Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have the most luxurious camper van to have access to the internet. For digital nomads or those who live in campers full-time, internet access is an essential feature. Outdoorsy.com gives us four popular RV internet options, plus the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Connecting your camper van to the internet via Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is definitely the most versatile option for securing an internet connection inside your motorhome. Depending on where you park, you can have access to many public Wi-Fi networks that don’t charge you for connecting. Most RV parks offer free Wi-Fi, but you can also get a connection by parking within range of a mall or library.
Wi-Fi also usually has unlimited data caps and the internet speed is fast once you’re connected. However, since multiple people are often trying to use the same public Wi-Fi, your internet speed might be slower. Also, Wi-Fi access points have a short range, so it can be hard to get a good connection.
Depending on the source, free Wi-Fi isn’t recommended if you need an internet connection for your job. However, you can improve the signal inside your RV by buying a Wi-Fi extender, which only costs around $30.
Cable internet is another RV internet option
In general, having a cable internet connection is much more reliable and secure than a Wi-Fi connection. The cable provider you choose might also offer the option to use DSL internet, which is cheaper than standard cable. However, since both require a connection via a physical cable, you can’t use it on the open road.
If you plan to stay in one spot for several months, cable internet is the best option. Many RV parks offer a connection box at the site where you can plug in the cable. If it doesn’t, you’ll pay a minimum of $80 to have one installed, plus $50 per month for the service.
Always check with the owner of the RV park before you call the cable provider. While most parks will approve the installation, the park’s location could be out of range for the service provider.
Cellular connection is a flexible internet option
Using your phone as a mobile hotspot ensures that you’ll always have access to Wi-Fi. Depending on your cellphone carrier and how much data you use, the hotspot can cost around $35-$100 to use. However, some companies include a Wi-Fi hotspot as part of your plan, so contact your provider if you aren’t sure.
Using a mobile hotspot is also an attractive option for those who don’t want to buy any extra equipment. The speed and reliability will depend on where you’re trying to access the internet. If you’re camping deep in the wilderness with no cell phone towers in sight, you probably won’t have any service.
Also, if you want the best service, you should consider upgrading to an unlimited data plan. Otherwise, streaming Netflix and similar apps will eat into your data very quickly. Downloading video games and uploading photos onto social media can also affect your hotspot’s internet speed.
Internet via Satellite
The most expensive way to get internet in your RV is via satellite, which costs around $50-$150 per month. The connection is secured through a satellite dish installed on the top of your camper. Many providers also give you the option to pause your internet subscription during the months when you’re not using it.
Satellite internet gives you the best range, so you can escape civilization for days and never lose signal. For the best connection, the Southern sky has to be in clear view of the satellite. If it’s raining or too many trees are blocking the satellite dish, you won’t have a stable connection.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for connecting to the internet when you’re in your RV or camper van. Deciding which one best suits your needs is the most important part.