This has always been the number 1 question we get asked and the answer has changed several times since we hit the road in 2003. The current answer is that we use a smartphone as a WiFi hotspot and our computers connect to that. If you have an Android or an iPhone, you can do this too. It may cost you extra depending on your cellular provider and your contract. In any case, your computer will be consuming the Data (Internet) allotment from your cell contract. We have Android phones from Verizon. On our contract, if we were to use the built in Hotspot feature (Settings->Mobile Hotspot) from Verizon, we would see an extra $20/mo charge on our bill. So, we use an App from PDANet, called FoxFi. We paid a one time fee of about $10 for the app, and we’ve been using it for a few years now.
Verizon or AT&T?
Once in a while, we find ourselves in an area where the Verizon signal is extremely low, and AT&T is better. At those times, we use our iPad as a WiFi hotspot instead of a phone. That’s because we have the cellular model iPad and a month-to-month AT&T contract. Some months we don’t turn on the AT&T connection at all. When we need to use it as a hotspot, we need to sign up for a 5GB/mo plan. There is no extra charge for using the hotspot (Settings->Cellular Data->Setup Personal Hotspot) – that is unless you consider the 5GB plan for $50 an ‘extra charge!’ So, in the diagram above, just take out the cell phone and put the iPad in its place! This is also a great way to have a temporary hotspot if you are a vacation traveler.
One more piece to our Internet puzzle is the WiFiRanger. It’s a router. It creates our home network that is always called GeeksOnTour. So, all of our devices, computer, tablet, printer, AppleTV, Chromecast, etc. can be set to connect to the GeeksOnTour network. The WiFiRanger then, can connect to different Internet sources. It can use a cell phone hotspot as its Internet source, it can use the iPad, or it can use the RV Park’s WiFi hotspot or even an Ethernet Cable or DSL modem connection. The beauty is that all of our devices just connect to the standard GeeksOnTour network – the WiFiRanger takes care of getting the Internet from wherever.
There is a lot to know and understand about this stuff. If you want to study up, we recommend the Internet Resource page by Technomadia, including their Mobile Internet Handbook
How about you? How do you connect to the Internet as you travel?