Last Updated on July 17, 2021 by Jessica
If you’re like me and the internet is your lifeline for work and staying connected with friends and family, then knowing the best RV internet options was a necessity.
For the first year on the road, getting my internet situation in order was a true struggle. Learn from my pain, so you don’t have to go through your own.
Continue reading this article to learn how to get internet in an RV.
- 1 Best RV Internet Options for RVers that Want to Stay Connected
- 2 Satellite Internet
- 3 Pros:
- 4 Cons:
- 5 Cellular Data
- 6 Pros:
- 7 Cons:
- 8 Public WiFi
- 9 Pros:
- 10 Cons:
- 11 DSL or Cable
- 12 Pros:
- 13 Cons:
- 14 How Do You Use the Internet?
- 15 What Is the Cost of Internet for RVers?
- 16 Tips for RV Internet Usage
- 17 How Do You Get a Better Signal for Your Internet & Cell Phones?
- 18 Best RV Internet Options Frequently Asked Questions
- 19 What Should I Do Next?
Best RV Internet Options for RVers that Want to Stay Connected
There are a variety of internet options for RVing nomads, but some are far better than others, and some won’t work because it’s not a fit for you.
Below, I will explain your options and then give you some tips so you can find the right option to keep you online.
When many people first hit the road, they might think satellite internet is one of the best RV internet options – but that’s not the case. Or, at least, it isn’t the case just yet.
I already knew satellite internet could be the pits because I had it at a sticks and bricks location.
Quick website browsing time? Probably not.
Checking your emails with ease? Kind of.
Video chatting without looking like you come off the movie Pixels? No way.
If you’re out boondocking and it’s the only way you can do it, then you work with what you have.
The one big problem is that satellite internet can be super-pricey. The equipment you have to buy can be thousands of dollars if you want to get the dish you mount to your roof.
You also have to think about the height that adds to your rig.
Many people who get satellite internet for their RV choose to get a tripod to set their satellite dish on to move it around, so it isn’t as expensive. Being able to move your dish around can be important—especially if you want to be able to park your RV under some trees. You have to have a clear view of the sky to get the signal to and from your dish.
- Can have internet anywhere
- Feel safe in even the remotest locations
- Very slow internet speeds
- Costly equipment
- Can be a hassle to set up every time you move
- Data is very expensive
When it comes to the best RV internet options, cellular data is by far the most popular option—and for good reason.
I’ve tried out a few different options and finally found one that gave me everything I needed.
My husband, myself, and our teenager all had WiFi hotspots on our phones. We have Verizon, and they worked well until the throttling started. Think fast loading video content to waiting 5 minutes for a few minutes of video to load. Face palm.
Question: What is throttling?
Answer: Throttling is when your provider limits your internet because you’re getting too wild with the usage.
We had “unlimited” data, but there was a little note in the terms that they would throttle it after 15G. With us watching videos on our data, that was gone pretty quickly, so we had to find another solution.
What we did was buy two Verizon hotspot devices. That would give us 15 more GB x 2, so 30 extra GB per month. That worked out pretty well, but since I work online, it still wasn’t enough.
What did work was an AT&T device off of eBay. It was a device I had to buy and then pay less than $100 a month pay as you go to the seller for unlimited 4G.
Check out the unlimited AT&T data plan options here.
**If you purchase from the link above, I may get a small commission from helping you out. Thanks for supporting the blog so I can bring you more helpful content**
Just to give you an idea of how much this helped us, we were able to operate all of this simultaneously on the WiFi provided by this one little box with no throttling.
- 50 inch Roku TV
- 3-4 cell phones/tablets
Sometimes my oldest even took it and tethered it to his computer so he could play online games.
Make sure you read the terms on the one you choose to buy to get the same good results.
Also, keep in mind that you might want to have a couple of service providers. We still kept the Verizon hotspots because there were a few times when AT&T just wouldn’t pick up. However, when we added an extender, it did help a little bit. More on that later.
- Not too pricey
- Can be super fast
- Easy to access
- Low maintenance
- Might not pick up signals in remote locations
If you plan on being around resorts a lot, then you might think you can survive off of public WiFi at the campground or that you can head into the city to an internet cafe. Yes, those things can work, but you need to be careful.
Public WiFi is not secure, and it is easy to hack. People can easily harvest your data, so make sure you do not do any online banking while you’re on a public connection.
There are a lot of options when it comes to public WiFi. The campground you stay at might have free WiFi, but many of the resorts charge you a fee to use it, and then it could be really slow.
Keep in mind that the metal RVs between you and the internet signal could cause your connection to creep. And the more people in the RV park using the internet—the slower it will go.
If you want to go into the clubhouse to use free WiFi, it’s not uncommon that there will be many people in there doing puzzles or playing a mean game of pool. If you need peace and quiet to get some work done—this isn’t the best option.
- Sometimes free
- Not secure
- Often slow
- Often only available in common spaces
- Might not reach your RV
DSL or Cable
If you plan on staying put at an RV park and not traveling, you could be able to get DSL and cable just like in a house. Not every place will allow for that, but there are some.
This blog post is mainly meant for mobile RVers, but I did want to mention it.
- Super Fast
- Only can be used if you’re not mobile
Now, before you pick which internet option works for you, it’s important to think about what type of surfer you are. You may not be an internet maniac like myself and my family, so you might not need all of that internet.
Let’s look at some scenarios and see what might work best for you.
How Do You Use the Internet?
People use the internet very differently, and that means you likely have different needs than I do. Keep reading to check it out.
Email & Surfing Only
If you use the internet to check your emails and look up information on weather or other interesting topics, then you don’t need a bunch of GB of data. You’ll likely be okay getting by with your cellular hotspot.
Keep in mind that you still might want to have a couple of different service providers since one might work where another one won’t work.
Streaming Movies & Other Entertainment
If you’re streaming HD movies, you’re looking at 3GB per hour of movie you watch on Netflix. If you watch a movie every night, that’s around 6GB of data off your plan, which is why it’s easy to blast through 15GB of data quickly.
On the other hand, if you’re only streaming a movie once or twice a month, you can still likely get by on a cell phone hotspot or two.
Working from the Road or a Big Family with Lots of Tech
If you’re working from the road, then you can’t skimp on your internet connection. Finding the best RV internet options will keep you from dealing with late projects and missing client calls.
If you’re working from the road, you likely need to have multiple carriers for cellular data on both cell phones and hotspots. You may also want to look into satellite internet depending on how techy you are and if you like to boondock a lot.
Check How Much Data You Already Use
If you are still lost at how much data you need when you’re on the road, there are some easy ways to check this.
One of those ways is by checking with your cell phone company to look at the data you use there. Sometimes you can see this in your phone settings.
You might still be in your sticks and bricks. If you are, you can look at your home internet usage and see how much you use there as well.
Add these together, and this will give you a good idea of how much data you’ll need on the road.
What Is the Cost of Internet for RVers?
Depending on the setup you choose, your internet could cost nothing extra on top of your cellphone plan if you already have a hotspot option. However, as you add devices, the price will increase.
For each hotspot device, it’s usually at least $50 and sometimes more. When you look at satellite internet, the equipment could cost you thousands of dollars. If it’s your only option and you need to keep up with work, then it might be worth it, and you can always ask your tax professional about writing it off as a deduction.
Tips for RV Internet Usage
When I would get to an RV spot and find out I would have to go to the clubhouse to get internet, I couldn’t stand it. It was super annoying and inconvenient. Some spots I would have avoided had I known, and some of these tips can help you make the most of your trips.
- Use apps like Coverage and Campendium to see if there is cellular data coverage where you’re going.
- Know which internet options will work at which spots.
- Boost your signal with a booster or a repeater (see the difference below).
- Understand your plan’s GB and any overage, so there’s no surprise bill.
- Get your favorite DVDs so you can avoid using streaming and save data or just reduce the quality of your video when streaming.
How Do You Get a Better Signal for Your Internet & Cell Phones?
I’ve got good news if you have your internet setup but still don’t quite get the signal you want.
There are ways to get a better signal by adding just one more piece of equipment.
WiFi boosters, extenders, and repeaters all have the same goal. Their goal is to help you get the best internet possible.
- WiFi boosters amplify the existing signal. It pulls on the existing weak WiFi connection.
- WiFi extenders pull the reception from the router before relaying it to your device.
- WiFi repeaters repeat the received signal while the transmission is relayed to a wireless device.
Here are some good options when you want to get a better connection from least pricey to priciest:
Best RV Internet Options Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How much money do I need to budget for RV internet?
Answer: I would recommend at least $100 – $150 if you need to make sure you always have internet. You might find you can make it out cheaper, but it’s unlikely if you’re a heavy user like me.
Question: Can I just use my phone to get internet in my RV?
Answer: Yes. This is one of the most popular options, especially for people that don’t use much data.
Question: What’s the best way to get internet in an RV?
Answer: The best way is the setup that works for you. Mix and match the options above according to your travel style.
What Should I Do Next?
Now that you have all of this information about the best RV internet options, it’s time to get your setup going. If you aren’t ready to do that yet and you have kids, you might want to check out our article about full time RV living with kids.