Working on the Road

We said goodbye and left home to start our nomad adventure!

  • Sell stuff, check
  • Get rid of rest of stuff, check
  • Sell house, check.
  • Pack up, check
  • Drive off into the sunset, check

We left Georgia and drove all the way to Indiana in a day to visit more family. Then a few more days on the road through Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and Wyoming. As a family we’ve made road trips a tradition and have had a big trip across the states every summer for the past few years. We’re happy to be able to continue the tradition this year and incorporate it into our nomad life. In fact our road trips are what inspired us with the idea of living on the road full-time. We love to travel that much. The past couple years we’ve been aspiring nomads and been researching and putting things into place to make it a reality.

I’m lucky enough to be able to work remotely and we put it to the test while I worked from the passenger seat of the minivan! I’m pleased to report that it works pretty well. I turned on the hotspot on my phone (it’s not too expensive), I wouldn’t use it for video conferencing, but for my needs, it was alright. A few places were a bit spotty with connection (looking at you South Dakota), but most of the time I don’t need constant connection for the work I do, so we we’re just fine. I just need to push code up every once in a while and send/receive messages.

It did get tricky a few times however when the bright sun was coming down it was hard to see the screen! We had to get creative a few times to roll with it. It also gets pretty warm to sit in the sun in the car with a laptop on your lap for hours on end, so I’d recommend taking advantage of the cooler parts of the day to work from the passenger seat. If we can figure out how to work from the freeway, we expect to be able to figure out how to work from various countries and time zones too.

Driving across country gave us a good excuse to make some stops we haven’t been able to work into other trips. With Jackson, Wyoming as our destination for a work summit we would be so close it made perfect sense to hit Yellowstone Park on the way and the route went pretty close to some other landmarks too, like Mount Rushmore so we made it a weekend whirlwind through National Parks. 

We’re lucky to be able to take advantage of the Every Kid in the Park program, where since we have a 4th grader we get free admission into all National Parks for the year! We’re trying to hit as many as we can on our quick road trip before we leave the country, but as we have 4 kids, we’ll roughly have a 4th grader every other year for a while, so we can hopefully take advantage of the program more in the future. If you have a 4th grader, fill out the form on the site and bring it (and the 4th grader) to any National Park and you’ll get a pass for admission which is good for each and every National Park! We’ll try to follow up with a post for each park.

Project Fi – Nomad Friendly International Cell Phone Service From Google

We’ve had many questions about what we’re doing with our cell phones and plans while we travel the world. The standard response most nomads have had to do is get an unlocked phone and purchase a sim card (usually prepaid) in each country as they land and pay as they go. That sounds doable, but also sounds like a hassle to find a decent and competitive phone company and sim card on arrival before being able to use my phone. Luckily for us though, we have an international friendly cell phone plan, from Google. I’m including a link below to get a discount if you want to sign up.

A couple years ago we switched from Verizon to Project Fi. It’s literally the only bill we’ve continued with since selling our house. We no longer pay for water, trash, electric, gas or internet. We cut the cable over a decade ago, and have never had a phone phone.

Project Fi is a mobile virtual network operator by Google, providing phone, messaging and data services using both Wi-Fi and cellular networks belonging to Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Three. We have a two phone plan with decent Moto x4 phones and are paying $35 for unlimited talk/text and then exactly how much data we use (at $10/GB). We’re pretty light on our data and only use around 2GB/month together. Project Fi automatically switches between networks depending on signal strength and speed. It automatically connects to Wi-Fi hotspots with data encryption through an automatic VPN. Phone calls transition between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. With all networks combined, Project Fi covers 170+ countries around the world.

The nice part is that international data is the same price as domestic, 10$/GB. Plus I can use my phone as a hotspot and use date on the go to get my work done. (I publish this very post from the passenger seat of the van as we drive through Iowa using my hotspot). They’ve recently added a feature so that if we use a bunch more data than usual (over 10GB), they’ll cap our bill at $100. We do need to pay for international phone calls though (texting is still free), but since the plan uses wifi for calls when it’s available, we’ll be able to place free calls from home or anyplace with wifi! There are likely other competitive plans that could be set up by purchasing a sim card in each country, but it will be great to hit the ground with everything ready to go wherever we go.

Here’s the code to get $20 Fi credit when you start a phone plan with Google’s Project Fi. Redeem it here:

If you’re interested in switching or trying out Project Fi follow the link and get $20 credit (full disclosure, we’ll get the same $20 credit if you sign up). You don’t have to be a nomad or even an aspiring nomad to sign up for a great cell phone plan!