Starlink for RV: Internet in Your RV While Boondocking in Remote Locations

Starlink for RV: Internet in Your RV While Boondocking in Remote Locations

Whether you need to check in with work, post photos of your latest adventure or just catch up on some emails, a good internet connection is key. And if you’re an RV enthusiast, then you know that having reliable internet access in a remote area can be a real game-changer.

Starlink for RV: What is Starlink?

Starlink is a satellite-based internet service that will provide low-latency, high bandwidth internet access to boondockers. This will be made possible through the deployment of thousands of Starlink satellites.

It’s always exciting when a new technology comes out that can potentially change the way we live our lives. That’s exactly what Starlink is doing for digital nomads everywhere—offering us a chance to have fast, reliable internet anywhere they go without worrying about data caps or cell reception no matter how remote we’re boondocking.

For those who have bought their dream RV and are boondocking with no central cell provider nearby, you might be stuck without options when it comes to internet accessibility. If you are a digital nomad, Starlink is the solution you are looking for.

Why Is Mobile Internet so Important for RVers?

RVers need mobile internet for a variety of reasons. For many, it’s essential for working remotely. If you’re not a digital nomad, and don’t rely on the internet for income, then an unreliable connection might be okay. But for the majority of RVers who work on the road, having a solid mobile internet connection is key to running a successful business.

For example, back in the day, an extended road trip to the Arctic Ocean with no internet connection would have been unthinkable. But now, with Starlink internet you can connect your RV to the internet while boondocking in remote areas. This will let you stay connected to the world and also keep your loved ones updated on your adventures.

Starlink Is Very Scalable, so Bandwidth Should Not Be an Issue as They Grow

Starlink Kit 2nd Generation
Starlink Kit (2nd Generation)

One of the benefits of using a satellite system like Starlink is that it is very scalable. SpaceX has already deployed 1,469 Starlink satellites into orbit and is targeting a grand total of 30,000. This means that as the company grows, they will not have to worry about running out of bandwidth. Because their satellites are in low earth orbit, they will provide high-bandwidth service to any location on Earth. In addition, they do not have data caps, so you can use as much bandwidth as you need without having to worry about going over your limit.

What are the benefits of using Starlink?

The Pros Using Starlink for RV Are:

  • Starlink is a great option for people who like to travel and want to be able to watch their favorite TV shows and movies while on the road.
  • Starlink offers broadband download speeds of 200+ Mbps, which is more than enough bandwidth to support a full-time RV lifestyle.
  • For digital nomads who work online, Starlink gives them the option to boondock without worrying if they will have a reliable internet connection.
  • You can make and receive VOIP calls using the Wi-FI call option in your cell phone’s settings.
  • The biggest pro for digital nomads is that you don’t need any cell towers or hard lines-you can just hook up your Starlink to the satellite. This makes it a great option for those who like to travel off-grid (i.e., boondocking).

The Cons of Using Starlink for RV Are:

  • You must have a clear view to the Northern sky as trees, canyon walls, etc. can keep Starlink from getting a signal. For RVers, this means finding a campsite that has minimal or no trees around them.
  • Hardware requires installation.
  • Software app set-up is required.
  • Requires AC electricity. (It has been reported that a 12 volt DC option is coming).
  • Monthly payments of $110.00 is better suited to the full-time RVer as opposed to the to the RVer who camp 3 or 4 times a year.

Benefits for Full-Time RVers and Boondockers

There are many ways to get internet service in your RV, but not all of them are equal. Some RVers rely on their cell phone plans for internet service, but this can be unreliable, especially in rural or remote areas where there is little or no cell coverage. 5G, 4G, and 3G speeds can often be challenging to receive in these places. (See: Staying Connected to the Internet on the Road in a RV—The RV Digital Nomad Guide for more info).

Starlink’s fast speeds could make long journeys a breeze for full-time RVers and boondockers. However, because of the $109 monthly subscription fee, Starlink Internet will probably benefit full-time RVers and digital nomads more than “weekenders” who camp only a few times every year.

Roaming Is Now Available

The Starlink group on Facebook and Reddit are filled with happy comments on being able to get Starlink internet service at multiple locations.

In early February 2022, a firmware update added a line indicating “Roaming=true” to the Starlink app debug information. This was celebrated by RV boondockers, as roaming with Starlink is now available in remote areas without having to switch their “home base” service address each time they move to a new location. Hundreds of Starlink users have since confirmed that they are able to roam and access the internet through their RV’s Starlink dishy.

Since Starlink is now available in roaming mode, RVers can connect to the internet while boondocking in remote areas. However, it is important to note that as of this publication date that your signal may be degraded as Starlink states it is a “best effort” while roaming outside your service address.

Roaming has been a big deal for a long time because it used to be so much harder to get connected while on the go, since you could only change your service address if you were lucky enough to be one of the select people chosen by Starlink. However, as of April 7th, 2019, everyone now appears to have access to this service. In fact, if you order Starlink now, it has been reported by many new users that Starlink is now being shipped with roaming turned on.

Order Your Starlink Hardware Now, Get in 10 days or less!

One unique aspect to the nomadic lifestyle is that most full-time RVers generally don’t have a fixed address that they specifically need permanent Starlink service at—so technically anywhere in the US can be used as a service address. So, if your plan is to travel with Starlink, then it really doesn’t matter where your service address is when you order it—especially now that Starlink service seems to successfully roam when away from the set service address. You just need to find an empty cell that will accept orders and then enter your shipping address so your order will be shipped right to you. Detailed instructions are available here.

The Starlink Kit Shipped to You Contains:

  • The Satellite Antenna (dish).
  • A tripod-stand for satellite antenna.
  • A router, power supply and connecting wires.

Dishy is delivered pre-assembled to your doorstep and all you have to do is plug it in. The setup process is quick, straightforward and worry-free. The Starlink app can be used to set up the router’s internet name and password, then you can log-in and start browsing on the Internet.

Installing Your Starlink Hardware

The process of setting up Starlink is as simple as it gets. It only takes about 20 minutes to set up the hardware and then you can immediately start surfing the web from anywhere in your RV.

  1. Find a place to set your Starlink dish on top of your RV or on a picnic table or even on the ground.
  2. Make sure you have a clear view of the Northern sky.
  3. Run the cord from the Starlink antenna into your RV. An easy method to do this is to run the cord through the rubber gaskets in your slide out.
  4. Connect the antenna cord to the Starlink router.
  5. Connect the power cord to the router.

Refund Information

You have a 30-day window in which you can return the Starlink equipment if you decide it’s not for you. After that, there is a one-year refund policy in place. If your Starlink kit is stolen, destroyed or otherwise removed from your premises without your authorization, you must provide notice via the Starlink Customer Portal immediately. The service has several restrictions, including no refunds after 30 days and a one-year warranty.

Final Thoughts

Starlink is the first ever satellite network that provides broadband internet service to RV campers and trailers. It’s a game-changing, life-changing service for those who want to cut the bonds to home or office and explore remote areas. With Starlink, there is no need for cell towers or Wi-Fi hotspots; you simply need an unobstructed view of the Northern sky.

Happy Trails,

SIG DoraKSaparow 1
Working from Anywhere: My Life as a Digital Nomad

Working from Anywhere: My Life as a Digital Nomad

My husband and I bought a RV trailer and a truck eight years ago and I put my thriving web design firm, Dora Kay Design, on the road.

Like most folks who work online, I work full-time. When your profession involves building websites on the internet, geographic freedom is one of the perks.

I’m passionate (even obsessed!) about web design, and I can do it from anywhere … so I do.

Boondocking in Apple Valley3 1 scaled
Boondocking in Apple Valley – My office” (D.Saparow)

Our home is in Denver, Colorado, but my husband and I travel all over North America for about nine months every year. During that time, my “home office” has a constantly changing view. Blue skies, mountains, rolling hills—the beauty of nature surrounds me and inspires me to do my best work as a creative. I make stunning, powerful websites while looking out at vistas which would take your breath away.

AL Salmon Glacier 1 scaled
Salmon Glacier 9D. (D. Saparow)

I couldn’t work from anywhere without some essential tools—because even though I’m sometimes far from civilization, my clients deserve quick responses to their questions and concerns. I never want web connectivity issues to interfere with deadlines or deliverables.

Eight years into being a digital nomad I’ve perfected my tech set-up.

I have:

  1. A laptop loaded up with all my design software,
  2.  A 4G LTE smartphone with a truly unlimited data plan, which powers up a WiFi hotspot on demand, and 
  3. A dedicated hot spot device. (Optional but recommended.)
  4. 4G LTE booster. With it, I can get a reliable internet connection even where most smartphones wouldn’t.
  5. A VPN (Virtual Private Network). While traveling, if I don’t have a signal at our campsite, I work on websites on a wide range of Wi-Fi networks in coffee shops, libraries, restaurants, etc. With a VPN, my data is protected.

(A laptop, smartphone, and booster are all I need … but I’m eagerly awaiting the rollout of satellite-enabled Starlink for RVs. Simple, always-on high-speed internet in the remotest of remote areas? Yes, please!)

Denali National Park and Preserve2 scaled
Denali National Park and Preserve2 scaled

I take customer service seriously. Me staying connected to the internet means you’ll be able to contact me or someone on my web team anytime. Simply go here and we’ll get back to you promptly. I don’t work from an office, but I’m just as available to my clients as I would be if I did.

Littlefield AZ PANO scaled
Washington, Utah – Another view from my “home office”.

Some people complain that their life is all work and no play. And I’ll be honest—some people see my photos and think my life is all play and no work.

But the truth is, what we’ve found on the road is balance.

Balance. An elusive thing, but worth striving for.

Happy Trails,

SIG DoraKSaparow 1
Staying Connected to the Internet on the Road in a RV—The RV Digital Nomad Guide

Staying Connected to the Internet on the Road in a RV—The RV Digital Nomad Guide

You are RV living on the road and exploring the North American highways in your RV. You have an online business to run and it is essential that you have an internet connection. You are boondocking in a remote area and your 4G LTE signal is weak, or doesn’t exist at all.

When you’re on the road, you may run into times where it’s difficult to stay connected to the internet-especially if you like to boondock in remote areas. The variety of solutions I use to stay connected to the internet will be the topic of this blog post.

What Options are Available to Stay Connected on the Road?

The first step is looking at your connectivity options.that are available to you. If you want to work remotely, you’ll need a reliable internet connection. It’s best to choose a service provider that offers unlimited data and has a good network coverage. IMO, Verizon and AT&T seem to have the best 4G LTE coverage. I have Verizon and have been happy with the connection coverage provided by them.

Common 4G LTE and Wi-Fi Connection Solutions for a RV

Cellular Data

Cellular Data is a type of network which allows mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Cellular data has been around for over 20 years and it is now the most used form of data communication.

If you ‘re a weekend camper who likes to stay in full service RV parks or a campground or RV park that you know has a strong signal, a cell phone and/or tablet is all you need to connect to the Internet.

Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is a convenient way to connect with people and the world around you. They can be found in many places that require wireless internet access, such as coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, and airports. What is even more amazing about the Public Wi-Fi is that they are free to use. This means you can connect with your friends, family, and business associates without having to worry about the cost of data charges.

Tethering and Portable Hotspot

Most of today’s cell phones and tablets have a hotspot option available. Using your phone or tablet as a hotspot is a great way to connect your portable devices, such as your laptop, smartphone or tablet, with the Internet. Basically, this means you can use your smartphone as a hotspot to share data between other devices within range.

A disadvantage is that data usage is battery intensive, making it impractical if you plan on using the hotspot all day.

Another solution would be to purchase a dedicated cellular hotspot. A cellular hotspot is a small stand-alone device that connects to the cellular data connection and allows your laptop, cell phone or tablet to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. If it has an antenna option (most do,) pick up a Mi-Mo antenna that attaches to your RV window via a suction cup. It could mean the difference between finding a 4G LTE signal or not.

4G LTE Signal Booster

Digital nomads RVers should consider adding a 4G LTE booster to their RV for better connectivity. A booster can help you stay connected on the road when boondocking in remote areas.

With more and more people choosing to live the RV lifestyle, many RVers are discovering what it’s like to live off the grid. One of the challenges faced by digital nomads is maintaining a strong internet connection. A 4G LTE booster can help you stay connected on the road when boondocking in remote areas.

Wi-Fi Signal Booster

A Wi-Fi signal booster can mean the difference between getting a Wi-Fi signal or not in a full-service RV park that has spotty service. I’ve also used this booster when we’re dry camping overnight in a Walmart or a Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Satellite Internet

Satellite Internet is another way to stay connected when you are in a place with limited cellular service. This technology allows you to connect to the Internet using a satellite dish or antennae. In most cases, you will need to purchase this type of Internet service in order to use it – and it can be quite expensive. While not nearly as fast as cellular data, it’s a great alternative if you want to stay connected in places with limited cellular service.

(But wait, look what’s the best new thing that is coming soon to RVers…)

SpaceX Starlink Satellite Internet service is coming for RVs!

(Starlink is here NOW! Read about it here.)

SpaceX is working on a specific antenna that will wire vehicles like semi trailers and RVs to its internet network. Elon Musk said in a tweet, “This is for aircraft, ships, large trucks & RVs.” Source: Elon Musk wants to connect RVs and trucks to the internet through SpaceX’s Starlink satellites (msn.com)

It’s easier to maintain than actually connecting a traditional cellular connection and much faster than your average home Internet. I know that when the Starlink Satellite Internet Services is available for RV’s I’ll be one of the first customers in line!

Channel Islands National Park3 1
Channel Islands National Park

Finding a Connection in an RV Park

There are many benefits to staying at an RV park, one of the main being the amenity package. Amenities vary depending on the campground, but there will be nearby shops for groceries and gas, laundry facilities, parks and activities for the kids to enjoy, and other amenities including Wi-Fi.

That said, one downside of RVing in some campgrounds is the lackluster Wi-Fi service many park and campgrounds are known for. I’ve tried some campgrounds that offered me a connection only to find an unserviceable internet connection upon arrival.

Wi-Fi boosting devices can help with a poor campground Wi-Fi signal so they’re worth considering to avoid technological frustration. They won’t always provide the boost of service needed, but they will at least improve your current signal if you’re in a really remote area.

Finding a Connection at Your Campsite

It can be hard to keep in contact with people while exploring some of the United States’ most beautiful and remote places, especially since cell phone coverage varies from one area to another – even when you have the best carriers.

When looking for a campsite, be sure to use the websites and apps listed below to check for signal reports from RVers, and always have a backup plan. Even if you’re using a cell signal booster, you have to be observant of your campsite’s existing signal.

For example, we were en route to our new campsite in Kings Canyon National Park when I learned that there was a hotel that had a signal and it was the only place that had a signal for miles around. When I got there, I checked the Wi-Fi on my Android cell phone and it indeed had a strong Wi-Fi signal. I checked with the front desk if it was all right to do some online work there and they said I could stay there as long as I want. And so I did!

Add a 4G cellular signal booster to your RV for better connectivity

If you are traveling and need to stay connected, consider using a 4G LTE booster. There have been times where my booster turned an unusable signal into a signal that was fast enough I could do my work.

Boosters work only for existing signals and can’t boost weak or dead ones. Use your “The Cell app” for a 4G signal – any 4G LTE signal, even if it is ½ of a bar or less. If there’s a whisper of a signal, I have a chance of making it useable simply by turning on my 4G LTE booster. Doing so will usually add one or more bars to the 4G signal – which can make the difference in getting my work done.

Full Service RV Park

Another option is to find a full-service RV park which has a strong Wi-Fi signal. Unfortunately, RV Parks in general have a bad reputation for Wi-Fi and the signal can be weak or non-existent. As a general rule, the closer you are to the park office, the better the Wi-Fi signal.

Find a Connection in a Nearby City

I love to camp in remote locations. For example, when we were in Alaska, we found a place to boondock that surrounded us with mountains on both sides and it had a river running through it! It was like we were living in a postcard. We were completely cut off from civilization and I was in boondocking heaven!

Unfortunately, we were so remote that our communication with the outside world was also completely cut off. Since I had a Zoom meeting with my boss later that afternoon, I had to figure out a way to get online.

I checked my cell app again for a signal. Nope. Not even a whisper of signal. Our 4G signal booster is good, but it can’t make something from nothing.

What to do? One option I have is I can drive to the nearest town and seek out free Wi-Fi in coffeehouses, restaurants, libraries, and visitors centers. Sometimes I don’t even have to leave my vehicle, as the signal is strong enough to reach the parking lot.

Also, many Wi-Fi businesses leave their Wi-Fi on after hours.

*Note that many public hotspots require that you know the hotspot’s password. Hotspots are also sometimes available in parks and visitor centers, but again, they may be password-protected. The hotspot service provider often provides the password upon request.

Denali National Park and Preserve2
Denali National Park and Preserve

Argh! There are no nearby cities…

We’re boondocked along the Dempster Highway in the Engineer Creek Campground, 130 miles from the Arctic Circle. As expected, my 4G LTE booster reads nada. The nearest city is 235.0 km away—time to kick back, relax and have a brewski!

LOL Not really. Fortunately, I had researched this destination, and I knew there would be no options to get online (big surprise!) so I let my web-team know I will be offline for “X” number of days and they will respond to anybody who contacts Dora Kay Design.

This doesn’t mean I’m sitting around doing nothing. I simply take my design work offline. I have all my design software on my laptop and I use a WordPress emulator called Local to work on a copy of the WordPress website projects I’m working on. Google Docs also has an offline option, which is nice.

Fortunately, we are rarely out of options unless we are in a remote area like the North West Canadian Territories or remote areas in Alaska.

Do Your Research Online to Find a Signal Before You Arrive at Your Destination!

Research, Research, Research!

Boondocking while traveling in an RV typically requires more planning ahead of time. Most campgrounds and RV parks have Wi-Fi, but cell service may be spotty or non-existent when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Learn about your next destination before you leave for your next boondocking site.

Here’s what I do:

  1. The first thing I do when researching our next boondocking destination is to go to the Compendium website. We’ve found some real nice boondocking places to stay at on this site and it’s an excellent starting point to find nearby boondocking sites. I check out all the photos, read the info and all the reviews to find out the details about the campground, so we will have a good idea of what to expect when we get there. Compendium even shows if there are any 4G LTE signals available and how strong the signal is. Nice!
  2. Once I decide on a boondocking site, I go to Google Maps and zoom in on the area in satellite mode to check out the roads and surrounding terrain. And since we have solar onboard, are there any sites not covered with trees?
  3. Next I call the forest ranger office nearest to the site and find out if there are any “gotchas” we need to know about before we get there. Is the area closed? Are there any nearby forest fires? Are there any other boondocking areas available for RVs?

When looking for a campsite, be sure to also use the websites and apps listed below to check for signal reports from RVers, and always have a backup plan!

Apps & Website Tools I Use to Find Places to Boondock

Compendium website (IOS / PC)

Forest Service

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Network Cell Info Lite – Mobile & WiFi Signal – Apps on Google Play

freecampsites.net (Android/IOS/ PC)

This app is excellent for finding boondocking sites to stay at. For the most part it is accurate but sometimes we got to our destination it wasn’t what we were expecting so I use freecampsites.net to get a view of the area I am interested in boondocking and then use the website Compendium to verify my findings.

Happy Trails,

SIG DoraKSaparow 1
How to Find Free Wi-Fi in Any City

How to Find Free Wi-Fi in Any City

Wi-Fi is a necessary amenity for many people who work outside the home. These days, many public spaces offer a selection of different options from traditional Wi-Fi to hotspots from cellular providers. You can find free Wi-Fi hotspots near you with this guide that will help you find the best option for your needs.

Wi-Fi is a necessary amenity for many people who work outside the home. These days, many public spaces offer a selection of different options from traditional Wi-Fi to hotspots from cellular providers. You can find free Wi-Fi hotspots near you with this guide that will help you find the best option for your needs.

Usually, these spots are in public spaces or at libraries. There are also hotspots in popular fast food chains, ice cream parlors, and restaurants where you’re likely to find one too! Let’s take a closer look…

But first, how to use public Wi-Fi safely

Public Wi-Fi is pretty insecure and there are many ways that hackers can access the information on your device, including through cookies, tracking software, keyloggers, phishing sites, bad passwords and malware. Hackers can easily steal your data if you’re using a public Wi-Fi point and logins or credit card numbers should be avoided at all costs.

You can stay safe online by signing up for a virtual private network (VPN) service to encrypt your connection and make it more secure. A VPN is a type of security software that protects your internet connection by encrypting your data. This prevents hackers from accessing your sensitive information, such as passwords and other personal details, while you are online.

Free Wi-Fi hotspots can be found in the hundreds of thousands of locations throughout the US

One off the easiest way to find free wifi hotspots is by using Google Maps—just search for “free Wi-Fi ” or “find free Wi-Fi near me“.

If you are on a cell phone or tablet, the best Free Wi-Fi Finder app I found (and use) is an essential travel companion for everyone who relies on free Wi-Fi to stay connected. It will help you find free Wi-Fi hotspots in over 260 countries around the world. (Android | IOS | PC )

It’s estimated that there are over 1 million hotspots in the US, with the number growing every day. With this many hotspots, it’s easier than ever to get online.

Coffee Shops:

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Dunkin’ Donuts

Peet’s Coffee

Starbucks

Tim Horton’s

Fast Food Restaurants:

Arby’s

Burger King

McDonald’s

Chick-Fil-A

KFC

Panera Bread

Subways

Taco Bell

Wendy’s

Retailers:

Apple Stores

Best Buy

Barnes & Noble

Buffalo Wild Wings 

Applebees

Dollar General

Lowe’s

Home Depot

Marriott Hotels

Target

Whole Foods

Staples

Office Depot

Walmart

Community services that offer free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly common in many small community institutions. These tend to be great choices when you want to get online when you are on the road, or when you’re on a budget.

The Library (Dora’s favorite public hotspot)

Libraries are a great place to work. Free wifi and usually a good amount of space to work make it an ideal location for freelancers and remote workers.

City hall

City halls are a great place to find free Wi-Fi. They’re also a good place to get information and service about the city.

Trains and Subways

In larger cities, train stations and subway stations offer solid Wi-Fi service, and some cities and train services even offer free Wi-Fi on the trains and subway cars themselves.

Visitor centers

If you’ve ever traveled to a new destination, you know how often you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. It can be hard to know where to go or what to do. Luckily, there’s one place that almost every major tourist destination has: the visitor center. These centers are typically provided by the government and will have maps, brochures, and good wifi service that you can use to find your way around.

Shopping Malls

Many shopping malls offer free Wi-Fi. Some larger malls have comfortable seating and plug-ins for charging.

Airports

Airports offer great Wi-Fi. You can get free access to all types of services like social media, emails, online shopping and more, plus, the Wi-Fi is usually fast enough to stream videos or download files in no time.

Hospitals

Many hospitals offer free Wi-Fi, and they can be a great place to get some work done.

What are Some Other Good Places for Finding Free Wi-Fi?

Chuches

Ferrys

Gyms

Hotels

Museums, zoos and other attractions

Pharmacies

Public Parks

Universities and colleges

I hope this guide has been helpful and that you can use it to get some work done. Remember, if there is a city nearby, chances are you will find free Wi-Fi!

Happy Trails,

SIG DoraKSaparow 1