You don’t necessarily need an Internet connection in order to have a successful motor home trip. After all, Americans have been travelling without access to the World Wide Web for decades, using only paper maps and old-fashioned asks for help to get around. That said, having a good connection really helps. If you’d like to take your Internet-capable devices on the road, you have a few options to make that possible.
Public and Private Wi-Fi Connections
As you know, many businesses and attractions have Wi-Fi available for you to connect to. Whether that Wi-Fi is free and open for everyone (public) or available only for paying customers (private) depends entirely on the whim of the business, but there’s little question that Wi-Fi is becoming more widespread regardless. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to expect most businesses to have an Internet hookup.
In practice, what does this mean for your motor home trip? If you’re relying only on the Wi-Fi offerings of others, you won’t want to be counting on your connection too much, as there’s no guarantee as to the next time you’ll have Internet. It helps to check with your campground in advance if this is a make-or-break situation for you. Overall, while relying on public and private Wi-Fi connections isn’t ideal, it’s free. You can get a lot of your heavy lifting done by conducting research and downloading maps in advance. Plus, freedom from the Internet might just be the digital break you’re looking to have with your trip.
Say what you will about going back to basics, but many of us rely on the Internet these days, and for good reason: it makes life a lot easier. When you’re on the road, you might need an interactive map or exact directions to your campground. Or, you might want to see where the cheapest gas prices are in your area, or how long until the next rest stop. In these cases, a paper map just won’t cut it.
These days, it’s not much of an issue to rely on your smartphone to provide much of your crucial Internet means. However, for those with limited data plans, this isn’t always possible. That’s why most of the major cell phone carriers, like AT&T and T-Mobile, offer mobile Wi-Fi hotspots that rely on the same data networks that their phone plans operate on. The devices themselves, which function like wireless routers, usually cost under a hundred dollars, though you’ll want to do a provider-by-provider comparison to find the exact plan that works for you.
For most people, a mix between relying on Wi-Fi hotspots and using a mobile service provider hotspot will probably be the best option. But, for whatever reason, that might not work out exactly for your needs. In that case, there are a few other options that, while not totally practical, you might find feasible for your trip.
For some time, the motor home Internet connections relied on satellite to get hooked up to the ‘Net. These days, popping a satellite dish on your coach isn’t as practical as it once was; not only does the dish itself cost thousands of dollars, but the service itself also costs money, which some motor home enthusiasts say is only rising. For those with smaller budgets, a Wi-Fi booster might do the trick. The device does exactly what it sounds like – it allows your device to connect to signals that are farther away. With this option, though, you’re again dependent on those public and private networks that may or may not be there when you need them.
Each year, the Internet, and the number of devices that connect to it, grows and grows, so it’s getting easier to always be connected, wherever you happen to be. However much you need an Internet connection depends, of course, on your needs and budget, but these options will be more than enough to get you started on your digitally-connected motor home trip.