How Difficult Is It to Find Good Cell Service While Boondocking?
We live in a time where both boondocking and staying connected are tremendously popular.
With more of us working or doing school remotely, we’re all looking for good cell service. However, finding boondocking spots with good cell service can be difficult.
Today, we’ll share some tips for finding boondocking spots with good service so you can stay connected during your adventures.
Let’s get started!
Boondocking Spots Don’t All Have Great Cell Service
Sometimes the best boondocking spots are in very remote locations or even surrounded by mountains. While those mountains may make for fantastic pictures for Instagram, they can ruin your ability to have decent cell service.
They may serve as a natural barrier between you and the nearest cell phone tower.
Cell phone providers aren’t likely to invest in expanding their network to some of the country’s remote areas. Their goal is to provide service to as many people as possible, which often means focusing their resources on densely populated areas.
How Difficult Is It to Find Boondocking Spots With Good Cell Service?
It can be challenging to find boondocking spots with good cell service, but it’s not impossible. There are a few tools that you can use to find these boondocking gems.
All of the major carriers have coverage maps that can give you an estimate as to where they provide service.
These aren’t very detailed or accurate but can give you a general idea of coverage.
After looking at the coverage map, you can narrow down where you’d like to stay by using a resource like Campendium or iOverlander.
These resources allow you to filter search results and only display sites that meet your criteria, including boondocking sites. You can then look through the results and see what reviews indicate when it comes to cell coverage.
Finding boondocking spots with good cell service can be difficult, especially in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast regions. These locations tend to have thicker vegetation, hills, mountains, or remote areas, making getting a solid cell signal difficult.
With a little bit of effort, research, and flexibility, you can find an epic boondocking spot with good cell service.
Sometimes You Have to Choose Between Privacy and Wilderness or Good Cell Signal
While you may dream of having that super private boondocking spot in the middle of the wilderness, it’s not always possible. You may have to choose between that and having a good cell signal.
If you need a solid connection with reliable speeds, you may need to stick to camping in more populated areas.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy privacy and wilderness. There’s a good chance you can squeeze in camping a couple of days out of the week or build it into your schedule and plan for being off the grid.
This way, you can still enjoy some epic boondocking but not have to worry about the lack of cell signal.
How to Increase Your Cell Signal at Remote Boondocking Campsites
There’s a handful of things you can do to improve the cell signal at a remote boondocking campsite.
Keep in mind that there are some locations where there’s not much you can do, but these tips will give you the best shot.
Use More Than One Cell Plan for More Coverage
RVers who need to stay connected will often have data plans with multiple carriers. This can provide the best chance that one of the carriers will have coverage wherever you’re camping.
Some providers have better coverage in certain spots than their competitors. So having multiple providers can help ensure you have the maximum amount of coverage.
It’s also important to consider carrier-specific restrictions. Some RVers will have more than one cell plan on their favorite carrier to help avoid these restrictions.
Many cell plans will slow down service after you use too much data on that plan. So having multiple plans can allow you to switch to a different line if you happen to exceed your allotted data amount.
This can get incredibly expensive, but it can be worth the investment if you need maximum speeds or connectivity.
Use a Cell Signal Booster
There’s a good chance you’re going to find yourself in a boondocking campsite where the signal may just need a bit of a boost. This is where a cell signal booster can come to the rescue.
These devices can take a weak or unstable connection and magnify it to create a more usable or stable connection.
It’s important to remember that no cell service booster is magic. Cell boosters can’t create a signal where one doesn’t exist. They require some sort of signal to boost and won’t help you avoid throttling due to congested networks or other restrictions.
However, these boosters do have the potential to save the day when you find yourself in a spot with a weak signal.
Pro Tip: Get better signal with these Best RV Cell Boosters Ranked and Reviewed.
Upgrade Your Cell Signal Booster Antenna
If you already have a cell signal booster, upgrading your antenna may help you if you’re not satisfied with the results. If you’re using an omnidirectional antenna, it will pull signals in from a 360-degree radius.
However, omnidirectional antennas also have a lower gain, making them weaker than a directional antenna.
A directional antenna has a higher gain but focuses power in a single direction. When using a directional antenna, you’ll need to aim and adjust the antenna to get the best results.
These are great options for RVers, especially if they plan to stay in a location for an extended period.
Hoist Your Antenna High Up on a Flagpole
Sometimes you have all the right equipment but just need to get above an obstacle or two. Having your antenna mounted on a flagpole or a retractable pole can help you gain a little bit of height on your antenna.
Giving your antenna a clearer shot of a cell tower can greatly improve your cell signal performance.
Many RVers choose retractable poles as they take up less room and they can provide a tremendous height increase for your antenna.
Alternative: RV Satellite Internet
While satellite internet was previously something only stationary RVers could consider, recent technology advancements are making it more possible for RVers on the go.
SpaceX has been spending the past several years investing in and growing their satellite internet company, Starlink. The goal of this satellite internet is to provide broadband speeds across the globe. However, they’re not quite there yet.
Currently, Starlink is still a work in progress. SpaceX typically launches multiple batches of satellites into space each month. With every launch, Starlink expands its coverage and improves connectivity for its current users.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on the equipment and spend time RVing in an area with coverage, this can be a great option to consider.
How to Plan Your Boondocking Travels Around Cell Signal
Even if you have the latest and greatest in terms of equipment, there are a few things you’ll want to do when planning your travels.
Here are a few of our best tips to plan your boondocking travels around cell signals.
You can’t completely trust the coverage maps that cell companies provide. While the map may indicate that a location has coverage, it may be minimal or extremely limited.
Relying on reviews from fellow campers is one of the best ways to get a good idea of what the cell signal is like at a specific location.
Resources like Campendium and iOverlander are two of the best options to do this. Users can leave reviews for a specific boondocking site and often will leave detailed information regarding the signal.
Having multiple bars isn’t enough to know whether or not the service is any good.
Some areas have very congested networks, which means you’ll have a great signal, but the speeds and service will be lacking.
By doing a little bit of reading, you can save yourself a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety when it comes to staying connected.
Filter Campsite Results by Cell Signal Status
Many campsite databases, like Campendium, allow you to filter results based on cell signal status. This allows you to see locations where users have confirmed cell signals.
The quality of the signal may vary or require a booster, but you won’t have to sort through sites with no signal or no known signal.
Keep in mind that some boondocking sites may not have reviews, or users may not have left feedback regarding cell signals.
These filters will weed out these results as there’s no indication of whether or not there’s a signal.
Test It Out Before Staying
If staying connected is important to you, make sure you test out the internet before setting up camp. You don’t want to set up camp and then discover that the cell signal isn’t going to cut it.
So make sure you check the signal and even run a speed test to ensure the connection is sufficient for your needs.
If the signal is weak, you may want to set up your signal booster first and give it another shot before deciding whether to stay or find another spot.
Pro Tip: When boondocking you should always have some way to get cell service. Without it you might get caught up in The Dangers of Camping Without a Cell Booster.
Finding Awesome Boondocking With Great Cell Signal Is an Art
The more you can boondock, the easier it will become to stay connected while boondocking. You’ll grow your skills of finding sites and setting up your equipment and will have fewer and fewer issues getting optimal results.
However, while finding awesome boondocking sites with great cell signals may be challenging, it can be rewarding and make RVing more enjoyable.
What are your favorite boondocking sites where you can stay connected while adventuring?
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