When Mike and I planned (to the best of our abilities) for the things that we thought would be the most difficult aspects of living in the bus we were mainly anticipating an issue with electricity. We had originally planned to go with solar straight out the gate until we priced it out. So we opted to do a propane water heater (has yet to be purchased or installed) and stove (ended up switching to an electric cooktop) to compensate for the lack of electricity or smaller quantity coming in from the solar. Well, electricity has not been an issue at all.
What has been a surprisingly big and annoying issue is the internet.
Right now, we have WiFi at the campground we are staying at. But it’s kind of terrible and we can’t pick it up at all inside the bus. I’ve read that Airstreams have some issues with blocking WiFi signals and I suspect that the metal shell of the bus is hindering our ability to get any of that sweet, sweet WiFi inside. We can sit at our picnic table and usually get the WiFi just fine (peak times, especially on the weekends are still problematic) but nothing inside.
This is, of course, a problem. There are loads of ants, picnic tables are quite uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time, forget going outside with a laptop if it’s raining, and the Texas sun is a force to be reckoned with.
We’ve tried a WiFi antenna (put on top of the bus and wired in through the hatch) connected to a WiFi repeater. Totally failed. We think the issue with that is that the campgrounds WiFi requires periodic signing in and the repeater can’t sign in to the WiFi network. All of the advice and tips we found online didn’t work or we had the work kind of repeater. Not sure yet. We will try another one but we are not terribly hopeful.
We’ve bought a hotspot from Verizon. It works out to roughly $10 per gig of data. We burn through data at an amazing rate. I feel like with a regular home internet plan you never really realize how much data things take. Those 20 minute makeup tutorials (for looks I never do) or product reviews (for things I won’t buy) take an amazing amount of data. To give a recent and financially painful example. We got 10 gigs (so $100) and ate through it in 2 days without even realizing it. 2 days! We didn’t even do the things we normally do-long YouTube videos, games, any lengthy internet searches at all. What we did do, is fall asleep with the hot spot still running and some background programs ran their updates. We are normally very good about turning the hot spot when our immediate internet needs have been met but not this time.
We did look into the satellite internet that so many RVs have and, wow!, is that surprisingly expensive. Like anywhere from $700-$6000 for equipment set up plus a monthly fee of $60 and up. Um, how about no.
Right now we are looking into different phone plans that may be a more cost effective way to get internet access. We could tether from the devices and that might work if we can an unlimited data plan that’s not obscenely expensive or one of those where you really only get 5 gigs before they throttle the speed down to mostly unusable. We’ve noticed that a lot of full-time RVers have a grandfathered in, truely unlimited data plan from Verizon an that’s not available anymore…so that sucks for us.
We’ve gotten suggestions to hit up coffee shops for their WiFi (actually, I’m typing this out at a laundromat that offers free WiFi. 2 birds with 1 stone and all that) which we can do in small doses. Mike goes to his office on campus to get work done and I can’t leave for huge blocks of time because we dislike leaving Finn by himself for long periods of time. Once the heat finally eases up here it’ll be easier to leave him but while it’s still getting into the 90s I’d prefer to be in the bus to monitor the temperature and his water and be able to just take off with him if it’s unbearable.
So there we have it. The single largest annoyance of living full time on the bus. Still trouble shooting the issue so hopefully we figure out something workable soon.