Tips for Luxury RVers Who Want to Stay Connected While on the Road
If you’re like most people, you don’t want to fully disconnect from the world when you hit the road with your luxury RV. Remote work has grown in popularity in recent years and many people have discovered the joys of working from literally anywhere – so long as they can get on the internet. The good news is that there is some really amazing technology that allows you to stay connected from just about any location. To help you find the mobile internet solution that works best for your needs, we’ve put together some tips and tricks used by RV pros who know how to stay connected safely from the comfort of their RV.
Wander Wisely on Wi-Fi
There are three primary ways to connect to the internet from your RV. Many RV parks promote their free Wi-Fi, so while that may seem like the perfect solution, there are some things you need to know before you go.
Campground Wi-Fi is usually unbearably slow due to the number of other RVers using the bandwidth for streaming, gaming, or checking social media. Plus, depending on where the Wi-Fi repeater is located, there may not be enough signal strength to reach your campsite. In other words, the reliability you need if you’re working remotely from your luxury travel trailer just isn’t there if you’re depending on the campground Wi-Fi. You could invest in a Wi-Fi amplifier to boost a weak signal and that may be enough to get you on the web. It won’t however solve speed issues, nor will it solve the significant security risks posed by logging on to the RV park’s Wi-Fi.
Campground Wi-Fi systems are public; you should treat them just like you’d treat the Wi-Fi in your favorite coffee shop. Don’t think that just because it has a password it’s secure. That password has been handed out to every RVer that’s ever checked in – and it may not have been changed in years. Like many public Wi-Fi systems, the one in the campground is likely not encrypted, meaning that bad actors could see every piece of data that your devices send and receive. Even with encryption, there’s no guarantee of a secure or legit connection. Here are a few of the risks you run when using a campground Wi-Fi:
- Hackers can use “man-in-the-middle” attacks to trick you into logging on to the wrong network, which puts your information at risk.
- Your personal information like login credentials, financial information, personal data, and pictures are at risk – hackers could gain access to everything stored on your computer.
- Just like there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there’s really no such thing as free Wi-Fi. You may not be paying for access, but someone is likely getting paid – by tracking your user and search data to sell to advertisers.
- Malware can be planted on your device and viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, or adware can create chaos.
So, we’ve established that campground Wi-Fis are not the way to go, especially if you want to do any online banking, take a Zoom call, or go off grid where there are no amenity filled campgrounds. That’s fine for a weekend trip when you can disconnect from the office and your real life for a couple of days, but we live in a digital age and remote work is more popular than ever. Fortunately, there are solutions that enable you to safely log in and conduct business as if you were sitting in your office, not boondocking in your RV.
Your Own Cellular Network
One of the most popular technology solutions that luxury RVers turn to for a strong, secure internet connection is their cell phone’s data plan. You can quickly and easily turn your mobile phone into a hotspot that will grant internet access to your laptop, tablet, or other devices. This is a great solution if you’re on an unlimited data plan, though keep in mind that using your phone’s hotspot will drain your phone’s battery life more quickly. You can also connect a jetpack or other mobile hotspot device to your cell plan and accomplish the same thing. Often, RVers will have cell plans with two different U.S. carriers to maximize their coverage area. Before you select your providers, take a good look at their coverage maps and make sure that you’ll have service in the places you want to travel. With careful planning you can make sure Verizon has coverage where AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile does not, so you’ll always be connected.
There are some remote areas in the U.S. where cell coverage is still dicey – Yellowstone National Park is one great example. The park is packed with amazing sites and wild animals, but cell coverage is limited, at best. This is another case of knowing before you go so you can plan your Zoom calls for days when you’ll have good coverage.
To help stay connected in areas where they only have one or two bars, many experienced RVers invest in a cellular booster. Cell phone signal boosters find a weak cellular signal, strengthen and amplify it, and broadcast it to the devices in your RV. A good booster could get you one or two extra bars, but keep in mind, if you’re too far away from the cell tower and there’s no signal to boost, you’re going to have to make other plans to connect.
Cellular signal boosters are key for those that love to take their luxury travel trailers off grid. So long as you can connect to a cell phone tower and can plug the booster’s power supply into your inverter, you can boondock and still be connected. This means that your office truly can be anywhere your RV can go.
You tend to get what you pay for with these devices and high-end aftermarket cell phone signal booster kits can run north of $600. Depending on the model, you may need to install an external antenna on the roof or side of your RV. But a better booster means a stronger signal and faster connection speeds. If you’re working from your RV, a high quality cellular booster will save you both time and frustration. It also provides you with your own closed network that’s secure. This is why we include a cellular booster in every Terra Firma and Endless Highways Performance Edition. We’re committed to providing you with the technology you need to surf the web, meet with clients, or conduct the most sensitive tasks.
Mobile Routers with Embedded Modems
Another popular and secure internet solution among luxury RVers is the use of a mobile router with an embedded modem. This is a more robust version of the cellular data solution discussed above. Rather than using your cell phone as a hot spot, you purchase SIM cards from your preferred carriers and plug those into the embedded modem that is mounted in your RV. Every Bowlus includes a mobile router with an embedded 4G modem that will accept up to two cellular devices. This is a good way to maximize unlimited data on multiple plans, especially if one carrier throttles your speed after a certain amount of data is used each month. It’s also a powerful solution if you need to have a multi-user set up in your RV.
Other Solutions on the Horizon
There are some satellite internet services available for campers, but they tend to be more cumbersome and less reliable. Elon Musk’s Starlink service is one that many RVers have their eyes on. Musk’s SpaceX has launched thousands of satellites into low-earth orbit to create a satellite constellation. His goal is to deliver internet services to even the most remote places on earth. The system is live, but there’s a waitlist in most areas as the number of users is limited by the number of satellites. While it’s designed for stationary use, we have heard of some RVers that are using the Starlink system during their travels. There are options to set the dish up on a stand rather than attaching it to your motorhome or travel trailer. The company promises data speeds upwards of 150 mbps, but Starlink isn’t a perfect solution because there are some limitations for folks who like to camp in the woods – you have to have a clear view of the sky. But, as it becomes more widely available, this could be another great tool for RVers who want to stay connected and see the country.