Whether you’re a digital nomad on a never-ending road trip or an office worker in transit, your desk can sometimes be equipped with 4-wheel drive instead of a swivel chair. Working from your car doesn’t have to entail poor internet, low battery warnings, or sweaty t-shirts.
You can work in comfort anywhere, from the Walmart parking lot to a gorgeous viewpoint in the mountains, if you have the correct equipment. We’ve compiled a list of 13 must-have ideas and gadgets for remote working from a car that will help you power your devices, stay connected, stay cool, and remain comfy.
Dealing With Power
Precharge Your Devices
It can be difficult to keep your gear charged throughout a long day on the road.
Because power outlets are typically few, it’s important to take use of them when they do appear. Make sure you’ve completely charged all of your gear overnight if you’re starting the day in your home or a hotel room.
Charging your electronics in the car is slower and more difficult, especially if you have a few that require a lot of power. A good multi-port wall charger is affordable and allows you to plug everything in at once if most of your stuff charges via USB.
Use a Good Car Charger or Power Bank
If your automobile has built-in USB charging outlets, make sure they can supply enough amperage to charge the equipment you’re carrying. These inbuilt ports, especially on earlier automobiles, may be limited to as little as 0.5 amps (2.5W).
That is insufficient to fully charge modern smartphones and tablets, and in certain cases, it is insufficient to charge them at all.
If your ports aren’t up to par (or don’t exist), you have a few options. Third-party USB car chargers connect to the accessory port/cigarette lighter, and the best ones can charge multiple devices at full speed. If you don’t want to leave your car running to charge your devices, invest in a high-capacity power bank.
They’re also known as portable batteries and will allow you to charge your electronics wherever you go. There are also alternatives for charging your laptop and mobile devices simultaneously. For further information and comparisons, see our list of the best portable batteries for travel.
Plug In a Power Inverter
You’ll need more power than most USB outlets can provide to keep your laptop charged all day in your automobile. Power inverters are used to solve this problem. These devices convert the 12 volts from your car’s cigarette lighter to the 110 volts your laptop requires. The BESTEK Car Inverter includes two 110v plugs and two USB connections for fast charging of smaller gadgets. When you’re not using it, it’ll fit easily in most glove pockets due to its small size.
Working from your car provides you with the freedom and flexibility that a traditional workplace cannot, but it also comes with a slew of connectivity issues. Dead zones and weak signal areas are a serious concern, especially if you rely on phone calls or the internet to get things done.
Check Coverage Areas and Data Speeds
Check your cell provider’s coverage map ahead of time if you know where you’re heading. It’ll generally give you a fair indication of where service will be available and allow you to plan around any dead spots or low-signal locations. Make sure your data plan can handle the amount of work you’ll be doing. Remember that even so-called “unlimited” plans slow down once you reach a certain point.
Take a minute to check data speeds before getting set up once you’ve selected a promising-looking location to work from. Because the signal strength symbol on your phone or hotspot isn’t always accurate, utilise apps like Speedtest.net to find out the truth. Both the upload and download speeds should be checked.
Upload speed is just as critical as download speed if you’re utilising a VPN back to head office or if you’re a graphic designer who wants to deliver large files to clients. Instead than struggling with slow internet for hours if your connection isn’t fast enough for your needs, keep driving or leave the high-bandwidth tasks for your pitstops.
Improve Your Cell Service
When working from a car, dead zones and weak signals are a serious issue. A cell signal booster, while expensive, does exactly what it says on the tin, so you’re less likely to miss a call when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. There are a few possibilities, but one that stands out is the weBoost Drive 4G-X Cell Phone Booster Kit.
It supports up to four devices at once and is compatible with all US carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and others. You’ll get better broadband speeds and fewer dropouts and missed calls if you boost both the incoming and outgoing signals. Because your phone isn’t continuously fighting to establish a connection in low-signal situations, you’ll gain more battery life.
Use a Wi-Fi Booster
While cell data will get you by most of the time, there will be instances when poor speeds and enormous file sizes force you to seek out a Wi-Fi network. To improve the signal from a truck stop, cafe, or neighbouring store, use a Wi-Fi range extender. An extender like this will allow you to view a Wi-Fi network even if you’re parked far away from the source, so you’ll never have to waste another afternoon working in a noisy McDonald’s.
The Panda PAU07 is a fantastic place to start because it’s cheap, small, and supports dual bands. Although it is only officially supported on Windows and Linux laptops, installation is simple. Check out our comprehensive list of the best Wi-Fi extenders for travel for more alternatives, including ones that work with the latest Macbooks or multiple devices.
Consider a Mobile Hotspot
If you’re travelling across a large area, you’ll likely come across areas where your typical cell carrier has poor (or no) service, but a different operator has lots of signal. Rather than putting up with it, get a mobile hotspot or a phone with two SIM cards. If you put a prepaid SIM card from a different carrier inside, you’ll have better service in more places right now.
We compiled a list of the finest unlocked mobile hotspots for a variety of uses. Unlocked hotspots are better for those who spend a lot of time on the road because they allow you to swap between different carriers’ SIM cards as needed.
Complete Your Work Offline
While it may appear that we need to be connected in order to do anything, this is not necessarily the case. Consider chores you could perform without access to the internet and save them for when you do. Is there anything you could do without Wi-Fi in terms of writing, editing, or brainstorming?
Many programmes are designed to run mostly or totally offline by default, and web tools like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides have an offline mode that allows you to continue working even while you’re in a dead zone.
Beat the Heat
In hot weather, make sure you and your electronics don’t overheat. Devices are subject to overheating even when not exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time, and you are unlikely to like it.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Remove your electronics from direct sunlight and seek out a shady spot to operate.
If the sun is unavoidable, drape a shirt, blanket, or towel over your window. Even in the sun, glare might be an issue. If you have this problem frequently, an anti-glare screen protector for your laptop is a good investment.
Get a USB Fan
Use a portable USB-powered fan to keep things cool if you don’t want to operate the car’s air conditioning for hours. The four-inch blades and six-inch frame of this KEYNICE USB desk fan may be rotated to face any direction. It may stand on its own or be fastened to anything less than 2 inches thick.
The five-foot cable connects to your laptop, portable battery, or automobile USB port, making it convenient to use no matter where you are in the vehicle. It’s a straightforward, low-cost solution.
Manage Your Comfort
Use a Lap Desk
It’s hot and uncomfortable to sit for hours with a computer on your lap, and it’s considerably worse in a car’s cramped interior. Both of these issues can be solved with a basic (and small) lap desk.
Choose a type that is padded on the inside and isn’t too huge to store or move around. Not only will you be more comfortable, but you’ll also be much cooler without a hot laptop rubbing on your legs!
Watch Your Posture
Because there isn’t much room in a car, you’ll have to be especially careful with your posture. Back and neck pain, as well as overuse injuries, can occur as a result of poor posture. You’ll hunch over if you don’t have a decent desk, and the cramped area makes it difficult to stretch out and keep your blood circulating.
This laptop wheel workstation attaches to your steering wheel and allows you to type on a flat surface comfortably. When not in use, it can be stowed in a footwell. If you’d rather sit in the back while working, there are models that hook over the front seat instead.
Get an Electric Cooler
After a long day on the road, are you tired of sipping lukewarm water and drowning in fast food wrappers? To keep your brain fed and dehydration at bay, invest in an electric cooler. The K-Box Electric Cooler stores plenty of food and beverages and may be powered by a wall connection or a car cigarette lighter.
Different sizes are available, but this 48-quart version, for example, can hold up to 60 cans of soda or a couple 2-liter bottles, as well as a variety of healthful snacks. It has a detachable divider to keep your drinks and snacks tidy while maintaining a constant temperature of 40°F (4°C). If you’re on the road in the winter, the K-Box can also serve as a cosy blanket.