Tips, tricks and ideas on how to more easily access the internet on the road
Owning an RV or campervan is essentially like purchasing a smaller scale home on wheels. These days, motorhomes come equipped with all sorts of great features and amenities. Depending on how much time you plan on spending in your campervan, you may require internet access for work or leisure.
Many folks purchase a motorhome or RV in order to work remotely, using their laptop and WiFi. These individuals have mastered the art of finding internet access in places where they’ve always dreamed of traveling.
Continue reading if you’re thinking you may need WiFi capability on the road and want to learn some tips and tricks.
Types of Internet Connection
For starters, what are some of the ways people get “connected” in their motorhome? The most common types of internet connection are:
- Wireless/Cell Phone Service Providers. These are companies such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, etc.
- Satellite Connection. Companies such as KING, KNH, Winegard, etc…
- Cell Phone Signal Booster. This device is like a megaphone for your mobile device. It can pick up an existing signal and amplify a 3G or 4G LTE signal up to 32 times.
- Tethering. Using your smartphone as a modem.
- Public WiFi Access. This is going to be your Starbucks, McDonalds, Coffee Bean, local libraries and other areas that provide free public WiFi.
- Wireless Networking Device. Sometimes called an “air card”, this is a device that uses a USB to connect to your laptop in order to pick up on 3G/4G networks. An air card can cost anywhere from $50-$99 and the plans range $50-$79 per month (some are month-to-month, others require a contract).
There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these types of internet connectivity in your RV or motorhome. Use the comparison table below to help decides which option is best for you.
|Wireless/Cell Phone Providers||Most people these days have a cell phone, so this is an easy method that doesn’t require heavy equipment.||Your motorhome/RV must be in an area where your provider has a cell phone tower.||Varies depending on your provider. Typically, Verizon is the priciest, while Sprint is the cheapest.|
|Satellite Connection||This option can offer a large range of programming. Once your satellite is up, you typically don’t have to worry about “searching” for internet.||The connection tends to be slower.||This is the most expensive option. A satellite connection can cost around $1,000 and plans hover around $100 per month.|
|Cell Phone Signal Booster||This option can provide fast and efficient internet.||You can only use one device at a time.||$200-$500|
|Tethering||Tethering is easy to set up and efficient wherever your cell phone service connects.||It works best when you have unlimited data, otherwise internet can be slow.||Cost varies depending on your provider. Typically, Verizon is the priciest, while Sprint is the cheapest.|
|Public WiFi Access||Public WiFi is free and requires no additional hardware.||It’s not always a reliable source of internet. Some RV parks may have WiFi, and if they do it’s often slow. Coffee shops and restaurants may have faster service, but these options are unsecured, leaving you vulnerable to being hacked.||Free or low cost|
Which Method of Internet Access is Best for you?
Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on what type of internet you require. If you plan on using your campervan to disconnect from the modern world as much as possible, then the occasional public free WiFi access may be all you need. If, however, you decide to live in your RV/motorhome full-time and work remotely, you may need to invest in a wireless networking device and plan.
Campervans are a fantastic way to disconnect and simplify. But with today’s advancements, it’s also possible to have the convenience of efficient internet and spend time in nature’s glory at the same time!
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