Another common office away from the office is my car. There’s no point to just sitting around in the car waiting for your next meeting – not when the relentless stream of emails keep on coming.
Which is why learning how to use a laptop in a car is such a useful skill.
The key to using your laptop in a car conveniently is simply preparation. Working in your car is straightforward and can easily become your next habit, but you need to learn a few tricks to do it comfortably and picking up a few cheap devices may also help to sweeten the experience.
So, be glad you’re here. Because written below, is all you need to know (and get) before you can say you know how to use your laptop in a car.
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How to use a laptop in a car
So, to help you stay comfortable on the road, here are our 7 top tips for using your laptop in the car.
1. Keep your laptop charged
Let’s say you were stuck on a drive that lasted for hours, or wanted to make the most of a wait in your car. You make yourself comfortable enough to enjoy your work and then boom, your battery is low.
Keeping up your laptop’s battery power topped up is essential to enjoying the mobility of your laptop. Even if you have chosen a laptop with great battery life, there will be times you’ll want to use your var to give it some extra juice.
There are no direct sockets for plugging in laptop chargers in cars. Fortunately, you can buy power inverters that will enable you to charge your laptop in your car. Most of these adapters will use your car’s auxiliary power outlet. With the right fixture, you can convert that outlet to a charger for your laptop.
Getting USB adapters to use for smartphones has always been easy to get, and some new automobiles even come with USB ports to charge phones. Laptop charging adapters are just as easy to get, but the challenge lies in finding a good one. You’ll need to pay attention to stuff like the rating of the adapter and the size and requirements of the cables.
It might be a safer bet to do a brand-specific search for power cables and adapters that will help you in charging your laptop. Then you can narrow your search to the brand-specific charger that meets your requirements.
Don’t worry about the price too much, the standard adapter will cost $35 at most.
2. Free the neck and relieve the butt
There’s only one posture you can accomplish in a car – a sitting one. What you need to do, though, is make sure you’re sitting in the best way possible, for as long as you’re working with your laptop in the car.
Working in your car means you’ll probably develop pains in your butt for sitting too long and neck aches for straining the neck. There are a few adjustments you can make while learning how to use a laptop in a car comfortably.
One inexpensive product that can help is a neck pillow, they are available for less than $30 and will do wonders for your neck if you begin to use your car-workstation. You can also get a seat cushion that will keep your tailbone and lower back free from pains.
Of course, you could always go that one step further and go for a full massage pad. These are great whether you’re working in your car on just relaxing!
3. Consider your car battery
It would be a strange decision to run down your car battery just to charge your laptop. Remember it battery wasn’t really built to deal so much extra load like charging a laptop and other similarly heavy gadgets.
Be sure not to use too much at a time without moving your car and only plug in your laptop to charge when necessary.
4. Get a workstation – car laptop mount
Police cars use these laptop tables a lot, so we know they are solid and stable. There are two main types of car laptop mounts, ones that sit in the passenger footwell and ones you can hook over the back seat of the car.
One of our favorite products is these tables that hook over the steering wheel. Of course, these are better in larger cars as space can be rather restrictive, so it could be a good idea to check the full product dimensions before ordering. However, they also work well in the back of the car.
If you’re not too fussed about staying in the driver’s seat, then there are loads of choices for seat back workstations.
Personally I’m much more comfortable working in the back seat. If you push the passenger seat as far forward as possible, you can set up a pretty convincing desk and spread your notes out on the back seat. There is also the added bonus of being to stretch your legs out through the center console.
5. Staying connected
There’s probably no Wi-Fi signal strong enough to cover you all over the city, or across the country. If you have Wi-Fi that strong, then you can skip this step. For the rest of us that acknowledge that we don’t have Ironman’s data connectivity, then there’s a way for us – Mobile Hotspot.
Not all people realize it, but almost all smartphones these days can be set up as a mobile hotspot.
However, you will have to data plan with your network provider that supports this, it’s not always included as a default. Often there is an additional fee (which can be up to $20 in most areas) so that you can share the data connection privilege with your laptop.
Another choice is a portable hotspot device. These give you the flexibility to use other providers or even pay as you go data and tend to work with all network providers. Anywhere there’s cell reception your laptop will be able to browse the net.
Of course, the final option is to find a spot to park with Wi-Fi. Most shopping centres will offer free Wi-Fi, also coffee shops and McDonalds!
That was always a great thing while travelling in Asia. When free Wi-Fi was hard to find, just track down a Maccy D’s and sit out front, always a great connection.
6. Don’t sit like the Queen
Pains in the lower back, stiff necks, foot cramps, and sore shoulders all have one cause when it comes to being in a car –bad posture cause them all, and they are completely avoidable.
To avoid the many pains that come with working in a bad posture. The right posture for working in a car is not set in stone, but the first step is to adjust the seat. Shift the seat back to provide enough space in front of you to place the laptop.
Bend your knees in such a way that your back rests snugly on the car seat as you recline the seat backwards to give your back more freedom. Extend the headrest to a position that the back of your head can rest on center of the headrest.
Hopefully, the fact you are in the car means you will not be working for long periods of time, but just in case, learn the habit of stepping out of the car for stretches at least once every hour. This rest period will free up the flow of blood in the body while allowing the muscles to breathe and expand.
7. Find the shade
If you’re working during the day time, it is definitely wise to try and find a shaded area. Look for spaces under trees, next to tall buildings or even in a covered parking garage.
When you are stationary in a car, it can get hot pretty quickly.
Most air-con requires the engine to be running to be effective and, if possible, you don’t want to leave your car just running. If you find shade it will limit the impact of the heat both on you and your computer.
Also, it will make it easier to see your screen without the effect of direct sunlight.
What’s the best way to charge my laptop in the car?
Just get an adapter and a power cable that can properly match the ratings required to safely charge your laptop.
Is it illegal to use a laptop in a car?
No. Except you want do that while driving – that will be breaking quite a number of traffic laws even if you can pull it off.
Will a laptop be okay in a hot car for a few hours?
Not really. Getting a laptop cooling cushion is just as important as getting a butt cushion for yourself, maybe a little more important in fact.
Is it safe to use a laptop in a car?
As long as you are parked, there should be no reason that it is not. Just consider a few things such as the temperature, if working in direct sunlight and keep your door locked just in case someone fancies a grab and run theft.
Where’s my car’s auxiliary outlet?
Every car has an automatic cigarette lighter that works if the car engine is on. That’s exactly where to find the auxiliary power channel you can plug the laptop charging adapter to.
Final thoughts on using a laptop in a car
The great part of letting go of the old computers with desktops and CPUs is that you can practically log around your office to wherever you’re going. If you find that you frequently feel the urge to take out your laptop to work, then feel free to give in to give in to that desire since there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it (if done right).
After you take in the tips above on how to use a laptop in a car, and you’re prepared to go ahead with the appropriate gadgets and accessories. Then what can stop you? Absolutely Nothing!