How Do You Get Online?

 Posted by at 12:45 am  Nick's Blog
Aug 092011

I had an e-mail from a couple who are three months into their new fulltime RV lifestyle and have quickly become discouraged with the often unreliable RV park WiFi systems they have encountered. They said that the service has ranged from free to paid, with the only common denominator being that it never seems to work very well, if at all.

In this age of air cards, smart phones that serve as WiFi hotspots, MiFi cards, satellite internet dishes, and whatever new technological breakthrough they have come up with in the last 24 hours, I really can’t understand why anybody would be willing to mess with RV park WiFi systems, if getting online is important to them at all. And these days, I don’t know very many RVers who don’t consider reliable internet access important.

Many of us communicate with our family and friends by e-mail, instant messaging, Skype, and social networking websites; we read and post blogs; we read our favorite websites on a daily basis; do our banking and shopping online; and so much more. For those of us who are self-employed and do a significant amount of our business online, not having reliable internet access is unacceptable. I cannot imagine having to depend on an RV park’s WiFi system. I’m willing to pay the $60 a month or so that it costs me to get online. It’s money well spent.

We use a Verizon air card, which we acquired before they instituted their 5 GB limit, so we are grandfathered in with no limits. We run it through a CradlePoint wireless router so we can both be online at the same time. I get a lot of e-mail during a typical day, and some folks get testy if they do not receive a quick acknowledgement of an order, or a response to a question. Even when we’re away from the motorhome, I can check my e-mail on my Droid or iPad, and take care of things as they come up.

How about you? How important is internet access to you?  Do you rely on RV park WiFi systems? If not, how do you get online? 

On another topic, even though we don’t have a bus conversion any more, we have fond memories of the annual bus rally that Jack and Paula Conrad held every year in Arcadia, Florida. It was always a fun event, with a friendly crowd of people. Jack and Paula have retired and are taking life easier these days, but Bill Phelan is continuing the tradition. And even though it is called a bus rally, all RVers are welcome. This year’s rally is December 29-31 at the Turner Agri Center in Arcadia, and Bill has invited Gypsy Journal and blog readers to come join in the fun. Check out the Arcadia Rally website for more information. 

And don’t forget our Eastern Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, Ohio September 26-30. We are getting more registrations in every week, and we’re looking forward to a great time. Come join us!

Bad Nick is at it again, pointing out the silly and the strange things that go on around us every day. Check out his latest Bad Nick Blog, titled The Bunny Did It! and leave a comment.

Thought For The Day – The times in life that seem to be the worst, sometimes turn out for the best!

Click Here To Register For Our Eastern Gypsy Gathering Rally!

Check Out Nick’s E-books In Our E-Book Store

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  26 Responses to “How Do You Get Online?”

  1. We use a Samsung LC-11 3g/4g hot spot that allows up to 5 users to be online simultaneously. It charges even in operation through a USB port. My wife has used it to work while we are on the road with few drop outs after 6000 miles. And when we reach an area with 4g coverage – WOW – it runs fast ! Verizon is rolling out more 4g areas with a goal of most markets by the end of 2012. It’s not for users who want to have streaming video – it can do it, but you will exceed your usage. We use it as intended – mobile internet… web and email, not as a movie conduit and thus have never exceeded the 5GB limit. Cost is $50 / month. We would never ever connect to any website that requires our most secure passwords using a public network, so the Samsung is a required part of our travel plans.

  2. We have been using RV park wifi, and wasted a lot of money on Tengo, because it never works right and the RV parks don’t give refunds. I’ll be interested in seeing the responses.

  3. We are still lugging around a big old Hughes tripod setup until now but I am more than ready for an air card. I can live within the 5 gig limit because we never stream videos or watch movies and all that.

  4. I have a question on You Tube videos. Does watching them online count toward our 5 gig limit on Verizon?

  5. ‘Fraid so, Paul… ANY bit of data that you send or receive throgh your Verizon account gets a-counted!

  6. We’ve done the Verizon air card and Cradle Point router plan and it worked well. Last year my husband got a Palm Pixie phone (Verizon) that can serve as a hot spot, and that’s our current setup. The data plan for this is cheaper than the air card plan, and it works very well overall.

  7. An aircard is the only way to go in our opinion. We use the ATT but we have very few times that we can not get online quickly. Occasionaly we will be be in an area that we do not have service, but we would not have phone service either.

  8. Good topic, Nick. I had been using a Sprint air card with my Cradle Point Router, but I was never really satisfied with the service. We had marginal service in too many places where we traveled. When the Sprint contract expired I went to Millenicom and signed up on their Advantage Plan. 20Gb a month, on Verizon’s network and I can still use my Cradle Point, all at the same price as Sprint.

    John Pontsler

  9. We use ’em all! We always check the park’s wi-fi because sometimes it’s not only good – it’s GREAT. That’s what we’ll use to download the Windows updates on all 6 computers in this Geek-mobile. That alone can use up our 5Gig limit on our Verizon Samsung 4G hotspot. When we don’t have good wifi, and we don’t want to go over our limit, we tether our Droid – which we got before the limits on that device – so we are unlimited. I envy you Nick, with your unlimited aircard! And, I miss our old Datastorm satellite dish when we’re in an area with little or no Verizon like many of the Thousand Trails locations. But we just can’t justify the cost when we only need it 5% of the time.

  10. When we got our Droid Phones, we could tether them to the computer for unlimited WiFi. . .so we got rid of our Verizon Air Card.

    We just purchased a Motorola desk cradle at Best Buy. . .the phone sits right down in it, and connects. We paid a one time fee to the service provider. . .works great.

    Would not, could not depend on RV Park WiFi systems. . .too undependable.


  11. Years ago when we started out full timing used a air card that didn’t work in a lot of places. Put a Datastorm system on the old coach and have used that for the last 6 years. A little over a year ago got a Verizon air card and CradlePoint wireless router. Got the air card for the times, like now, when we are parked in to many @#$^& trees.
    Loved the bad Nick it made my day.

  12. We use the Verizon MiFi for our two laptops and wireless printer. We occassionally use a park’s wifi if it has a higher speed than Verizon but I never use the park’s wifi for banking, shopping or other transactions that need a secure network. We are not full-timers so use our computers at home too. About 2 years ago I dropped the cable internet we were using and started using the Verizon MiFi there too. The reason for dropping cable is that I hated to pay the extra $60 a month if I am on the road for 5 months or more a year. I sometimes miss the speed cable had but find that I can survive just fine. I don’t have a Smartphone yet but plan to buy a Droid in the near future. Even with a Droid I plan to keep my MiFi.

  13. Like you, we use the grandfathered unlimited Verizon aircard with Cradlepoint router and Wilson amplifier. I’m not sure how much good the amplifier does. We are totally dependent on the internet for all our personal business, including shopping, investment, and banking. For security reasons, I am unwilling to use public WiFi for transactions involving money and sensitive passwords, so am very dependent on the air card service.

    Unfortunately, the Verizon signal is weak at our home base in Florida, so we cannot depend on it for internet service when we are at home. I was pleased to learn that the service can be suspended, but I haven’t found out for how long.

  14. We have a pair of Droid X phones on Verizon and use pda-net to connect them to our pair of laptops. The only time we use park wifi is if we have no cell service, and that’s rare. We have not gone over the 5 gig limit even though we are grandfathered in on unlimited.

  15. Wow, how times have changed. Started out almost 15 years ago with a bag cell phone, pocketmail which had to be held up to a phone in a booth for our email and travel logs. Now we both have cellphones (so we can locate each other at Walmart) and I-Direct on our motosat roof top dish. We stream movies with no problem. We also have an I-Pad set up with ATT so when driving down the road or in a place to treed to get the dish access we still can have internet. We do Wi-Fi at RV parks when necessary and when we went to Canada a few years back used libraries.

  16. We have a different situation because we have a stick home and snowbird in one place for the winter so we usually have cable. However, when we camp in the summer at state parks and COE, I actually find that I can go a week off-line. You do have withdrawals for a day or two 🙂 I also find that campgrounds with wifi often have spots where if works better. Also, I do keep my security software up to date.

  17. Some of our friends are using the Virgin aircard…you purchase it at Walmart for about $79 and pay $40 a month for unlimited and when you don’t want it that month, you just don’t activate it. I believe they have a monthly fee for 1G for $10. check it out.

  18. We have had a verizon air card for the last couple of years and just upgraded to the new verizon 4G air card to go with our new Apple computer.

  19. Hey Nick when we asked you about this we had no idea it would make the blog. But thanks to everybody who responded. You gave us a lot of valuable info.

  20. WOW! I can’t believe we have all been brainwashed by technology. This is eroding the face-to-face conversation. I find I am actually happier when I can’t get online. The only thing I miss is Nick’s blog. So we recently went a whole month in remote areas without WIFI or close to a library, but now I have caught up on the blog.
    We didn’t get a computer until 2007. So for 7 years we used libraries. I still like libraries. Things have really changed since 2000 when we hit the road (and not always for the better).

  21. When we went on the road full-time three years ago, the 3G store persuaded Dave that Sprint was best for us. So, imagine our surprise when Sprint kicked us off for too much roaming. Then we bought Verizon but lost our unlimited plan in the process. After going over our limit a couple of times doing upgrades we learned to check out each park’s wifi to see if we could use it to do upgrades. Since the answer was often, “No,” we finally switched to Millenicom to get their 20G. During all that our Cradle Point router has allowed us to connect both our computers at the same time. Now I occasionally connect through it with my iPad, too, since my beloved games are often to big for my iPad’s direct connection to allow.

  22. We have the same setup as you…Verizon USB Aircard and Cradlepoint router. We lucked out when we bought the desktop router we got a small mini-router that is great when we travel on the bikes. Recently we had several campgrounds without cell or internet service. We loaded up the laptops and the mini router & aircard, headed to a Five Guys, found a table at the back with access to a power outlet and we were good to go!

    We only use campground wi-fi when we have no aircard access…and never for pay.

    PS. Nick, posted some bridge photos JUST for you in yesterday’s blog. 😉

  23. Four years ago we gave up our Satellite system and went with a Verizon aircard. This past Christmas time, we pushed up against the 5 gig limit, so we switched to Millenicom with there 20 gig limit. I only learned later that it was also on Verizon.

    Now and then folks comment that they will not access their banks etc via wi-fi. Prior to my retirement many years ago, we worked with the RSA algorithm that is used by the Internet for secure transactions. In a nutshell, it works and I have no heartburn doing my banking or sending messages secured by it.


  24. We have fulltimed for 5 years, the first 3 1/2 we used park wifi or the library. That got real old but I didn’t want to sign a contract for an aircard. We got a Virgin Mobile card about 18 mos ago and while it doesn’t have as much coverage as Verizon it works well most places. We spend our winters in So Cal and this summer we traveled to the east coast. It has worked well. Now that Verizon has the no contract plan we may switch if we get frustrated with Virgin Mobile, but so far, so good!

  25. We use a Verizon Air card and as we don’t watch movies or download music we’ve found the 5gb limit is fine. The only time we’ve had to use campground Wifi is here in Torrey, Utah, Verizon works, but is very, very slow, but again we don’t use campground Wifi for anything important like banking etc.

  26. We have the same setup as you, the Verizon aircard and cradle point router. We have two laptops and do pretty well about staying within our limit. However, when we upgrade our phones to smartphones, we’ll probably go the tethering route. I hope it is as reliable as our current setup. The only time we have trouble with service is when we are in a heavy use area, such as a truck stop or very large RV park. We use campground internet when it’s available and strong, which isn’t often.

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