concept), with the exception of several under-table mounting screw-holes (which few would ever notice anyway).

Watch the Tour Here

Under The Hood | Gear and Equipment

Keep in mind that the more expensive components (chair, monitor, and speaker) are just hold-overs from the "sticks-and-bricks" and have followed me over the last five years. The chair admittedly is very expensive and I contemplated on this for about ten years before finally purchasing when I had an office job at the hospital back home. It's extremely well-built, ergonomic, and lightweight, which has suited well for RV travel. The monitor arm can be tilted to either side to use the dinette for sitting while working but I find these typical dinettes sit too far back from the table (i.e. little back support if working close to the table).

A Word on My Experience with Data Plan Management

So I currently use the Verizon "Above Unlimited" plan which has 75GB data (until "throttled") and 20GB hotspot data (until "throttled") which at the time was the highest data package available from Verizon. I looked at dedicated hotspot devices but these typically provided very little data for the money comparatively. I have found that while the hotspot throttling is fairly dramatic (over 20GB - waiting on web pages to load), the device throttling is somewhat negligible (over 75GB - can usually still stream video at 480p). So my strategy has been to use the hotspot data for typical computer work - web surfing, email, etc. And then to use the device for all streaming so I preserve the hotspot data usage.

This is why an HDMI switch (and audio splitter) was key, as I toggle between streaming all video from the phone, working on the computer, and then Blu-Ray video from the XBOX.

I played around with using a Wifi Travel Router to bridge the hotspot, which works fine, except that you are locked into using the hotspot data pool (20GB) for any devices connected to the network (which if you're not streaming video - say with an Apple TV - is pretty much just the computer). Now one might think, okay, I will just stream (Airplay) from my iPhone (with the device data package) to an Apple TV - this way you would still have the control (the iPhone) in your hand (as opposed to plugged in for hardwired streaming). Well the problem with this is that in order to stream/AirPlay both the iPhone and the Apple TV would have to be on the same network and you can't be both the hotspot providing internet TO the network AND connected to the network itself. As soon as you attempt to connect to the network with your phone, you will be off-line (as you are connected to a network NOT connected to the internet). It's a bit convoluted and there may be a better solution out there but just sharing what's worked for me so far

Additionally, when just using the phone's hotspot, some devices do better than others at automatically reconnecting to the hotspot (say you've been out at the store and return with your phone), I believe this is due to cell phones constantly switching between different IP gateway addresses to connect to the internet as cell coverage changes between towers, etc.

Securing for Travel

One of the most stressful parts of RVing is packing up, breaking camp, and moving. There's a balance between making things homey and functional and minimizing the travel prep - making this as seamless and simple as possible. For this reason, I put very few things out - there's a few items (such as the MacBook, notebook stand, speaker, etc. in this example which would need to be safely put away in cabinets for travel) but other than this I don't want to have to take things apart, or unmount a monitor. This setup works well as everything below the desk is well secured with the legs providing stability for the heavier parts during a bumpy transit. The monitor arm conveniently stops about two inches from the surface of the table, meaning that there should be no damage to the monitor or the table from contact while on the road. I simply secure the monitor around the arm with some of this velcro strip tape (an absolutely awesome product to keep with you while RVing for anything you might need to tie down or secure.

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