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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Countdown To Launch


We’re almost ready to hit the road. The horses are relocated and the trailer renovations are almost done. It will be a challenge to fit everything we think we need into a 14ft. trailer, but I imagine we don’t need as much as we think we do.


Our first few months will include extended stops in Colorado, California and Texas, with pass-throughs in Arizona and New Mexico. I’m looking forward to sharing the sights and our experiences and thoughts with you. Hope you’ll enjoy following. 


For now, we’re enjoying a visit with family in Northern Colorado, then will be heading back to Arizona to finish putting the trailer back together and packing up. I hope to have a couple more posts for you between now and New Year’s, then be able to post more frequently, again.

Until then, Happy Trails!

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While The Cat’s Away…


So, while the guys are away, toughing out the late spring snow and cold in Colorado, I’m getting ready for a couple of stealth camping trips.  (Shhh…)  The first order of business is getting the new (to me) camping trailer set up for adventure.  

The new tiny home

In considering what to christen her, I feel I must take into account my former gypsy domiciles.  The back of “Big Red” served me well for many a foray into the wilderness and she is still the puller of my camping castles.  Her first charge was “Noah’s Ark”, the oversize cab-over camper I lived in with my 3 now grown children, their 2 dogs, 1 cat and hamster, when we were traveling prior to settling down in Arizona.  “The Egg” was our next small camping trailer, named by my youngest son, after our dear friend’s favorite camper.  “The Egg” was traded in for our current model, which is a bit roomier and has a toilet and shower – a big plus for any extended travels.  I guess I will have to keep “rolling it around in my head”, as my grandma used to say, as the appropriate name has not yet presented itself.

Big Red

Back to getting the trailer ready, it looks like she’s gonna need two new tires.  I was hoping for just one, but upon closer examination, both of them look pretty worn and primed for a blow-out.  At least the spare is new…  I have yet to give the inside a good cleaning and inspect all the plumbing and electrical, but as soon as I have the tires on, she’ll be good enough for local camping trips.  At least it’s a step up from a tent or the back of the truck.  

Looks like the tires will have to wait at least a couple of weeks.  I guess I’ll go for some day hikes instead.  White Horse Lake is close by, and is uncrowded as yet.  The trails are great for getting back into shape after several years of not much hiking.  I’ll post some pics and info on that soon.  

Until then…Happy Trailers!


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