Vanlife Internet: Best Options for the Road

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Not having access to good internet while camping or on the road can be frustrating, especially when you have kids needing some entertainment or work to do online. The crappy internet access is often due to the absence of routers and signals between cities and states. So what are the best options to get good vanlife internet on the road?

Today, we’ll explore a couple of great vanlife or RV internet options while camping or on the road. But before we explore any of these options or tips, there are a few tech terms to know.

Laptop sitting on table for work using vanlife internet

Tech Terms To Know

You’ll need to remember the following terms to understand this guide entirely. Also, these are terms you’ll come across while securing an internet connection for your van or Rv.

  1. WiFi: WiFi is a wireless technology that is used to connect devices to the internet
  2. Hotspot: This is an internet access location that can be accessed using a WiFi connection
  3. Cellular Data: This is the provider of internet access, especially on cell phones, and it kicks in when the device isn’t connected to a hotspot
  4. Tethering: This means linking a computer to a mobile or smartphone for internet access
  5. VPN: Virtual Private Network makes your network more secure by restricting public access
  6. MiFi: A MiFi is a portable router that provides a hotspot for your cell phone or computer
  7. Throttling: Cell service providers use this to slow down your data usage – it kicks in when you hit a set data usage limit.

Now, let’s check out the different internet options for your camper’s van or RV.

Best Internet Options For Van and RV

Here are fantastic options to provide internet access during your travels:

1. Private Camp Grounds

Individuals and independent companies own private campgrounds, and they provide camping options for RVs and vans. Many of these campgrounds also offer access to their WiFi for campers to get internet access. Whether you’ll need to pay extra for this service depends on the campground. If you’d like to see our ever-growing list of campground recommendations, check it out HERE.

However, you should know that many of these private campgrounds don’t have strong WiFi, and the ones that have strong WiFi will be slow due to several connections from campers and RVers. So, you may not be able to stream movies or transfer extensive data using campground WiFi. However, the WiFi is strong enough for sending texts, emails, and small files. Depending on your internet needs, this can be a good internet option.

2. Cell Signal Boosters

Another way to secure internet access while camping is to use cell signal boosters. Cell signal boosters like weBoost amplify the signal in your camper’s van or RV to enjoy better internet access. You should know that cell signal boosters will only strengthen or improve your signal – Signal boosters can’t create a separate network or cellular signal. You can purchase a weBoost signal booster on amazon.

3. Use Your Phone’s Hotspot

You can also secure internet access when camping by using your phone’s hotspot. It’s better if you have two phones – The trick is to subscribe to two different cell networks – one for each phone. For instance, you can purchase a data subscription on Verizon and T-mobile. This way, you can still get internet access even if one of the cell signals goes weak or off.

You can also use your phone’s hotspot to provide internet access to your computer by purchasing a hotspot plan. Hotspot plans come with more data so you can share and use them on multiple devices. All cell service providers have hotspot packages that you can include in your plan. On Verizon, you can get up to 150GB of data on the hotspot plan.

However, you should know that using your cell phone as a hotspot will quickly drain your phone’s battery, especially when transferring large data or streaming movies. You should only use your phone’s hotspot as a temporary provision.

4. Mobile Hotspot For Camper Vans and RVs

There are different types of mobile hotspots that you can purchase. With a mobile hotspot, you can provide internet access to over 15 devices. All service providers also have hotspots, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-mobile. We have a T-Mobile 5G hotspot with a 50GB plan. It helps.

5. RV WiFi or Internet Provider

Companies now work specially with camper vans and RVs to provide good internet access when on the road by using RV WiFi.

Vanlife (or RV) internet WiFi is different from your regular WiFi – Your standard WiFi will provide internet access as long as there is a signal from a cell service provider. Still, when there is no signal, the WiFi becomes useless. For instance, a Verizon WiFi will give internet access as long as there is a Verizon signal. When you travel to where the Verizon carrier isn’t strong, the WiFi becomes useless – but this is where RV WiFi comes in.

RV WiFi is designed with special modifications that allow internet access as long as there is a signal from any cell service provider. It’s like having a WiFi that works with all five networks, so you are never stranded. While I have not used any of these personally, Nomad internet Unthrottled Hotspot is possibly a good option for RV WiFi. The Nomad Strong Pink Plan has unlimited data and is compatible with all devices for less than $150. UnlimitedVille Hotspot is another worthy mention.  

6. Free Cell Service From Businesses

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Not me, lol. Another way for RVers to get an internet connection is by connecting to the WiFi of local businesses, shopping malls, stores, and institutions. Places like Libraries, Starbucks, Walmart, and other restaurants and bars offer free WiFi to customers.

However, you should know that this is a temporary fix. When you leave the shop or business establishment, you won’t get their WiFi signal anymore, but you can use it as a quick fix to submit a proposal or complete an application.

7. A MiFi

MiFi is very similar to independent hotspots, but you should know that the MiFi is just as strong as your cell’s signal. So, transferring large files or streaming events may be slow. A Mi-Fi can also provide internet access while camping or traveling to up to 10 devices.

8. Google-Fi

Google-Fi is a universal cell phone carrier that works everywhere. The carrier range isn’t limited to a particular location or space. You can even use Google-Fi across borders without having to switch contact. Google-Fi offers a superior network with 5G available. The best part is that you get to pay for only what you use, making this plan great for everyone regardless of your internet needs. You can purchase the unlimited plan for several users and significant data needs for $70/month.

Laptop sitting on table for work using vanlife internet on the road

Factors That Determine The Van Internet Option For You

As you can see, there are several internet options to opt for, but how do you decide which of the options is the best for you? To figure that out, you need to consider a few factors.

1. Your internet needs

What are your internet needs? Will you be streaming movies and sending large files? If yes, you’ll need a strong internet connection like RV WiFi. In this case, your phone hotspot or MiFi wouldn’t suffice. Your phone hotspot will work if you send texts and emails and download small files. You can also connect to the campground’s WiFi for that.

2. Your budget

If you didn’t know, getting access to a strong internet isn’t usually cheap. The amount you are willing to spend will determine the internet option you go for. For instance, RV WiFi and Cell signal boosters will cost more than a MiFi. You should only go for an option that you can afford.

4. Your location 

Your location will also determine the Vanlife internet option to go for. If you are traveling to a place where cell service or network signal isn’t strong, it would be better to opt for another option. You can always compare each cell service’s internet coverage using an LTE coverage map.

You can always check the map of your travel route to see which cell service has the best network where you are headed. Some different websites and apps show you a map of the country and other areas where each cell service is the strongest. I always check the map before going on any trip.

5. The number of users

The larger the number of users, the larger the bandwidth you need from a network provider or hotspot. If it’s a private trip, then a MiFi or your phone’s hotspot should suffice since you would be the only one connecting. However, if it’s a family trip with several phones, laptops, and devices, you’ll need a hotspot that can support all the devices.

Next, let’s check out my tips to reduce internet consumption while camping or traveling.

two girls sitting on bed looking at ipads using vanlife internet

My Tips To Reduce Internet Consumption In Your Camper Van

Trust me when I say the last thing you want while camping is to run out of data. Depending on the area’s signal strength, you won’t have internet access to purchase a new subscription if this happens. You may not even be able to make calls leaving you stranded. Here are a few tips that I use to reduce data consumption:

  1. Surf social media and the internet using my phone’s unlimited cellular data
  2. Transfer any images I might take on my Canon M50 camera onto my phone using Bluetooth instead of WiFi
  3. Some devices allow you to set weekly and monthly limits – your data consumption stops when you reach that limit.
  4. Only use my hotspot for short periods since it is also connected to my phone
  5. Download movies and series before traveling, so I don’t have to stream using data
  6. Switch our devices to low data mode, consuming less data.

Final Words

In summary, nothing beats having good internet access while touring or traveling between cities and across borders – the Internet makes everything more accessible, and it helps in case of an emergency. Allowing you to quickly find the nearest hospitals, gas stations, convenience stores, auto-repair shops, etc. You can pick any internet options discussed above but always consider your internet needs and budget before deciding.

Finally, it’s always better to have a fail-safe plan just in case something goes wrong, and you can’t access the internet.

So, there you have it. Now you know how to get good internet access even in remote locations. Ensure to leave comments below this post and let me know if there is an internet option that works for you and is not on this list. Adios, and enjoy your trip.

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