For those that do not know, I work remotely and travel full-time in an RV with my partner and two dogs.
A question I get a lot is how I am able to access the internet while I travel. Before we bought the RV, this was my main concern. I researched for months about data plans with cellular carriers, satellite internet, and RV park internet.
There were pros and cons to all the options. Cellular carriers did not have any unlimited data plans at the time, satellite internet was complicated and very expensive, and RV park internet is not very reliable.
Then I came across a resource specifically for RVers called RV Mobile Internet Resource Center. It is a website created by two RVers: Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy. While it was made by RVers for RVers, anyone that needs WiFi on the road can use them as a resource.
Chris and Cherie literally wrote the book on staying connected on the road. You can get their guide book for free when you purchase an annual membership of $57. For those that need a little one-on-one, you can purchase their premium membership for $279 per year, which includes 1 private advising session.
They also stay informed of current and breaking news in the mobile internet world so they can provide readers the best options for cellular carriers and the devices that power them.
I wouldn’t say I have a fully powered WiFi system, but I do use a few specific tools to get my work done each day.
This is the most important device in your WiFi toolkit—the mobile hotspot. I chose Verizon for their coverage map. I bought the Jetpack from Verizon with a pay-as-you-go plan so that I wouldn’t have to pay Verizon monthly. Instead, I found a company that rented SIM cards with grandfathered unlimited Verizon data plans. These plans are under contract, so they were protected at the time. Also, your speeds won’t be throttled once you reach a certain data cap.
I knew I would need this for staying connected and conducting video conferencing, as well as the occasional streaming movie or TV show. Now, all cellular carriers have re-introduced unlimited plans. However, there are some caveats. Cherie and Chris cover the comparison of these new unlimited data plans in this video.
weBoost Drive 4G-X OTR
When we are looking for a place to stay in our travels, we always check to see if it is located in Verizon’s coverage map. However, you can never be too careful. That’s why we have a cellular booster. This is an outdoor antenna that boosts the signal from the nearest cellular tower and transmits that boost back to my mobile hotspot.
This way, if we ever get into an area that has a weak signal (1-2 bars), the antenna will increase it to 3-4 bars. Each time we set up in a new place, we place the antenna (which we installed on a wooden flat mount), near one of the slides so that we can easily feed the cable to the inside antenna. It has worked wonders! Keep in mind that while it does boost the signal from the tower, it only increases your hotspot’s ability to access the signal, not increase the strength of your internet overall.
weBoost Drive 4G-X
This cellular booster is from the same company. We use this model inside our truck while we travel. The outside antenna is mounted on top of the truck cab and is fed into an indoor antenna which velcros to the side of the driver or passenger seat.
It is also powered by your vehicle’s 12 volt DC outlet! So, if I ever have to work while we’re in transit, this booster helps keep my hotspot connected through multiple zones of coverage.
PowerDrive DC to AC Power Converter
Another important tool that keeps me connected while traveling is my power converter. When we have multiple devices that need a charge on a long travel day, this device gets it done. It has 2 AC power outlets and 2 USB ports. So you could, in theory, power 4 devices simultaneously.
When I work in the truck, this is how I keep my laptop and phones fully charged. The only setback to this particular model is that it is not very quiet. You must keep it in an area where air can flow through the fan so it won’t overheat. Other than that, it works like a gem.
There are tons of other devices that can work in concert with the ones I listed above. For instance, WiFi Ranger has an outdoor antenna that you can install to your roof that boosts any free WiFi signal. But, these got me started and keep me connected on a daily basis.
How do you stay connected? Leave a comment below or shoot me a pic of your set up on Twitter!