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Internet on the Road: our experience after 75 days.

As we move across North America in our vintage Fiber Stream camper, we continue to learn lessons of fulltime RVing life. Being frugal is a necessity. Managing the tanks, managing the food, and managing the energy are of the utmost importance. We can get by on minimal resources if there’s a plan. However, the one resource we need an ungodly amount of is data, and access to it.

We need the internet!

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but we’re still learning how to maximize our connectivity while staying true to our budget.

Here’s how we currently stay connected:

Straight Talk Cellular Service (AT&T Towers)

  • Monthly Cost: $100 for two plans
  • Data: 10 GBs (5 per phone plan)
  • Access: The AT&T towers are almost everywhere. We’ve been pleased with the connectivity.
  • Speed: 4G & 3G at most places.
  • Overview: We’ve had the most success with this cellular data service. The only issue is that 5GB can get eaten up rather quickly. Once we’ve used this data, the service is throttled to a snails pace.

T-Mobile Hot Spot

  • Monthly Cost: $60
  • Data: 9GBs
  • Access: The T-Mobile service has its focus in urban settings. We have access to this hot spot about 20% of the time. However, it has been extremely robust when connected.
  • Speed: 4G or nothing
  • Overview: When we’re connected to our T-Mobile hot spot we can do some seriously fast web surfing. It’s great for uploading data to our Etsy store, streaming Netflix, and connecting multiple users. When we have the connection we make sure to use it.

Tengo Internet (Paid Campground Access)

  • Cost: From $2 to $5 a day
  • Data: Unlimited, but sometimes throttled
  • Access: We’ve connected to Tengo at many different campgrounds, and while its usually quick to connect, the signal moves in and out.
  • Speed: Moderate to Slow
  • Overview: Tengo Internet will be enough to surf the web and stream music, but trying any more will have me pulling my hair out! At some campgrounds Tengo speeds will decrease as data is used.

McDonalds (or any other corporate chain) Free WiFi

  • Cost: Free (or the price of small fries)
  • Data: Unlimited
  • Access: The signals are super strong.
  • Speed: Blazing speeds, good for business and pleasure.
  • Overview: The connection speed can’t be beat. The downside is being away from the campsite (in most cases).

These are our current methods of connection. We look forward to investing in a signal booster. Eventually, we will drop our T-Mobile hot spot in place of a more consistent and price friendly option.

If you have any advice, please let us know in the comments section!

Help support our mission – to live freely and deliberately – by checking out our Etsy store or treating us to a virtual latte!



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  1. Jeanne Gisi says:

    We bought a Rogue Wave Runner booster about a year ago & while it does not work with Tengo, in the parks we are able to use it, it has helped tremendously with boosting the signal (& it provides a safety net between it & the park wifi). If we can’t use it, we use our AT&T data & since increasing to 15GB with rollover, we have been well under this amount. Good luck!

  2. Donna Raines says:

    I think you can get a better deal from T-mobile right now. Thanks to Cherie and Chris, who have kept RVers up to date on the new T-mobile plans, you could be getting up to 12 GB per month from T-Mobile for $60 which now includes BingeON, the free streaming aspect of the plan. (The streaming doesn’t use your paid for high speed data) I think it would be worth a call to T-mobile. Also if you signed up for T-mobile before 12/1 they are offering you a 2 GB bonus per month. Hope my info is correct, good luck.

  3. Wendy Mattas says:

    Public libraries! My goal is to visit as many as I can before I die and every one of them I have been to has free wifi

  4. RJ GARN says:

    My so was telling me he came across a full-time in the mountains using direct tv bundled with excede, if the spelling is right. It’s a small dish they just set outside anchored with a brick or rock, they get basic tv plus super fast internet for about 100 a month

  5. RJ GARN says:

    My son was telling me he came across a full-time in the mountains using direct tv bundled with excede, if the spelling is right. It’s a small dish they just set outside anchored with a brick or rock, they get basic tv plus super fast internet for about 100 a month

  6. John Shepard says:

    I have an AT&T hotspot (sierra wireless brand). This hotspot came with an external antenna connection and that has been a huge benefit. I added an external mag mount antenna that is mounted to the top of my flag pole. So when i extend the flag pole, I am putting external antenna up ~20′ in the air. This has increased or signal strength and minimized the drop connections we were experienced prior.

  7. Thomas says:

    If you plan it out like we did with straight talk you can get one phone on ATT and one on Verizion. That covers most everywhere.

  8. Shelly says:

    Welcome to Desert Pools (your check-in Gal Shelly) I have seen you on workamping before and was happily surprised to see you again today! I use the Tengonet too but I also have Verizon jet pack for other work and fun. have a great visit!

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