I’m sure a lot of us dream of van life as an escape from reality and all that comes with it. No emails, Instagram, or screen time. Just swimming in the ocean and staring at the clouds. Well, that’s my idea of the perfect life, any way :).
But, the reality is that even in a van, you still have to buy food and gas and probably some other stuff, so while a total escape from capitalism and modern society is unlikely, being able to work on the road instead of having to go into an office every day is a huge step in the right direction! For me, van life wouldn’t be possible without Wifi – so if you’ve figured out how to work remotely and you want to take your skills on the road, you don’t have to stay in the city to have a reliable internet connection! Here are some van life wifi options, and how I get internet on the road.
Van Life Wifi Options I've Tried
There are tons of options when it comes to getting Wifi on the road, and I definitely haven’t tried all of them – but I have tried two! So let’s start with those.
First up is my personal favorite, and the one that I currently use! Google Fi is actually a cell phone carrier (like Verizon or AT&T – but cheaper). They offer two plans. The one I have is unlimited and costs $70 a month, but you can also do a flexible plan, which costs $20 + $10 per gig of data that you use.
The flexible plan is amazing for people who don’t need too much data, because you only pay for what you actually use! But, if you use any more than 5 GB a month, it makes more sense to get the unlimited plan. I use a lot of data, because I often have to upload photos for clients (I’m talking 300-600 photos at a time), so this works for me. The data is throttled after you reach 22 GB for the month – I usually don’t reach this limit, but I have a few times. There’s definitely a noticeable difference in wifi speed, but it’s still useable when slowed down. If I’m being honest, it would be intolerable if it was that slow all the time, but since I rarely reach the limit, and when I do, there are only a few days left until the next cycle begins, the throttled speeds are useable and not too bad. You do also have the option to buy more high speed data after you’ve been throttled!
I spend most of my time in rural areas and remote places, and while there are, of course, some places where I don’t get service, I’ve found that Google Fi’s coverage is pretty good and I have service in a lot of the places I visit – out of the options I’ve tried for van life Wifi, this one had way better coverage.
Pros of Google Fi
- Good coverage
- No charge for international calls, text, or data (which means I can travel and use the hotspot anywhere!)
- Can be paused or canceled any time
- No additional tech needed – just a phone!
Cons of Google Fi
- Honestly none, except that you may have to switch your phone plan over (you can keep your phone and phone number though). But I think it’s worth it!
RV IT Guy
RV IT Guy is what I used for van life Wifi for the first few months on the road. It’s awesome because it’s specifically made for people who live on the road! This one costs $99 per month, along with a one time set up fee of $195. You’ll get a beacon (which is like the van equivalent of a router in a house), and you can connect to that for Wifi. The data is unlimited, and completely unthrottled! The coverage is okay with this – it’ll probably work well for anyone who isn’t doing anything too data intensive, like uploading or downloading frequently, but I found that it only worked really well when I was in the city. In more remote areas it was hit or miss, and it was almost always noticeably slower than it was in the city.
Pros of RV IT Guy
- Unlimited and unthrottled
- Can be paused or canceled any time
- Your money supports a fellow nomad
Cons of RV IT Guy
- Requires a beacon
- Needs to be plugged in (a con if you have limited power on the road)
- Decent coverage, but not great
- No coverage outside of North America (limited data in Canada and Mexico)
- Pricey setup
My Favorite Van Life Wifi Option
As you can probably guess, I like Google Fi best! It’s the cheapest option I’ve found which is what drew me in at first, but now that I’ve been using it for over a year, I can confidently say it checks all of my requirements for wifi on the road and I’m probably never going to use anything else. If you think it might work for you too, here’s $20 off!
Other Options for Internet on the Road
I haven’t actually tried any of these, so I can’t speak to how well they work, all I know is that they exist. But when you’re figuring out your situation and deciding what’s best for you for Wifi on the road, it doesn’t hurt to check out all the options!
Your Phone Carrier
Your phone carrier may have a data plan that lets you use your phone as a hotspot, so this would be a great thing to look into first! I had AT&T, and even with the unlimited data plan, the number of gigs you could use for the hotspot was limited – so be aware of that and make sure to get all the details!
A Portable Wifi hotspot
A lot of phone carriers offer mobile hotspots – instead of using your phone, you can get one of these and connect to it. The Verizon Jetpack is one of the most popular ones, but you can check out your phone carrier and see what their options are. You’ll have to purchase a plan for these, and they tend to be more expensive than Fi, and not unlimited. I’m trying not to sound like a Google Fi fangirl, but what can I say? I am.
Free Van Life Wifi Options
Yes, you can actually get free wifi on the road! If you don’t need wifi often, or you use your phone’s data plan for most things, it might not be worth it to pay for a whole wifi plan. Starbucks always has reliable Wifi, as do most coffee shops, libraries, and even breweries. Starbucks is my personal favorite because it’s pretty much guaranteed that they’ll have internet, and I’ve actually used Starbucks Wifi several times without even leaving my van – just park as close as you can, and see if it works! I even managed to use Walmart’s Wifi from their parking lot once.
I hope this helped you get started on figuring out how to get internet on the road, and if you need help figuring out how the heck you’re going to work remotely, keep an eye out for my next post!