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. 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.
Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because these are all things I love and use, and sharing them helps me keep making free guides for you
Table of Contents
Pin this photo to reference this van life wifi guide later!
Van Life Wifi Options, & The Best Internet for Van Life
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 three of them! So let’s start with those.
Starlink – the best internet for van life
The Starlink is honestly a huge game changer when it comes to getting internet on the road. It’s allowed me to go absolutely anywhere. Before this, I was using my phone’s hotspot, which worked decently, but only when I had service. With the Starlink, I can get wifi everywhere I go. There’s version of the Starlink made for stationary houses, but for van life, you’ll have a Starlink Roam.
When you get a Starlink, you’ll have a router, which needs to be plugged in, and a big satellite dish that you need to put outside. It takes a few minutes to connect to a satellite in the sky, and once it does, you have internet in your van! It’s really fast, and completely unlimited.
One thing that’s important to note: I’ve heard that it doesn’t work as well on the east coast, because there are more people close together, and the more people connect to one satellite in the sky, the slower it is. I’ve never taken my van to the east coast, so I can’t speak to this – but I travel along the west coast (the furthest east I’ve been in my van is Colorado), and have never had any issues. It’s always been really fast for me, and I’ve uploaded entire photo galleries with it (I used to be a wedding photographer)!
The major downside is that Starlink is expensive. The hardware (router & dish) is a one time cost of $599, and the service costs $150 monthly. But, since I work completely online, and having this allows me to go anywhere I want without worrying about whether I’ll have service, the freedom it gives me to go to any beautiful, remote spot I want is worth it!
Another downside is that the Starlink needs to be plugged in to work. I have 400 watts of solar panels on my roof, and I have no problem running my Starlink for my work day (which varies, but usually is 4-8 hours a day). Make sure your electrical system is able to handle it!
Pros of Starlink
- Unlimited and unthrottled wifi
- Can go anywhere!
- You can pause the service any time, for as long as you want
- Did I mention that you can go anywhere?
- Also works in Mexico and Canada, along with lots of other countries
Cons of Starlink
- Made by Elon Musk :/
- No contract so the cost can technically go up anytime
- Big satellite dish that needs to be stored in your van (unless you mount it outside, which I’ve seen people do!
- Needs an unobstructed views of the sky (not really a problem if you have solar power like me, since I need the sun for power anyway).
- Needs to be plugged in
Your Phone Hotspot
Before I got a Starlink, I used my phone’s hotspot for internet on the road. In my opinion, this is the second best option. It’s a lot cheaper than a Starlink, and it works pretty well. The biggest downside of this one is that you’ll only have wifi when you have phone service, so if you need to be on the internet for your job, you’ll be more limited in where you can park.
I was with AT&T for a long time, because they have really good coverage in a lot of places, which was important when I was using it for my hotspot. But, since getting a Starlink, I’ve switched over to Mint Mobile, which I now recommend to everyone who will listen. Their plans are way cheaper than the big carriers! An unlimited plan is only $30 per month, which is nuts compared to the $80 I was paying with AT&T. Mint Mobile uses the T-mobile network, so while coverage is supposedly not as good as AT&T or Verizon, you’ll only ever have issues in really remote places – and it’s not a problem at all for me now, since I use my Starlink anyway and it doesn’t matter if I have phone service or not! You can also use a hotspot with Mint Mobile, so it’s a great budget friendly option for wifi on the road.
Pros of a Phone Hotspot
- You probably already pay for a phone plan
- No additional gadgets – you just need your phone
- More budget friendly
Cons of a Phone Hotspot
- Only works when you have phone service
- Hotspot usage is usually capped at around 40 GB before slowing down
RV IT Guy
RV IT Guy is what I used for van life wifi for the first few months in my van. 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
Other Van Life Wifi 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!
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.
Van Life Wifi Booster – How to Get More Reliable Internet on the Road
I know the pain of being somewhere beautiful, and wanting to stay there for a few days or weeks, but not being able to because you don’t have good enough service to do the work you need to do. Luckily, there’s something that is a complete game changer when it comes to getting consistent, reliable wifi on the road – even in remote places.
This one isn’t a solution for wifi, but it can make your wifi work better. It boosts the signal from cell towers, so it reaches further and you can have better service in more remote places.
The WeBoost is designed for RVs and vans, and it boosts whatever cell phone signal is available. It won’t create a signal out of nothing, but if you’re within a mile or so of service, and it doesn’t quite reach, the WeBoost will amplify the signal so that you can use your phone, and your wifi hotspot! It’s amazing for remote areas and being out in nature, as you’ll get much better service anywhere you go. It’s pretty amazing, and I highly recommend it for anyone who spends a lot of time working on the road, or anyone who wants to stay connected. If you aren’t ready to invest in a Starlink, this is a great option that’s much more affordable and only has a one time cost.
How to Get Free Wifi on the Road
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.
When you’re using public wifi, I recommend a VPN like Surfshark – this protects your data, and ensures your digital privacy and internet activity is safe on unsecured networks!
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!
How Do you Get Internet in Your Van?
Have you tried any of these van life wifi options, or have your own ideas? Let me know in a comment below!
For more info on how to live and work on the road, check out these posts:
Pin any of these photos to save this guide to Internet on the Road for later!