Staying Connected the RV Way

By:  Kelly Barnett

9th Mar, 17


In this day and age technology is all around us. We carry our phones with us, our watches can tell us how far we've walked or monitor our heart rate, we can monitor the goings on in our homes while we're away, automobiles run on electricity and drive themselves, photographs are instantaneous…and that just barely scratches the surface.

We as RVers may enjoy the simple things in life; i.e. a night spent around the campfire with friends and family, but we still want to stay connected to the 'real' world. We want to have daily text conversations with our kids, receive pictures of our five beautiful grandbabies as often as possible, surf the internet, make phone calls whenever the need arises, watch all our favorite TV shows and play games on our tablets when we feel like it. We are technology junkies.

Staying connected isn't always easy when you're camping for weekend getaways or living full time in your travel trailer. But it can be done!

How do we stay connected? Read on to find out!

Cell Phones – We have found that throughout our travels around the country that Verizon has the most consistent coverage overall. That's not to say that there aren't areas where coverage is spotty or even non-existent, but for the most part we have no problem getting service with our Verizon phones.

We purchased a cheap 'burner' AT&T cell phone for when we know that we will be in an area that doesn't have good Verizon coverage, which is mostly when we are in some remote parts of the south Texas oil fields.

Internet – We have a Verizon 4G LTE Jetpack that provides us with good service in most places that we roam.  Every now and again we need to boost our signal and to do that we use our Wilson Amplifiers cradle signal booster.

The unfortunate thing about living in our Landmark 5th wheel is that we don't get unlimited data like you do in a normal sticks and bricks home. We get a monthly allotment and when it's gone it's gone…unless you choose to pay $15 for each gigabyte you use over your monthly allotment, which can become quite costly.

When we started full-timing in 2011 our plan provided us with 20 gigabytes of data per month…which was not nearly enough. We have increased our plan several times over the years and currently have 40 gigabytes per month and we finally seem to have found the right plan for us. Those 40 gigabytes are shared between our two phones, our internet usage and our son Dan and his wife's, phones (they graciously allow us to be on their plan and then we just pay them for our share of the bill each month.)

Television – I am a self-proclaimed TVaholic. I love TV. Whether it's a movie, TV drama, sitcom or a good mystery…I love to watch TV. Michael isn't too far behind but his preference would probably be news shows. Anyway…we watch a lot of TV and just watching TV through the TV antenna wasn't enough for us.

We went with DirecTV for our provider, I think it's mostly just personal preference when choosing a satellite provider. We have a dish that sits on a tripod that Michael tunes in using a satellite meter. The meter has been a Godsend and can be found HERE. The system works really well for us but others prefer the 'carryout' type of dish where you just set it out and it does its thing.

Can be a bit pricey but well worth it.

Because we are TVaholics we have three TVs in our tiny abode – one in the living room, one in the bedroom and one in the basement. And because we want to be able to watch whatever we want to watch in any of those locations we've taken advantage of DirecTV's Whole Home system. Whole Home allows us to DVR up to five shows at a time and to watch them on any of our three TVs. We use the 'distant network' option (and additional $15.00 per month) and are able to choose to receive our local channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.) from either the east coast or the west coast. We originally chose the east coast since our youngest son lived on Long Island at the time. 

Top: DVR box provided by DirecTV Bottom: Panasonic DVD player for watching movies

Perhaps we stay 'connected' a little more than some…but then again…maybe we're not 'connected' as much as others. Whatever the case may be…it works for us. You should do what works for you. If you can get by with picking up television just using your antenna, by all means, do it. If 40 gigabytes of internet usage wouldn't be enough for you, go with a larger package. [Editor's Note: at time of posting, Sprint and Verizon offer unlimited data plans] If you're a diehard Sprint (or some other provider) user…stick with that provider. There are a lot of options, you just have to decide what works best for YOU

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Kelly Barnett

Kelly Barnett


RV There Yet Chronicles

My husband, Michael, and I have been living fulltime in our 2011 Landmark Key Largo since April of 2011 and LOVE every minute of it. 

When Michael retired from the US Army in October of 2012 (after 29 years of service) we hit the road and haven’t looked back. 

We usually work in the south Texas oilfields in the winter and spend time with our two sons and their families in the summer. We travel and sight-see as much and often as possible.