Ah, the internet, whether you like to admit it or not, it has become one of the modern-day life essentials that allows us to watch TV/streaming, keep in contact with friends/family, keep the kids entertained, and maybe even do some work on occasion!
In the RV world, it’s no different, for many of us the need for a reliable internet connection while on the move or even stationary in an RV park is very important so we decided to put together a helpful guide on how to get internet in an RV, and the best options for fulltime RV’ers.
The best ways to get Internet in your RV include using public Wi-Fi and free Internet from public places, using a cellular hotspot, mobile data hotspot, satellite Internet, cable or DSL, as well as Wi-Fi provided by RV parks.
Let’s take a much closer look at each of these options and exactly what they entail so you can figure out what works best for you, and your family.
5 Best Ways To Get Internet In RV’s
Whether you need to work, or it’s just for play, there are a variety of ways to get Internet in your RV. Let’s talk about the five best ways to get Internet in your RV.
1. Public WIFI and Free Internet Options
One of the simplest ways to get Internet in your RV is to use some sort of Internet access, such as a public Wi-Fi signal. For instance, there are many coffee shops and Internet cafes out there.
Sure, you usually have to go inside these places to use their Internet, but this is not always the case. If you park your RV close enough to one of these coffee shops that has Wi-Fi, the signal will probably reach your RV.
Now, that being said, you will usually need the password. This is usually labeled somewhere on the inside of the coffee shop, usually near the counter. You generally have to make a purchase, such as a single coffee, to get this password. There are plenty of places like this where you can get free Internet.
Other examples include public libraries, university commons, and other such areas. Many of these areas feature free Wi-Fi signals that have decent ranges. Now, there may be some security risks associated with these institutions, as their Internet is quite open.
That being said, you can still access the Internet as long as you’re close enough. No, you probably don’t want to use any kind of public Internet for online banking and other such purposes. However, for basic Internet surfing, it will do the trick. If you are taking a break from driving, it’s a great thing to take advantage of.
However, of course, if you are in the middle of driving, then this is not going to be an option. Using free public Internet of this sort is only possible if you are stationary beside the Internet source.
2. Using a Mobile Hotspot or Cellular Phone Hotspot
The next way to get Internet in your RV is to use some sort of mobile or cellular signal hotspot. Now, a few years ago, using a cellular hotspot was ridiculously expensive and used an unimaginable amount of data. For most people, this was simply unfeasible.
Depending on who your cellular data provider is, these costs may still be very high. Of course, if you have unlimited cellular data, then this is a great option to consider. If you have unlimited data, you don’t need to worry about using too much Internet and then incurring massive overage costs.
Moreover, modern 5G and 4G cellular networks are very reliable, so they can provide you with great high speed Internet.
What is also advantageous about using any kind of mobile hotspot is the fact that you can use your Internet on the go while driving in your RV. This is unlike using free public Wi-Fi that is tethered to a certain location such as a coffee shop.
Something that you do however need to consider is that mobile hotspots and cellular hotspots are not always reliable. For instance, if you were driving through tunnels, mountainous ranges, or just through areas where providers don’t have many signal towers, you’re going to have trouble getting Internet.
Generally speaking, there’s just not that much you can do about this. However, there are devices known as cellular boosters, which can boost the signal.
Technically speaking, they don’t actually boost the signal, but they do allow your devices to get a signal from greater distances. If you are planning to be on the go a lot in your RV, then using either a cellular or mobile hotspot is definitely a good option to consider.
3. Cable Internet or DSL
Cable or DSL Internet is most likely what you have in your stationary home. This is the standard kind of Internet that most people have, but of course, it requires you to stay in one place.
In other words, a physical cable is required to bring you the Internet. Therefore, if you are on the go all the time, then a cable or DSL connection is probably not best for you.
However, if you use your RV as a home that you stay in for months or even years on end, or if you stay at campgrounds, then using a cable Internet connection is certainly an option.
There are even some systems that allow you to have a home base for the DSL in your RV, as well as a secondary receiver in another vehicle that you can use to roam around the surrounding area, to a certain extent.
Now, the big advantage here is that a hard-wired Internet connection is going to be very secure, much more secure than any kind of wireless or mobile connection. If you need reliable high-speed Internet at all times, this is a great option to consider.
Generally speaking, the rates or costs for this kind of Internet are fairly low as well. Of course, to do this, you are actually going to need a modem or a router inside of your RV.
If you are planning to visit an RV park for any period of time, although generally better for a prolonged period of time, some of these places may even provide you with cable or DSL Internet connectivity options that you can pay for through the RV park.
Many places even have seasonal subscriptions for cable Internet access and for cable based wireless networks.
4. Using a Satellite Internet Option
Another option that you have at your disposal to get Internet in your RV is by using a satellite connection. Satellite Internet connections used to be extremely popular back in the day, especially before cable lines were laid throughout the countryside.
Satellite Internet was a great way for people in rural areas to still get Internet. Something to keep in mind here is that satellite is a good option to consider if you are on the go a lot and need an Internet connection that will function in many places. With that being said, for Internet satellites to function properly, you do need to be in fairly open areas.
For instance, mountains and trees are not going to do you any favors here. If you are in a heavily wooded area, satellite Internet might not work very well. In some cases, satellite Internet may be fairly slow, which can be frustrating if you are trying to watch movies or do something that requires high Internet speeds.
Moreover, this kind of satellite Internet is generally best used when you are stationary. The reason for this is that you really can’t have your satellite dish set up on your RV while you are flying down the highway doing 60 mph. That satellite dish is going to break, or it might even rip off due to high wind speeds.
Therefore, if you plan on being stationary a lot, then satellite is a good way to go. Do keep in mind however that the cost for satellite Internet can be fairly high, especially because you also need to get the satellite and the mount.
Moreover, if you are on the go a lot, having to detach the satellite from the roof of your RV every time you hit the road can be kind of a pain.
5. Using RV Park WIFI
The other option that you might have at your disposal here, depending on the RV park that you plan on going to, is using the Wi-Fi provided by the RV park. RV park Wi-Fi is usually not the most affordable, although it’s not quite as expensive as paying full time for a satellite connection or something similar.
That said, you will therefore need to install a Wi-Fi router in your RV to gain access to the signal from the RV park.
Moreover, you may definitely want to use some kind of range extender or booster, as the Wi-Fi signals in RV parks aren’t always that great, this is best if you are stationary.
Obviously, if you are on the go and driving down the highway, you won’t be able to access the Wi-Fi of an RV park.
Mobile Hotspot vs Cellular Phone Hotspot
An important distinction to make here is between a cellular phone hotspot and a mobile hotspot. With a cellular phone hotspot, you are using your cellular phone and your cellular phone data to power your Internet.
Using this, you can then connect a laptop or any other such device. If we are talking about a mobile hotspot, this is a special little device that allows you to connect to a 4G or 5G network, and then connect that to your laptop or computer. The difference here is that a simple mobile hotspot does not have any of the functions or features of a cell phone.
The difference here is generally going to have to do with costs and data allowances. For instance, with your cellular data, the data costs are going to be quite significant. Moreover, the Internet may be somewhat slow at times.
What you also need to be aware of is that using a mobile hotspot from your cell phone also drains the battery quite significantly. A phone is going to die rather quickly if you are using it to create a small mobile hotspot.
Using a dedicated mobile hotspot will usually be more cost effective, especially in terms of monthly data costs. These mobile hotspot plans do usually also come with more data allowances than a regular cellular plan does.
Moreover, using a dedicated mobile hotspot will not force you to drain the battery on your phone just for an Internet connection. Do however keep in mind that for some mobile hotspot data plans, you may pay an outrageous amount of money.
Therefore, the best thing that we can recommend here is to compare the costs and data allowances between the cellular hotspot that you could use with your cell phone compared to a dedicated mobile hotspot connection.
What’s The Best Internet Option For Full-time RVers?
The best option for you to get Internet in your RV is really going to depend on what your purposes are.
For instance, if you are planning to be on the go all the time and you need a reliable connection no matter where you are, whether you are in the middle of driving or not, then using either a mobile hotspot or a cellular data hotspot is recommended.
Yes, this might be fairly expensive, but it’s also going to be one of the only ways to get reliable Internet while you are driving.
If you just need occasional Internet access when you are apart, then using some sort of free public Wi-Fi or the Wi-Fi from an Internet cafe or coffee shop is definitely a possibility. Obviously, you won’t have Internet on the go, but you might not need it.
If you want to have Internet no matter where you go, but having it while you are driving is not necessary, then satellite Internet is the best option for you.
Another reliable stationary source of Internet is of course if you get yourself a cable modem, although this is really only an option if you plan on parking your RV in the same spot for many months on end. You will have to get a cable Internet subscription and have a cable connection, a physical connection.
Of course, using WIFI at an RV park is always an option to consider as well, although some parks don’t have it. Those parks that do have WIFI may have unreliable signals.
As you can see, the best course of action for you really does depend on your circumstances and your needs.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Internet In An RV?
Once again, how much it is going to cost to get Internet in your RV will depend on the type of Internet you go for and who your provider is. For instance, in the USA, you can get DSL or cable Internet from $20 a month upwards, up to around $60 per month, it’s not a huge cost, and the Internet is very reliable.
If we are talking about satellite Internet, then things do look a bit different. Satellite Internet is usually going to cost you around $79 per month and up, up to $100 or even $120 per month.
This of course does depend on the provider. Do keep in mind that you will then also need to purchase the satellite and the mounting hardware, which can also cost several hundred dollars. That said, with satellite, the bonus is of course that you don’t need a physical cable connection.
If we are talking about cellular data and using a cellular hotspot, then the costs can be fairly high. If you want unlimited cellular data to make a hotspot with, your phone plan may end up costing you several $100 per month.
With a mobile hotspot and a dedicated mobile hotspot device, you are looking at anywhere from $80 per month to $120 per month. As you can see, the unfortunate reality is that getting Internet in your RV is not particularly cheap.
What’s The Best Satellite Internet For RV’s?
All three of these providers feature fairly similar Internet packages as well as costs for the initial hardware. Keep in mind that due to a fairly limited amount of competition, these providers are not cheap.
However, a much newer and more modern option to consider is Elon musk’s Starlink Internet satellite system. With that said, this Internet is only available in select parts of the USA and Canada, although the availability in terms of geographical areas is slowly expanding.
Do RV Parks Usually Provide Free Wi-Fi Access?
The answer to this is both yes and no. Some RV parks will offer free Wi-Fi access, whereas some others will make you pay for it. Some may make you pay for it separately, and some may feature the cost of the Wi-Fi included with your initial campground fees.
There are of course lower end campgrounds that may not have any Wi-Fi access at all. This really just depends on the exact RV campground in question.
There you have it folks, everything that you need to know about how to get Internet in your RV. As you can see, there are quite a few options to consider, so we recommend taking your time to look at all of the options in more detail to work out what works best for your situation.