Part Time RV Mobile Internet Needs
RVing and boating are great ways to vacation for a long weekend or an extended sessional adventure. However part time RV and boat travels presents challenges when trying to consider a reliable mobile internet setup.
Remote work makes it possible for many people to work from just about anywhere you can get an internet connection. This makes extended RVing and boating trips even more appealing - you can combine adventure, travel, and daily life.
Internet options for mobile RV and boat travels are very different than home or office-based options. For full-time RVers and Cruisers, it's likely worthwhile to invest in gear and data plans that keep them connected year-round.
But part-time, seasonal or vacation RV and boat travel presents some unique challenges for mobile internet that should be carefully considered.
Short-term or sporadic RV travel combined with a need for a reliable mobile internet setup can be one of the more complicated challenges we guide on here at the Mobile Internet Resource Center.
The occasional nomad will need to balance costs and complexity with inconsistent needs. You'll need to weigh the need to pay for data plans that you don't use all of the time, expensive gear that you don't use year round and reassessing your setup with each trip.
This guide is meant to address the unique perspective of part-time RV travel in relation to mobile internet setups.
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Part Time RV Mobile Internet Video Overview
A quick video that recaps some of the challenges and some tips for mobile internet for part-time RV and boat travelers.
Challenges of a Part-Time RV Mobile Internet Set-Up
When you have a fixed location, getting hooked up with the best internet solution is typically pretty straightforward. You subscribe to whatever is the best option at your location.
A mobile lifestyle by RV or boat, however, presents some unique mobile internet considerations that require more thought and planning to make sure you're covered where you want to be.
You need to be prepared for the reality that what gets you online at one location may not work as well when you move to a new location.
You'll have to weigh how many options are practical for your own personal mobile internet needs.
For those hitting the road year-round, it makes a lot of sense to invest in gear that can enhance and support your mobile internet needs. This can include investing in multiple data plans that provide redundancy, large swaths of coverage, and large buckets of data.
However, it may not make sense for a part time RV or boat traveler to make those sorts of investments in gear and plans for their only occasionally used mobile internet setup.
Also investing the time to dive into research and education on navigating the challenges of keeping connecting in a variety of locations is something to consider. Part time RV and boat travelers will need to keep updated before each trip, as mobile internet options are constantly changing.
A part time nomad will need to make some mobile internet compromises to balance their intermittent RV travel travels with their mobile internet needs.
Compounding Gear & Plan Costs
Most part-time RV and boat nomads will be maintaining both a traditional stationary internet option at their residence, in addition to a mobile internet solution for when they are on the go.
Both internet set-ups will likely require separate equipment and data plans. And that equipment will age and become more and more obsolete between each trip.
Investing in devices and data plans for each situation may incur start-up costs.
There may also be re-activation costs each time you want to pause and turn a plan back on. Or you may have ongoing plan costs even when you aren't using them. Some attractive data plans might retire, and pausing them could mean losing them.
Determining Your Mobile Internet Needs
We hear the phrase "I need a reliable mobile internet solution" often. But just what does the term "reliable" mean to you?
Mobile internet comes with many challenges - varying signal strengths, coverage maps from the different cellular carriers, data caps, network management, throttling, and poorly configured campground Wi-Fi networks. Just to name a few.
No matter how you slice it, setting up a mobile internet setup that is reliable everywhere you go is a challenge.
A part time RV or boat traveler will need to consider that you'll only need a mobile internet set up a certain amount of time each year. It means you'll have to balance the costs and effort you put towards a mobile internet solution.
You'll likely have to make some compromises in either costs or connectivity to find the right balance.
Before trying to come up with the best setup, we recommend taking a step back and assessing what your part time RV mobile internet needs really are.
When you're used to an always-on, unlimited, and fast cable connection - you may not have really thought some of the questions that come in to play with a part-time solution, such as:
- Do you really need fast speeds all of the time, or just some of the time?
- Do you have to be accessible 24/7? Or can you go a day or two with just a faint signal, or needing to to go to a different location to get a better signal?
- Can you check e-mail while in town or while parked at a campground with negligible Wi-Fi, or do you need a consistent fast signal all workday long from your RV or boat?
- What do you need to do online? The data needs for two-way video calls are a lot more demanding than basic web surfing.
- Do you need unlimited data, or can you manage with data caps?
- Will you really wither away if you can't stream Netflix tonight, or scroll mindlessly through Facebook?
- Can you get by with doing more tasks on a cellular-connected smartphone or tablet (where "unlimited" plans are more accessible), or do you really need to do everything on your laptop and use mobile hotspot data?
- Do you have a set destination in mind, or you can pick a campground or location where you know you'll be more likely to have a good cellular signal?
If you can determine what your minimum viable connectivity needs are - you'll be better prepared to determine what compromises you can make in your setup.
Here are some further guides to explore on these topics:
Flexibility is Key
For part-time RV and boat travel, flexibility with your mobile internet needs is key.
Flexibility in the mobile internet options you select, in your own approach to using them, and maybe even on the location you choose to visit.
You should be prepared for the variability of mobile internet. There will be good days and really bad days. Redundancy is a common approach for full and most-time nomads so that there are multiple options to tap into at each location.
However for shorter trips, you may not be able to justify having multiple options on board. It just may not be practical to have data plans on all the carriers, purchase expensive signal enhancing gear, or even to spend the time to understand all of these factors.
So make sure your expectations are realistic.
Unless you spend the time and money to understand the challenges, you might arrive at a new location and not be able to get online with the options you have. This can be particularly frustrating if you have work deliverables, and you end up spending more time trying to get a stable connection than you are enjoying your travels.
Flexibility is also the name of the game when considering the options you bring on board. It's just not going to make sense for someone who goes out RVing a couple of weeks a year to pay for an expensive monthly data plan active that you may only occasionally use.
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Seeking Out Flexible Part Time RV Internet Options
For part-time RV and boat travel needs, you'll want to assemble an arsenal of mobile internet solutions for maximum flexibility. From avoiding contracts, utilizing Wi-Fi sources, and equipment selection tips - this section will help you find suitable options. It even includes our curated list of flexible cellular data plans that can be more easily paused when not needed.
Cellular Data Plan Maintenance
If you've managed to capture a rare unicorn of a data plan - you may find you need to keep it active year-round, even if you don't use it year-round. This section goes over how to protect your rare plans - and tips for snagging sweet plans even when you're not actively traveling
Using Mobile Internet Year Round
Some part-timers standardize on a mobile setup that they use year-round, even at their stationary home base. This section covers some special considerations for this.
Part Time RV & Boat Mobile Internet Conclusions
Creating a part-time RV and boat mobile internet arsenal takes some research and a thorough consideration of your personal travel lifestyle needs. Building an arsenal that fits within your lifestyle is attainable.
The occasional nomad needs to balance complexity and costs with inconsistent needs.
We recommend beginning research and build-out of your arsenal no less than a month before you launch into a mobile lifestyle - even a part-time mobile lifestyle - if you require consistent internet access.
Use the info provided in this guide, and further research specific needs (such as Working From the Road) and pertinent gear and topics (such as Wi-Fi extending) to build a flexible mobile internet arsenal that works for you.
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