Maybe this isn’t earth shattering information for a lot of you out there. But I thought I’d write about this anyway since we are tech-savvy people and couldn’t find a good solution for internet on the road. Many campgrounds don’t provide WiFi, whether it’s free or paid. Our particular campground in Southport, North Carolina has the option to sign up with the single local internet provider but you must pay all sorts of start-up fees and on top of that, you must sign up for a year contract. We are only staying for three months at this location so that wasn’t an option. We have Xfinity internet at home and have free access to hotspots all over the country. We thought we got lucky when viewing the hotspot map before we left for Southport and found a bright, gleaming red dot on top of our parking spot at the campground. Unfortunately, that was a different story when we showed to our parking spot. Even with the building feet away from our trailer, the connection wasn’t strong enough to connect to. Actually, we couldn’t even connect while sitting in the parking lot of this building.
We decided the best option for internet-on-the-go would be a mobile hotspot so we could use our phones for internet wherever we were in the country as long as we had a cell signal. We both had Sprint cell phone plans but all of Sprint’s hotspot plans weren’t unlimited. The most we could get was 6GB for $50/month and $.05/MB beyond that. We would be over the allotment just by streaming a couple of movies. We looked into all of the cellphone carriers and decided T-Mobile had the best deal…by far. With T-Mobile we could add unlimited 4g hotspots to our phones for just $25/month per line. As long as our phones have a signal, they can be turned into hotspots to connect our laptops, LG SmartTV, Roku and Wii. We’ve had zero trouble and actually find that the internet is faster than what we had at our house. We’ve used almost 70GB for the month between us both for work, a couple of streaming movies and a handful of hours of TV and Wii every week. So you can see how fast 6GB on the Sprint plan would have been annihilated. T-Mobile claims to throttle service after a certain amount of usage is reached but we haven’t noticed a slow-down at all. We’ve decided to drop Xfinity all together and just use our phone’s hotspot wherever we are. It saves money and keeps us connected on the road. Win, win!
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Since we work from our Airstream, we always check with the T-Mobile coverage map to ensure the area we are going to has 4G LTE service. It’s been pretty spot-on from what we’ve found so far. From time to time, if the internet signal is weak, we’ve found that propping the phone up in the window does the trick. It could have something to do with the aluminum shell but every time, it solves the issue. UPDATE: it IS the aluminum shell causing issues with our cell signal. A lot of you recommended we get the weBoost RV cell signal booster and said it solved the problem! We haven’t tried it yet and once we do, we will report back!
One of my favorite things we got for the trailer was an adorable 24″ white LG SmartTV. It fits perfectly on the bedroom wall and is so lightweight (seven pounds!) we were able to mount it directly to the thin wall. It has a built-in interface for Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, YouTube, etc. It’s easy to navigate and even does Screen Cast so we can mirror our phone screen directly to the TV. This would be useful if we didn’t have internet – we could play TV shows directly from our phone’s data.
We have a second, older Sony TV we use in the front of the trailer. Since it’s not a SmartTV, we have a Roku connected to it. This also has worked flawlessly. We used the old radio cabinet underneath for our Wii which I have sitting on a floating book shelf. The wires run behind the cabinet, up through the desktop and behind the TV. Obviously, full grown adults need to battle it out on MarioKart every now and then. 😉