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Can You Be a Digital Nomad in a Sedan?
When you imagine a digital nomad, you probably think of them driving a tricked-out van with solar panels and satellite dishes. You really don’t need much to hit the road as a digital nomad. In fact, you could pull it off in a Sedan. As long as you have a phone with the right data plan and a power source, you can be a digital nomad in any kind of vehicle.
Living the digital nomad lifestyle in a sedan basically boils down to two steps–Wi-Fi hotspot and a place to charge your devices.
Yes! You only need three things to successfully become a digital nomad in a sedan:
- Smartphone or laptop
- Hotspot internet access
- Power source
Use hotspot data for mobile Wi-Fi
All you need is your smartphone and the right data plan and you can bring Wi-Fi basically anywhere you go. Two main things to consider with a hotspot data plan: coverage and hotspot data cap. Basically every unlimited data plan comes with hotspot data, but the data cap changes from carrier to carrier. Here’s our top three favorite data plans for mobile hotspot right now:
Option #1: Unlimited hotspot data with a speed cap
You can go with a smaller prepaid carrier like Visible, who gives you unlimited hotspot data, but caps your speed at 5 Mbps, which gives you enough speeds to send emails and check Slack, but you’ll struggle streaming a Zoom meeting.
Option #2: High-speed hotspot with data cap
If you need more high-speed data to stream Zoom meetings or upload big files to Google Drive, you can opt for a cell phone plan that gives you tons of 4G/5G hotspot data. Both Verizon and AT&T offer premium unlimited plans that hook you up with tons of high-speed hotspot data, along with other perks.
As you can see, both cell phone plans cost a good chunk of change every month, but both come with pretty awesome features. The Verizon plan only gets you 25 GB of mobile hotspot data compared to AT&T’s 50 GB of hotspot data, but Verizon gives you the best 4G LTE coverage in the country, along with free subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Apple Music. AT&T doesn’t have quite as reliable of coverage, but it doubles Verizon’s hotspot data and gives you an HBO Max subscription for free.
The price points are within $5/month of each other, so it really comes down to personal preference. As a digital nomad, do you see yourself traveling to more remote areas in the country? If so, Verizon’s coverage makes more sense. If you see yourself not going too far off the beaten path, you can’t beat AT&T’s hotspot data cap.
Option #3: Getting a hotspot device with a data plan
Instead of getting hotspot data through your phone, you can buy a designated hotspot device and data plan to go along with it. All three major wireless carriers sell hotspot devices:
- Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L Hotspot: $199.99 from Verizon
- AT&T Netgear Nighthawk M6: $309.99 on AT&T’s online shop
- T-Mobile INSEEGO 5G MiFi M2000: $336 on T-Mobile’s website
By going with a hotspot device, you qualify for a different kind of data plan that gives you more hotspot data than a standalone cell phone plan can. Here’s our picks for the best hotspot plans for devices from each carrier:
*Once you pass your data cap, your data speeds will slow down to somewhere between 1–3Mbps
**Price only good if you already have a Verizon unlimited plan
You can get up to 150 GB of mobile hotspot data on the Premium Verizon plan—that’s likely enough data to power all of your devices over the course of a month. If you don’t need that much data, you can split the difference and opt for AT&T’s hotspot data plan. Until T-Mobile either increases its hotspot data cap or decreases its price, you should stick with AT&T or Verizon for strictly hotspot data.
Option #4: Getting a laptop with built-in broadband chip
Little-known fact: you can buy a laptop with a SIM card and cell phone chip installed. Your laptop will automatically connect to the internet via cellular service rather than needing a Wi-Fi connection. As long as you get cell service, you can bust out your laptop and start working right away.
Laptops with this built- in capability are a pretty niche product, so you’ll likely need to custom order your laptop. (Dell offers this service.) The process will make your laptop more expensive, but you can’t beat the freedom of opening your laptop just about anywhere and instantly getting an internet connection.
As you roam through the country, you can just stop at public libraries, coffee shops, universities, book stores, etc. and just mooch off the free Wi-Fi there. You can also use free public Wi-Fi as backup in case you run out of hotspot data for the month.
Get a reliable power source
It’s surprisingly easy to power your devices on the road, even if you’re doing it all in a sedan. We recommend using a car power adapter or a solar-powered generator to charge your devices.
You can choose from literally hundreds of car power adapters on Amazon, but we’re impressed with the FOVAL 150W Car Power Inverter, which only costs $17.98 on Amazon. You get the standard AC outlet, along with two USB ports to charge multiple devices at once. As long as the car battery works in your sedan, you can easily plug this bad boy in and charge basically any device.
If you want something that works independently of your car, the MARBERO Portable Power Station Solar Generator works as long as you put it in daylight. This solar-powered portable power station (say that 10 times fast) only costs $93.98 on Amazon. If you end up encountering cloudy weather, you can charge the generator with any wall outlet, or you can even use your car adapter.
You can be a digital nomad in a Sedan
You really only need three things to be a digital nomad in 2022:
- Smartphone or laptop
- Hotspot internet access
- Power source
It doesn’t matter whether you drive a sedan or own an Airstream, you can easily be a digital nomad as long as you check off those three boxes. You don’t need to buy any expensive power generators or invest in a tricked-out SUV. You can live the digital nomad lifestyle in your sedan if you want. Yes, living in a sedan might not always feel very comfortable, but hey, at least you can use your devices and work from essentially anywhere.