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If you just bought a new RV or a used one and you are thinking about making sure you can access the internet while on a long road trip or while living in your RV fulltime, this is the article you need to read.
This is because in it I discuss all the different ways you can get internet in your RV and their advantages and disadvantages.
How to Get Internet Access in an RV
- Use Your Smartphone or a Mi-Fi as a Mobile Hotspot
The easiest way to access the internet in your RV is to use your smartphone. If your phone is an Android smartphone or an iPhone, then it most probably has a mobile hotspot function.
Therefore, if you are camping or driving anywhere where there is 4G or 5G internet access, your phone can access the internet and you can turn on its mobile hotspot to share the internet with your laptop, your smart TV, other phones, or any other device that you need to access the internet.
However, before you use your phone as a mobile hotspot, you should buy a good or a long-term unlimited internet package from your mobile network service provider or any other service provider that offers good unlimited internet packages in the area you are visiting or camping in. Doing this will save you a lot of money.
The only problem with using your phone as a hotspot especially if you are heavily using the internet it is ‘sharing’, is that its battery will die/ drain faster. This means that you will have to charge your phone frequently and this will make its battery weak.
You should only use your smartphone as a hotspot if you want to check emails or social media or something like that. If you want to access the internet to watch Netflix, YouTube, or to stream live sports, you should strongly consider getting a Mi-Fi and using it as a hotspot instead of your phone.
Mi-Fis are offered by companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint and they allow you to browse the internet anywhere where there is a mobile network. Having a Mi-Fi in your RV is like having a Wi-Fi connection in your home. They are very convenient.
- Camp near a Wi-Fi Hotspot
The second easiest way to get internet access is to park near a Wi-Fi hotspot. So when planning your trip and your stay in a specific location, you should choose a specific campground that is near a Wi-Fi hotspot.
However, while Wi-Fi hotspots generally offer affordable internet access and frequently have very goods speeds, most of them are located in urban areas. Therefore, if you are planning to stay off-grid or in a secluded campground, the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot is likely to be miles away.
Therefore, getting internet access by camping near a Wi-Fi hotspot is only possible if you are going to a campground that is in an urban area or near an urban area. A good example of this is the Larry and Penny Thompson Park, which is located in Miami and is close to Verizon and AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots.
One more thing I must mention about accessing the internet in your RV by camping near a Wi-Fi hotspot is the fact that you will have to camp to continue accessing the internet. Because once you move some distance away, you will no longer be able to access the internet.
- Sign Up with a Satellite Internet Service Provider
If you are planning to travel somewhere far from civilization, you should strongly consider getting a satellite internet connection. Many RV parks in the United States are located in the middle of massive state parks far away from major urban areas. Needless to say but such areas usually do not have very good mobile networks. If you are going to camp or to live in an area without good mobile networks, you should sign up with a satellite internet service provider.
You can connect to the internet via satellite from virtually any location on the planet. You just need to sign up with a satellite internet service provider and get a satellite receiver fixed on your RV. Once you do this, the satellite receiver’s internal unit will share the internet with your devices just like your home/ office router and you will be able to access the internet.
While satellite internet is available just about everywhere in the United States and everywhere on earth, most people do not use satellite internet networks because satellite internet services are very expensive. However, what most people do not know is that many satellite internet service providers provide affordable internet access packages.
Therefore, if you are going to an off-grid location or a location far away from urban areas, you should strongly consider signing up with a satellite internet service provider.
- Camp in an RV Park/ Resort That Offers Wi-Fi
Many RV parks/ resorts/ campgrounds offer free Wi-Fi to campers. So if you really love the internet or if you want to be able to stream videos or sports, or to play online games while camping, you should camp in a campground that offers free Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, there are some RV campgrounds located far away from urban centers that have surprisingly good and free internet access for campers. Thus, when you are planning your RV trip, you should check what people are saying about the quality of free Wi-Fi in a campground before booking a campsite in it for an overnight stay or a longer stay.
Free Wi-Fi is the cheapest (it is actually free) way to access the internet in your RV.
As I mentioned earlier, there are many RV parks/ resorts/ campgrounds that offer free Wi-Fi, there are also many RV parks/ resorts/ campgrounds that offer Wi-Fi but at cost. So when considering the staying at a campground, you should think about the Wi-Fi and the cost of it and decide if it is worth it or consider another campground.
If you intend to use RV Park Wi-Fi, I advise getting a Wi-Fi repeater/ booster/ extender. It will make the Wi-Fi signal from the park stronger and make it easier for you to access the internet and to enjoy browsing. Wi-Fi extenders work by amplifying Wi-Fi signals. Therefore, even if you are located at the furthest campsite from a campground’s Wi-Fi router, you can still enjoy the same quality of internet from the router as the campsite right next to it.
There is very little difference between a repeater, a booster, and an extender. They all provide the same results and the best ones cost about $70 on Amazon.
- Camp in an RV resort That Offers Cable Internet
If you want to access high-speed internet while camping, you should search and book your stay at RV resorts or parks that offer cable internet. There are many such RV parks in Florida, California and many other states and places across the country. You just need to book a campsite and when you arrive, an attendant will come and hookup an internet cable to your RV’s internet cable connection and you will be good to go. Many such campgrounds usually also offer full hookups and many other amenities include hot shower bathrooms and heated pools.
The only problem with a cable internet connection is that you will only enjoy it when camping. You cannot browse while on the road.
- Use Free Internet or Public Wi-Fi
If you are an occasional internet user, then you should not worry about having internet access in your RV. You should simply plan your RV trip on a route that allows you to visit major coffee shops such as Starbucks. This is because most such shops offer free internet access. You just need to buy a coffee and you will see the password on the counter. Alternatively, you can plan the route of your RV trip to go near public universities or libraries. Many such buildings also offer free Wi-Fi.
However, the problem with free internet or public Wi-Fi is that they are usually not secure. So you can use such internet connections to browse the web but you should be very careful not to download anything or agree to anything when on such networks. You also should not do your online banking when using free internet for your information can be stolen by someone with access to such a network.
How to Get Internet Access in an RV Tips and Tricks
Below are some tips and tricks on how to get internet access in an RV.
- Easiest Internet Access Option. The easiest way to get the internet in an RV is to use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot. It is, however, not the cheapest way unless you buy a hotspot bundle. And even if you buy a hotspot bundle, it cannot be cheaper than free Wi-Fi (many campgrounds across the United States offer this to entice campers).
- The Best Way to Access the Internet in Off-grid Locations. The best way to access the internet in off-grid locations with poor mobile networks is via Satellite connections. Many satellite internet service providers offer affordable internet to users everywhere in North America and elsewhere in the world.
- Use Apps To Check Network Coverage. If you are planning to go for a long RV trip, you should download apps that show mobile network coverage. If you do so, you will be able to know for sure if a campground or a destination you are considering has the network of the mobile service network you place to use to browse the internet. And you can use this information to reroute your trip or to prepare for an internet blackout for a night or two before continuing with your journey.
- Get a Wi-Fi Booster. As mentioned several times in this article, most campgrounds offer free Wi-Fi and paid Wi-Fi. Therefore, before you embark on an RV trip, you should get a Wi-Fi booster to improve the Wi-Fi signal of the campgrounds you will stay at.
- Consider Other Activities That Don’t Involve Using The Internet. If you are soon going on an RV trip then you are probably going for a vacation or to camp away from the stresses of daily life at home.
However, if you get internet access in your RV you will not really be able to detach or remove yourself from work and from the stress that comes with watching or keeping up with world news every day. Therefore, I suggest you find ways to kill time when on vacation instead of using the internet.
For example, if you are traveling with your kids, you can find games to play together in the evening e.g. charades. Moreover, instead of just staying indoors, you should spend a lot of your time outside your RV when camping and I guarantee you that within a few days you will totally get used to not browsing the internet every five minutes. You will make friends and you will start loving nature for real.
As you can see, there are several different ways you can access the internet while traveling in your RV or while living in your RV fulltime. I hope this information has inspired you about hitting the road sooner rather than later in your RV for the adventure of your lifetime.