One of the biggest worries for most campers is how to get internet access while camping. Although nature features its charm, it is very likely that you would like to stay connected to your beloved ones, waiting for you back home. Well, there are a few ways to achieve that, and most of them are even free.
There are six ways to get internet access while camping:
- Use mobile phone tethering and connect your laptop to its WiFi
- Bring a portable USB modem or router.
- Purchase a portable modem which will allow you to connect multiple devices.
- Take advantage of the campground WiFi.
- Use public hotspots along the way (pubs, restaurants, etc.).
- Try the portable satellite dish.
1. Mobile Phone Tethering
You can use your smartphone to tether internet connection to the laptop. The only downside to this is that it drains the battery much faster and also you may incur higher internet charges than if you were browsing from your phone.
Before paying for the internet and tethering your phone, confirm that your phone is within network range and the internet is accessible. Otherwise, it will be very frustrating to use an internet connection with poor network access.
If you are using an iPhone, the option to tether your phone can be found in Settings under the personal hotspot option. In most Android phones, you can access it on Tethering and Hotspot under Wireless and Networks settings.
Mobile phone tethering is the easiest way to access the internet while camping.
2. USB Modem or Router
Some modems and routers can be plugged into a computer’s USB port to connect the computer to the internet. They are also tiny and easily portable so that you can carry them on any camping trip.
As long as your internet service provider has coverage in the area you are going camping, you are assured of internet access. Most USB modems and routers only come with 3G internet access.
USB modems and routers come with various payment plans including prepaid option so that you can choose the one you are comfortable with.
They are cheap and affordable too. Once you insert the modem into the USB port, your computer will automatically detect it and install the necessary drivers. All you have to do is set up the connection.
3. Mobile Modems
Mobile modems are another option you can also consider for internet access when camping. They are small enough to fit into a pocket and are therefore easily portable.
One of the advantages of mobile modems is that it can be used for internet connectivity on multiple devices. They are also encrypted and much more secure than using public WiFis.
There are factors such as the number of devices that will be connected and the modem speeds among others that you will have to consider before settling on a particular choice of a mobile modem.
While they usually have monthly data subscriptions, some providers have the option of the pay-as-you-go. Modems have however download limits that can be restricting and is only recommended for light browsing.
4. Campground Wi-Fi
Some campgrounds provide WiFi connections for their clients. While some charge a fee for anyone to get WiFi access, others offer it for free as part of their services.
Campground WiFi is very convenient as you don’t have to worry about looking for options. However, such public WiFi can be a security threat, so you need to be cautious when accessing the internet through them.
One of the biggest dangers of using an unsecured public WiFi is that hackers can have access to your private information and use them for malicious purposes.
Before connecting to the campground Wi-Fi, find out whether it is a secure connection or not. If it is not, you would rather pay out of your pocket to have your personal internet access.
5. WiFi Hotspots
If your campground does not provide a WiFi connection or it is unsecured, you can find WiFi hotspots elsewhere. Ask if there are nearby libraries, restaurants or public parks that have WiFi hotspots.
However, just like with campground Wi-Fi, remember that internet security is of utmost importance. You could end up having your computer infected with viruses and malware or having your identity stolen. Attackers could also monitor and intercept any unencrypted data sent through unsecured connections.
If you must connect to a WiFi Hotspot, it is advisable to set up a Virtual Private Network and turn off Network Sharing option on your network. You can also enable the Firewall on your computer and only access websites with SSL security encryption.
6. Portable Satellite Dish
Satellite internet is very demanding and expensive. It should be your last option if you are in an extremely remote camp with no internet access.
Portable satellite dishes, however, provide high-speed internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connections. They can withstand extreme weather conditions, and you are therefore assured of connectivity no matter what.
You merely have to be willing to go through the trouble of setting them up, and dismantling them when you are done camping.
The satellite dishes come in different sizes, and you take the time to choose one that is most suitable for your needs. Finding the right equipment is at times a very daunting task. You, therefore, need to be patient if you are to get value for your money.
How to Stay Safe on Campground WiFi & Public Hotspots
Here are five ways to keep you safe and secure when using public services for WiFi connection. This way your personal data will not be exposed to strangers;
Ensure it is a Secure Network Connection
Always remember to verify the network before connecting your devices to it.
Talk to an employee of the establishment and ask them if the system is legitimate and if they can provide the IP address of the network provider. Verifying the name of the network protects you from being a victim to cheeky hackers who set up fake systems.
Another way to ensure that the connection is secure is to turn off file sharing options on the network. This makes it impossible for hackers to access your files and to also upload viruses and malware onto your devices.
Only allow file sharing on interfaces that you trust, and you shouldn’t trust networks that are accessible to members of the public.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A Virtual Private Network is a tool that allows you to have a very secure connection on any public network. VPNs act as a tunnel between you and the network servers and encrypt data such that they are inaccessible to anybody in between.
Your activities and information online are therefore inaccessible to hackers. VPNs also hide your IP under their own IP address, and it is impossible for hackers to trace your physical location.
VPNs service providers give different plans depending on your needs and budget.while some are free of charge, others have charges for one to be able to use them.
The paid VPNs, however, offer additional security features to their customers. It is not a heavy price to pay for your security and online privacy.
Ensure that you use HTTPS
If you are unable to pay for a VPN and a free option is not available in your location, then you should only visit websites that are securely encrypted.
Encrypted sites protect your data from malicious characters on the internet. Websites that are securely encrypted have HTTPS before the website’s address. Other websites include a symbol of a padlock at the beginning of its address to indicate secure encryption.
Secure website encryptions are not the perfect solution to preventing malicious access to private information, but it is an excellent place to start.
Any information that is communicated between you and the website is hidden from inbetweeners and therefore nothing sensitive, such as passwords and credit card numbers, leaks out. Snoopers looking to soak up packets from the network are thus locked out by HTTPS.
Firewalls prevent unauthorized access to the system by external forces. They also act as protection against malware-based malware threats.
Firewalls actively monitor any data packet sent to your device and scan them to check whether they are safe or not. The firewall automatically blocks malicious data packets.
This way, your device, and data are protected from specific attacks by malicious characters. Most people turn off firewalls because they come with quite annoying pop-ups, but that would be a small price to pay for the purpose they serve.
It is essential always to have your firewall turned on. To turn on your firewall, go to the System and Security setting on the Control Panel and then select Windows Firewall. On Mac systems, the firewall can be enabled on the Firewall tab under Security and Privacy.
Install an Antivirus
Antiviruses protect your devices when on a public WiFi by detecting threats on shared networks. They usually send an alert any time a suspected threat is detected on the web or device.
Antiviruses also provide the option of cleaning the risks off your system. As new threats in the form of malware and viruses keep coming up, it is essential always to keep your antivirus updated to the latest version available and keep it running.
There are lots of antiviruses available in the market; some are free while others are paid. They also offer different security features, so it is essential to take your time before settling on one.
You can also install antimalware to protect you from malware and malvertising. There are also other browser extensions such as adBlockers that protect your privacy while online.
Do Trees Block Wifi Signals?
When you are using the campground hotspots, it is likely that trees would surround you. The inevitable question would be whether or not the thick trunks and high tops block the electronic signal of the internet connection.
In fact, trees have a significant impact on the WiFi connection, and you probably need one which is stronger than 5.8 GHz for it to be able to pass through.
When you rely on public services for internet connection, I highly suggest that you pick the location wisely. Stick to open areas which don’t feature too many trees between you and the transducer source.
If the camping area features a few hills, try to camp on a high ground rather than at the bottom. When you are elevated you will be able to reach the signals that are being blocked by the trees at the bottom.
Is WiFi Affected by The Weather?
Weather is an unpredictable factor you will have to encounter when spending some time in the wild. When it comes to internet connection, weather features a massive impact on WiFi signals and surfing speed.
When the transducer is adjacent to your computer or smartphone (as in portable modems and USB devices), things should be okay.
Nevertheless, when you rely on public hotspots or campground WiFi, the connection would be slower when the weather is rainy, and the air is humid.
The principle here is that the water drops absorb parts of the electronic signals energy and interrupt with the signaling. Therefore, you might experience slower internet connection when you stay inside your tent on a rainy night.
Also, there is a good chance the signals would be reduced when you camp next to rivers, lakes, and seas which feature relatively humid air.
High humidity might also affect the general camping experience, besides the internet. In these conditions your sleeping bag would probably get damp due to condensation and your tent would be wet from the inside due to compromised ventilation.
Do RV Parks Have Internet?
There is no doubt that WiFi access would improve your camping experience, especially when you are using your own RV. Fortunately, most RV parks provide you with internet access, just like malls, restaurants, and other public services.
Many times the WiFi would be for free, as a part of the general function of the park. Nevertheless, sometimes you would have to pay a small fee for access.
I suggest that you pay a visit to the information center and see what payment plans they offer. Remember that the RV hotspot is not mobile and your signal would weaken if you drive your camper away.
Check where the best access is and stay there for the night. If you are mobile, the park’s internet connection would have no use for you, and you would have to rely on a satellite connection. Nevertheless, this option would be much more expensive.
Being far away from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay connected, especially when you are camping in the wild. There are a few ways to get WiFi access while camping; most of them include bringing your own device which acts as the transducer (USB modem, router, smartphone, etc.).
Nevertheless, you may also take advantage of local services such as public hotspots and campgrounds WiFi. Remember that weather features its own impact on your signal which would probably be worse when it rains and humid. Also, trees would likely block the access when you are using a hotspot which is quite far away.
I hope my article had answered your question and provided you with a few ideas on the topic. If you have any insights of your own – let me know all about them by leaving a comment below!