We get a lot of questions regarding how we work while living on the road. Today, we’re sharing our mobile work setup.

For the past 2+ years we’ve been working from the road in our Mobile Headquarters (a 16″ travel trailer). If we’re in an area with wireless internet, like the campgrounds of El Potrero Chico, MX or Red River Gorge, KY, we work at the table in the trailer. If we’re in an internet void camping area like Joshua Tree, CA, or Ten Sleep, WY we typically search out a work-friendly cafe with wifi and post up with a hot beverage for a few hours. Below you’ll find details of the gear we use to do business.

Andreas with tiny computer
At a coffee shop, when Andreas proclaimed his 13″ laptop with crappy processors were useless to him for video editing.

Computers

Our Experience: We’re beholden to Macs, despite their high price. The programs we use extensively, including Adobe CC and slick coding programs, just seem to work better, or are solely available, on the iOS platform. That said, if you have an Android phone or Windows machine and it works for your business needs, more power to you.

Andreas is currently running a 2015 15″ Macbook Pro Retina display with 2.5GHz and 512GB storage with the highest offered graphics card. We paid the ridiculous sum of $2,500 for it. The only reason we went all out is because Andreas edits videos and photos all day, which requires the fastest laptop possible (unless you’re ok with waiting hours for your computer to render).

Alison has a 2011 15″ Macbook Pro with 2GHz and 512GB storage (new $1,800). And, after a recent tea spillage we found out that you can buy the equivalent model for $500 on Ebay. Since I don’t use many processing-heavy programs it’s plenty for my needs. If the Air was available in 15″ I’d [eventually] switch to get the weight savings. Currently I don’t feel the need to upgrade to a newer model nor do I like the idea of losing my beloved matte screen.

Macbook computers

Recommendation: Since we work with multiple programs open and can’t justify an external monitor while on the road, 15″ is a must. We prefer Mac mainly because the programs we use are better suited for Mac. With those two requirements it means we’re stuck with the expensive Macbook Pro’s. It’s a mere bonus that our computers sync with our other Apple gear. If you can’t get over the price, but want a Mac, try a refurbished model, there are a lot of reputable sellers on Ebay.

If we weren’t on the road Andreas would choose an iMac and I would just port my laptop to a 27″ Thunderbolt equivalent monitor (probably a ViewSonic or Dell).

Laptop Stand

Our Experience: Two years ago I scoured Amazon to find the best laptop stand. Knowing I’d be working at tables with different heights, I wanted one that was adjustable. It also needed to be reasonably priced and easily packable. Bonus features were: extra venting and sleekness. The one I liked most was made by Allsop, a local Washington company, and that sealed the deal.

Once Andreas saw my laptop setup, he wanted one for himself. And other folks who see our stands have shown interest in getting their own. We don’t bring the stand into coffee shops, but whenever we’re working in the camper or at a friends house, it’s employed.

Laptop Stand
Allsop Redmond Adjustable Computer Stand ($30)

Our Recommendation: A laptop stand is worth bringing along for the ergonomics. Since we’re on the road and work full time on our computers, it’s really, really nice not to stare down at the laptop screen. And typing on a separate keyboard is more ergonomic than using the laptop keyboard. If you’re not on the road full-time, having a larger external monitor would be the ticket.

We totally enjoy our Allsop Redmond Adjustable Computer Stand ($30). Bonus: It actually packs down super small and the legs come off with an easy-to-use screw which is a handy feature for those with less room. Fortunately, the stands also nest together nicely.

Update: It looks like you can find a cheapo knockoff for $15, with varying reviews of success.

Alison with a stand
Much better posture with a laptop stand!

Keyboard

Our Experience: We didn’t want to mess around with a shitty or questionable keyboard since they’re kind of expensive and since our business is so tied to the computer. We both have an Apple Keyboard with Number Pad (wired, $67). It works as a great keyboard, but for life on the road, it’s longer than ideal. Although I’m obsessed with hotkeys (delete, page up/down, etc) and the number pad, in reality I can easily get by without them.

For Andreas we chose the wired version so the keyboard wouldn’t shut off while he was editing and because it had extra USB ports. In reality we probably overestimated the ‘shutting off’ time and the USB ports aren’t fast enough to attach external hard drives, so they are rarely used.

Apple keyboards

Recommendation: We highly recommend a smaller, no number pad, bluetooth wireless keyboard. If you’re staying on the Apple train, it’s up to you to decide if the original Apple Wireless keyboard ($69) is good enough versus the new flatter lying, more responsive, internal rechargeable battery Apple Magic keyboard ($100).

As for travel, these keyboards have survived the road quite well on their own, just a few mostly unnoticeable nicks around the edge. We haven’t been picky enough to buy a travel case.

Worth noting: If you’re willing to play roulette you can buy a refurbed Apple Wireless keyboard for $40.

Mouse

Our Experience: We haven’t taken mice very seriously and since it’s impossible to test a bunch of them out it makes it hard to be confident in your decision. Wireless is our main concern along with it’s ability to track on multiple surfaces.

Andreas: After reading a million reviews on Amazon, Andreas found the TeckNet Bluetooth Wireless Mouse, Grey (BM306). For less than $15 it comes with no complains. It is more sensitive than other mice Andreas has used, the battery life is plenty long (read: it lasts so long he can’t remember the last time he put batteries in it), and it responds quickly.

Alison: I had a Logitech travel mouse that I loved for its sensitivity and small size but it stopped working. I bought a new bluetooth receiver ($12) and it still didn’t work, drat! Since the same model is no longer available I’ve confiscated an unused iHome $20 Bluetooth Mac Mouse from Andreas’ parents house. It’s very perky and I like its lower profile compared to the TechNet.

Mouse

Our Recommendation: If you don’t already have a mouse that works perfectly fine the TeckNet mice are are responsive, medium-sized and budget worthy. They fit Andreas normal hand fine, but I find them slightly too tall for my small lady-hand.

For smaller hands / more travel oriented sizing, these are the best options:

Warning: Don’t be tempted with extra cheapo mice-especially if you work on the many different surfaces found at coffee shops. And, although we’ve recommend Apple products above, neither of us have ever been fans of the Apple mouse, nor the $79 price tag.

Andreas with laptop stand
This is Andreas wishing he had a laptop stand and keyboard. [When you own your company, drinking an Old Fashioned on the job is totally legit.]

Bonus Item: Storage

With all of the video and photo work that Andreas does, we need a lot of storage and end up buying 2 small portable external hard drives each year. After a lot of research, Andreas has two of go-to hard drives:

He’ll buy either one, depending solely upon what’s on sale when we need one. Both have great reviews (currently on Amazon the WD is getting slightly better reviews) and we use and buy them interchangeably. Both have worked flawlessly and they can frequently be found on sale for $88 or less.

Summary

Since we spend so much time in front of the computer, we aim to take care of our bodies a little more by increasing the ergonomics in a couple of ways, like using a laptop stand to reduce neck strain and improve posture. If we worked at an office, we would totally invest in a stand up desk and/or treadmill desk.

Although we like some Apple accessories, like the keyboard, part of that reason is because the price isn’t that much different from other keyboards. Knowing that we’ll be using a product that performs flawlessly makes up for the $20 extra dollars or need to read 10 million reviews. Living on the road means it’s not as easy to do returns.

Read how we find & use internet on the road

blog.weighmyrack.com/how-to-find-internet-while-working-from-the-road


We’re excited to do more posts in the future of running a business from the road. Let us know in the comments (or shoot us an email) if there are any topics you’d like us to cover in the future (internet, specific programs we use, etc, etc).

Disclaimer: We bought the above products full price because we wanted/needed them. Now, we’re sharing the details with you hoping to answer some of the many questions we get about working from the road. All the links in this post are affiliate links to Amazon. Partly because we bought most these items from Amazon and partly because we get a commission if you click those links and buy the same products we enjoy using. We’ve only linked to products we literally use and like or those that are a helpful reference. 

 

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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