Going Mobile: Tips! Stay Connected on the Road
Mobility is one of the biggest draws for owning and using an RV — you can go anywhere and do anything. But just because you’re out and about, doesn’t mean that you don’t want to stay connected with friends and family and the goings-on back home. That’s why having internet access is essential to life on the road.
Many RV parks, and businesses — ranging from cafes to libraries — offer free Internet wireless connections to customers. Typically, all that’s required to log on is that you are in range of the signal. Be careful, though, about accessing the Internet in this manner. Most free hotspots don’t offer secure online access. That means it’s easier for hackers to snoop into your privacy. Online activities that reveal personal financial information — such as banking or shopping — should be avoided.
Simply tethering your laptop or tablet to your smartphone is the most economical and straightforward option for staying connected on the road. “Tethering” means broadcasting your phone’s cellular data signal (3G, 4G, whatever) as a Wi-Fi signal, and letting other electronics (like your laptop or tablet) piggyback off your data connection. If your phone supports tethering, you basically have a Wi-Fi router in your pocket. Once you’re up and broadcasting, tethering your mobile device to your phone is usually as simple as looking for the new Wi-Fi signal and entering a password if required.
For RVers traveling to locations with spotty phone signal, fear not, you can still get high-speed internet via satellite internet. To take advantage of satellite internet, you will need an antenna and transmit-and-receive electronics, along with a connection to a dish that can be mounted on a tripod or on the roof of your RV. The equipment connects by coaxial cable to the Indoor Receive Unit (IRU) and Indoor Transmit Unit (ITU), which you connect to your wireless router to give you WiFi in your RV. HughesNet, Exede, and dishNET are the top-rated satellite internet service providers with fees starting at $29.99 a month.
Now that you’re hooked up, here are a couple of accessories to make your mobile experience more enjoyable.
As anyone who props a laptop on an actual lap knows, computers can get hot. The Sofia + Sam Multi Tasking Memory Foam Lap Desk ($44.99 on Amazon) will shield your lap from your laptop’s heat, and also includes a slide out mouse deck, built in USB task light and cellphone holder.
It’s likely your RV has power outlets into which you plug your computer charger. What it might be lacking are the narrow USB slots for powering things like cell phone, tablets and games. The easiest solution is an adapter that will plug into the standard electrical socket. Cable Matters makes a great little unit that features three regular outlets, dual USB ports, and a surge suppressor to protect your valuable devices from power spikes.