Last week I was incredibly excited to be featured in the Daily Telegraph showcasing WFC (Working From Campervan). I found so much joy in seeing that this lifestyle is being celebrated. Since I grew up with the mindset that a conventional life is best (9-5 job, married with kids by 30, home-owner - you know the drill), I haven’t always felt empowered to live this way. In fact, I put off living in the way I truly wanted to for years because I honestly didn’t even believe it was an option. I found myself on the corporate life treadmill asking “surely this cannot be all there is?”.
5 years later I’m so relieved to tell you that it’s not.
It took a battle with depression to propel me over to the other side of the world, where I started my travel adventures. Since then, I’ve been hopping across the globe working from beautiful places. I get to spend each day fulfilling my passion of helping small businesses market themselves, consciously.
I get that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but the more we can talk about it and empower others to consider it, the more people will have an opportunity to live a life that they love. It certainly wasn’t an easy road to get to the WFC lifestyle, so I’m going to outline everything I’ve learned along the way.
Here’s Everything You Need to Know About WFC
First things first; you have to face fears. Whilst the excitement for living and working in a van is certainly growing, it’s a fair way off being the conventional route. If you’re used to a corporate job, with plenty of stability and perks, then you may be a little apprehensive about WFC. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to confront all the things you are afraid of. For me, that was transitioning to working on my own, having a varying paycheck each month and receiving a fair amount of judgment about my decision. For a while, I tried to bury this fear, but I realised that this was holding me back. I needed to face it head-on to work through it.
I wasn’t trying to eliminate the fear of being on the road, but instead, I learned how to work with it. Seeing the positives of this lifestyle, weighed up against all my fears of it, was what gave me the confidence to quit my job, pack up my life, start my own agency and head out on the road.
Once I faced my fears it was time to make my dreams a reality. I highly recommend thinking long and hard about how your career will tie into a life on the road before you take the step. Having already worked in marketing for 5 years, I was lucky enough to draw on contacts to get started. I began working for clients on a freelance basis whilst I was still employed in a temporary job. This gave me space to build my business, whilst remaining on a solid income. Then, as my client base grew I gained the confidence to opt for fewer corporate hours until I eventually felt ready to leave.
Many companies are now open to working remotely, so it could be worth asking if there’s an option to work on the road. If not, it might be a good idea to go freelance. It’s not for everyone, so I’ve put together a guide of all the things you might need to consider. If you decide to take the leap, there are a few sites you can feature on to find work, including People Per Hour, Upwork and Fiver. Another option is to be clear on the type of work you would like to find on the road and outreach to source it. Build yourself a portfolio to showcase your work and demonstrate what you can do for others. You can find out how I pitched for clients here.
Finding a Van
Once you have the work, it’s time to decide on a van. Knowing what van to choose isn’t easy and certainly isn’t a decision that should be rushed. I would highly recommend spending time testing vans to decide what size and layout suit you. The best way to do this is to try before you buy! You can try a selection on Camptoo to gauge what van suits your lifestyle. This is something I wish I did because, in hindsight, I probably would have bought one a little bigger if I had tested different sizes first.
Once you have a taste of the kind of van that suits you, it’s time to start your search. There are three options when searching, a) to buy the van and do it yourself, b) buy the van and give it to a company to convert, or c) buy one half or fully finished. I opted for a mixture. I bought a van complete, then took it back to the company to modify. When it comes to searching for vans I recommend Autotrader, Gumtree and The Campervan Bible. The market is fairly busy at the moment, but just be patient and the right van will come along.
Creating Your WFC Setup
Once you have the van it’s time to focus on the setup. Depending on the van type, this will vary. My van has a pop-up desk, which I use to help me separate the space in my mind. Sometimes, when I work all day from bed I struggle to sleep at night. I need to have a designated work area that feels like a different space! In terms of the actual setup for working, I use a Netgear Nighthawk m2. I have an EE sim, which has been the absolute best network for all the places I’ve traveled to in the UK. My phone is on an 02 sim, which helps if ever I can’t reach EE as I use the hotspot option. If you are planning to go totally off-grid, it might be worth purchasing a booster to give you a helping hand.
Working on the Road
When it comes to working, I’m lucky enough to have a flexible schedule which means I can choose when and where I work. I am a huge advocate of setting tasks to when I’m feeling creative. I have set times to call my clients and plan my schedule based on when I can create the best work. I also shoot all my content on the road, which I explain here. It works best for me because I’m out living the lifestyle for the products I need to promote. I’m never short of inspiration, backdrops or people to collaborate with.
That being said, it’s worth considering that freelance life is very different from full-time employment. If you’re someone that has set times to work and is reliant on large amounts of signal, it’s a good idea to plan your day a little better than I do. I recommend using the Park4nite app to read the reviews of park-up spots, which often highlight what the signal is like. Since then I have now found that The Campervan Bible also have a fantastic map full of overnight stops including campsites, pub stopovers and wild spots!
Working on the road certainly has its ups and downs, but for me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Getting to choose where I work each day, having a flexible working schedule and being able to enjoy a beautiful view whilst I’m on my laptop is the exact life I’ve always dreamed of.
To follow Emma's travels head to her Instagram @EmmaOrlando
Want to check out Emma's work? Head to her fantastic website consciouscreatorco.com