Whether you've decided to invest in a motorhome to sample all the best that the UK has to offer on a staycation, or you're a seasoned caravanner, you will inevitably wonder how you can get secure and stable motorhome WiFi coverage. Let's explore some of your options in our touring caravan WiFi guide.
Caravan Site with Wifi
It sounds simple, and it is! A hassle-free way to ensure you will have access to the internet is to choose caravan sites with WiFi. Most campsites will make the access username and password available or require you to signup, but if not, ensure you enquire at guest services. Remember that there may be a small charge for using the site WiFi depending on data or time usage.
Of course, even if WiFi is provided, on some more remote or small-scale campsites, you may find that their rural internet coverage is patchy or the signal isn't quite as strong as you'd like. If you often travel to new and different campsites, it's a good idea to invest in a WiFi signal booster.
WiFi boosters will come with a USB connection that slots into your device, and the antenna can be affixed to the exterior of your vehicle while on-site or as a permanent solution. There are two choices here: an omnidirectional booster allows you to pick up a signal from all directions, while a directional antenna will only pick up a signal in the exact direction of the router (though the payoff is that your signal will usually be more stable).
If you already have a phone and data plan in the UK, then you may be able to access the 4G mobile network if there is coverage in your area. The best way to check this is to use Ofcom's handy mobile and broadband checker. Simply input the postcode of the site where you will be staying and see whether you can expect to have access to web browsing (shown as 'data') from your caravan or motorhome.
The checker shows whether you can expect to receive a signal indoors and/or outdoors, but it only shows results for O2, EE, Vodafone and Three. However, if you use another mobile network, check whether they provide their services via one of these four companies, which is usually the case. In which case you shouldn't have a problem getting a signal.
Some ways to utilise 4G WiFi from your caravan include:
• Use your phone as a hotspot
If you can get sufficient coverage from your mobile network, you can use the tethering setting on your phone to set it up as a hotspot. This allows you to use your phone like a router and connect other devices to it securely using a password. It's important to check you have enough data to cover this, particularly for intensive browsing, streaming or downloading, and if several members of the family will be connecting to it. However, it is sometimes more cost-effective to increase your plan than to look at other solutions, so check this before your holiday.
• Use a dongle
A dongle is a separate device which has its own SIM card slot to allow you to add a pre-loaded Pay-As-You-Go or plan-based SIM card to a network that you can expect to access from your site (use the Ofcom checker above to assist). It is easy to use and will plug into your laptop via the USB slot. However, it's only really worth doing if you can't get sufficient data from your regular provider.
• Other solutions
If you are serious about having reliable WiFi in your caravan or motorhome, then there are other SIM-enabled solutions on the market too, such as the Maxview Roam. These typically use a combination of a pre-loaded or plan-based SIM card along with an external antenna to boost your signal strength, and you will be able to connect your devices to an internally based router that is username and password protection for greater privacy. The only downside is these can require a bit of DIY to install, so aren't suitable for all caravanners.
Boosting signal strength
If you notice that your mobile data signal isn't as strong as you might hope, it could be because the signal is being affected by the metal framework of your caravan or motorhome. This can make it difficult for all signals to penetrate. If you don't want to go outside to do your browsing, try using your device as close to the window as possible and ideally in the same direction as the nearest phone mast (you can view signal maps with the Opensignal app).
A note on security
It's best to try and use connections that are password protected rather than public. Remember that using the internet outside of your home is never 100% secure. As such, never provide personal details over these networks or access any sensitive documents or banking services until you're back home.
At Love2Stay, our caravan park is ideal for tourers who want to take their motorhome or caravan out for a road trip while having all the facilities and services they need on their doorstep. With WiFi available, there's no need to worry about not having coverage.