Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Internet Options For 2-month Trip
RV Park Reviews Campground Discussion Forum > RV Park and Campground Discussions > General Chat
rvmamabel
Hi everyone, I know a lot of full-timers and experienced rv'ers read and post, and I'd so appreciate so advice. We are going cross-country this summer for seven weeks. Although I am no technically working, I do need to stay connected to email and have internet access during our trip. I'd need this 2-3 nights/week. I'd also like to be able to have internet access so that I can use this website to pick campgrounds as we near them, check the weather, and keep up with news, and of course, find local Walmarts for emergency layovers.

So, my options appear to be:

1. buy a new phone (probably a droid) and pay for two years of internet access at $30/month for a total cost of about $900 over two years. Benefits: I'd have internet on my phone for 20 months more than I need it and easy internet access while driving. Drawback: expensive, and small device

2. pay for wireless access at campgrounds every week. Guessing this would cost$10 a shot, it's $30/week or more. Benefits: cheapest option. Drawback: can't use internet while driving, which is a huge pain

3. Buy an iPad for $700 and pay for two months of data at $25/month. Benefits: I have an iPad forever, bigger screen so don't have to get annoyed trying to read a dinky phone screen, daughters could play games with so many apps while driving, I can work on line with a half-way decently sized screen. Negatives: $800 total cost

Do you know of other options I haven't considered? Any thoughts? I am trying to keep our costs down of course, but also need to plan ahead intelligently. No pressure either in that we leave in 18 days! Thanks for any help,
m
riggarob
QUOTE(rvmamabel @ Jun 12 2010, 10:08 PM) *

Hi everyone, I know a lot of full-timers and experienced rv'ers read and post, and I'd so appreciate so advice. We are going cross-country this summer for seven weeks. Although I am no technically working, I do need to stay connected to email and have internet access during our trip. I'd need this 2-3 nights/week. I'd also like to be able to have internet access so that I can use this website to pick campgrounds as we near them, check the weather, and keep up with news, and of course, find local Walmarts for emergency layovers.

So, my options appear to be:

1. buy a new phone (probably a droid) and pay for two years of internet access at $30/month for a total cost of about $900 over two years. Benefits: I'd have internet on my phone for 20 months more than I need it and easy internet access while driving. Drawback: expensive, and small device

2. pay for wireless access at campgrounds every week. Guessing this would cost$10 a shot, it's $30/week or more. Benefits: cheapest option. Drawback: can't use internet while driving, which is a huge pain

3. Buy an iPad for $700 and pay for two months of data at $25/month. Benefits: I have an iPad forever, bigger screen so don't have to get annoyed trying to read a dinky phone screen, daughters could play games with so many apps while driving, I can work on line with a half-way decently sized screen. Negatives: $800 total cost

Do you know of other options I haven't considered? Any thoughts? I am trying to keep our costs down of course, but also need to plan ahead intelligently. No pressure either in that we leave in 18 days! Thanks for any help,
m



This is what I did. I went to Radio Shack and got a "Virgin Mobile" broadband card, 99 bucks (it's now on VM's site (www.virginmobile.com/usa) for 80 bucks. You can then buy as much data time as you need, w/o a contract. It works good because it uses Sprints network. Headed to the FMAC Rally in VT at the end of the month, and will fire it up again. Robbie P.S. I have a Sprint smart phone, EVDO 3, and it works great, BUT, when you want to do more than just read emails, it's nice to have a 17" computer screen !!!!
Trentheim
Sprint has something called a MiFi "card" that allows multiple computers to connect to the internet wirelessly. It's a 3g access device that then broadcasts to your computer(s) via wifi. I think Verizon has something like this too, but I'm a Sprint customer and have appreciated from afar this tech.

Most wireless phone companies' have USB type broadband "cards" as well. Verizon has a phone, the Palm Pre Pro that is like a droid (only off steroids) that can also act as a mobile broadband hotspot (which means that you can connect your laptop wherever you are. And if it allows you to plug it into the computer via usb cable, the phone will stay charged while your are on the web.)

So, if you've already got a cell phone, check to see what your own company is offering. (For instance, I know of one provider who is offering the hardware for free and the data plan for additional money.)

I loves me smart phone, but I hates to type on the itsy bitsy teeny weeny keyboard!

Almost forgot... I think Verizon even offers a netbook computer that is 3G. Don't know if it's wifi, but it wouldn't really matter.

JT3

(I am in no way endorsing any of these products for purchase. I just think they're all way cool).
abbygolden
Or, do your research ahead of time and stay in places that offer free wifi. You can also use libraries along your route. If you WANT to spend money, any of the above suggestions would be fine. However, you don't have to spend a cent except under certain cirumstances.
Denali
If you have a Verizon phone you can use it as a modem for $49.99/month, prorated on a daily basis. No contract. Here are the Verizon phones for Internet access.

If you buy a Droid you can buy PdaNet for it for $18.95. That allows you to use the Droid's Internet connection on your laptop. No additional monthly charges. Of course, with any Verizon smartphone, including the Droid, you must subscribe to the $29.99/mo data plan.
Lindsay Richards
Get a WiFi antenna and use free WiFi which you can find much of the time. I have a Radio Labs and put it up on a telescoping pole. It will improve your reception up to 1/2 to 3/4 mile. If you have a cheap inverter and wish to check email or do short surfing, you can almost almost always find an open WiFi. She photo of antenna setup at link below.

http://www.linandnancy.com/cedkeyswan1.html
DXSMac
QUOTE(Lindsay Richards @ Jun 14 2010, 06:19 PM) *

If you have a cheap inverter and wish to check email or do short surfing, you can almost almost always find an open WiFi.


Be careful of an open WiFi called "USAirways." I see it at rest stops a lot. It's a rogue site.

JJ
BJMA
Many RV parks have free wifi, some have pay-to-use wifi.

I have a data plan with my cell phone. When I need to get things off the internet while on the move, I use my cell phone as a modem.

I would plan ahead, I would open a alternate email account and give the address only to the people you want to stay in contact with, one where you do not need to wade through mounts of image files to get to your mail.

Kentucky has a hot spot at each rest area, but it is very expensive to use... may be a scam, I do not know, I refuse to use it.

Cracker Barrels have a wifi hot spot too if you stop for lunch or overnight in the parking lot.
Lindsay Richards
As I remember the KY WiFi in their rest stops is free for 15 minutes, then it costs a bundle. Not too Welcoming to my way of thinking.
Bud in Florida
Check out my post on your other thread. Check out the Palm Pre Plus at Verizon. You get a mobile hot spot feature and they waive the $40/mo charge. You just sign up for minutes and the data bundle. The time you are on internet does not come off your minutes. Great deal and a nice phone
rvmamabel
Well everyone: Topic closure here...I splurged and got a new iPad. It has wireless, plus a monthly data plan I can get for just two months. I'll be able to use it at work, and the kids will be able to play a million games on it in the back seat. Definitely not one of the cheaper options, but probably the most convenient: the phone was the worst option: I'd spend a ton of money and be consigned to dealing with a two inch screen for work and email...forgettaboutit. Wireless data plan was the cheapest option for the laptop...but who wants to carry a laptop in the front seat of the truck all summer...then boot it up just to find the closest Walmart? So, the iPad is a long-term investment, but wow, it sure is a lot of fun. The kids love it! No more playing tic-tac-toe on a cocktail napkin. And most importantly...I can surf this website all summer long!

Thanks for the feedback everyone.
pianotuna
Hi rvmamabel,

AT&T coverage is the smallest of the 3 "majors". I'd rethink my decision about the Ipad unless you have already checked out the coverage maps for the areas that you are planning to visit.

Undoubtedly it is a great piece of technology. But AT&T just doesn't cut the mustard on the coverage map.

Perhaps dragging a laptop along with a Verizon USB cellular modem may be a better option, or at least a "back up" to the Ipad.
John S.
I have the iPad too. It is amazing that it is so small and works. I have now had it for about three weeks and have taken two trips. Worked everywhere so far.
jan-n-john
QUOTE(pianotuna @ Jun 23 2010, 08:53 PM) *


AT&T coverage is the smallest of the 3 "majors". I'd rethink my decision about the Ipad unless you have already checked out the coverage maps for the areas that you are planning to visit.


I haven't compared the three coverage maps, and everybody knows that Verizon is the most, but I don't think what you've said is a fatal flaw. While ATT's 3G coverage is poor outside of cities, there is still the edge network in most places, and while it is (sometimes much) slower, it does do the job eventually. I haven't yet tried an iPad, but have had the iPhone for 2 years (and I live in an Edge area not 3G) and data downloads are doable as long as you have a half-decent signal. Not the best but it will do the job when necessary. Of course when you have a 3G signal no problem.
Meyer Camping
I have an iPad, am an IT professional and consider it an excellent choice for the RV even though I am a PC guy. Among its many advantages are the fast startup time, large screen, large (other posts notwithstanding) coverage area and plethora of entertainment options. There are two major problems with the iPad. First is the lack of flash. Regardless of what Steve Jobs says, the web surfing experience is compromised by this lack. Many times, you don't even know that the web site you are looking at is deficient due to the lack of flash. Secondly, the lack of multitasking is frustrating. You must leave one app to access another. Sometimes they play nice and when you switch back you are where you left off but other times that is not the case.

For those concerned about the coverage, I use AT&T and my wife uses Verizon. All things considered, we rarely have both phones searching for a signal and are offline about the same amount of time.

This post is being done on an iPad, in an area of Michigan where there is virtually no wifi available. If I just had the laptop I would be out of touch. With my business, I have to have access to phone and e-mail 24/7. The iPad gives me that in a small package that I value immensely.

1 Sony laptop, 1 Apple laptop, 1 iPhone, 1 iPad, 2 Verizon phones, 2 Nintendo DS, 1 portable DVD player, 3,000 power adapters and 1 coffeepot. We can get buy just fine without everything except the last!
MelindaK
I just got back from a trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. I have an iPhone/AT&T and could not get service while my aunt had verizon and she had coverage the majority of the time. Like Meyer I need access to the internet because of my business. Fortunately I have a Verizon PC card and was able to access my emails and work via my laptop. Last year up in the Creede, Colorado area my Verizon card would not work and luckily I still had my Treo phone with the PdaNet which worked great. I never had an issue with PdaNet. Unfortunately, the iPhone folks do not allow PdaNet as an app on the phone. When camping around the Concan, Texas area I miss having my PdaNet program as the Verizon card does not work and AT&T coverage is very limited. Based on some of the comments it looks like I may need to check out the iPad. However, it would be cheaper if iphone would allow PdaNet to be an application.
happyscampers
QUOTE(Lindsay Richards @ Jun 14 2010, 08:19 PM) *

Get a WiFi antenna and use free WiFi which you can find much of the time. I have a Radio Labs and put it up on a telescoping pole. It will improve your reception up to 1/2 to 3/4 mile. If you have a cheap inverter and wish to check email or do short surfing, you can almost almost always find an open WiFi. She photo of antenna setup at link below.

http://www.linandnancy.com/cedkeyswan1.html


Your invention is great. I have an antenna which doesn't work and now I know why. did you buy extra antenna wire to run through paint roller extension?
Lindsay Richards
Nope, I have the wire on the outside held down buy the Velcro holding up the paint extension stick. I use a popsicle stick to keep the window from crimping the wire. Now I sometimes use the antenna inside of the coach just in the window if it works.
RFCN2
IMHO you need a lot of options to get reliable internet on the road. At a fixed location it is pretty easy, but the road is different. We use (rated in order of importance) MotoSat F1, park wifi, Verizon Droid tether. Usually one or more of these works. The MotoSat always works unless there is a tree in the way. It is not as fast as good park wifi or high strength Verizon, but it is very reliable in the boon docks where nothing else works.

We find about half the places we stay the park wifi works well. I do not mind walking into an area around the check in to do this as this becomes a social meeting place and you make friends. I will likely get an antenna soon to get better park wifi signals.

I had a Verizon air card for a number of years. IMHO a Droid tethered to Verizon works better than their air card. And that is the reason I don't have an air card anymore. That said I have had some significant issues with the software that enables you to tether. It is currently working but I have had some real issues there. The other reason I gave up the air card is that service in metro areas of S California seemed to be much harder to get service. No doubt 5 million teens watching 90210 on their phones will do that.

Bob and Barbara
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.