Internet Options for Van Lifers: Staying Connected on the Road

Envision yourself travelling the country in a van, taking in the sights of breathtaking natural areas and quaint little towns. We appreciate the independence and novelty of van life, but for many of us, being online is a need, whether for business, for keeping in touch with loved ones, or for plotting our next adventure. In this article, we’ll examine three of the most common ways for van dwellers to connect to the web: Starlink, mobile hotspot, and phone tethering. We’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of each and stress the need for a backup network or internet connection.

Starlink: A Game-Changer for Remote Connectivity

Starlink is an ambitious project by Elon Musk’s SpaceX that uses satellites in low Earth orbit to deliver high-speed internet access to the entire planet. Starlink could be a game-changer for van dwellers who spend most of their time in rural locations.


  • Fast and reliable internet speeds (up to 150 Mbps) compared to traditional satellite internet.
  • Coverage in remote and rural areas where other options may be limited.
  • Easy setup and portable satellite dish.


  • Expensive upfront cost (approximately $499 for the equipment) and a monthly subscription fee (around $99).
  • Limited availability due to the ongoing rollout of the satellite network, but this is improving.
  • Potential for reduced speeds or connectivity during extreme weather or heavy cloud cover.

Mobile Hotspot: Versatile and Widely Available

A mobile hotspot is a device that, once connected to a cellular network, can provide other devices, including laptops and tablets, access to the internet. This alternative is well-liked by those who live out of their vans because of its adaptability and widespread availability.


  • Available through most major cellular providers, offering various data plans to suit your needs.
  • Portable and easy to use; simply turn on the device and connect your devices via Wi-Fi.
  • Can be used as a backup option if your primary internet source fails.


  • Internet speeds and reliability are dependent on cellular network coverage.
  • Limited data plans can lead to high costs if you exceed your monthly allowance.
  • Reduced speeds when multiple devices are connected simultaneously.

Phone Tethering: A Convenient Solution in a Pinch

Tethering is the technique of using the cellular connection of your smartphone to offer internet access to another device, often by means of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB. This can be accomplished by connecting the two devices to one another. Van lifers who require a quick and easy internet solution without the need for additional equipment have this option available to them, which makes it a practical choice.


  • No need for additional devices; simply use your existing smartphone.
  • Can be a lifesaver when other internet options are unavailable or unreliable.
  • Many cellular providers include tethering in their data plans.


  • Tethering can quickly drain your phone’s battery.
  • Limited to your smartphone’s data plan, which can lead to additional charges if you exceed your allowance.
  • Not as reliable or fast as dedicated mobile hotspots or satellite connections.

The Importance of a Backup Internet Source

It is always a good idea to have a secondary network or internet source as a backup, and this recommendation applies regardless of the primary internet option that you go with. Having a backup assures that you will continue to be connected even when you require it the most, regardless of whether you rely on a mobile hotspot in the event that your Starlink connection fails or tether your phone in the event that the battery in your hotspot dies.


As a van lifer, maintaining an internet connection is frequently essential for purposes like business, communication, and the organisation of travel itineraries. Even while Starlink, mobile hotspots, and tethering your phone each have their own advantages and disadvantages, the best way to identify which service is right for you is to evaluate your specific requirements and how you often travel. And don’t forget to always have a backup internet source in case your primary connection goes down.

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