In Part 1 of this series, we introduced readers to the idea of working remotely while also “living the RV life“.  We provided a reasoning for why one may want to live like this, along with some pointers on selecting the right RV for your new digital remote work lifestyle.  In part 2 we give you some suggestions for essential gear, as well as highlight the main connection options for your RV lifestyle – from cellular hotspots to satellite based internet options.

Part 2 – Essential Gear for Remote Work

Technology Must-Haves

Equipping your RV for remote work (and, optionally, to help make your RV Lifestyle more enjoyable)  requires careful selection of technology that not only fits within the confines of your mobile space but also ensures you remain productive and connected, no matter where you park. The right gear can transform any corner of your RV into a fully functional office, enabling you to meet deadlines and communicate with clients or colleagues seamlessly. Here are some RV tips &  technology must-haves for every RV-based remote worker:

  1. High-Speed Internet Access: A reliable, high-speed internet connection is the backbone of remote work. Investing in a robust mobile Wi-Fi router and considering a mobile broadband plan with wide coverage and generous data allowances is crucial. Additionally, a Wi-Fi booster or extender can enhance weak signals, ensuring you stay connected in more remote locations.
  2. Power Backup Solutions: Uninterrupted power is essential for remote work. Portable power stations, solar chargers, and additional RV batteries can ensure your devices stay charged even when you’re off-grid. A good quality inverter can also be invaluable, converting DC power from your RV into AC power for your devices.
  3. Laptop or Tablet: A high-performance laptop or tablet with a long battery life is crucial for managing your work tasks efficiently. Consider devices that offer the best balance between performance and portability, with enough processing power to handle your specific work needs.
  4. Ergonomic Workstation Accessories: To create a comfortable workspace, consider compact and ergonomic accessories such as a portable laptop stand, an external keyboard, and a mouse. These can help maintain good posture and prevent strain during long work hours. A foldable, space-saving desk or adjustable table can also add to your comfort and productivity.
  5. Headphones with Noise Cancellation: Quality noise-cancelling headphones can be a game-changer, especially when parked in busier campsites or when you need to concentrate in a shared space. They’re essential for video meetings, focusing on tasks, or simply enjoying some music as you work.
  6. External Hard Drive or Cloud Storage: Data backup is critical, especially on the road. An external hard drive provides a physical backup solution for your important files, while cloud storage services offer accessibility from anywhere, ensuring your work is safe and secure.
  7. Portable Lighting: Good lighting is often overlooked but is crucial for video calls and reducing eye strain. A portable, rechargeable desk lamp can provide consistent lighting, improving your workspace’s comfort and functionality.
  8. Communication Tools: Software and apps for communication and project management keep you in sync with your team. Ensure you have access to email, video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype, and project management platforms like Asana or Trello.
  9. Security Software: Protecting your work and personal information is more important than ever. Invest in reputable antivirus and VPN software to secure your devices and internet connection, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks.

By carefully selecting these technology must-haves, you can ensure your RV becomes a mobile office that supports your remote work lifestyle, allowing you to enjoy the freedom of the road without sacrificing your productivity or career goals.

Connectivity Solutions for Remote Work

Best Mobile Internet Options

Data Plans and Providers

Navigating the landscape of mobile internet options in Canada is crucial for ensuring uninterrupted connectivity while embracing the RV lifestyle. Given the diversity of locations—from bustling urban areas to serene, remote landscapes—choosing the right data plan and provider becomes a cornerstone of remote work success. Here’s a deeper dive into what to consider when selecting mobile internet solutions that cater to the unique needs of RV living:

  1. Coverage: The paramount factor in choosing a mobile internet provider is network coverage. Canada’s vast and varied terrain means that not all areas are equally served. Providers such as Bell, Rogers, and Telus have extensive networks that cover most urban and many rural areas. Researching and comparing coverage maps of different providers can help you select one that best matches your travel itinerary, ensuring you stay connected in as many locations as possible.
  2. Data Plans: The nature of remote work often demands substantial data usage, making unlimited or high-data plans more appealing for RVers. Look for plans specifically designed for heavy internet users, which might also offer the option to throttle speeds after reaching a certain limit rather than cutting off or incurring exorbitant overage fees. Providers occasionally offer plans tailored to RVers and travelers, which can provide better value and flexibility.
  3. Speed: Internet speed is another critical consideration, particularly for tasks requiring high bandwidth, such as video conferencing, streaming, and large file transfers. LTE and 5G networks offer the fastest available speeds, but their availability can vary, especially in remote areas. Evaluating the speed offerings of different providers and plans can help ensure your chosen solution meets your work requirements.
  4. Cost: Budget constraints will naturally influence your choice of data plans and providers. While unlimited plans offer the convenience of not having to monitor data usage closely, they often come at a premium. Comparing the costs of different plans against the included benefits—such as data allowances, speed, and additional features like hotspot capability—can help you find the most cost-effective solution for your needs.
  5. Flexibility and Contracts: For RVers who might not need year-round service or who travel in and out of Canada, finding a provider that offers flexibility—such as month-to-month plans or the ability to pause service—can be particularly beneficial. Avoiding long-term contracts when possible, can provide the freedom to switch plans or providers as your needs or locations change.
  6. Roaming and International Options: If your travels take you across borders, consider plans that include international roaming or special rates for usage outside Canada. This can be crucial for those who travel to the United States or further afield, ensuring you remain connected without facing unexpected charges.
  7. Customer Service and Support: Reliable customer service can make a significant difference, especially when encountering connectivity issues in unfamiliar locations. Providers with a reputation for excellent customer support can offer peace of mind, knowing that help is available when you need it.

In summary, choosing the best mobile internet option for RV living in Canada involves a careful balance of coverage, data needs, speed, cost, flexibility, international roaming options, and customer service. Taking the time to research and compare your options will ensure that you stay connected, productive, and free to explore all that Canada has to offer, without the constraints of poor connectivity.

Satellite Internet for Remote Areas

For RVers venturing into the remote and untouched corners of Canada, traditional mobile internet options may fall short, leaving satellite internet as a crucial lifeline to the outside world. Satellite internet technology has advanced significantly, providing dependable connectivity even in the most secluded locations, ensuring that the spirit of exploration does not come at the cost of disconnection from essential services, work, or loved ones. Here’s an exploration of satellite internet for remote areas, covering its advantages, considerations, and current advancements:

Advantages of Satellite Internet:

  • Ubiquitous Coverage: The primary advantage of satellite internet is its ability to provide internet access virtually anywhere on the globe. For RVers exploring remote national parks, hidden gems, and off-the-beaten-path locations in Canada, satellite internet ensures that connectivity is always within reach.
  • Improved Speeds and Reliability: Recent advancements in satellite internet technology have significantly improved its speed and reliability. Modern satellite services offer broadband speeds that can support video streaming, online gaming, and video conferencing, making remote work and entertainment fully accessible, even in isolated areas.

Considerations for Satellite Internet:

  • Latency: While satellite internet speeds have improved, it’s important to note that latency can still be an issue due to the distance signals must travel to and from the satellite. This delay can affect real-time online activities, such as gaming or certain types of live video communications. However, for most work-related tasks and streaming, this latency is manageable.
  • Weather Sensitivity: Satellite signals can be affected by severe weather conditions, both at your location and at the satellite ground station’s location. Heavy rain, snow, or dense cloud cover can temporarily degrade the quality of the connection.
  • Cost: The setup and monthly service costs for satellite internet are generally higher than for traditional mobile internet options. Equipment costs for the satellite dish and modem can also be substantial. However, for many, the ability to connect from anywhere justifies the investment.
  • Installation and Portability: Traditional satellite internet systems require a dish to be mounted and precisely aligned, which might not be ideal for constant movement. However, new portable satellite systems are designed with RVers in mind, offering easier setup and alignment to keep you connected wherever you roam.

Current Advancements: The landscape of satellite internet is rapidly evolving with the introduction of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite networks. These networks, composed of hundreds or even thousands of small satellites, aim to reduce latency, increase speeds, and improve overall reliability and coverage. Companies like SpaceX’s Starlink are at the forefront, offering dedicated RV plans that promise to revolutionize internet access for remote travelers, making it more practical and accessible than ever before.

For RVers committed to exploring the furthest reaches of Canada’s vast wilderness, satellite internet offers a viable solution to stay connected. It provides not just a link to work and social life but also peace of mind through access to emergency services and vital information. As technology continues to advance, satellite internet will undoubtedly become an increasingly integral part of the RV lifestyle, ensuring that even the most remote adventures can be shared with the world.

Boosting Your Signal

In the diverse terrain of Canada, maintaining a strong and reliable internet connection can sometimes be challenging, especially in remote or rural areas where cellular signals are weak. Boosting your signal becomes essential for RVers relying on mobile internet for work and communication. Here’s a brief look at how you can enhance your internet signal, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted online experience.

Signal Boosters and Repeaters: A signal booster, also known as a cell phone signal booster or repeater, is a device that amplifies the existing cell signal before broadcasting it to an area in your RV where the signal was weak or non-existent. These devices consist of an external antenna, an amplifier, and an internal antenna. The external antenna captures the weak signal, which is then amplified by the booster and rebroadcast inside your RV through the internal antenna, enhancing the strength and quality of your mobile connection.

Benefits of Signal Boosters:

  • Enhanced Signal Strength: By amplifying the existing signal, boosters can significantly improve call quality, reduce dropped calls, and increase data speeds, making online work and communication more reliable.
  • Wider Coverage: A signal booster can extend the coverage area inside your RV, ensuring that you can stay connected in more places, whether you’re in a remote campsite or traveling through areas with traditionally poor coverage.
  • Device Compatibility: Most signal boosters are compatible with various devices and work across multiple carriers, making them a versatile solution for improving connectivity for all your devices.

Directional Antennas: For those in extremely remote locations, a directional antenna can be a powerful addition to your setup. Unlike the omnidirectional antennas that capture signals from any direction, directional antennas focus on signals from a specific direction, potentially pulling in a stronger signal from a distant tower. When paired with a signal booster, a directional antenna can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the signal amplification.

Wi-Fi Extenders: If you’re relying on campground Wi-Fi or other distant Wi-Fi sources, a Wi-Fi extender can help boost the signal’s reach to your RV. These devices work by capturing the existing Wi-Fi signal and rebroadcasting it to a broader area, improving connectivity inside your RV.

Optimizing Placement: The placement of your external antenna can significantly affect the performance of your signal booster. For the best results, the antenna should be placed where the signal is strongest, often on the roof of the RV, and away from obstructions. Experimenting with different placements can help you find the optimal spot for maximum signal enhancement.

Incorporating signal boosters, directional antennas, and Wi-Fi extenders into your RV setup can profoundly impact your internet connectivity, transforming weak signals into robust connections. These solutions ensure that your adventures into Canada’s vast landscapes never come at the expense of staying connected to the world beyond.

Be sure to return for part 3 tomorrow – with our tips on how to create a productive work environment.