Gidday road warriors!
Can you believe that over the last few years, the number of digital nomads has grown to more than 15.5 million in the US. That is more than the population of Ohio and Nevada … COMBINED!
There was a time when going camping meant you would be without internet and cell service.
Despite the surging popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle, it’s still shockingly difficult to find a quality RV internet option while out on the road.
Many of us who live out on the road experience:
- Poor internet signal;
- Slow internet speeds; and
- Frequent drops in service.
With more options for RV internet – but few good ones – you may be wondering what is the BEST option for your RV internet?
In this article we will be looking at what are some of the best RV internet options for your travels. This includes a look at Starlink a twist on modern satellite options brought to you by the team behind SpaceX and Tesla brands.
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How to Pick the Best RV Internet Solution
There is only one internet but many ways to access it. Depending on your needs you will want to choose the best option for you. Here are some considerations to make before choosing to ensure you have the data and speed you require at an amount you can afford:
With the exception of free wifi, accessing the internet while RVing is going to cost you. Many people choose locations and move around for free wifi. While this can work, and free wifi is available in many locations now, paying for your own internet can have benefits.
RV internet service could run you anywhere between $50-$300 a month depending on a number of factors such as:
- Quality of Equipment
Your budget will likely depend on how badly you need internet. If it’s convenient to have for updating your Facebook status and entertaining kids while you cook, you likely don’t want a huge bill.
But if you work from home, have an online business, are an RV influencer, participate in Zoom meetings, or have daily stock market activities, regardless of cost, you need internet access.
Just remember many cheaper options and plans can be quite slow and you may spend more time waiting for pages to load and refresh than actively using them.
Data Needs and Usage
This is where you need to be careful with internet options. Running out of data can be inconvenient for some and detrimental to others.
Often charges for going over your data or adding more are very high and can be an expensive, unexpected cost. There are data calculators to help estimate your usage and data warnings that will indicate when you’re almost out.
The big factor with data is streaming – think video and gaming. If you have kids who are gamers, love your Netflix, or spend hours in virtual meetings, your data won’t last long.
Boondockers are often challenged by the availability of the internet. Since they are often outside of city limits, public wifi is usually not an option.
For people who boondock frequently, having a reliable internet source that allows them to roam freely is key. If you boondock regularly, investing in an internet setup and having a monthly budget for a data plan should be a focus.
Public Wi-Fi is convenient but can come at the (costly) expense of security. When you’re answering emails at a campground or at Starbucks there is a chance someone may be tracking your online activity.
Consider the type of work you are doing on the road and whether or not you are okay with someone potentially tracking sensitive content and information on your computer.
Having a personal IP address is always the safest option, but if you plan on using free public Wifi it’s important to consider paying for a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN protects your data while you are on public networks, hiding your browsing history, banking information, account passwords from people who prey on unsuspecting travelers.
What Is The Best RV Internet Option?
As with most decisions in life, there is no one fits all solution. Each person’s situation will be different and so the best internet source will vary.
Once you have considered the types of internet that will be available to you, data usage needs, and your budget, you can match this with the available options.
This is the most common use for multiple reasons. It is very widely available and often it’s free! In campgrounds, your proximity to the office will likely determine your signal strength. Wifi boosters can be helpful in these situations.
Many campgrounds and public spaces have wifi and it is indeed often free. Some things to consider are:
- If it’s being used by lots of people, the speed can be slow.
- Need a secure internet connection? Public wifi isn’t going to be your best bet.
- Not all public wifi is free and unlimited. Some are monitored and you will receive a certain amount of usage over a timed period either free or paid. Access to some public wifi will have a fee possible to connect or for a time or data limit.
Mobile Cellular Hotspots
We all have cell phones and if you have a cell phone odds are you have a data plan and as a result internet access. As long as you are somewhere with cell service you will have the ability to browse.
The catch with cell hotspots is you usually don’t have tons of data on your cell plan. So if you have multiple people in the RV or have higher data needs, you can max your plan pretty quickly. Any areas without cell service will also be out of bounds for you.
Satellite internet is a pretty reliable source for those needing higher speeds and who don’t want to rely on wifi connections.
Speeds may not be fiber fast but with a good signal, gaming and video are generally no problem with satellite. The cost for setting up satellite internet can be expensive so this isn’t an occasional use thing. For RVers who require good internet in various locations long-term satellite makes more sense.
Cellular internet options (if available), are generally faster but if you’re outside service areas then satellite may be your only option.
Starlink Satellite RV Internet
Starlink is the latest option for internet while RVing and becoming a popular option for digital nomads. A division of SpaceX and tied to the Tesla brand, Starlink is a twist on modern satellite options.
The idea is the same as satellite internet but focuses more on widespread rural coverage. The speeds are not as high as cellular but the coverage areas are greater. If you are someone who travels to remote locations and out of the country, Starlink is a great choice.
There is a one-time equipment cost of about $600 USD and the monthly RV plans run around $130.
Which RV Internet Option Will You Choose?
Just like when you chose your RV when it comes time to choose your RV internet you will have decisions to make.
RVers now have lots of options for internet which makes longer trips, boondocking, and full-time RVing much easier. Take the time to plan your internet speed and data needs along with your intentions for travel and there will be an option to keep you connected.
What RV internet option do you use? Tell us below in the comments.