Internet Access

When people hear we are on the road full-time, they often ask us what we are doing for internet access. Obviously we have it, because I am able to post my blog almost every day. But internet access on the road has its own trade-offs.

My cell phone has been getting plenty of use.
My cell phone has been getting plenty of use.

Our primary method of internet access is making our smart phones “hotspots.”  So far this has worked really well, but we’ve been on Ohio and Michigan, where our cell service is very reliable.  We have a plan where we can use 20 gigabytes of data a month.  Beyond this amount, the price per gigabyte gets expensive.  I think Verizon is trying to keep people from using too much bandwidth.

It is amazing how quickly we can go through 20 gigabytes of data.  When we had Time Warner internet, we never worried about how many gigabytes we used because we had unlimited gigabytes.  How much is a gigabyte of data?  One hour of streaming video is a gigabyte.  Four hours of surfing the net is a gigabyte.  An hour of watching youtube is a gigabyte.

When our phones are the only source of our internet, it doesn’t take Tom and I long to use up 20 gigabytes.  We reached 15 gigabytes on the 24th day of our 30 day cycle.  Argh!  Drat those rainy days in Michigan this month!

Consequently we have been more creative this last week.  We used John’s wifi for a couple days.  We are staying at campgrounds with free (although painfully slow) internet.  We can go to any of the dozens of restaurants close by with free internet. And we can even go to the local library, which probably has free wifi access.  We think we will make it through the month without going over, and we will be more careful next month.

This winter will be a different kind of challenge.  Tom and I accepted volunteer positions at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley and we are staying at a campground that has absolutely no cell phone service.  We are looking at several options, including driving an hour a couple of times a week to a place that gets cell service.  I’m sure I will be writing a post about what we figure out.

Staying connected is a little harder on the road but it is necessary.  We love hearing from people and being able to keep in touch – so let me hear from you!

(Updated Oct 4). I heard that Verizon had a promotion this month where you can get plans with 40 Gb of data for the same price as 20, so I called them and asked if we could get that rate.  No problem!  We now have twice as much data for the same price as before.  No more running out before the end of the month.  Score!