Last updated 2/17.
For the first three years of living in Cas I relied solely on public WiFi and mooching off of friends for getting online, a pretty impressive achievement considering how much I use the internet – for updating this blog, responding to comments and e-mails, keeping up with Facebook Twitter, and other bloggers, and doing travel research.
It was at times a slow and frustrating process depending on how good the WiFi was near where I was camping, but I never regretted the decision because of the amount of money I saved. Verizon has been my cell carrier since I hit the road as they did (and still do) have the largest network, but I only used cell data for GPS on my phone and checking the weather, it wasn’t my main source of internet.
Alas, it was well advertised that free WiFi wasn’t available inside Yellowstone where I was going to be work-camping the summer of 2015. I’d heard that Verizon had a strong 4G signal at Old Faithful (it’s true, other carriers were marginal at best there), and I was already going through them for my smartphone plan. So I figured when I got out there I’d up the data on my plan and use my phone as a hotspot to get online with my computer. I couldn’t escape it any longer, I’d need to pay for my internet.
What use to follow here was a convoluted story about how I ended up paying less for 3 GB of data through a new Verizon plan than I had up until that point for 1-2 GB. That’s all water under the bridge now because neither plan exists anymore and the story became irrelevant. Suffice to say that at the time this post went live in 2015 it was a big deal and I was tickled pink to be paying $20 less a month than I did when I wrote The Cheapest Internet Option in 2014 and yet getting enough data to meet all of my online needs without having to rely on crappy free WiFi.
And yes, from May of 2015 to July of 2016 I did manage to make 3 GB of data work for full-timing. Here was my usage as of 6/28/15 with 3 days to go until the end of the monthly cycle:
In July of 2016 I upgraded from the iPhone 4S that I’d had since hitting the road to the iPhone SE, which was also an upgrade from 3G to LTE. Having faster internet meant that pages, videos, and advertisements loaded faster and it used more data. I upgraded from a 3 GB to 5 GB plan at that time to compensate, which is still working well for me today.
Note 1: I’m not a technology guru, I try to get by with as little data as possible and keep things simple. If you’re looking for comprehensive information on mobile internet options and cellular providers, then you’ll want to check out this handy page specifically for RVers.
Note 2: I don’t stream video, play videogames, or download big files, which is how I can make 5 GB of data a month work for me. It certainly won’t work for everyone, but if you’re just web surfing, using Facebook, writing e-mails, and updating a blog, apparently 5 GB will do.
Note 3: Plans and prices change all the time, so you’ll want to check to see what’s available when you hit the road. In July of 2016 I switched to ‘The Verizon Plan’ which is already outdated again as of 2017, but I’m getting my 3 GB of data (plus 2 free gigs for being a long-time member) for about $70 a month.
First image courtesy of Alan Levine
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