Research shows that campers are demanding how to get wifi while camping and travelling and tend to prioritise wifi access at sites above campground stores with food and gear to purchase on-demand. This is only just below a campsite being kid-friendly or not. So the big question is, how to get wifi while camping and travelling? Is it possible and can you set up your own on-board system?
Many people want to switch off when they go camping; no gadgets TV’s smartphones or computers. However many do not, as was demonstrated when 19% of responders to a survey stated they still wanted to be connected when visiting the campsite. This is probably understandable in this age of social media when having a smartphone or digital camera is seen as a necessity rather than a luxury.
Staying connected can be a lifestyle choice too, for those who have decided to live a nomadic life on the road. And then there’s those who need it to run a business while outdoors, no matter where they are.
This is the situation for us. We like to switch off but as my husband and I are self-employed it is essential we check our email on a regular basis, and if a job comes in we have to temporarily pause our holiday to take care of business. That’s just the way it is for us.
However, if you’ve visited a campsite recently you’ll know how difficult it is to access their free wifi and how slow it is when you finally do. So we wanted to look for an alternative.
How Do I Get Wifi At The Campsite, On The Road, Or Anywhere Else?
There are a few options you can use depending on the countries you intend to visit and the facilities you have onboard your campervan or motorhome.
Hotspot Smart Device Data Connection
One option is to use a smartphone or iPad with an unlimited data SIM card and hotspot data connection. This works really well on Apple devices. Simply go to ‘settings’ and ‘personal hotspot’ then click the button to allow others to join with a password. Then share the password with those you are happy to share your wifi hotspot with. This works perfectly but be aware of your data allowance on your SIM card and the countries you are allowed to use it without incurring extra charges. See the additional note on this below.
Portable Mobile Wifi Device
If you don’t have that option you can use a portable mobile wifi device. There are many available but for our purposes, we tried the TP-LINK 4G Power Bank and 4G LTE-Advanced mobile wifi systems. Both have the benefit of instantly establishing a wifi hotspot to share with multiple users on various mobile devices. The added benefit of the 4G data storage model is it can also be used as a power bank and has a Micro SD card slot with up to 32GB of capacity so it allows us to transfer images instantly from our camera no matter where we are.
Wifi Dongle For Your Laptop
Another option is to use a wifi dongle that fits into your USB port on your laptop. Then, if you have the hotspot data sharing option on your device you can share your wifi with others that way. This also requires an unlimited data SIM for your country. Another consideration is to look at the small print and make sure the provider won’t remove your unused data after a certain date.
Satellite Internet Specialist System
You can opt for a specialist system and have a satellite internet installed on your motorhome or campervan. This is also called a Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) system and works by using terminals which can give you internet access in remote locations as long as they have a line of sight to the satellite in orbit above. This is a much more expensive option and the satellite performance can be very slow, however, Elon Musk’s SpaceX project has recently launched a huge number of satellites with the aim of improving the network, so keep watching this space.
Wifi Signal Boosters
The first three options above require a good mobile telephone system to be available such as 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G. If you have a weak connection in your area or the country you intend to visit you can use a wifi signal booster such as the one linked here. There are many options available but this one has good reviews.
Unlimited Data And Data Roaming Considerations
If you are travelling outside of your own country remember that data roaming charges might be different from when you are at home. You will need to check this with your provider, but there are plenty of options out there if you have to pay additional charges on your current SIM. For example, GiffGaff in Europe don’t charge additional fees for travelling across borders and you are not required to sign up for a contract either.
Road Trip Case Study: Mobile Wifi In Action
As much of my business is managed online these devices are perfect for dealing with urgent issues, unexpected pockets of work, or accessing games and TV on demand occasionally to keep the kids happy.
Recently the wifi connectors mentioned above really showed their worth when we were diverted from our family camping trip so my husband could do a photo shoot. At the same time, I was asked to write an article for a client. An hour later we were busily uploading photos and freshly written work while the kids watched one of their favourite films. All achieved with an unlimited data SIM transferred from one of our phones to the wifi connector.
Final Note For Those Living A Nomadic Lifestyle
These devices certainly make travelling while working and nomadic life on the road that little bit easier, and anything that achieves that gets a big thumbs up from us. But, make sure you pay attention to the small print from your SIM provider, get unlimited data, don’t feel you have to sign up to a contract and make sure the data you have can be used across all the countries you plan to visit. In the UK and Europe, we use GiffGaff, who have been really excellent so far.
Do you have any tips about how to get wifi while camping and travelling? Tell us in the comments section below.
Survey source: North American Camping Report