If you thought the best high-tech trailers meant just installing solar panels and Starlink internet, think again. With cutting-edge advancements in alternative solar energy and mobile connectivity, you can now immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of remote locations while staying connected to your work, loved ones, and entertainment. Yet, there's so much more to it than just staying connected. The real magic lies in the seamless integration of all the systems that contribute to your comfort, energy, health, and safety, which work quietly in the background, allowing you to fully enjoy the breathtaking world that surrounds you.
Travel enables us to create deeper connections with loved ones through the gift of shared outdoor experiences. My wife, Joanna, and I became a team and started a luxury travel trailer business while traveling the open road by using high tech in a trailer we called home; We had the time of our lives.
The best five qualities of a high-tech trailer are a collaborative suite of services that support the human environment. To open the door for exploration and not just to service the incessant call of digital entertainment or feeding the business machine. People today have the option to select from years of technological development and events that have created a plethora of access-capable systems.
With this article, I hope to provide five high-tech tips -- one feature at a time -- that will improve your life by sharing what I've learned in living a mobile lifestyle over the last decade about technology andTechnologyand Media, Systems Monitoring, Connectivity, Entertainment, and Remote Work. I hope you are ready to exercise your rights to enjoy the open road to the fullest. The following is how I’ve used technology to make my life-in-tow better.
Technology and Media
The advent of satellite internet connectivity to virtually every corner of the Earth has expanded our clicking opportunities for travel, adventure, and awe. However, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone and Mac computer, the assumption was that it would make our lives easier with greater job performance. Technology should make our lives simpler and less complicated. Unfortunately, the opposite has often been the case.
For many, our lives are filled with a hodgepodge of WiFi networks, incompatible devices, blinking lights, and constant notifications. The recreational vehicle market is no exception. Since the early 1940s, Americans have been caravanning in RVs to get away from it all and escape into the Great Outdoors. Unfortunately, this dreamy goal of using technology to disconnect has often hindered the expected desire.
Here are five high-tech solutions customers should consider when shopping for high-tech trailers.
Like a car's fuel gauge, your travel trailer should easily tell customers how far they can go or how long they can stay in any given place with ample power resources. The electrical, propane, and water are all consumable systems that supply us with information that tells us how long we can live in a remote environment– this knowledge is vital.
Whether you're in the city or country, trailer technology is at the backbone of systems for monitoring water, electricity, propane, motion, and even trip planning. The most progressive and forward-thinking travel trailers team up with a slew of tech devices whose number one job is to tell you how your home is functioning.
As we continue to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as the primary power source, it may still be necessary to use gas or propane as a backup power source. This is particularly true for off-grid trailers during the winter months, as it can be challenging to heat them without access to sunlight. Smart electrical management systems are up to the rigors of providing ample power in a mobile off-grid living space. Accurate and real-time data reporting is extremely important for the user. Knowing how much electricity you have and how long you are going to be able to run systems before losing power is essential.
Today, the industry is moving towards an all-electric platform with more battery capacity and more powerful inverters. Ultimately, electrical management should be intuitive -- easy for the layperson to understand -- and provide remote or onsite visibility to all the complex integrated electrical systems.
I recommend a luxury travel trailer with a centralized monitor touch screen panel to effectively manage the power system. Energy is the heartbeat of your mobile lifestyle, so it's imperative that the solar panels, inverters, and battery storage work together seamlessly, reporting their power levels, to operate the luxury appliances and systems that are so vital to operating or technological lives off-grid.
A proper monitoring panel will deliver you complete visibility of your entire system showing real-time energy flow. In the best of systems, you can access this data from your mobile device. Finally, the system should not be reliant on WiFi connectivity but have a GPS, or LTE-mounted antenna providing the information in real-time no matter where you are in the world.
In the early 2000s, we started seeing an emergence of multi-device connectivity that allowed us to integrate systems for full visibility. Smartphones are the ideal hub to access, monitor, and control the myriad of technology systems in our smart homes on wheels. I wonder if Steve Jobs knew where his early Apple iPhone would all lead.
Early on, Bluetooth was the standard for accessing data on your phone. In my experience, Bluetooth is a bit of a pain because devices often don’t connect, multiple devices can’t connect at one time and there are distinct limitations on how far away you can be from the device. WiFi has become the technology standard in traditional homes for communications. Similarly, a dedicated WiFi router can create a secure network in a luxury travel trailer living space. This allows you to connect multiple devices to one private network and monitor the system from anywhere in the world. All devices are connected to a single network like in a residential home. Most of us who appreciate peace and quiet, and crave the great outdoors don’t want to go to an RV park or Starbucks to grab their WiFi signal!
Another major benefit to having WiFi connection protocol in your travel trailer is having a centralized password-protected router that connects all of your devices, much like you would in your home. Shared WiFi networks are inherently insecure because many other users access the same network. If security concerns you, and it should be, be very cautious about logging on to public networks without having a firewall or router between that open signal and the rest of your connected devices.
Thanks to SpaceX's Starlink, the internet is becoming more accessible with the help of thousands of new satellites. In fact, you can now get a strong signal 24/7/365 from a small satellite dish mounted on the roof of your travel trailer. In my opinion, any technology that emerges from the RV industry will not be the best solution for you, and here’s why. It’s a niche market, and the system quickly becomes outdated. Remember the smart homes of the early 2000s that required tens of thousands of dollars of complex hardwiring, such as Ethernet, and proprietary networking so that all the light switches and controls would communicate with one another? We became dependent on a company that made a massive investment and soon went out-of-date and was replaced by a series of WiFi-enabled devices you could buy at Home Depot.
This is where the tech trailer world is heading now. I absolutely would not invest in a single-source, wired control system. No matter how impressive it is today, it just doesn’t make sense for the future. There are too many opportunities for emerging great products that you can connect via WiFi that will do all the same things better. Furthermore, you will not be hindered by staying with one system and having the flexibility to choose what you do and don’t want.
Arguably, one of the greatest advantages of choosing WiFi is the method of connectivity that is planned for the future. Almost everything uses WiFi connectivity, and that is undoubtedly the way that the world is moving. Technology is traveling at such a rapid pace that hardware becomes obsolete in a year or two. My approach to technology is to invest in a minimal amount of hardware with a mindset that you'll regularly replace, and upgrade components as new and better products are released. You'll most certainly do this better with WiFi.
It’s a fascinating experience to venture out into the Great Outdoors in a luxury travel trailer, set up your temporary home next to some beautiful vista, and explore the surroundings and all the adventures that come with it. At the end of each day, being able to come home, make dinner, and cozy up to a movie is the ultimate luxury.
Unfortunately, the RV market has enabled America’s obsession with screens. It's not unusual to find even modest RVs with three or four televisions. Oddly, this reminds me of the emergence of the great plasma screen TVs in the early 2000s and the myriad of spec homes leveraging the housing bubble with 50-inch plasma TVs. Now, you have to pay to get rid of one of these electronic dinosaurs.
If you’re like me and enjoy the occasional movie or series at the end of a long day, having a great A/V experience is a real pleasure. This is a perfect case of quality over quantity being the preferred approach. After all, if your living space is a mere 200 ft², why do you need so many screens peppered throughout your living space? I would advocate for a single great experience in the spirit of less but better. Perhaps a pulldown screen with a4K HD projector. Imagine that: A mobile Hi-Def cinematic experience amidst the dark starlit Joshua Tree sky.
When it comes to quality video and Hi-Fi experience, there is no difference between a high-end home theater and a luxury travel trailer; with hidden and in-wall architectural speakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers. These qualities are nothing new to luxurious mobile entertainment. Again, I recommend a platform that allows scalability and flexibility.
For example, if you’re shopping for an amplifier, look for one connecting to the Internet via WiFi and streaming services such as Netflix, Apple TV, or Amazon Prime. I always recommend having a library of movies downloaded on your device so you can still access entertainment during those times you don’t have access to the Internet, such as flying at 35,000 and the airline's free WiFi is down.
2020 was a transitional time for America. Former city centers with expensive office complexes and the cadre of diligent commuters coming into work daily became a thing of the past. Work-from-home employment packages are more flexible and preferred work environments for many. New workplace opportunities have emerged that allow us to live and work in a way that is true to our spirit and nourishes the soul.
For many, this is an opportunity to travel and experience a bit more naturally with less sitting in traffic going to work. Viola! A luxury travel trailer or another mobile living space becomes a very attractive solution when you no longer need to live within a one-hour commute of that downtown office.
Working remotely can be as simple as pulling out your 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop and sitting down at whatever table or chair is inside your trailer or wherever you call home.
I recommend embracing the concept that you will work and live on the road. I don’t expect that the same space will always work out. Have several proper setups where you can spread out with multiple monitors, a printer, and lots of horizontal desk space. The challenge with mobile living is that spaces are so hard to come by, so having a dedicated office really doesn’t make sense.
An adaptable office space is the way to go, such as a bedroom that converts into an office, such as a fold-down desk that turns into a bed. The more successful designs of this furniture style will allow you to mount large flat screen monitors in front of the desk and keep all of your desktop objects, components, and paperwork sitting on the desk even when you convert to a sleeping space. Our solution to the work and live solution is Living Vehicle’s mobile office and creative studio.
Finally, if you are traveling with a partner or family, you will likely need a space to work, study, or create simultaneously. Make sure to build a comfortable working environment where you both can sit or stand on a day-to-day basis with more than just a laptop computer sitting on your lap.
Technology has undoubtedly brought many benefits to our lives, from improving communication to making everyday tasks more efficient. However, as with any tool, it's important to use technology to enhance our lives and not detract from them.
Finding balance and not letting technology become a distraction from the natural beauty and experiences of the outdoors is the goal of the ultimate off-grid luxury travel trailer experience and happy life.
The best-designed trailer will seamlessly integrate technology into a content life experience on the road, enabling you to reconnect with your loved ones as you visit this beautiful world. We must carefully consider how technology will play a part in our day-to-day lives to serve us, not to serve them.