3 Ways to Have Internet on the Road

I’ll go from most expensive to free.

1. Satellite. You get a dish and it scan’s the sky for satellite internet, delivering it to you wherever you are. Even in the middle of nowhere. They have automatic roof-mount ones as well as big weildy pull them out and set them up ones. This is what I really want. If I had satellite and I could make a little money on the internet I’d almost never have to go to towns. But the set up costs are huge, you have to attend an inconvenient training, and I think the government might be able to tell where you are. Once your all set up ($2-4k) it’s only $80-100/month, and I’ve heard some people say as low as $50. This is a good article that discusses your options for equipment and service providers.

2. Cell phone card. This is what I did when I first lived in a bus. You’ll get high speed internet anytime you’re near a big city or on a major freeway in the lower 48. I had Verizon and it worked great for about $60/month. But if you’re near a big city or on a major freeway you can probably find wifi for free.

3. Free wifi. It’s everywhere, these days. Even in a town of 100 people I once drove around hitting refresh and eventually found wifi. You can get it free if you’re a customer at many coffee shops, fast food joints, even gyms. You can also park in close proximity to anyplace with wifi and hide out in the back of your van surfing on the downlow. Here’s a sampling of good places to find unsecured wifi: colleges, business parks, apartment buildings, hotels, neighborhoods where houses are close to the road, libraries, restaurants…. in short, just about anyplace people have computers.


  1. I get ‘free’ wireless signals in my apartment complex. I’m using it to post this note, as a matter of fact.

    Why pay if the signal is there? I know it’s a bit like being a deadbeat, but I’m using the signal to work, post, email, research, etc. It’s not as if I’m hacking NORAD or anything…


  2. When you use a cellphone the government can keep track of you too. If you want to be as anonymous as possible when using the internet the best way is to use a public access wifi, set your computer to use a false MAC address and surf through an anonymous proxy site. Yes sometimes I am that paranoid.

  3. Hi Tara,
    Thanks for the fantastic comment you left on my blog. I already said it on Susie Bright’s site, but I think your blog is so important politically and culturally, as a contribution to sex-positive feminism. Not to mention that it’s just plain engaging. So I am honored that you paid me a visit!

    Must say, I was curious all along how you managed to be a blogger in a van … now I know!

    Marcelle x

  4. I’m amazed at how many places and people leave their networks unsecured (aside from places like coffee shops and restaurants with free access). Or pitifully unsecured — like using the name of their network as the password. We cracked into someone’s network this summer because of that. Thanks, people who don’t read the manual!

    If you’re using someone else’s signal though don’t download from public filesharing sites, because Comcast and other providers will yank your account for that.

  5. Are there ethics in this? Is it ok to use anyone’s signal, even someone who can’t afford to lend out bandwidth? Can you tell anything about who’s network you are accessing?

  6. Kate, these are the facts I base my ethics on:

    1. Here in the US, at least, internet packages are pretty much always unlimited. I’ve never met anyone who had to pay by the usage.

    2. If they didn’t want people using it, they’d put a password on it. If it’s password protected, I figure they don’t want me using it so I move on, because the unsecured ones are plentiful enough.

  7. That makes sense, Tara. It’s not uncommon here to have data limits, but I think passwords will be the norm too.

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