Internet on the Road

We all want internet, we want it all the time, anytime. Unfortunately, this is not always possible when living in your RV or van, but it can be pretty close! You can go all out and pay to have internet almost anywhere, as long as there’s cell service. You can also pay nothing and still find FREE internet quite often. Or you can find the perfect middle ground that works for you, that’s what I’ve done, here are some ideas for finding internet on the road!

Public Internet – ALMOST free

  • Coffee Shops This ones obvious, millions of people go to Starbucks to have a coffee and use the internet. This is a great option, you can get a lot of work done using a coffee shop (many local places are cheaper than Starbucks and also provide internet) you pay a few dollars for a coffee and get to use the internet for two or three hours. I’ve done this many times. Sometimes you can even park your car or even your RV outside and still get internet! Buying a product first of course.
  • Library! Besides coffee shops you can also go to a local library(FREE!) sometimes you have to sign up for a library card to use the internet though. Libraries are my favorite option. It’s quiet and a good place to get work done.
  • Laundromat! Another great option, most of us full time travelers use laundromats anyway, while cleaning up the clothes why not take advantage and use the internet too! I always do this, I check the reviews on google maps of laundromats in the area I am and make sure to pick one with a good internet connection.
  • Walmart also almost always has open internet. Since I stay the night at Walmart a lot passing through, I’ll go in and sit at the restaurant (usually McDonald or Subway) get a drink and use some internet. Speaking of McDonalds, most have pretty good internet as well, though I personally don’t enjoy staying at these or other fast food joints at all, It’s still an option however.

Almost anyplace I go, I check for internet, I can usually get a bit of something done just walking around a store. The Best Buy for example has fast internet almost always. I might reply to some comments, check email or even download a video to watch later, just within a few minutes of being in a store like this. So If you really want you can pay next to nothing and still use internet!

Data Plans

Data plans are getting cheaper and cheaper all the time, if you have a phone service plan, most basic plans come with at least 2gbs/month of data, as I’m sure you’re aware. With no home internet, that won’t get you very far but you can upgrade to 10 GB and with that you could do a lot, you can email, web surf, social media. Anything besides streaming video and music (that will use your data up fast). Mixing 10 GB of data with finding free internet where you can is a good option, I think I could get by with that, and I work online a couple hours a day most days.

You can also get unlimited Data on your plan, the cheapest option for this I’ve seen is $50 a month. Be aware however that speeds usually cap after so much use. It’s still unlimited but slows internet speeds drastically. My traveling partner and I did this on one phone, the other phone had the standard 2GB plan. Between the two of us one unlimited phone and finding free internet for laptops has worked great.

Hot Spot Devices

I know, unlimited data on your phone is great and all for doing a lot of tasks, but sometimes you just need your laptop! More than just the times you take it to the coffee shop! Getting a hot spot device is a great idea, you can connect your laptop to the internet and do all you need, as long as you have cell service that is.

There are all kinds of options for hot spots. You can buy devices, you can get a hot spot on your phone, you can have just 2GB of data on your hot spot or near unlimited or anywhere in between! Do your research on this topic, there’s to many options out there! Be warned however, hot spot data can get much more expensive than regular phone data.

WiFi Extenders!

If your trying to reach WiFi from inside your rig and just can’t get close enough to get a strong signal to actually use the internet, try a WiFi extender! These are very popular with the RV community. Simply install in/on your rig and any open and close WiFi signal will be boosted so you can use internet on your laptop or phone more often in more places! Also, If you have a RV and have an old TV antenna that you wind up, many people install their WiFi boosters right on to these for the best signal reach!

I’ve used these in strip mall parking lots or shopping centers and have picked up multiple open connections at once! We’ve tried out a few different ones and I have a couple recommendations below. (AC power is needed to use WiFi extenders) (Inverter)

NETGEAR N300 $39 -First extender I used, worked well for the price. Definitely extender my reach when installed outside the RV.

MSRM US750 750Mbps$45 -Reach and speed was slightly better then NETGEAR above. I like the look of this one better.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900$109 -I bought this one to try it out, It’s definitely the best, reach was great, full bars with this one. I ended up returning it ONLY because I felt it was to expensive and I really didn’t NEED it.

Xfinity WiFi

Another great option is Xfinity. Xfinity WiFi is a network of hotspots that are located all over the country in almost every city I went through. It keeps you connected at WiFi-level speeds. All the Xfinity WiFi hotspots are available if you pay for the internet service. There are also options to pay for hour passes to use the hotspots, this could be very useful to only pay when you actually are going to use the internet a lot in hour intervals.

During my travels I’ve seen Xfinity hotspots pop up on my devices so often, so I know it’s everywhere! I haven’t used the service myself but I have considered it. It would definitely be convenient!

Internet on the road is easier then you think!

There are so many ways to stay connected these days, and its just going to get better. Cell Networks are growing, WiFi in general is popping up in more and more places around the country and around the world. Free city wide WiFi is also in the future. Kansas City has already set up free public WiFi that covers 50 blocks, and has plans to grow across the whole city. New York City has also started setting up free public WiFi and I expect more and more cities to follow suite.

Far secluded camping spots with no cell service are the only times I couldn’t get internet, this only happened to us a few times. Plenty of times we only had 1 or 2 bars but that was still enough to get by. Personally when we had no service at all I really enjoyed it anyway!

Whatever route you take, spending very little money or spending a lot, internet is out there! So get out and see the world!

 

 

As Always, Thanks for Reading! Leave me a Comment Below!

Happy Trails!

-Lance

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Internet on the Road

  1. With all the options for wifi on the road, there is always a place to get access. You pretty much covered all the options. The only one I didn’t think of was the laundromat.

    1. Lance

      Sometimes Laundromats have really great WiFi. Can be harder to actual find somewhere to sit down! Haha

  2. Hey!

    I have needed wifi on the road at so many different times but never thought of a few of these ideas. It is so clever to sit in a restaurant in walmart and use their wifi.

    Also, I have never used hot spot before in order to use my computer. I just tried it out and it works amazing! Next time I am on the road, I will definitely consider these different ways of getting wifi so I can stay busy!

    Thank you!

    Russell

    1. Lance

      Awesome! Glad I could help,
      Thanks for reading Russell!

  3. It’s great to know our Xfinity plan would help us get WiFi on the road as well. We have data plans on our phones but as you say sometimes you just need a laptop. Or in our case our iPad. It has all the features of the laptop just more portable for us.
    I never thought of using a signal extender in an RV. That is something we will have to try out. Thank You

    1. Lance

      Thanks for reading Maryann. Glad to help, Xfinity is definitely all over the place!

  4. Such a great post-Lance- I am ready to pack my bags and join you on your adventures as it is all so cool. Buying an RV is on my bucket list and this makes me want it so bad
    Great article and having the internet is vital if you are working online for sure so thank you

    1. Lance

      Thanks for visiting my site again Vicki! My next article is about figuring out the right kind of RV to get!
      Hope to see on the road one day friend!

  5. Hey Lance, I always get frustrated when I am somewhere and can’t get internet access. Yes, there are more and more WiFi connections available. It’s a shame that we just can’t get access without WiFi.
    So they still haven’t come out with a booster where you can get WiFi almost anywhere? The thing I also am concerned about is a secured WiFi. Do you worry about this?
    ~Rob

    1. Lance

      Hey Rob, Thanks for reaading! Good question, I am not overly concerned with the security of a connection, However I do have and use a VPN on my laptop when on public WiFi. I don’t use one on my phone or tablet. If you don’t know, a VPN (virtual private network) is like using a private tunnel that encrypts all your data going through the network. I use AVG VPN and TunnelBear. TunnelBear only allows so much use a month for free. AVG lets you have the first 30 days free, Its pretty cheap though, about $3 a month.
      Thanks for the question!

  6. Kahlua

    Great information, so appreciated.

    I am going on a trip shortly with my man and he was really concerned about wifi access.

    Me, being cheap, said no we’re not going to pay for internet and he was a little upset about that. I will refer him to your site so he can check it out for himself.

    Cheers,
    Kahlua

    1. Lance

      Thanks for reading! I’m also cheap lol I don’t like paying when if can be found free 🙂

  7. Andrew A.

    Hey Lance, I love your post here. You definitely brought something new to the table.
    I find your post informative as well as useful.
    I have happened to be on the road with a bad dataplan and desperately need an “ounce” of connection to send an important message. They say there is always a Plan B, but in my case I had none, sadly.
    Here, you provided us with Plan B, C, D, E etcetera and all of them seem to be smart ones.
    So kudos to you!
    I will keep coming back for more.

    1. Lance

      Thanks for reading Andrew! Glad I could help with some ideas, would love to see you back!

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