Have you thought much about what you’ll do for internet on the road? Getting reliable WiFi for RV living is one of the biggest challenges most full-time RVers face. In this article, we’ll talk about your options for RV WiFi and how to choose the best one for you.
What Are the Options for WiFi for RV Living?
There are several options for WiFi for RV living. There isn’t one option that’s the obvious best, though, because every RVer has differing WiFi needs. Let’s take a look at the most popular options for WiFi for RV living.
Cell Phone Hotspotting
Cell phone hot spotting is using your cell phone data plan as a hotspot for your RV WiFi needs. Using your cell phone as a hot spot is often the easiest way to get a WiFi signal while you’re RVing.
There are many pros of cell phone hot-spotting. This is the easiest and fastest option to get WiFi in your RV. Most people already have a cell phone. Many cell phone plans come with a hotspot option included. But if yours doesn’t, it’s usually as simple as making a call to your carrier to upgrade.
Cell phone signals don’t reach everywhere, and your cell phone hotspot will only work as long as you have a signal. Also, cell phone hotspots have data caps, even if you have an unlimited data plan. Cell phone hot spotting can be a limited way to get WiFi while RVing, so it’s more appropriate if you don’t need constant WiFi. You might need to invest in a cell phone booster to ensure you get the signal you need.
Dedicated Mobile Hotspot
A dedicated mobile hotspot is a device that runs off of cell phone signals. It’s a part of your cell phone data plan and works similarly to hotspotting. A dedicated mobile hotspot is a small, separate device that you turn on whenever you need internet.
A dedicated hotspot is a flexible mobile internet option. You can choose to have a hotspot from multiple cell phone carriers to increase your range. They’re low-priced and easy to set up.
Dedicated mobile hotspots only work where you have a cell phone signal. So there are many places where you just won’t be able to get a signal. And like your cell phone hotspot, a dedicated hotspot isn’t unlimited. Even when a hotspot is marketed as an “unlimited” plan, it has data caps.
RV Satellite WiFi
RV satellite WiFi is similar to the WiFi for sticks-and-bricks homes; the key difference is that it’s a mobile setup. RV satellite WiFi has experienced a resurgence in popularity lately thanks to the Starlink initiative by SpaceX.
RV satellite WiFi works virtually everywhere, as long as you have a clear view of the southern sky. This means that you can stay connected while boondocking in the most remote places. RV satellite internet works even when there’s no cell signal for miles.
Satellite internet for RVers is expensive. And most options are pretty slow, too. You can expect to pay up to $7,000 or more for the initial setup and equipment, and monthly fees range anywhere from around $60 to $400 or more.
When Starlink is finished, RV satellite WiFi should be much more cost-effective for RVers. But for now, expect to pay high prices for slow speeds.
Public or Campground WiFi
Lastly, public WiFi and campground WiFi are always options available to you as an RVer. But these options aren’t the most reliable.
Public WiFi is available at most major retailers and restaurants. Coffee shops are fun and invigorating atmospheres in which to get work done. You’ll see free WiFi listed under many campgrounds amenities lists.
Public WiFi isn’t as secure as a home WiFi network. And campground WiFi is hardly ever reliable. If you need an internet connection for work, never rely on campground WiFi alone. Even if you call and they tell you it’s good, that might not be the case when you arrive.
Campground WiFi can get overloaded by campers. It may not have strong enough signal repeaters to reach the entire campground.
How to Choose the Right WiFi Solution for Your RV Life
No one system or setup is right for everyone. Several factors will help you determine what the right WiFi solution is for you.
Determine Your Data Needs
First, you need to consider your data needs. Is an internet connection absolutely imperative for you? If so, you need to be sure to have multiple backup options.
Consider Your Travel Style
Do you like to camp in really remote places? If so, satellite internet might be the best option for you. Although it’s pricey, satellite provides signal in places where cell phone towers just can’t reach.
Alternatively, do you prefer to camp in RV parks and cities? If so, you may be able to get by with your cell phone data plan or by using public WiFi options.
How Necessary Is a Connection for You?
If you need an internet connection for work and income, you need to be more vigilant about your internet setup. Otherwise, if you just need the internet for fun and leisure, you won’t be as stressed out when you don’t have a signal.
When in Doubt, Have Multiple Options
Many full-time RVing remote workers have multiple internet connection options. They also have a plan B, plan C, and sometimes a plan D. Many RVers carry multiple cell phone plans from major carriers like AT&T and Verizon to ensure maximum coverage. If the internet is crucial for you, this may be something to consider.
Cover All Your Bases
If the internet is an absolute must, there are ways to make it work. But you have to be creative, resourceful, and flexible. Reliable WiFi for RV living is one of the biggest challenges full-time RVers face, but thousands of people are successfully working from the road by using multiple WiFi options. Make a list of your needs, wants, budget, and pros and cons, and start building your very own RV internet arsenal from there. How do you get WiFi on the road?