Finding that secluded spot with no one else around, no sounds, no traffic, no neighbors, and endless beautiful views is an experience like no other.
The electrons cranking out over solar or even a generator; you're a self-sustained entity for a few days or more.
Being off the grid doesn't mean you have to be offline. In fact, some of the best connectivity in the U.S. can be found when not another structure is in sight.
The freedom gained by boondocking or anchoring out in a dispersed location can be addictive. Many nomads, after a successful stay in a secluded area of the desert or an out of sight cove, find themselves scouting our their next off-grid location soon thereafter.
Boondocking involves the art of living for short or long stints in your nomadic rig off the grid. You supply your own power source, and water - and contain your own waste and refuse.
Not all boondocking spots are quiet or secluded; some present other perks, like being low or no cost, having proximity to an area that you desire to explore further, or presenting the opportunity to overnight when no other options are available.
Being off the grid presents with joys - and challenges - including when it comes to staying connected.
Off the Grid Challenges & Joys
Being off-grid is often accompanied by many joys - small and large.
While not always the case, many boondocking or anchoring spots are free of charge or cost very little.
Some boondocking or anchoring spots provide solitude and/or amazing views. Others, like the Walmart of Cracker Barrel parking lots, provide a spot to refuel on sundries. Still others, like the tourist parks that dot areas in Idaho, provide quick access to small-town laundromats and bakeries for a few days.
Often, if a boondocking or anchoring spot is actually 'out in the boonies', it will provide you access to a cellular tower with less congestion than the tower in town. If you're boondocking outside of a business - like Walmart or in a plaza with a Starbucks, you might even get a bit of access to free Wi-Fi. (It's always a good practice to patronize the place if you use their Wi-Fi!)
But, there are also challenges that come with boondocking or anchoring out and maintaining connectivity.
You'll need to be extra cautious of your power levels, monitoring battery charge on smaller devices, and making sure the power source that is supplying any larger devices - like routers - is in a condition to maintain their function.
While the dramatic terrain that sometimes accompanies some of the 'wild' boondocking or anchoring spots is a delight for the eyes, it can be an impedance to the signals that we rely on for connectivity.
And then there are those spots that are wild in both natural features and lack of cellular towers altogether.
Mobile Internet Options
There are three primary ways nomadic RVers and cruisers successfully maintain mobile internet connectivity: cellular, Wi-Fi, and satellite.
We have a fully fleshed out resource section on mobile internet options for those who are just getting started with the possibilities, which we recommend exploring further here:
Each way of connecting will have different applications, advantages, and challenges while off-grid camping that we dive into deeper below.
Member Only Content In This Guide
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From choosing cellular carriers to planning routes around the carriers you have onboard, cellular is the most popular option for staying connected - even amongst those who seek out areas off the beaten path. With the help of signal enhancement - and some research on what to expect and how to react, cellular can often keep you connected.
Wi-Fi might not be an option when you're way off the grid, but for those evenings spent in urban locations - having Wi-Fi extending gear onboard your vessel is a consideration.
Those who dream of anchoring out or boondocking way out off the grid may consider satellite, but should also be aware of the current options - and the future of what to expect.
Off-grid living - even for short periods - requires consideration for your power system, and whether it is ample to support not only your everyday power needs - but also that of your mobile internet system. This section dives into considerations for picking your gear to match your off-grid power setup.
Being off the grid of public amenities presents both joys and challenges, including in the realm of internet connectivity.
The good news: in many places that nomads choose to anchor out or boondock - including those that are truly out of the way - maintaining connectivity is achievable.
With initial and ongoing research, and a willingness to learn and test systems that may be novel to you, you are likely to find yourself streaming and conferencing - or at least emailing and route planning - out in the boondocks.
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