How ToVanlife

Vanlife: How I work from my van

A few weeks ago I finally decided to replace my ageing laptop for something new. Running the laptop in the van for work meant using the inverter to keep it charged up, and I wanted to get away from that.

With most of my business being conducted online, it is very important I have a good internet system in place in the van so I can stay connected with clients, the websites I manage and of course my YouTube channel.

One of my first prerequisites was any new device must be able to be charged via USB. I have 4 USB ports in the van, and they are a lot less drain on the leisure battery than the inverter. So after looking around at various tablets, I ended up with an iPad Mini 2, and a bluetooth wireless keyboard!

I wanted an external keyboard as I do a lot of typing on a daily basis, like this blog post for example! Its very simple to pair the iPad and keyboard together, and you only have to do it once. The keyboard itself has an internal battery, and is charged via USB - again exactly what I was after!

This is the bluetooth keyboard I bought:

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I had been putting off the purchase for some time (as I didn't really want to spend the money haha) but having had the iPad and keyboard set up for a few weeks now, it has become a joy to use. I wish I had made the purchase earlier.

The iPad Mini 2 that I bought was just the WiFi version. I didn't need the cellular version as I use the EE Osprey 2 Mini to create WiFi network in the van via the 3G/4G phone network.

And it works well! With the iPad connected to the EE WiFi signal in the van I can get work done anywhere at anytime. Writing blog posts, editing videos, surfing the web, it can all be done easily with this set up.

As a backup I can also use my phone to create a WiFi hotspot for the iPad, and use my monthly data allowance on my phone contract. This gives me plenty of options depending on signal strength, location etc. The only thing I need a proper broadband land-line for is the upload of videos to YouTube, and some more technical, data heavy website and server administration.

Tip: I tend to write blog posts offline on the iPad word processor. When I am happy with it I can then go online and copy/paste the article onto the website and schedule the blog post. This cuts down on the data usage. If I was to just write it online, the constant saving of the article and page refreshes would eat up a lot of data.

So now my old laptop has been retired from day to day use, things are much easier in the van. I keep a couple of different USB cables in the van at all times, and I can easily charge my iPad, phone, keyboard and EE Osprey from the leisure battery. This set-up also means my inverter is pretty much redundant now, but I have left it wired into the van in case I need it occasionally.

So there we have it, a short introduction to how I get work done in the van, I hope it gives you some insight into how I get things done. If you have any questions or comments, drop them in the comments below, or on the video page on YouTube.

iPad 2 3 4 iPad Air 1 2 iPad Mini Full LCD + Touch Screen Digitizer Replacement
iPad 2 3 4 iPad Air 1 2 iPad Mini Full LCD + Touch Screen Digitizer Replacement
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Geniune Apple iPad Mini 2nd Gen 128GB WiFi + 4G VGC + Warranty
Geniune Apple iPad Mini 2nd Gen 128GB WiFi + 4G VGC + Warranty
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  1. We also work from our van with computers and we found the way to not use the inverter, pretty easy when you have a solar panel. We just bought 2 transformer with cigarette plug (one for mac and one for PC). From the solar panel controller we take 12v power and we just switch it to 19.5 for example on my PC. We do not charge but battery level stay steady.

  2. I wish I could cope day to day with a tablet, maybe the iPad Pro.

    I’m a web designer and do most of my work in the van on my MacBook Pro. The battery is good, usually lasts the day and I have one of these if I run low:, which amazingly fully chargers it from dead twice, so close to three days on the road before I need to charge stuff up.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Since I wrote this article I have now moved onto a Macbook Pro for coding and video editing work. Ipad still gets used for day to day browsing though. 🙂

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