Adventures With Mobile Internet

 
Today’s travel tip is all about our adventures with mobile internet. Internet service is a big issue when living and working on the road full-time in an RV. We are doing slow travel, usually staying in a location for several weeks at a time, before moving on. In addition to writing, I run a small craft business online. I am also promoting my first book, The Working Parent’s Guide To Homeschooling”. Reliable internet is critical. When we are staying at one of the grandpas’ homes we use their DSL, which is usually pretty good. In between and at our home base, we use a Straight Talk hotspot. I am still learning its quirks, but I will share what I’ve gleaned so far.
 
 
When we decided to downsize and embrace a minimalist lifestyle, traveling and living in the truck and trailer, it didn’t make sense to continue to pay $80 a month for landline and DSL that we would rarely use, in addition to cell phones and a mobile hotspot. Keep in mind that I do not have a smart phone or any other 3 or 4G gadget, I cannot advise on how any of that works on the road. I chose Straight Talk over Verizon or AT&T, because prior to hitting the road, our DSL usage was averaging 2-3GB monthly. So far this past year, we have only had 2 weeks at a time with only the hotspot for internet and with gaming, streaming and uploading photos, videos and files from the computer, our usage has easily gone up to 1-2GB a week. Still, even at 8GB a month, I think Straight Talk is more affordable than one of the others. Especially since there are months we don’t use it at all. So for now, we stick with Straight Talk. 
 
Here is what I am learning about the hotspot and data usage. Our hotspot is tied to Verizon, so if we are in an area served only by AT&T and its sub-sellers, we get no internet connection with our hotspot. One grandpa is in one of these areas, but fortunately, we are able to use his wifi. When that does not come in so well, we can drive about 10 miles and pick up a signal on our hotspot, or just go all the way to the next big town and use the library wifi. Our home base is out in the boonies. The hotspot picks up a signal, but uploading photos and streaming videos is a very slow process. Sometime this year, I plan to try a wifi range extender and cell phone signal booster there (our cell phone signal is pretty weak at “home”, too). I am still investigating whether the range extender will amplify the signal coming in from outside to the hotspot or only the signal from the hotspot to our devices. If the latter is the case, it may not help.
 
 
Since this post is already getting a bit lengthy, I will save the rest for next time: Public Wifi vs. Personal Hotspot; Getting the Most out of Our Hotspot; Is it Worth it?
 
Until then, check out the Technomads, they wrote the book on Mobile Internet!
 
You might also enjoy:
Surviving Slow Travel
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It’s Winter and our Coats are at Home!


Winter has rolled in to Colorado and my winter clothes are all in Arizona. We have the heater on in the trailer day and night. We’re not moving on for another few weeks – What to do? 


To tell the truth, we did keep a few winter items with us “just in case”. Not that I seriously thought we would need them. My problem this entire last year. I kept out 1 pair of long johns, my London Fog raincoat with liner and a fleece sweater. I have several summer scarves that can serve for neck warmers and one pair of glove-liner gloves. We also kept the boy’s down jacket.


Since we’re living in the trailer, we have most of our clothes in the closet. We each keep one suitcase under the bed and that is where we kept the coats – until 2 weeks ago. Now we are very glad to have them. Even though we will be spending most of the winter in warmer climes, we will be back for a few weeks. So next stop at the Arizona stix and brix, we’ll be picking up some more long johns, a couple winter hats, gloves, scarves and snow boots! Where will we put them when we don’t need them? In the suitcases, of course. If we decide to take air or rail transport and need our suitcases, we will just leave the extras in the trailer closet.


And when we’re in winter weather and don’t need the summer clothes? You’ve got it – we’ll keep the suitcases packed.

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Slow Travel: Freedom To Roam – Or Not

Sangre de Christo Mts. Colorado

Change of plans. My son’s grandma is dying. Quickly. We are finishing out the winter in Colorado, after all. Minimizing our life into a 28 ft. RV and a 14 ft. vintage trailer has given us the freedom to be able to be here with her and grandpa. Slow travel means we can stay here as long as needed and postpone our planned trip to Texas until fall or whenever. Our income does not depend on us being in a certain place at a certain time.

Yak and ma at Gator Farm 

Homeschooling/roadschooling means Yak is not tied to someone else’s schedule or agenda. He does his assignments when he chooses, as long as he gets them done. If he doesn’t, he knows he will be doing them before anything else, the next day. This frees him up to explore the grandparents’ homestead and visit with his aunts, uncles, cousins and older brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, as they filter in and out, paying their last visits to grandma. Now that the weather is warming up, we are also able to explore more of the local area – field trips for Yak; caregiver breaks for his dad. Who would ever look for sand dunes (Great SandDunes National Park) or an alligator farm (Colorado Gators) in the Rocky Mountain State?

Yak and pa at Sand Dunes

Slow travel allows us to find community in the local Catholic Church. The ladies of the Catholic Mothers Society come over to pray the rosary with the grands a couple of days a week. This gives them great joy. To see the smile on grandpa’s face with his family and friends praying around him, the peace in grandma’s eyes and her joy at having her friends come to see her is a great relief to the brothers and sisters who are staying on to care for their parents. The parish priest sends Holy Eucharist home for the grands with whichever son or daughter makes it to 8a.m. Mass; sometimes he brings it in person.

 

Pretty Ms. Susie, soaking up the sun

Not having to confine our travels to 2 or 3 weeks out of the year and the odd weekend, we don’t have the stress of trying to see everything as fast as we can. Living tiny forces us to reduce the clutter in our lives. Cooking and cleaning are done quickly. There is more time to play music, walk the dogs, and laugh at the cat trying to catch the laser pointer. With no set time for getting up or going to bed, we can stay up late to stargaze and sleep in the next day. Or we can get up to enjoy the sunrise and get back in our jammies right after supper.

We are most blessed to be able to be available to our families when they need us.

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Catholic Education: Homeschool or the Parish School?

I read in our diocesan newspaper last week about how enrollment is dropping at Catholic schools.  People can’t afford tuition, there isn’t enough assisstance to go around, etc.  Families are disappointed that they have to pull their children out of the parish school and put them into public school.  Frankly, my enthusiasm for Catholic schools has waned since more of the teachers started coming from the secular and often non-Catholic community, and more of the students from non-parish and frequently non-Catholic families who could “afford the better education”.

Assuming that these same schools are keeping the tuition as low as possible, and that these same families are making sacrifices to come up with the money for their childrens’ education, such as giving up the extra car, the boat, the vacation home, the vacation, meals out, extra wardrobe, shoes, downsized house and lifestyle, and still can’t afford tuition, I have another suggestion – Catholic Homeschooling.

Homeschooling is far more economical than either tuition or public schooling (considering the expense of fashionable wardrobe/uniforms, supplies, backpacks, lunches and transportation).  A homeschooler’s primary cost is books.  There are many excellent Catholic curricula available now, far more than when I began.  And a family doesn’t have to use all of one program.  Materials can be mixed and matched according to individual needs and preferences.  Some families even use entirely free public domain and library materials.

Two working parents can teach, one parent can stay home (thereby saving the expense of working wardrobe, convenience foods and transportation for that parent).  Even single, working parents can homeschool – I am not suggesting parents need to be super heroes, either.  Homeschooling can take about as much time as the nightly sitcoms, and when done well, merges right into daily life and experience.

As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1653:  “Parents are the principal and first educators of their children”.  And again 2221:  “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute”.  As well as numerous other references in CCC 2221-2230.

I homeschooled my 3 grown children (two of whom recently graduated with Associate’s Degrees and transferred to universities) for several of the middle- and high school years, and am currently homeschooling my second grader.  I encourage anyone to check into this fantastic option for providing our children with a wholesome Catholic education.

Some places to start:  Homeschool Legal Defense Association – great resource for state laws and precedents regarding homeschooling.

Catholic Heritage Curricula – excellent Catholic education resources

The Homeschool Lounge – great place to meet other homeschoolers, get ideas, support and have fun!

Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes – another great site for support and ideas for Catholic homeschooling

Mrs. D’s Homestead and Around the Homestead – my other website and blog, where I discuss my country life and homeschooling

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