Do you want to stay connected while on the road? Here are our top five RV internet solutions that kept us connected, productive and entertained while traveling full-time via RV.
Sometimes I kind of resent the power it has over me.
It’s strange to resent something and be thankful for it at the same time, but that’s how I feel about our RV internet solutions as we travel full time.
Our internet connection is absolutely necessary, making great things possible. And yet the pursuit of that connection seems to occupy far too much of my mind space and time on far too many occasions.
No matter how you might feel about staying connected on the road, the fact remains that it is a necessity for “digital nomads” like ourselves.
I Am NOT the RV Internet Solutions Expert
Let me please start this off with a big caveat. I do not claim to know everything there is to know about “mobile connectivity”. Not by a long shot.
Even after spending a year and a half on the road, staying connected with a strong signal continues to be an elusive goal. Working from a boondocking site in central Arizona can be a challenge!
While I still consider myself a relative novice when it comes to a steady internet connection from an RV, I have found a number of ways to increase the likelihood of seeing the wireless icon bars light up. And I have also found great products that help improve the overall signal strength.
So what I want to do here is share with you how we were able to travel for over a year, live in an RV, visit with friends, visit national parks, hike, and build our businesses.
I won’t try and cover all of the possible best internet for RV options that are out there for you to explore. An entire website could be dedicated to the topic of establishing and maintaining an internet connection on the road.
Which reminds me, throughout all my efforts to keep us connected, I did find some great information. This post will point you toward additional resources that provide more extensive information on RV internet connections.
So let’s jump right in and take a look at our list of the best recommendations and internet for RVers.
Stay Connected and Get Work Done While Traveling Full-Time: Internet for RV Living
I can’t really start this section off without recognizing that our success was due in part to our unlimited data plan. If we did not have unlimited cellular data, we would have been up a creek without a paddle (and without much money).
You see, it just so happened that in the month before we left on our big RV adventure, I stumbled into an Unlimited Data plan with Verizon Wireless that apparently is no longer offered.
And it is pure gold. At least that’s what I am told by the jealous full-time RVers we discuss it with.
Now, I have been with Verizon Wireless since 2007 and we have had several different plans during that time. But this Unlimited Data plan that we have now has been a real life-saver for us I think.
Solution #1 – Mobile Hotspot Connections through our Verizon Wireless Cellular Phones
Our Verizon Unlimited Data plan is actually called “The New Verizon Plan Unlimited”. The cost is $110 per month for this plan (based on my info).
On this plan, we have 15 GB of 4G LTE hotspot data per device, per month included. For us, this is a total of 60 GB on our four iPhones alone (when four of us are in the RV most of the year) and is what made RV internet service possible for us.
Everything else below is pretty much built on top of this solid foundation that Verizon has provided. So let’s keep it rolling.
Solution #2 – Additional Mobile Hotspot Connection through Verizon Wireless (Jetpack)
A Verizon Jetpack Review
In addition to our phones, I purchased a mobile hotspot, the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot – AC791L, for about $200 through Verizon Wireless shortly after we hit the road. This provides another 15 GB of high speed hotspot data per month for our RV internet service.
We are able to connect up to 15 wireless devices to this hotspot, so it more than meets our needs.
In total, this gives us up to 75 GB of high speed 4G LTE hotspot data per month through our Verizon plan. This is normally how the majority of our work gets done.
When we have used up the 4G LTE data on a device (this happens fairly often), the 3G speeds it drops to are sometimes still adequate to continue working at a fast pace. It just depends completely on our location at the time and on the “heftiness” of the work being done.
What About the Non-Hotspot Data?
Of course, we have plenty more 4G LTE data to use beyond that hotspot data I’ve been talking about, because this is an unlimited data plan. Officially, Verizon is free to slow down our data on a device after 22 GB of high speed data usage.
Have we experienced that slow down? No.
I don’t want to throw around the figures for total data that we have used monthly over this past year, but let’s just say that we have gone well into the triple digits (GB of data) on multiple occasions without any noticeable data slowdown. I know…we have been pretty shocked as well!
Total Verizon Wireless Cost?
As I mentioned, the Unlimited Data plan through Verizon has a sticker price of $11o per month. When you tack on the line access fees ($20 per device), we hit a grand total of $210 per month to cover the vast majority of our data needs. (Note: This monthly total does not include device payments.)
So is this everything we need? Well, sort of.
Solution #3 – weBoost Drive 4G & 5G Phone Signal
Before we hit the road, I still felt pretty clueless about the internet for RVers game.
With everything else I had on my plate (as a complete newbie to RVing and towing, with selling the house, etc.), I simply had to set this on the back burner in order to not blow a gasket.
I figured we would just have to get it figured out as we hit the road and encountered connection problems. I couldn’t find the optimal solution without any experience on the road.
Essentially, I did not want to be throwing away good money on technology we might not even need! That’s reasonable, right?
But I knew I needed to have something in place for the “rough spots” we would inevitably hit.
Enter the weBoost Drive Sleek to give us a little bit of peace of mind. This device is designed to boost a cell tower signal up to 32x when you find yourself in a spot with a weak (but existing) signal.
You should be aware of two things about this device before considering a purchase:
- If you have ZERO signal from your cell service provider in a location, this will not be useful. It boosts an existing, weak signal. So it will not solve all of your RV internet connection problems.
- This product is a cradle for boosting only one device at a time. You can place a cell phone or a mobile hotspot in the cradle in order to boost the cell signal to only that device.
This device got us through the first six months on the road. It was not ideal for our situation obviously, since we had 5-6 cellular devices in the RV at any time. But we made it work even through the rough spots.
I never did gather “empirical” data (testing connection speeds with and without the signal booster) on this device, but it did seem to get us to functional and allowed us to get work done when the connection was worse than we would have preferred.
But eventually, we needed something a bit “beefier” that was capable of boosting the cell signal for multiple devices simultaneously.
Solution #4 – weBoost Drive 4G-M Vehicle Cell Phone Booster
For us, the next logical signal boosting option that would work in our 26-ft travel trailer was the weBoost Drive 4G-M.
I’ll be honest, this option was enticing, but it’s pricey by comparison. What flipped my decision to spend the extra money was a promotional offer.
Like many of the essential RV accessories we purchased, we bought this on Amazon. Keep a look out for Prime Day and other discount seasons, such as around the holidays.
With this new cell phone signal booster, everyone in the family benefits. We can all simultaneously receive a boosted signal. That’s a major advantage for enabling everyone to stay productive and still get all of us out of the RV in time for a nice afternoon hike.
Other Similar Cell Signal Boosting Solutions That Might Work for You
weBoost makes other cell signal booster products that might be a better fit for you and your RV.
We were not able to consider something like the more powerful and more expensive weBoost Drive Reach RV because of the smaller size of our travel trailer (26 feet long).
Essentially, if you place the external antenna (pulling in the weaker cell signal) and the internal antenna (broadcasting the boosted cell signal inside the RV) too close together, you will experience frequency modulation.
Frequency modulation means that these two signals are interfering with each other because of their strength and proximity to each other. In essence, you will lose any “boosting” benefit that the device is trying to provide.
If you have a 5th wheel or Class A motorhome that is closer to 35 or 40 feet in length, the Drive Reach RV model may be the right choice and provide you with maximum boost. Please do your own research before making a purchase to ensure the product is compatible with your rig.
Solution #5 – Lightning Digital AV Adapter for iPhone or iPad
All of the solutions and devices I’ve covered so far would definitely fall under the “necessities” category. They all get us up and running and able to get our work done with a reasonable amount of predictability.
But Solution #5, (which we mentioned in our previous RV Tour post) although it has been very nice to have, definitely falls under the “conveniences” category. It is not absolutely necessary, but it is a great addition for family entertainment purposes.
The Apple iPhone to HDMI Adapter can be purchased on Amazon or at an Apple store. It simply allows you to connect your iPhone or iPad to an external screen via HDMI cable in order to display video on the external screen without using Hotspot data; it only uses regular data via your iPhone or iPad.
And as an added bonus, you are also able to charge your device through the adapter while streaming your favorite movie or show. How cool and convenient is that?
So, family movie night is back on in this RV! And it can be in yours also…woohoo!
You Can Get Faster Speeds (and Spend Much More)
Here’s the truth: We probably have done less to prepare ourselves for a reliable internet connection than most full-time families out there. I am basing this conclusion on conversations we have had with many of them over the past year.
Many families have data plans with at least two different cellular carriers. The top two carriers for overall coverage and for popularity are definitely Verizon and AT&T.
From what I understand, Sprint and T-Mobile continue to trail behind the other two carriers. They still don’t have nationwide reach, particularly when it comes to the more remote areas.
Having more than one carrier allows you to explore an alternative when you hit an area that has poor coverage for your primary carrier. And this makes sense for many families.
Additional Resources for Information on RV Internet Connections
If you are considering hitting the road, I encourage you to go take a peek at the Coverage? app, created by the same folks who run Technomadia and the Mobile Internet Resource Center . Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard are hardcore techies! They cover everything you could ever want to know (and more) about staying connected on the road.
They offer lots of information. Much of it is free. They also offer a premium level. With premium, you can access all the minutiae and nitty gritty details about getting connected and staying connected.
Don’t Forget WiFi Connections
In addition to boosting and expanding your cellular plan, be sure to explore WiFi connectivity options. Establishing your WiFi options will help you stay connected without relying solely on multiple cellular carriers.
There are many WiFi signal boosting devices designed to help you to take advantage of free internet connections. You will be connected in no time at campgrounds, libraries, and even some mall parking lots.
These RV Internet Solutions Will Keep You Connected from an RV
When you work remotely and use that opportunity to also travel extensively, an internet connection is a priority. It’s critical in order to stay connected and remain productive. There is no doubt about that.
But don’t worry, we don’t work all the time! Probably less than we should, honestly. (But that’s a different post.)
Hopefully I shed a bit of light on the best way to stay connected from an RV. It is possible to be both productive AND entertained during your time on the open road.
You probably still have a lot of work before finalizing your decision. We wish you the best of luck finding the best RV Internet solution! And with that, I will wrap this up and let you dive in.
But after that research phase, remember to get outside, enjoy the sunshine, and keep on TREKKN!
Todd loves a competitive game of table tennis, a breathtaking hike, and exploring new places. He lived and traveled in an RV with his family as they traveled throughout much of the US and parts of Canada. Todd has extensive knowledge about RV travel, safety, and accessories and has shared many of his stories here on TREKKN. When he’s not busy launching and building small businesses, you may find him staring at pictures of Glacier National Park (probably his favorite spot on earth).