How to get WiFi in a Campervan
If you want to how how to get internet in a campervan, motorhome or your caravan there are may options. Whilst the idea of getting away from it all in your campervan or motorhome is the main idea, a lot of people still need to be online for work, or just checking email etc and whilst using your phone as a mobile WiFi hotspot works, using it inside a campervan is not ideal.
These are a few of the disadvantages of using your phone as a hotspot to get wifi in a campervan.
- Using your phone long term as a hotspot can reduce the life of your battery as you constantly have to have it charging.
- You don’t get great signal inside a campervan.
- You can easily use up all your monthly data allowance.
- When you leave your campervan the internet goes as well.
Campervan Internet UK
There are basically 5 options for getting internet or wifi in your campervan / motorhome.
- Using Public Wifi
- Hotspot on your phone
- Portable Mifi unit
- 5G Internet router in your campervan with external antenna
- Satellite Internet
Using Public Wifi
Using public wifi to get internet in your campervan is an option, but you have to be close to public wifi i.e. sat in McDonalds or Starbucks car park, and as soon as you leave the car park you lose the signal. It is however Free!
Hotspot on your phone
Most phones will allow you to turn your phone into a wireless hotspot and share your mobile data to connect multiple devices to connect to. This has a few pros and cons
- Very flexible, just turn on when you need it
- Cost is included in your current phone contract
- Phone signal inside of a campervan is not great, ideally you need the phone outside the van
- Battery life will degrade as you will have to be charging your phone a lot of the time when using your phone as a hotspot
- It uses your mobile phone data plan, great if you have an unlimited data plan, but if you have a set amount of data, watching a Netflix film could use up all your data in one evening
- Signal strength might not be great in remote areas, or non existent!
Portable Mifi unit
The first step towards dedicated internet in your motorhome is to get a MiFi unit. These are very small devices about the size of a pack of cards usually with an internal battery, you charge it up and then purchase a separate data sim card with a data plan. You turn it on and connect your devices to the MiFi unit. You might have known these devices to be called dongles, which was like a USB stick with a sim card that you put in your laptop, but a MiFi device is much more versatile.
- Dedicated unit, own battery pack and separate data plan
- WiFi will remain in your van once you leave, ideal for running cameras etc.
- Option of connecting external antennas to some units
- Very flexible, you can take it with you wherever you go for a backup reliable internet connection.
- You have to buy an extra Sim Card, (not really a con as you move towards dedicated internet, it’s a requirement)
- Small unit, battery powered will need charging.
Internet router in your van
If you are serious about having good van life internet, then you need to purchase a dedicated router that you can power from the van, connect external antennas to and be in control of the data, some even have the option of using multiple sim cards that will swap to the best signal.
Satellite Internet – Starlink
The ultimate solution for internet in your van / campervan or motorhome is to use a solution from Starlink which will guarantee you high speed internet wherever you are. You just purchase the hardware and pay a monthly contract which is about £500 for the equipment and £85 a month for the contract, but this will guarantee you unlimited dedicated high speed internet wherever you are.
For more info click the link below
Huawei Motorhome WiFi
Best Sim Card for Motorhome WiFi UK
Best Sim Card for Router
I have tested a few sim cards for access to the internet in my campervan and the best coverage and also the best value I have found is Smarty. It uses the EE network which has great coverage in the UK and gives you a very flexible monthly pay as you go (PAYG) option for data, these are the options you have with the ability to pause for a month or upgrade to unlimited for a few days. It really is very flexible.
If you end up signing up for a SIM card after using this link https://i.smarty.co.uk/XTbhmqx we will both get a choice of a £10 Amazon, John Lewis or Uber gift card!
Whilst I have my phone contract with Vodafone who provide a great service a data only sim card from Vodafone was £22 per month for an 18 month contract. Their pay-as-you-go offering was much more expensive then Smarty.
Does a camper van need an external antenna to have a good internet signal?
Yes, to get a good internet signal it is recommended to install an external antenna for your 4G router, as when trying to get a good data signal in your campervan you are shielded with a metal box which blocks a lot of the signal.
Are there any free WIFI options available for caravans and motorhomes in the UK?
The only free options to get Wi-Fi in your campervan is to use public hotspots like Starbucks or McDonalds car park, or a lot of campsites now offer free WIFI for their guests, however if you are off-grid and looking for internet you will have to provide your own.
Campervan WiFi Router
Best Mobile WiFi for Motorhome
Campervan WiFi Kits
Whilst there are many DIY cheap options you can put together yourself, you can also buy a campervan internet kit, the two best options on the market at the moment are the Avtex AMR985 and the Maxview Roam.
The Avtex AMR985 has been developed as a caravan and motorhome mobile internet solution. It comes with a low-profile omni-directional MiMO antenna and a 12V router.
The kit retails for £350 so is very good value if you a member of the Caravan and Motorhome club you can get it for £332
Satellite Internet for Motorhomes
Campervan Internet in Europe
Frequently asked questions
How does a router with sim card work?
A 4G or 5G router is different than your broadband router you use at home. Instead of getting the broadband from your phone line or fibre, the router gets it’s internet connection via the mobile data network. You insert a sim card on a data plan and the router establishes an internet connection with the mobile data network. Once the internet connection is established you can connect to the router via wireless or wired to share the internet connection.
How do I get Netflix in my Campervan?
Can You Put Any SIM Card in a Mobile Wi-Fi Router?
Yes, you can generally put any SIM card into a mobile Wi-Fi router, also known as a portable hotspot or pocket Wi-Fi, but there are several factors to consider to ensure compatibility and proper functioning:
1. SIM Card Size:
- Ensure that the SIM card size (standard, micro, or nano) is compatible with the router’s SIM card slot.
2. Unlock Status:
- Locked Routers: Some routers are locked to specific network providers. A SIM card from another provider won’t work in a locked router.
- Unlocked Routers: An unlocked router can generally accept SIM cards from any network provider.
3. Data Plans and APN Settings:
- Ensure that the SIM card has an active data plan.
- You might need to configure the Access Point Name (APN) settings in the router to match the network provider’s specifications.
4. Roaming and International Use:
- Consider whether the SIM card supports roaming if you plan to use the router in different countries.
- Check for any additional charges or restrictions for international use.
5. Service Terms and Conditions:
- Review the terms and conditions of the SIM card’s service provider. Some providers may have restrictions on the use of SIM cards in routers.
What is the cheapest way to get internet in a caravan?
Campervan Internet on a budget
Best Mobile Wifi Routers
1. Maxview Roam
Campervan Internet Frequently asked questions
What is the best way to get WiFi in a Motorhome?
The best way to get WiFi in a motorhome is to use a 4G router with a dedicated data sim card and an external antenna to ensure you get a good signal in remote areas.
How do I get WiFi when camping UK?
What is the cheapest way to get WiFi in a Caravan?
The cheapest way to get WiFi in a caravan is to use the hotspot on your phone. This however does require that you have a good amount of data on your phone, you have a signal and you have a way to charge your phone as it will drain the battery quickly. You could also use free WiFi on campsites, but if you want a solution that you can rely on the cheapest way is to get a Smarty Sim Card which gives you 15Gb of data for £9 a month or you can have unlimited data for £20 a month and put this into a MiFi or dedicated 4G router in your caravan.
How do you get WiFi when living in a van?
The 5 main ways to get WiFi when living in a van are;
- Public Hotspots, using Wifi from Cafe’s, Mcdonalds, Starbucks etc, but you do have to be parked in their car park to use it!
- Using the hotspot on your phone
- Using a MiFi device which uses a dedicated data sim and provides you with a wireless connection from the MiFi device.
- Dedicated 4/5G router in your van.
- Satellite Internet, like Starlink.
What is the best 4G router for vanlife?
The best 4G router for vanlife in my opinion (it is the one I use) which is the Huawei B625-261. It provides wired and wireless internet access from a Smarty Sim Card and it runs from 12v so I have it connected directly to the 12v in my van. It also has the ability to connect an external antenna and I have the Poynting Puck2 mounted on my roof.
Is WiFi free on caravan and motorhome sites?
WiFi if available is typically free on caravan and motorhome sites, however the level of service and internet speed you get will depend on how far you are from their router. Some sites have repeaters, but most caravan sites have one antenna by the office and if you are a long way from that you might struggle to get a signal, also depending on how busy the campsite is you could be contending on bandwidth and if 50 caravans who are all streaming Netflix, it might struggle. Also, some sites limit what you can use their WiFi for. It is always best if you need internet in your caravan or motorhome to provide it yourself by either using your smartphone hotspot, a MiFi device or a dedicated router installed in your van. These are great for connecting your ipad, smart tvs and all your wireless devices.
So, if you want to get internet access in your campervan or wanted to know how to have internet in your van I hope this has been some help.
Campervan Internet Tips
Camper Van Internet Tips
How to get internet in a static caravan
All the processes and equipment described above will work exactly the same if you want to get internet in a static caravan.