The 411 on Internet Access for RV Trips

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The 411 on Internet Access for RV Trips

Traveling in an RV is a way to get away from the world, but that doesn’t mean you want to be completely disconnected from it

If you plan to bring your smartphone and other devices like laptop computers, tablets, MP3 players, e-readers, or video game players, Wi-Fi is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get that kind of access when you’re on the road. RV Advisor offers tips and tech tools to help you stay connected while you’re traveling.

Free public Wi-Fi access

The easiest method may not be the most convenient, but it does work in a pinch. You can stop at places that have free public internet access. Many restaurant chains offer this service, including Starbucks, Panera, and McDonald’s. Do a little research before you leave, and you’ll no doubt find more along your route. You can also visit a local library. Of course, this solution might not solve your problem when you’re driving or staying at a campsite.

Accessing the internet in campgrounds

These days, many campgrounds have upgraded their amenities to include Wi-Fi access. In some cases, the Wi-Fi is adequate for your needs. However, if the campground is spread over a large area or there a lot of people trying to use their devices at the same time (at night for instance), you could find that the signal is not great, which means slower internet speeds.

Being inside your RV can also affect internet speed, as the materials used on RVs (metal, aluminum, and fiberglass) can actually work to block Wi-Fi signals. One way around that is to install a Wi-Fi extender or repeater, either of which will help boost the signal and get you up-to-speed.

Accessing internet through wireless carriers

Getting a Wi-Fi signal at a campground is one thing, but what about when you’re on the road? If you’re driving in a remote location, it can be difficult to get a signal. If you plan to boondock (meaning you’re not going to hook up to any power source), but you still want internet access, you face the same problem. You might want to access email, online banking options or look up directions. It is possible to set up a mobile hotspot through your provider.

The major providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all sell these devices. You’ll need to purchase a data plan, however. There are a couple of cautions to remember. First, pay attention to what the various plans offer, as you pay based on the amount of data used. This can make things expensive, especially if you plan to use your devices for things like watching movies or playing video games. Many plans also include roaming charges, which can be another cost to consider.

RV satellite access

Probably the most advanced option for staying connected is using an RV satellite for TV and internet access. This option offers the most reliable connection, but you will pay for the privilege. First, you’ll need to buy a satellite. You can choose a roof-mounted dish or one that is mounted on a tripod. Next, you’ll need to have the system installed. We recommend having a professional do the installation. You’ll also need to find a Satellite Internet Provider and purchase a monthly plan to access anything. Pay attention to what the plan offers, as some only offer TV, but not internet.

Ideally, you will have good internet access, even in remote locations, but there are a few downsides with this option. You might experience slower speeds during peak hours. Restrictive fair access policies may also automatically decrease your speed if you exceed a certain data limit. Bad weather (rain, snow, fog) can also affect the satellite signal, just like it sometimes does at home.

Accessing the internet when you’re traveling in an RV can be a challenge, but these tips can help you stay connected.

If you’re on the road, you’re going to need insurance. The RV Advisor offers great insurance at competitive prices you probably won’t believe. The good news? We cover more than just your RV. Learn how we can help you save money and protect your vehicles on the road to your next destination!

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