For three years living in Cas I relied solely on public WiFi and mooching off of friends for getting online, a pretty impressive achievement considering how much I use the internet – for updating this blog, responding to comments and e-mails, keeping up with Facebook Twitter, and other bloggers, and doing travel research. It was at times a slow and frustrating process depending on how good the WiFi was, but I never regretted the decision because of the amount of money I saved.
Alas, it was well advertised when I was job searching that free WiFi wasn’t available inside Yellowstone. I’d heard that Verizon had a strong 4G signal at Old Faithful (it’s true, other carriers are marginal at best), and I was already going through them for my smartphone plan. So I figured when I got out here I’d up the data on my plan and use my phone as a hotspot to get online with my computer. I couldn’t escape it any longer, I’d need to pay for my internet.
Here’s where things get interesting.
The two year contract on my phone plan through Verizon had ended long ago, and I was just paying month to month on it. It was an old bastardized dumbphone plan with 2 GB of data tacked on when I switched to an iPhone just before I hit the road in the summer of 2012. At the time I got my iPhone, it was cheaper to keep the dumbphone plan with limited texts and minutes, I was working at BestBuy back then, and got a 25% discount because of it.
My discount had expired maybe a year or so ago, and my plan went up to about $92, but that wasn’t unusual for a phone plan with 2GB of data, so I left it as is.
In March while I was researching how I was going to get online in Yellowstone, I realized that Verizon’s new More Everything plan was actually going to be about $10 less than what I was currently paying (and didn’t need to sign a new contract even, yay). If I went from 2 GB of data to 1 GB of data, it was actually going to be $20 less a month. Looking back over my records I saw I was only using an average of 1 GB of data anyway, and I wouldn’t need any more than that until May, so I might as well save $40 for those two months until I arrived in Yellowstone. My bill dropped to $72 a month and I was happy.
In mid-May when I arrived in Yellowstone, I called up Verizon to one: confirm that using my phone as a hotspot with the More Everything plan wasn’t going to incur any extra charges, and two: up my data. I only got as far as point one. It just so happened I was calling on Mother’s Day, and apparently there was some kind of deal going. When I explained to the lady my situation of being somewhere remote for the summer and needing a way to get online, she happily informed me that yes, the More Everything plan would do that for me, and she gave me 2 free GB of data for a year. I told her that I might need more than 3GB – from reading other RVers reports, I fully expected to need 10 GB or more – but she told me to hold off on upgrading until I was getting close to my cap, that way I’d save money if it turns out I didn’t need that much.
And what do you know, I haven’t needed more than 3GB. Here’s my usage as of 6/28 with 3 days to go until my data resets:
So in short, I’m paying $20 less a month than I did when I wrote my article last year about the cheapest internet option, and have a more reliable connection. Isn’t life funny. I’m very grateful for the break, as I’ve spent somewhere north of $2,700 on repairs and maintenance on Bertha and Cas so far this year, and I still need to get new tires for Cas before I leave Yellowstone.
Note 1: I’m not a technology guru, so if you’re looking for comprehensive information on mobile internet options, might I suggest this handy page Technomadia has set up specifically for RVers.
Note 2: I don’t stream video, play videogames, or download anything, which is how I can make 3 GB of data a month work for me. It certainly won’t work for everyone, but if you’re just web surfing, using Facebook, writing e-mails, and updating a blog, apparently 3 GB will do.
Note 3: Plans and prices change all the time, so you’ll want to check to see what’s available when you hit the road.
First image courtesy of Alan Levine
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