One of the big problems I've had with taking long drives, anywhere, has been that I'm forced into unproductive time when I should be working. This isn't a problem when I'm going on vacation. But here's the thing: I seldom take a vacation. As I'm self-employed, there's no such thing as vacation pay in my world. When I stop writing, the money stops coming in. Working on the road is possible–all I have to do is tether my laptop to my iPhone and I'm in business.
So long as I can keep my laptop, you know, in my lap.
Maintaining a stable platform to work on while my wife wheels us across the continent has proven difficult. I've tried lap desks, balancing my computer on a backpack, you name it. My computer always slides around, making it damn near impossible to type. What's more, a neck injury that I sustained eons ago makes it painful for me to tilt my head down for any length of time. This combination of poor conditions has forced me, up until now, to twiddle my thumbs for hours at a time, working only once we've come to a stop for the day.
However, I think that I may finally have figured it out.
RAM Mounts makes a wide variety of mobile work solutions to keep nerd stuff in one place while you're driving along. Cops use RAM Mount gear in their cruisers to keep their laptop secure. Their in-vehicle smartphone and tablet stands are, arguably, among the best out there. Before we hit the road for our annual migration south to Texas, I invested in one of their Tough Tray laptop stands, a pair of extension arms and a claw mount to secure all of it to the handrail, located directly next to our RV's passenger seat. Boom: instant workstation.
Once I put it together.
The great thing about RAM Mounts' gear is that it's incredibly durable. Their products, in my experience, will last you for years. The rotten thing is that, at least in the instance of the laptop holder I purchased, it can be an absolute fucking nightmare to assemble. It's not that there's a ton of parts or any special tools needed to do the job. It's that the work is fiddly: nuts need to stay on the right angle inside of channels, unseen, as you blindly attempt to thread a screw into them. It didn't go well. It took two hours, but I got it put together.
Today's the first full day that I've been using my new workstation. It's a huge improvement over the solutions I've tried in the past: it's adjustable, holds my laptop securely, and I can position it high enough to make it ergonomically comfortable. These are all huge wins. The only down side is that vibration from the road does cause the keyboard to jiggle around as we go. I'm thinking that placing a thick chunk of padding between my thigh and the extension arm will likely provide enough shock absorption to take care of this issue.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results. I'll let you know how it works for me once we make it down to the Mexican border.