Posted in: Animal Sightings, Campground Review, Food, Frequently Asked Questions, Hiking, Internet, Maintenance, Newbie Tips, School, Sightseeing

How We Pick Out A Campground (Frequently Asked Questions)

There are a ton of campgrounds out there and it can be overwhelming trying to find the “best” one to call home! They range from independent places, chains (like KOA and Thousand Trails), city owned, state owned, and federally owned. Some only accept military/retired military, some only accept Class A’s, and some have age limits on the RVs or the people they let in. A lot of places also have dog restrictions based on breed.

We have a few things that we always look for in a campground: location to sightseeing, internet, full hook-ups, and a laundry room. Our biggest one is a good internet connection for school and work. There are a few different websites that I visit to check reviews: campgroundreviews.com, GoodSam, and Campendium are my first ones. After those, I will go to Yelp/Google Map reviews (make sure to type RV Campground or RV Resort, not just campground as you will get results that will not work with RVs or may not have hook-ups), and then to Facebook for the RV groups to see if anyone has stayed there before.

Our favorite RV Campground Review Sites

I always check multiple review sites, especially for internet issues, but sometimes you still don’t get it right. For example, the Garden of the Gods RV review stated that our 3 providers worked. However, when we checked in, there was a note with our paperwork saying AT&T did not work in the park. This wasn’t mentioned on the campground’s website at the time. (This is just one of the reasons why we have three internet providers!)

I also try to read about the general campground conditions (sites, roads, etc.). If a lot of reviews with bigger RVs say that sites or internal roads were tight or not well maintained, I will pass on that campground. We’ve even double checked the reviews on the way to a campground and changed our plans last minute based on the current conditions. Conditions of campgrounds can change frequently. For example, when we booked one Texas site, it had decent reviews. On the drive there, we were reading the reviews from the last week and it was filled with reports of sewage problems throughout the campground (eww!), so we frantically searched and found a new campground to stay in. The most recent one was a change due to a review saying the T-Mobile signals were weak. T-Mobile is where most of our working internet comes through. We have some hotspot data through our cell phones, but the T-Mobile hotspot is the workhorse.

Campground amenities can also be a big indicator for the nicety of a park, although not always. There doesn’t seem to be a regulation on who can call themselves a RV Resort vs a campground, so reading reviews are important! We had one Thousand Trails claim to be a resort and they only had a laundry room and a walking trail. Nothing else was available or was broken and the sites and roads needed some upkeep. On the other hand, we had a Thousand Trails in Orlando that lived up to the resort title with many amenities and things to do.

An on-site laundry is also a requirement for us, as we do not have a washer/dryer on our travel trailer.

We have learned to always check (recent) reviews across the different review sites. It can be worth spending the extra money to get a nicer campground, especially for longer stays.

Posted in: Internet

Our Internet Solutions For Full Time Travel In The RV

With the boys attending online school with required live sessions and Ben working full-time remotely, we really need the internet to work at all times.

Campgrounds often offer WIFI, but it is limited both in speed and availability. Some campgrounds offer it throughout the whole campground, some only in certain sections (usually towards the office), and some only in the office. Some even charge for the WIFI.

We spend a lot per month on internet, right now about $343/month, just to make sure we have service.

Here are our current internet options:

  • Verizon Get More Unlimited: 5G where available, Unlimited 4G LTE (75 GB, then may slow during congestion), mobile hotspot (30 GB of 4G LTE). ($167.62/month)
  • AT&T Unlimited Extra: Unlimited (after 50GB, may slow), mobile hotspot (15GB). ($100.51/month)
  • Finally, we have an independent (no cell phone attached) hot spot through OTR Mobile. The hotspot runs using T-Mobile. It is an unlimited, supposedly not throttled, hotpsot. ($70+tax,$75.04/month) We also had to buy the hotspot ($426, $420 device plus $16 shipping).

However we recently learned that OTR was discontinuing the Pink (T-Mobile) plan on 10/1/2020, leaving just the Evo Blue (AT&T). We already have AT&T through a cell phone and ran into a campground where it didn’t work. We wanted to keep service in all 3 major networks to let us have the most options for service. We had to go back to the drawing board for a T-Mobile option. I will say if you are grandfathered into an unlimited plan, keep it! The new plans aren’t really unlimited.

Some RV’s will also offer paid plans as well. We didn’t go this route because we wanted the flexibility of a hot spot. It’s small enough that as long as it has power, we can bring it anywhere and get service (where T-Mobile signals are). There is a battery it can run off of, or we can just plug it into the wall.

We also have a WeBoost* and a MiMo Antenna* to help with boosting the signal.

We joined FMCA a few months ago and when researching a new T-Mobile provider, we saw they had a plan for FMCA members. This plan is $49.99/month, plus a one-time hot spot rental fee of $40. We’ll see how it goes! I am hoping it works really well.

*Affiliate links