Some people go camping to get away from it all, while others go camping to add some excitement to their life. Neither is right or wrong and there are plenty of reasons why you might want to be able to get the Internet while camping.
For me, the phrase “in touch, but out of reach” comes to mind. I love getting away from it all while still being able to get work done and get in touch with people when I need to.
With this phrase in mind, here are 7 easy ways to get the Internet while camping.
1. Get A New, Yet Inexpensive Data Plan
Your current provider might not cover the area you’re camping in, but another one might. Check the bottom of this post for cheap, temporary, and effective carrier options.
2. Use Your Existing Data Plan
Check your carrier’s coverage map and you might find that you can get the Internet while camping with your current plan. If you need more data, give them a call and ask them if you can increase your data for the month.
3. Get A 4G Data Dongle
If you don’t want to tether your devices to your smartphone or tablet, consider getting a 4G data dongle. You can use this dongle to give your laptop access to cellular Internet.
4. Use A Mobile Modem
Want to access the Internet on multiple devices while camping? Get a mobile modem and a data plan.
5. Stay At A Campground With Wifi
Many campgrounds and even state parks will offer Wifi. In many cases, you may even be able to access the Internet for free.
6. Stay Near A Location That Has Wifi
Stay at a campground, state park, or national park that’s near a coffee shop. This won’t give you access to the Internet all of the time but at least you’ll still be able to go and access it when you need to.
7. Get A Satellite Internet Plan
Sometimes cellular Internet just won’t cut it. In this case, you may need to go with a satellite Internet plan.
A Deeper Look
Let’s take a deeper look at each of these options to see which one will work best for you.
A New Data Plan
My expensive AT&T plan works well most of the time, but it leaves me high and dry any time I head down to Virginia to go camping. After checking their coverage map, I realized that the area I was camping in each year just wasn’t covered by AT&T.
Realizing this, I started looking into other carriers and found that Mint Mobile could provide me with the coverage I needed in Virginia as well as some other areas for just $15.00 a month. Now I have access to the Internet everywhere I go camping and in areas where both carriers have coverage, I have twice the data to use!
Use Your Existing Data Plan
If you’re headed to a new location to go camping, you might want to check your wireless provider’s coverage maps to see if you’ll have coverage before you head out. You might end up finding out that you already have everything you need to get access to the Internet while you’re camping.
Here is AT&T’s wireless coverage map. https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html
Here is Verizon’s wireless coverage map. https://www.verizon.com/reusable-content/landing-page/
Here is T-Mobile’s wireless coverage map. https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map
Now that Sprint and T-Mobile have merged, these are the three major carriers that you’ll be dealing with. Pretty much all of the smaller carriers like Mint Mobile, Cricket, Metro-PCS, etc., all run off of these three carrier networks.
Get A 4G Dongle
Tethering your phone with your other devices is the least complicated way of getting the Internet while camping but it isn’t always possible. In this case, you may want to get a 4G dongle that you can connect to your laptop.
These dongles will give your laptop a WLAN connection and you can often buy data packages to use along with the dongle. Currently, 4G is the way to go, but once 5G becomes more widespread, you’ll have blazing fast Internet even when camping and hiking in the wild.
Going camping in the wilderness? Check out the link below!
Use A Mobile Modem
Get a mobile modem and you’ll be able to create your own small wireless network that you can use with all of your devices. If your friends and family members also need the Internet during your camping trip, they’ll be able to access it as well.
These devices cost money to buy and you’ll have to pay for the data you use. Defray some of these costs by splitting them between the friends you’re camping with.
Stay At A Campground With Wifi
Many people don’t know this, but a lot of campgrounds actually have Wifi. This is true for some state and national parks and it is especially true for many private campgrounds.
Campgrounds with Wifi often have other great amenities that you can take advantage of as well. You may find that a small increase in campsite fees buys you a much better camping experience.
Camp Near A Wifi Access Point
Do you really need to use the Internet the entire time you’re camping? If not, consider “commuting” back to a Wifi access point.
Some places to get Wifi are coffee shops, truck stops, chain restaurants, fitness centers, and even grocery stores.
Try to combine your trips so that you can accomplish more than one task. For example, if you’re short on supplies, head to the grocery store and get your Wifi there. If you’re in need of a hot shower, head to the truck stop instead.
This strategy will reduce the number of trips you need to take back into town and will give you more time at your campsite.
Get A Satellite Internet Plan
A satellite Internet plan is probably your most expensive and most involved setup for getting the Internet while camping. You’ll need satellite equipment and you’ll need direct views of the sky to get a good Internet connection.
People looking to go camping long term can still greatly benefit from a satellite Internet plan while weekend warriors and vacationers may find it makes more sense just to do without the Internet for a few days.