The Best RV Internet Options (for 2023)

Traveling around in an RV is a fantastic way to explore and see the world. But just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean you can’t have access to fast internet service.

As a half-time RVer who works online as I travel, having access to the internet in my motorhome is incredibly important. Fortunately, there are several different RV internet options meaning it’s totally possible to stay connected while on the road.

Whether you need it for work, trip planning, or simply getting directions, finding ways to stay connected to the internet can be one of the many challenges to RV living.

Tucson-Lazydays KOA, Tucson, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These days, you can manage to stay online even while boondocking in the middle of nowhere.

If you’re wondering how to get internet in your RV, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’ll discuss the best RV internet options so you can have broadband in your RV no matter where you roam. 

Bakersfield RV Resort, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First, know your internet needs 

It is important that you understand what your needs are while traveling in your RV. Do you simply want to be able to surf the web and check your email? Or do you need to be able to hop on Zoom meetings regularly? What you need to get out of your internet connection will directly affect the type of RV internet options available to you. 

Coastal Georgia RV Resort, Brunswick, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 4 RV internet options

There are four main RV internet options to consider:

  • Free Wi-Fi networks
  • Paid Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Cellular options
  • Satellite internet

Each way to get online in your RV has pros and cons. 

Grandmas RV Camping, Elizabethtown, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Free Wi-Fi networks

Wherever you go, you almost always have the option of connecting to a public Wi-Fi—whether it is in a campground, Starbucks, or public library. Using public Wi-Fi can be a great way to save on internet costs especially if you plan to stay in campgrounds and RV parks and don’t want to wander too far into the wilderness. 

This is the most common use for multiple reasons. It is very widely available and often it’s free.

Still, campground Wi-Fi has its drawbacks. Often, these networks are slower and less reliable and there’s a good chance you’ll find it difficult to join video calls or stream TV. Since it is a public Wi-Fi, be sure to take the necessary safety and security precautions to protect your device and your information.

Using public and campground Wi-Fi networks is the least reliable option because public Wi-Fi is not always available—and even when it is the connection isn’t necessarily going to be great. However, public Wi-Fi is also the best way to get free internet on the road. It can be a good choice if you really only need the internet for recreational purposes.

Some things to consider are:

  • If it’s being used by lots of people, the speed can be slow.
  • Need a secure internet connection? Public Wi-Fi isn’t going to be your best bet.
  • Not all public Wi-Fi is free and unlimited. Some are monitored and you will receive a certain amount of usage over a timed period either free or paid. Access to some public Wi-Fi will have a fee possible to connect or for a time or data limit.

What I like about free hotspots

  • Cost: Free
  • Availability: You can find a free hotspot in almost any cafe or library

Things to consider

  • Safety: Public internet access can be risky
  • Location: You must be in a specific place to access it.
Frog City RV Park, Duson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Paid Wi-Fi hotspots

Many internet providers have nationwide hotspots that you can access through the service you have registered at your home address. Although they likely aren’t available in the wilderness, they are readily available in cities and towns throughout the country. For instance, Xfinity, one of the largest internet providers in the U.S. has over 8 million hotspots nationwide through which you can access the internet. Keep in mind that these hotspots are similar to public WiFi so use caution to keep your device and data secure.

What I like about paid hotspots

  • Mobile: It’s always with you
  • Data: If you have an unlimited plan, you don’t need to track usage

Things to consider

  • Availability: Some areas you travel to may not be covered
  • Data: If you don’t have an unlimited plan, overage costs can be pricey
  • Location: You must be in a specific place to access it.
Hacienda RV Resort, Las Cruces, New Mexico © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Cellular options

Getting online with your phone or hotspot device is popular. It’s easy to get, easy to use, and is something most people have some experience using already. That said, you can’t get cell reception everywhere and getting enough data can be costly. There are also a number of different cell carriers to choose from so you will need to do some research to decide which is best for you. 

Nomad Internet takes away the need for mobile hotspotting with one carrier by providing cellular internet from available carriers. For traveling nomads, this can be a great option for RV internet service. With a starting price of $149/mo. after a $99 one-time membership fee, you can enjoy unlimited data from the largest rural internet provider currently. 

What I like about cellular options

  • Availability: Nomad can keep you connected almost anywhere by accessing service from many major providers

Things to consider

  • Price: Can be expensive
Jack’s Landing RV Park, Grant’s Pass, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Satellite internet for RVers

Satellite internet was super slow and clunky up until recently. That said, Starlink RV internet is now on the market providing fast and reliable satellite internet pretty much anywhere you can clearly see the sky. Now you are no longer limited to cellular coverage areas. The issues:

  • You won’t get connected while parked under trees
  • Bad weather and the number of users in the area also impacts connectivity
  • The Starlink equipment requires electricity to get online
  • Some users find that it’s a bit expensive for their budget (at $599, the basic Starlink hardware isn’t inexpensive but the Flat High Performance kit more than quadruples that to $2,500)

Starlink RV internet just isn’t at a place where it can be the sole internet provider for travelers because of the connectivity issues.

What I like about Starlink RV

  • Availability: Starlink is available most anywhere and growing
  • Mobility: Surfing and streaming is available while you are driving

Things to consider

  • Price: Startup cost is expensive
Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get internet redundancy and good hardware

Once you decide which internet service option will work best for you, take a second look and decide on your second best option. Then, go ahead and invest in both the first and second pick. Some even have a third option in their back pocket as well. This is known as having internet redundancy.

Redundancy is especially important if you NEED to have internet access to do remote work from your RV. Both cellular broadband service and satellite internet are far from flawless. You may have connectivity issues when using either. And as I mentioned before, you never know when a public Wi-Fi network might not be usable.

However, if you have two or even three connectivity options available to you, you should be able to get online consistently pretty much anywhere. 

Hilltop RV Park, Fort Stockton, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider a cellular router

If you choose to go with cell service for your RV internet (and really, it’s best to have at least one cell plan available for use), you might want to consider investing in a cellular router. A good router will help pull in a better signal and amplify it throughout your rig. 

A router is especially handy if you have multiple cell plans.

Purchase a router with multiple card slots and you can use the router for all of your cell plans simultaneously rather than having an individual hotspot for each one. Some routers will even intelligently hop between networks for you, ensuring you always have the best connection possible. 

Try a cell phone signal booster

In addition to the aforementioned router, you can also invest in a cellular broadband booster. This device boosts whatever cell signal you’re pulling in. It ensures that if you have a connection at all, it is a stronger one. 

Get a Wi-Fi repeater

Want to take advantage of the free public Wi-Fi networks out there? Some RVers get a lot of use out of Wi-Fi repeater systems. These pull in Wi-Fi signals from the area and will actually amplify a signal making it usable inside your RV. This is one of the least expensive RV internet options but is also probably the least reliable.

Columbia Waterfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pro Tip 1: Plan RV trips around cell service

If you’re counting on cellular broadband internet service and/or public Wi-Fi networks, there are some areas you will need to avoid unless you can afford to be offline for the duration of your stay. 

In order to figure out whether you will have cell signal or access to Wi-Fi in a certain location, I recommend using campground review websites. Here, you can see if other campers have been able to connect to campground Wi-Fi or to various cell carriers. 

Katy Lake RV Park, Katy, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pro Tip 2: Avoid crowded places

My next tip for ensuring you have decent internet speeds? Avoid super crowded areas whenever possible. Cell towers can get overloaded when there are lots of RVers around trying to use them simultaneously. Likewise, Starlink for RVers will slow down when there are too many people using the service in one area—not to mention all those nearby rigs acting as obstructions to the sky. Because of this, ensuring you stay away from the crowds will give you a better chance of having good speeds. 

Starlink’s active high capacity coverage promise includes most of the US and Canada although about a quarter of the US from the Great Lakes down to Florida is less than perfect.

Sonoran Desert RV Park, Gila Bend, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Consider your needs and get connected

Getting internet in an RV is not as hard or as complicated as it can seem.

Figure out which of the RV internet options will work best for your needs? Then, start putting together your setup right away! Doing so will ensure you can work (and play) no matter where in the country you end up playing, working, and living.

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Worth Pondering…

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

—Stephen Hawking

What Is Starlink for RVs? Is It Right for You?

Are you curious about Starlink and wonder if Elon Musk’s satellite internet technology is right for you? I answer the most pressing questions about the system that’s currently shaking up the ISP (Internet service provider) market.

What is Starlink? Technically speaking, it’s a satellite internet system. But to many web users, it’s a potential godsend.

If you live in a city or a big suburb, you probably enjoy fast internet speeds, maybe at 1Gbps or beyond. But imagine enduring internet speeds at 20Mbps or even as low as 0.8Mbps every day. What’s worse, your home only has one or two internet service providers to choose from leaving you stranded with crummy service. 

Camping at Picacho Peak State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights

Unfortunately, people across the US and the globe are stuck in this very situation. Installing fiber in a city and bringing Gigabit broadband to millions of customers is potentially lucrative but not so much in a rural area home to only a few hundred people.

Enter Starlink. The satellite internet system from SpaceX is capable of delivering 150Mbps internet speeds to theoretically any place on the planet. All the customer needs is a clear view of the sky. In fall 2020, the system began serving its first users, many of whom were based in remote or rural regions of America—and the response was enthusiastic to say the least.

Below, I’ll cover basic questions about Starlink. 

Camping at My Kentucky Home State Park, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights

How does Starlink work? 

Satellite internet technology has been around for decades. It involves beaming internet data, not through cables, but via radio signals through the vacuum of space. Ground stations on the planet broadcast the signals to satellites in orbit which can then relay the data back to users on Earth.

One of the main existing providers has been HughesNet which relies on satellites 22,000 miles above the planet. SpaceX’s system improves on the technology in two notable ways:

The company uses low-Earth orbiting satellites that circle the planet at around 300 miles above the surface. The shortened distance can drastically improve the internet speeds while also reducing latency.

Second, SpaceX wants to launch as many as 40,000 satellites in the coming years to power the system ensuring global coverage without service dropouts.  

Camping at Poche’s RV Park, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights

Starlink RV service

Two years later in April 2022 SpaceX gifted a boon (albeit an expensive one) to digital nomads when it launched its Starlink RV service enabling internet connection in the types of remote, primitive spaces where it was definitely lacking.

One of the shortcomings of the service has been that it can only be used while stationary but now SpaceX has solved that issue with the new Flat High Performance Starlink option. With updated hardware, the service supports broadband internet while mobile allowing nomads to more productively use the time they spend commuting in the passenger seat. It could be a game changer for those who want to put in a day’s work without being stuck in one place.

German camper van manufacturer Alphavan was quick to jump on the news and declare itself the first camper company in the world to offer Starlink-ready vans. It will prep its vans for simple, plug-and-play compatibility with Musk’s off-grid internet service.

Camping at Lackawanna State Park, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights

Ever since its first satellites found their way into space in 2018, Starlink has sounded like a godsend for RVers, particularly those who regularly travel in wilderness areas without mobile coverage and those who rely on mobile internet to work remotely while on the road. But the service didn’t get started nearly as RV-friendly as it sounded on paper requiring users to log in with a specific location, a problem by definition for RVers and others on the move.

The Flat High Performance Starlink service relies on a flatter dish affixed to the vehicle with an included wedge mount. SpaceX says the service has a wide field of view and enhanced GPS capabilities to connect to more satellites at once and maintain a consistent connection on the go. The equipment is designed to hold up to wind and weather. However, SpaceX still advises users to keep the dish clear of snow to ensure the signal quality isn’t disrupted. “Heavy rain or wind can also affect your satellite internet connection, potentially leading to slower speeds or a rare outage,” the company says in a FAQ. The dishes were designed to operate between -22 degrees Fahrenheit up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Camping in Badlands National Park, South Dakota © Rex Vogel, all rights

Inability to connect while in motion was a major missing piece of Starlink’s RV service. While RVers certainly vary widely in their habits and connectivity needs, being able to connect reliably without having to park in one place seems like it’d be high on the wish list of anyone who moves around a lot but wants to make productive use of downtime in the RV. With the on-the-go Flat HP service, mobile remote workers can, theoretically, pick up and hit the road whenever they want while passengers are still able to log in and get work done without worrying about being offline for the entire ride.

While the Flat High Performance service solves one of the major shortcomings of Starlink for RVs, SpaceX’s untethered satellite internet is still subject to the whims of traffic. The company’s website still includes the disclaimer, “Network resources are always de-prioritized for Starlink for RVs users compared to other Starlink services resulting in degraded service and slower speeds in congested areas and during peak hours. Stated speeds and uninterrupted use of the service are not guaranteed. Service degradation will be most extreme in Waitlist areas on the Starlink Availability Map during peak hours.”

Camping at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights

So how well it actually works for those looking to connect on the road remains to be seen.

At US$599, the basic Starlink hardware isn’t inexpensive but the Flat High Performance kit more than quadruples that to $2,500. That’s a steep buy-in but possibly well worth it for those who can now get lucrative work done more efficiently while RVing. The service still costs $135/month and can be activated and paused as needed.

Starlink started shipping its Starlink for RVs flat high performance kit in December 2022 offering high-speed, low-latency internet on an as-needed basis in any destination where Starlink provides active coverage. Its active high capacity coverage promise includes most of the US and Canada although about a quarter of the US from the Great Lakes down to Florida is less than perfect. All of Europe is included as high capacity as is Brazil and Chile, much of Australia, and all of New Zealand.

Starlink says its new Flat High Performance Starlink allows users to enjoy high-speed, low-latency internet while in-motion. With a wide field of view and enhanced GPS capabilities, the Flat High Performance Starlink can connect to more satellites, allowing for consistent connectivity on the go.

Camping at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights

SpaceX to integrate Starlink directly on some RVs

Thor Industries says its family of RV companies will be the first RV original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to integrate SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet system. SpaceX plans on bringing its Starlink system directly to recreational vehicles through a partnership with Thor Industries, the world’s largest RV manufacturer. 

In a recent release (January 17, 2023) Thor Industries says it’s the first RV provider to work with SpaceX on integrating Starlink’s satellite internet system. The company plans on adopting the high-performance Starlink dish on select RV models offered this year.

Thor oversees 17 RV brands. But for now, only four—Airstream, Entegra Coach, Jayco, and Tiffin—will offer Starlink as an optional add-on.

The partnership with Thor Industries offers a way for SpaceX to sell more Starlink dishes to high-end buyers. Thor RVs can range from $100,000 to around $1 million. 

Camping at Jekyll Island Campground, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights

Of course, customers could buy the Starlink access separate from the RVs. But Thor says buyers will have the benefit of their Starlink dish being factory installed while receiving a “one-month service credit” when Starlink RV costs $135 per month for the internet access. In return, Starlink RV users can expect to receive download speeds ranging from 5 to 50Mbps at a time when the satellite internet service is facing congestion woes and SpaceX is preparing to implement a high-speed data cap for the satellite internet service. 

The news arrives months after Winegard, a provider of antenna equipment to RV makers, also entered into a partnership with SpaceX to sell flat high-performance Starlink dishes. In addition, cruise line operators and airlines have been adopting Starlink for in-flight and on-ship internet access.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights

The best solution for RV internet isn’t one solution

Marc and Tricia Leach of Keep Your Daydream have been RVing for years. Their YouTube channel equips new RVers to get on the road while providing travel tips and gear reviews. In their Starlink review video, Marc gives his opinion. Overall, he’s very happy with the product and believes it’s worth the $139/month fee. However, his biggest takeaway is that Starlink isn’t going to replace their other internet providers. Starlink RV internet just isn’t at a place where it can be the sole internet provider for travelers because of the connectivity issues.

Worth Pondering…

We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.

—Stephen Hawking