Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We are going to begin our RV adventure this fall. My husband and I are both newly retired and almost ready to head out, beginning with a fall color tour through the Rockies. We have been in almost perfect agreement on every issue leading up to departure until now. We are trying to decide on a service provider for our phones and wireless needs. My husband thinks we need two smartphones, a hotspot with a couple dozen gigs of data and two different service providers. I think that is overkill and a waste of money.
I know you are always suggesting the use of online data for everything from dump stations to gas stations, but do we really need that much coverage?
Besides the data, we just need to phone home once in awhile.
Please give us some of your common sense therapy.
--ET in D.C.
This is a real common concern for people starting out on the road. It also varies for each individual. Expense, affordability, need and desire can be all over the data scale. I would suggest you look at what you use at home. This is only a starting point because you will most likely need more on the road if you both are heavy computer users.
I constantly look for a better deal than I have and switch when it is advantageous. We are grandfathered in to an old Altel plan that Verizon bought out. We get 20 gig for what most people pay for 5 gig. That sounds like a lot of data, but we use it every single month. We don’t stream movies or watch much video, which eats up a lot of data. We do watch Nightly News if we cannot get a TV channel, which is most of the time.
I have a dumb phone and my wife has a smartphone. We cannot tether it, but that is an option if you use the right service and the right phone manufacturer.
My wife has a Walmart Straight Talk plan with a Samsung phone and a Verizon chip. For under fifty bucks a month she gets unlimited talk, text and data. It works almost everywhere we travel.
We have RV friends that have Straight Talk, AT&T service and an HTC phone, and they are able to use the phone as a hotspot. Again, unlimited everything.
We were told we would be throttled occasionally if we used to much data, but after a year we have not noticed that ever happening.
You can start out with what you currently have and work up to what you feel you need as you travel.
I can guarantee that you will more than pay for data service, in savings you will realize, using the many cheap and often free apps that direct you to fuel, camping, dumping, road construction, directions, and ME, of course!
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink