Using a mobile device when touring is becoming more of a necessity – unless you really to want to get away from it and be technology or screen free.
Many caravanners and motorhome owners will carry at least a mobile phone or tablet to either find or research their holiday destination or to share updates of their adventures via social media – and maybe even keeping up to date on those e-mails. And if you’ve got children or teenagers in tow, connecting to the internet is going to be high on your list of caravanning priorities.
Many caravan and motorhome sites will have WiFi, but connections can be slow on a busy campsite. A combination of multiple users going online at peak times, the variables of your pitch location, surrounding vegetation, your caravan structure and also the weather conditions can make for a patchy and slow connection.
You can try using your mobile network, but with many rural campsites, not all phone networks have a great signal. Many tech savvy caravan and motorhome owners now carry a mobile Wi-Fi hot-spot device – also known as M-Fi – so they can stay connected.
The benefits of Mi-Fi
- You can avoid using the same network as everyone else on the campsite, so should enjoy faster connection.
- Wherever you can get a mobile phone signal you can get on line via the Mi-Fi’s wireless network.
- Some devices will let you connect up to 10 devices to a single hotspot.
Before investing in a MiFi device it’s worth checking which mobile network is strongest in the area to help you decide what kind of SIM card to buy. For finding the best signal use an impartial coverage checking site, such as https://opensignal.com
Ways to improve on-site Wi-Fi
There are a number of Wi-Fi booster devices available which will allow you to set up your own personal hotspot and connect multiple devices to the campsite’s Wi-Fi.
Here we look at some of the devices available so you can stay connected, show off your caravanning or motorhome photos and post those updates on social media.
HooToo TripMate wireless travel router
To use this device you’ll need an existing Wi-Fi network. So either connect it to the onsite Wi-Fi or a Mi-Fi device. The HooToo will bridge the campsite’s wireless network to create your own secure Wi-Fi hotspot, which is great if you’ve got a number of devices you wish to connect at the same time.
Features also include: Being able to share photos and movies across the connected devices and a built in power bank to allow you to charge an average smartphone up to three times.
Expect to pay: £42.99
HooToo via Amazon
Solwise Patriot Wi-Fi booster kit
Again, this kit relies upon an existing Wi-Fi network on the campsite. It works in a similar way as the HooToo, the benefit however of this set up is the antenna that can be mounted externally to a motorhome or caravan to gain a stronger signal.
The Solwise kit will boost a weak WiFi signal between the aerial and the router via the included USB connection.
Features also include: Compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, suitable for use in the UK and abroad, multiple devices can connect to it at the same time.
Expect to pay: £110.90
Visit Solwise.co.uk or see this product review.
iBoost Pro D8 Directional System
Using an internal micro router and suction mounted, powerful external antenna, will create a secure Wi-Fi network inside your caravan, allowing you to connect all your devices wirelessly. Like the previous kits the iBoost Pro D8 works in a similar way, the difference here is how well the antenna can boost the signal. If you’re located in a pitch that’s some distance from the site Wi-Fi, this should be able to gather a respectable signal.
Features also include: Optional carry case to protect the equipment in transit, 90 degree field of view to boost your connection, local hotspot range of up to 50 metres.
Expect to pay: £159.99
Visit Motorhome WiFi for more information.
What if there is no Wi-Fi on site?
First of all don’t panic! With a mobile Mi-Fi router device and a data SIM card you can create a Wi-Fi hotspot to connect multiple devices and get online – just like you would connect to a wireless router at home. You simply insert the SIM, switch it on, connect your devices to the Wi-Fi hotspot it generates and you’ll get online. You can either use a “Pay as you go” SIM and top it up as you go or invest in a monthly contract.
Huawei make a number of MiFi devices and this is one of their most popular – giving you 4G internet access from any mobile phone networks. Simply choose your data SIM card and produce your WiFi hotspot!
Features also include: Wi-Fi connection for up to 10 devices, six hour battery capacity, two antenna sockets, and a LCD display.
Expect to pay: £69.99
See Huawei E5577 on Amazon and video from caravanner Dan Trudgian on how to connect this device and the HooToo.
Like the Huawei this is an unlocked device, meaning you can use any network and any SIM card. It’s worth shopping around for the best deals in your area, many mobile networks such as VodaFone, EE O2, and 3 have great deals on data only Sims. This router can also create a wireless network for up to 10 devices.
The LCD display tells you the signal strength and how much data you’ve used.
Features also include: The tpMiFi app gives you some extra functionality such as sharing files and reading text messages, battery has up to 10 hours of 4G connectivity
Expect to pay: £69.99
EU roaming changes
From June 15th many phone providers will offer free EU roaming, so you’ll be able to take your sim card’s UK data, texts and minutes usage anywhere in the EU as part of your mobile phone plan. It also means the devices above can be used on the continent with a UK data SIM card – at no extra cost.
Over to you…
Got any advice to share on using the kinds of devices, or have any tips on getting the best internet connection. Feel free to share your comments in the box below. And don’t forget to vote in this month’s community poll about using Wi-Fi or going screen free!