As an RVer, One of the most common questions I get about van life is, how do I get an Internet connection when I’m on the road and is it expensive?
I spend most of the year working out of my van and traveling to rural places. Therefore, staying connected is a necessity. It is essential not just to run my business and make money but also to find parking, places to camp, water, dump stations, laundromats, and directions.
So you see, even if you are taking a short road trip or summer vacation with your family, you still need the internet. Knowing how to get online when you need to is a necessity.
How to stay connected while on the road
For digital nomads and RVers, getting reliable Internet on the road from virtually any corner of the world is a superpower.
There are plenty of ways to go online. Whether you are a full-time or part-time RVer or just taking a few weeks off to a remote area, these tips for getting internet while traveling would come in handy.
Mobile Hotspot: The best Internet for RVers and travelers is the one you can take with you. This explains why you might be a mobile hotspot. While a mobile hotspot is fast, it drains your phone’s battery quickly and can be expensive.
To reduce your mobile data usage, use these tips:
- Turn off background app refresh: If your background app refresh is turned ON, it is updating itself even when you are not actively using an app. This constant pulling of information quickly eats through your data.
- Turn on the “Use Less Data” setting on Instagram. Instagram preloads all videos and photos on your feed—including the ones you might not be interested in. To prevent this, go to your Instagram settings and turn on the “Use Less Data” option.
- Download music and movies only when connected to WiFi: Use public Wi-Fi to download movies, videos, or large files. Also, streaming videos on YouTube or Netflix should be done with WiFi. This would help your mobile data last longer.
- Turn cellular data off on all apps you don’t use very often: You can always turn cellular data on for each app as you use them.
Portable WiFi Device for Travel: Travel routers are necessary for digital nomads and frequent travelers. It offers the convenience of a mobile hotspot without its drawbacks. Travel routers are easy to transport and come in all shapes and sizes. They are the closest thing to a home network experience.
The only difference is that they are much more portable. For added signal strength on your travel routers, cell signal boosters are available for RVs, vans, and cars that boost an existing 1x, 3G, or LTE cell signal. These signal boosters, however, do not create a signal from anything. So, it won't do anything for you if you’re in an area with No Signal.
Satellite Internet: Mobile Internet solutions are great, but they all have one obvious drawback. They only work where there’s cellular coverage. This is where satellite Internet comes in. Satellite internet covers the entire globe. All you need is a satellite modem and a clear sky. Setting up satellite internet, however, isn’t as easy as you think. The equipment is bulky, and the antenna requires a precise configuration, and not every RV is suitable for transporting it.
Also, speaking of the “clear sky,” The signal strength of satellite internet is affected by weather conditions. Expect little to zero signal in poor weather conditions.
A satellite connection can be used as an RV Internet solution; however, it is slower and more expensive than mobile internet.
RV WiFi: RV WiFi can mean two things. We already discussed a travel router and a hotspot on the RV camp’s premises. The latter struggles to deliver consistent speeds. Also, the walls of your RV can make reception worse.
Public WiFi options: Public WiFi is another option for staying connected on the road. Public spaces such as libraries, coffee shops, malls, and grocery stores usually have free WiFi for customers.
Coffee shops and malls are great Wi-Fi options, but the cost of beverages and snacks soon adds substantially. You may as well get yourself a router. Based on speed, cost, and convenience, Libraries are by far the better option.
As an RVer, I have explored all the options for internet connection for travelers. Using a travel router is the most convenient and reliable method for staying online while on the road. It is convenient, safe, and reliable as a trusted home network. And with the right provider, you’d have strong signals even in remote places.