RV Boondocking Communication. We're on the Road, but We Still Need to Keep In Touch!
You've got family and friends to stay in touch with, as well as investments, finances and bills to monitor. You really need a variety of ways to perform your RV Boondocking Communication
How are you going to keep in touch and deal with all the "paper work" society demands?
Given a little thought and preparation I think you'll find it just won't be that hard.
Unless of course you're one of those tinkerers, who just likes doing things the hard way, 'cuz you like figuring things out for yourself! If that's the case ol' buddy, enjoy!
Me, I'm taking the easy way and going the way of them whats already done it! lol
Probably the first thing folks think of when they think RV Boondocking Communication, is that @#$% cell phone! Hard to believe we ever lived without the dang things ain't it? The critter we love to hate but would never be without right? The thing to consider here is the cost. If you don't have some sort of a nationwide service, the roaming and long distance charges are going to eat you alive.
I've been using Cingular (ATT before Cingular bought 'em up) for 6 years or better. My Wife uses Verizon. I'd have to say, I get more service in the outlying areas of the west than she does. Both systems have some sort of national rate, eliminating long distance and roaming charges.
From what I've seen, the smaller cellular companies (my daughter uses one of those) don't always have agreements with companies across the country, so service can be pretty spotty.
I suppose, if it toots your whistle, you could just get a phone card and use land lines here and there. Pay phones are getting increasingly harder to find though. Cell phones have hit that business pretty hard. If you're like me, Murphys law dictates that the difficulty in finding a pay phone will expand in direct relationship to my need to use a telephone ............. so I go with that often frustrating cell phone for that part of our RV Boondocking Communication!
There are a couple ways to deal with this. I suppose the simplest would be to have your mail sent to a relative (sister? brother? one of your kids?) who could package it up and forward it on to you once a week or so. It can be sent general delivery to a pre-determined post office for your pickup.
If you're staying at an RV park for a while you can usually have the package sent directly there as well.
Bad, bad RV Boondocker! What are you doing in an RV park?! LOL
There are many mail forwarding services as well. The Escapees, RV Club, (Escapees.com), has an excellant, in house, mail forwarding service you might want to check into.
What ever you do, you'll need a long term mailing address to forward mail from. Last time I checked, most mail box "stores" as well as the Post Office require a 'physical address' before they'll rent you a mailbox. So you'll need to have that figured out before you can take care of the forwarding part!
I guess you'll want to stay on good terms with the kids if you want them to do it for you! Keeping your RV Boondocking Communication "in the family" would likely be the cheapest solution!
Now on to the RV Boondocking Internet part of RV Boondocking Communication. That's getting to be a mouthful ain't it? You've got a lot of options here.
I'd guess that the greatest majority of people are using laptops or notebooks. A few are still hanging on to desk top setups, but I don't know why. They sure lack the mobility and convenience of the portables for RV Boondocking Communication.
You're gonna look a little odd carrying that big desktop into Starbucks!
You can hookup through your cell phone. But you'll find that to be painfully slow. Short e-mails are about all it can handle. Option two is to hookup by plugging your laptop in wherever you can find a phone connection you're allowed to use. For both of these you'll need a list of dial up numbers for your ISP.
Don't get caught crawling over to your neighbors rig in the middle of the night trying to plug into his line! You gotta get permission!
Option # three is WI-FI. You'll of course need to make sure your computer is equipped with this technology. It doesn't cost real bad to add it if you need to. I believe most of the newer laptops are coming with it already there. Mine did. This setup is getting to be pretty common place in the private RV parks, as well as an increasing number of businesses. Flying J Truck stops all have it.
Even McDonalds is starting to provide WI-FI service. I recently tried to use WI-FI at a Starbucks up in West Bend, Wisconsin. $4.50 for a cup of coffee and the buggers wanted to charge me for the WI-FI too!
Bad enough they were wondering what the heck, is that Cowboy lost? What the devil is he doing in here?! And what is that on his boots? lol
They didn't need to compound the injury to my delicate feelings by trying to squeeze some more blood out of the turnip, from something most other businesses consider a PR customer service!
Yeah, I feel just a little out of place in Starbucks. About as likely to find me there as finding Dianne Sawyer dancing on the bar at a local pub!
I finally found free WI-FI at the local library. That works well and most libraries now a days have that set up. It's fast and you have a rest room right there in the building! Us older 'gentlemen' need to stay aware of such things you know!
I have found though, that they seem to be more reliable in areas of weaker reception than that standard cell phone in your pocket.
The upside is, the "air cards" are far faster than the systems that plug in through a standard cell phone. In fact, they're far faster than standard dial-up connections. The costs vary depending on service, but unlimited usage is available in the $60 - $80 per month range. Cheaper programs are available if you don't need the time provided with an 'unlimited' usage offer.
Now, the last system available, to hook your computer to the internet for RV Boondocking Communication, is the way Heidi and I are going. That's a Satellite Internet Service.
This is by far the most expensive, and it's probably overkill for most RV Boondockers. But if you need it you need it. Heidi and I own a small store we manage "absentee" while traveling, as well as my need to connect to my little enterprise right here! So we need a good, daily, RV Boondocking Communication capability.
The Satellite Internet systems for RVs range from around $1,700 for a manually setup, ground mounted tripod system, to $5000+ for a fully automatic, roof mounted dish. There are used systems available as well to cut your cost some. They could be the way to go if you've had good fortune with used equipment.
If you're going to be in one place for long periods of time (several days) and don't need to connect when you're actually traveling between camps, the tripod systems will likely fill the bill. They take somewhere around a half hour to set up once you get the hang of it, and offer greater flexibility in parking. (you need a clear view of the southern sky. Trees and such will block the signal. The tripod, being movable, can be set up to get around such obstacles)
The roof mounted systems however require you to park the rig where the Satellite Internet Dish can "see" the Satellite. Just something to consider.
For our RV Boondocking Communication by internet, we (Heidi and I) are going with the roof mounted, fully automatic system. The cost is a little painfull, but I just think with our circumstances we need the quick connection capability.
When we're on the road, traveling between camps, for several days, we need to be able to stop for lunch, hit the button and be online in a matter of minutes. Wherever we're at. We need to be able to check e-mail each day and sometimes multiple times, as well as closely monitoring bank accounts, communicating with vendors, etc.
Breaking down and setting up a tripod system would be far too much of an ordeal for that. You got to remember, this kid is lazy! I want to go RV Boondocking, not play computer geek six times a day!
The real upside for the Satellite Internet systems is that you can connect to the internet anywhere. When you're 20 miles from the last place your cell phone worked, you can point that satellite dish at the sky, punch the button and badda boom, badda bing you're online! RV Boondocking Communication at its finest!
No need to go driving around trying to find cell service, WI-FI or some place to plug in so you can access your RV Boondocking Communication.
Just one last thing on Satellite Internet. Make sure you deal with a straight up outfit. Make sure you'll have telephone support in the event of difficulty.
Remember, this is high tech stuff. Eventual difficulty is nearly guaranteed. Minimize the heartburn!
Do your research and find an outfit to do the installation that will also be providing the ongoing support. Big manufacturers corporate support centers, are often just a tech sitting at a desk, who isn't too deeply concerned with your problems.
You want your ongoing service to come from someone a lot farther down the food chain! You wan't the guy you paid for the setup and who did the install, to provide your support. He's "invested" in your satisfaction, and you'll likely get better service from him.
My research has led me to Bill Adams at "Internet Anywhere". His reputation for service before and after the purchase/installation is as good as I've found. I've found several stories where he went that extra mile to make sure his customers were taken good care of.
As soon as our sweet little brick and mortar abode belongs to someone else, he'll be installing our Datastorm system and then it's full-time Boondocking for us!
The last little two little bits of RV Boondocking Communication are the CB type radios. They'll serve you in two ways. First, on the road you can use the vehicle mounted CB to communicate with other travelers and stay aware of road and weather conditions up ahead. If you're traveling in a caravan, they're awful handy for co-ordinating stops and other changes you might want to make "on the fly".
Along with the "big brother" Mobile radio, walkie talkie types will find many uses. You can use them around camp to stay in touch. Say, from the rig to the tardy ol' geezer out in his boat on the little lake you're camped on? Or for the ground guide to keep you from crunching that Old Oak Tree as you back into your site!
They're available in both the CB frequencies as well as the FRS/GMRS frequencies. There are some that are pretty darn cheap. But keep in mind, if they were pretty darn cheap, don't be surprised when their performance and durability match their price!
So there you have it. Pick what you need. Adjust it to your situation. And, enjoy your RV Boondocking Communication, knowing that you have taken proper care of "business".