WiFi, the Internet, smart phones — modern technology makes it easy to stay connected to family, friends and business associates when you’re on the road trekking across country in your RV. With more folks choosing to live and work from their RVs, staying connected has become such an essential element of RV living that many 2010 RV models come fully wired for easy hookup. Some even feature special recharging stations with plug-in ports for all your electronics. Even weekend RVers are embracing the plugged-in lifestyle for the opportunity to share travel memories and photos with scattered friends and family via Facebook, blogs, online scrapbooks, digital photo sites and Twitter. And let’s not forget the safety factor cell phones and GPS have added to RV travel.
Many RV campgrounds now lure tech-savvy RV campers with free or low-cost WiFi, making it easy to connect to the Internet. You don’t have to be a techie to use WiFi. Most laptops are already WiFi enabled. If yours isn’t, for about $50 you can buy a WiFi receiver card that plugs into a slot in the side of your laptop. Folks with desktop computers or older laptops can connect by plugging an external USB adapter (about $40) into any open USB port.
RVers who need a more dependable way to stay connected — folks who work from their RV or consider their RV their primary residence, for instance — will want to purchase a mobile broadband card. Available from major cell phone providers, mobile broadband service connects to the Internet through your cell phone, allowing access to the Web anywhere cell phone coverage is available from your provider.
Some cell phone plans include mobile broadband service at no extra charge, others charge a separate fee and each company has its own rules and restrictions, so do some comparison shopping before you buy. You may also find it more cost effective to add Phone-As-Modem to your cell phone service. This inexpensive add-on service allows you to access the internet by tethering your laptop to a smart phone. Most of the smart phones on the market have tethering capability. Again, plans vary and the service is not available with all plans so read the fine print. Most importantly, make sure the carrier you select provides coverage where you plan to travel.
Next time you head out in your RV, pack your laptop. It’s easy to share news and photos of your trip with friends and family when you stay connected.