How to get WIFI in a Campervan
If you're planning a trip in your campervan then you'll likely be thinking about connectivity and how you'll be able to access the things you normally would from your devices whilst you're away, especially if its your first time on one of these trips.
The great news is that there are now lots of different options for mobile WIFI in a campervan which gives you internet connectivity wherever you're set up to camp. Whether you decide to rely on your own devices and their SIM cards or look for an already established internet connection
Our guide to campervan WIFI will give you an overview of the main ways that travellers set themselves up on their adventures. Read on for inspiration!
Connect to Campsite WIFI
The most obvious way to gain internet access whilst in your campervan is to connect to the WIFI for the campsite that you are staying at if it is available. This is a great way to get a solid satellite internet connection without having to pack another device and figure out how to use it.
Using an already set up wireless network has a lot of advantages, such as providing a reliable internet connection and WIFI signal strength the entire time that you are using it. However, depending on the location of the site it may not offer the best mobile WIFI or a weak WIFI signal in comparison to those in more connected areas.
However, not every site will provide you with free WIFI and will instead charge a set amount per day or for the duration of your stay. This is worth considering when you weigh up which mobile internet connection type will be the best for you and the most cost effective.
They may also have restrictions on what you are able to use the connection for. For example some public connections ask that you don't stream TV or undertake activities that would use a large amount of data.
Use Your Mobile Phone as a Hotspot Device
The second option is to use your mobile phone signal and amplify it as a personal hotspot device whilst travelling. This will use the data allowance attached to your SIM card and allow you to connect devices that don't use a SIM to the internet.
This is usually done through the settings of your device where you have to manually select to set up the device as a hotspot and allow other devices to connect to it. Always set a secure password for your hotspot to make sure that only your devices are able to access it.
Mobile WIFI won't give you the same speeds as the fibre broadband you might have at home so do be prepared to have some slower loading times and it will see you reach your data usage quicker than you usually do.
Your network provider might have a cap on the amount of data you can use through your mobile hotspot so it's worth double checking this and to see if you need to purchase anything additional for your current data plan. If you think that you'll use a lot of mobile data then you can always purchase additional data ahead of your trip so that you don't get caught out and unable to use your device as a WIFI hotspot.
Use A WIFI Dongle
If you're taking your laptop with you for either work or pleasure then a WIFI dongle is a great option for staying connected. It's essentially a USB device that you plug into your computer's USB port which gives you instant internet signal with no setup of software necessary.
Instead they contain a built-in network adapter and connects to the 3G, 4G, or 5G mobile network providers that your phone does and means that you can pick up a stronger connection in poor signal areas or on the move.
They're also a great idea if you are planning to work as if you're stopped in a a public place you'll have your own secure data connection and won't have to share the bandwidth with other users. However they do only provide connection to one device, meaning that you can't connect multiple devices.
If you'd like to be able to connect multiple devices at the same time you'll need to look for a MIFI device. These work more like a router that you may have at home and are sometimes referred to as mobile broadband routers.
They don't use USB ports and allow you to connect your device wirelessly to the network by selecting the network and inputting the password and come with a small rechargeable battery so that they don't need to be plugged in at all times for you to use them.
Both WIFI and MIFI devices will require a monthly, yearly, or pay-as-you-go tariff but usually have lots of pricing options available depending on the amount of data you think you will need.
Use A Motorhome WIFI booster
Another option is a motorhome WIFI booster which is an external antenna or small box which fixes to the top of your vehicle and boosts any WIFI signal that it receives. As it's a much more permanent fixture it's really more of an option if you own your campervan or motorhome rather than if you're renting one for a short period of time.
This is a great option for a faster and more reliable connection and the best option if you plan to be streaming videos or movies whilst set up to camp. However, they do not generate a signal in the same way as a dongle does, instead they only amplify an existing signal so will work in combination with another method of connectivity such as mobile WIFI routers.
Please note that some motorhome WIFI router options will add height to your campervan or motorhome which may limit your accessibility to some routes or locations. Your chosen option will advise of this in the product details so it is best to check these before purchasing and installing to your vehicle.
Things to Remember
Your device must have a SIM card to connect directly to the internet. If it does not have a SIM card it will need to be connected to a WIFI signal in order to access the internet. This includes devices such as laptops and many tablets and e-readers so you will need to have one of the above methods available to allow them to use their network connectivity features.
Read reviews from real travellers as they'll give you the best insights into these connection methods and which ones are best for their activities. They'll be honest about any difficulties they faced in setting up, connecting, and using the method you're considering and will also give you tips on what they found worked best.
Sometimes technology has hiccups so make sure that you have any important information, such as your route, accessible without the internet. Take a physical map with you or download route instructions ahead of your trip to make sure that you aren't caught out in the event that your connection lets you down.
This is a very brief overview of how you can access the internet whilst you're travelling and designed to be a starting point to help you on your journey to connectivity on the road. Once you've decided what the best option for your trip is make sure that you do ample research on any products that you are thinking of investing in and the data usage that your activities will consume.