RV Internet Access: The Essential Guide
A ton of people are going on vacations in recreational vehicles or RVs to get away from the things that … Continued
A ton of people are going on vacations in recreational vehicles or RVs to get away from the things that are stressing them out, whether it’s school, work, or anything else in between. However, you can never truly escape from your responsibilities. It’s important that you can still be reached by a handful of people while you’re on a road trip, which is why it’s quite useful to have a stable Internet connection in your RV. An Internet connection can also let you access a variety of entertainment options while you’re away, including music and movie streaming services as well as blogs and social media platforms. So here’s how to get started on that.
Wi-Fi Hotspots in Public Places
You have three options to get Internet access while on the road. Your first, and by far cheapest option is to look for accessible Wi-Fi spots in cafes, restaurants, and malls. A lot of these connections are open to the public; so if you’re looking to connect to one of them, make sure to be wary of what you browse. There might be people on the same network who have bad intentions to steal your personal information. We recommend not making any online purchases or accessing your banking information while on a public Internet connection.
Public Wi-Fi connections are often limited by time constraints. In most cases, you can only connect one device at a time, for a couple hours at a time as well. If you want to reconnect, you may have to wait for a lengthy period of time – overnight even. Public Internet may also be limited in terms of its speed. This is done to prevent one or two people from hogging all of the connection’s bandwidth. Limiting the connection’s speed disallows activities such as online multiplayer games as well as streaming movies and downloading large files. If you have the resources, you can make these connections faster by installing special equipment on your RV.
On the other hand, some of these Wi-Fi spots are password protected. To access them, you may be required to purchase a product, such as a snack or a beverage, from these places. Similar to Wi-Fi connections that are open to the public, these ones may also be time-limited. However, these are most likely faster compared to their public counterparts due to the fact that you won’t have many people to share the bandwidth with. All of the devices connected here belong to the paying customers of that one particular establishment.
Fortunately, a lot of establishments now have their very own Internet connection, since this service helps draw in more customers. So if ever you get hungry and want to eat at the restaurant with the delicious-looking burgers or pizza that’s near where you parked, chances are they’re going to have a Wi-Fi connection you can use. All you have to do is ask for the name of the connection and the password. In some cases, these details will already be written somewhere on the table or on the receipt once you’ve ordered your food and drinks.
Your next option is to have a satellite internet installed on your RV in order to access the World Wide Web. These dishes can be mounted on a raised part of your vehicle, such as the roof, or come as a separate device. With a satellite connection, you’ll have Internet access wherever you may go, with high speeds and reliability to match. This is the case as long as the skies are clear around you. Any obstruction might muddy your Internet connection. There are automatic satellites that look for connections on their own; while there are also manual ones that you need to adjust by hand to get the best connectivity.
The biggest downside to this though, is it’s pretty expensive to have the dish installed. Most satellite units cost anywhere from a thousand dollars to $10,000 or even more. These prices don’t even reflect the price of the monthly Internet plans yet. The cost of a good Internet connection may go out of hand depending on how much speed and data allowance you want to have. If money isn’t a problem for you; however, we recommend getting a satellite Internet connection for your RV since it’s a fast and reliable option.
There are still some other things to take into account if you’re considering having a satellite dish installed on your RV for Internet access. Obviously, the previously mentioned automatic units are far more expensive than the manual ones. Also, if you don’t get a mounted satellite, the dish may take up a lot of the storage space inside your vehicle. Satellite users may experience slower browsing speeds during peak hours as well. In most cases, this is in the late afternoon until the evening – some time around 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM usually.
Wireless Service Providers
The third and most commonly used method of getting an Internet connection while travelling in an RV is through the use of wireless service providers. These typically come in the form of your telco providers such as Verizon, Sprint, T Mobile, and AT&T in the United States. You’re not going to have to spend much to achieve this method as you’ll only need an existing cellphone plan for a device that’s data-capable, which most smartphones these days are. You can get tools to boost your signal, but again, these are only optional.
There isn’t even a need to bring along an additional device such as a laptop or a tablet if you’ll only be doing simple activities such as emailing and a bit of casual browsing. In this case, those larger devices and their corresponding accessories only serve to improve your online access while traveling. If you have them, then by all means use them. You may even get a free device, or in some cases your dream smartphone at a highly discounted price, if you sign up for a cellular plan. The prices of the devices being offered typically get lower as that of your plan gets higher so it’s important that you think this through quite carefully.
However, you need to choose a monthly plan that’s right for your browsing needs, as your phone bill will go up quickly if you exceed your data cap. On the other hand, if you get too much data, you may not be able to fully appreciate what you’re paying a whole lot of money for on a monthly basis. We recommend turning off your connection and using a publicly accessible connection when you can to save data. Also, make sure that you read the fine print as well before putting pen to paper on any kind of mobile plan. There are cases wherein the data and voice coverage of a plan are combined instead of being separate.
Plans start at $60 per month for six GB of data allowance. Watch out for promos that can get you more data for less, so you can save money. You can easily compare these data plans online to see which one suits you best.
Remember to take good care of your phone if you’re going to use this option since constant use may cause your phone to overheat and drain its battery. You may even sign up for these plans online so you don’t need to have a lengthy chat with a sales representative in a physical store. This also allows you to skip the long lines.
You may also avail of a wireless networking device instead of using your smartphone as a wireless modem. Some providers may refer to this device as an “air card.” These devices come in the form of a thumb drive, which you can easily stick in to one of your device’s USB drives to gain access to the Internet. Not only does this lessen the amount of wires you have to deal with, it also lessens the devices that need to be connected to the Internet, which means less energy consumption. Not only will you save money on your plan, you’ll be able to save on your electricity bill as well. This is money you can put into other things such as food and toiletries.
Wireless connections are constantly being improved. Compared to when they were first introduced, you can get access to the Internet from more locations. These hotspots are also much faster now compared to before and allow more people to connect, too. These devices are starting to become more and more compact as well, which means that you can basically bring them with you everywhere you go – not only inside the RV, but also in your stops along the way. There’s now also improved connectivity despite not having clear skies overhead.
That’s our guide on getting an Internet connection while travelling in an RV. No single method can achieve a reliable connection 100% of the time. So, if you have the resources, we recommend trying out multiple methods to access the World Wide Web in your RV.
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