We are used to spending a lot of time on our smartphones and digital devices and have full-time Internet access. When for some reason, our signal goes bad or is totally gone, the anxiety comes, and we feel alone and helpless.
But if we are digital nomads, or we make a plan that involves moving around a lot, for you will find for sure at some point a place with a problem of connectivity. One of these places is for sure, an RV.
So how can we obtain Internet access in an RV? The answer to this question is kind of tricky because there are several factors to consider. What route are you going to follow, how fast are you moving, or what you want to do using the internet are two examples of what we are talking about.
We did some research to provide you with the most helpful information available, considering all the factors and the typical behaviour that we have when we go into an RV journey.
RV Internet Options
As you can imagine, you have to start to picture your trip in your mind with your RV, because you have to know that there will be not a single source to access the internet. Each one of those sources is going to have different stability, speed, and cost, all things to consider to organize ourselves and have the best plan possible.
With all the different places and surroundings that you usually visit when you are in your RV, it’s essential to make a list of all kinds of connections that you are going to be exposed to. This information will come handy to avoid surprises and prepare for all the viable alternatives to find the best connection accessible.
Mobile broadband modem
This modem is a “must” if you are planning to go around. It is a device that you connect to your computer using USB, and it works like a router that provides your laptop with an internet connection. As cool as it sounds, you have to be aware that these devices catch signal using the same technology as your smartphone.
It is a good idea to do some research and try to get a router from another company that you have for your phone, to have two different chances to have the best possible reception. Take into account that these devices have plans with limits, and the price skyrockets when you overpass them. Also, never forget that it is not a satellite; where your company signal doesn’t reach, you will lose your connection.
The standard and best internet connection is the DSL cable. It is like a chimaera when you are travelling to have access to one of these. Probably an idea that can come true in a friend’s house, if it’s part of your route. But let’s be honest: the chances to get this connection in travel are minimal. Better to forget about this joy.
The satellite internet is a concept that comes to your head when you think on the web aboard an RV. Depending on where you are or what location is part of your trip, some companies provide this service.
The downside is the pricing: you have to expect the most expensive internet service if you are thinking of a satellite connection. In exchange, you can go really far away and still have a signal incoming. Digital nomads are the target audience for this service.
The public WiFi connection is some treasure that maybe you will find in your trip. It is a great idea to mark in the map the places that you think are possible to get WiFi, possibly for free or perhaps as part of the service of a cafe or a restaurant. You will save money and data transfer from a paid source any time you can use this option.
Obviously is not something that can give you permanent connection. If you are in a remote place, you will not be able to access to not a public or private WiFi connection.
What internet option is the best for riding my RV?
It’s essential to have a clear idea about the different internet connections that you will find in your trip. The best option will change depending on the locations involved in your plans, what you want to do on the internet and how often you need it.
The reason why you want to have always or at least usually connected to the internet in an RV trip is a personal matter. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to think about what kind of activities you are planning to do on the internet, to make decisions related to your connectivity.
If you only want to stay in touch with civilization and share some pictures in your social network, it will be nice to have 3 moments of connection per day, and neither speed nor stability will be a problem.
If you are a digital nomad, it depends on your activity. Writers usually need only some little moment of signal to send the email, but community managers may require more stability and be available at certain moments of the day.
A designer or video editor it’s probably the most demanding user. Maybe they will not need internet all the time, but to upload a large file every 2 or 3 days will need to find the right spot and to plan with time where and when that is going to happen.
Let’s imagine that you plan to arrive on the second day in an RV park. If this is the case, you will want to know if the place offers a WiFi connection. If the answer is yes, and even if they promise “high speed”, be prepared for something that is not precisely what you relate to something fast. In fact, it is not a bad idea to take with you a repeater in order to pick a decent connection if the camp is too crowded.
A journey into the wild, far from the civilization and posh parks, will require a connection using your smartphone or mobile modem if there is a signal for them. Otherwise, the only alternative will be a satellite dish.
If you crash from time to time in big cities, a public WiFi, or a friendly local cafe or bar can be the perfect moment for big files. It is more likely that in one of these lovely local places you can ask for some special favour, something you can’t do in the “big” typical fast-food or coffee spots.
Watch out if you have to do something like banking. You don’t want to do that in an unsafe digital environment. Your personal smartphone connection or your mobile broadband modem can do the job.
RV Internet pricing
As we are saying through this article, the more time you need to stay in touch with the internet and the best quality that connection should be, it will be more expensive to make a plan for that.
Anyways, an option that we can recommend most of the time is the mobile modem. It’s not really expensive if you control your data consumption.
For Example, Google Fi charges only $10 for the first 6GB of data. That’s quite a lot if you are not planning to make streaming, gaming or something related. Then you have the second stage of payment which is $60 until you reach 15GB. From that point, the connection still works but in a slow way, unless you are ready to pay $10 for each extra GB at full-speed.
Conclusion: which option is the best?
We think that a mobile modem is a tool that you will never miss, and the money you will use for that is reasonable. A smartphone used as a WiFi hotspot is something you should consider as well.
Reserve something like a satellite for very particular extreme cases, and never trust all your connection to public WiFi.
But most important: write down a plan and help yourself to not have any unexpected situations because of this.
Tips & Tricks: apps
There are some interesting apps for iPhone and smartphone that show where you will have a signal, and how strong it will be. We recommend Coverage, that is supported by a big community of satisfied users.
Tips & Tricks: preparation
To organize before with details will take you some time, but can save unimaginable headaches. Have a clear perspective of where do you want to go, what do you need and organize it in a way that makes your life more simple.
Tips & Tricks: boost your signal
This is important when you get a connection that is supposed to be useful, but the places are just so crowded. A WiFi repeater is an investment that you can be sure that it is worth.
Tips & Tricks: calculate your usage
If you want to stay on the budget, you have to literally ration your data consumption. The more extreme the context, the harder will be to balance everything.
Just as advice: try to not mix an ultimate natural experience with the most demanding moment at work. It will only make everything hard, and you will not really enjoy the trip with all the problems over your shoulders-
Tips & Tricks: back to the past
If you want to see some movies from time to time, it’s a good idea to not do it using streaming. It’s just too much for an RV trip. Maybe it’s time to get a DVD player, some discs, and remember the good old times. It will make your life easier regarding connectivity.