Looking back, we must have been out of our minds when, in 2007, we volunteered to visit each and every truck camper manufacturer, gear company, and a good number of the truck camper dealerships throughout the United States and Canada.
As a fledgling new internet magazine, we were publishing two to three times a week from the road. That meant we were in factories most days, and writing late into the night. It was a thrilling, and completely exhausting experience we will never forget.
The biggest challenge during those six-months was finding reliable internet. We hadn’t invested in a cellular internet card as the ones available at that time were (a) expensive (b) not very fast, (c) did not offer service in Canada, and (d) expensive.
Yes, I know I wrote expensive twice. The fuel costs of that trip alone were pushing our budget to the hilt, so an expensive and intermittently useful internet card and service plan was not going to happen.
So how did we publish two to three times a week in 2007 without cellular internet? Three words; we were pirates.
We literally drove around shopping centers at night watching our computers to see when an open WIFI signal would appear. When we found one, we would stop the rig and attempt to log on. If we could log on, and the internet speed was decent, we would determine what store front the WIFI was coming from, park the rig as close to that store as possible, and go work in the camper.
Now before you call the authorities or write my mother about her son’s completely disreputable behavior (sorry Mom), please consider three things.
One, most of the time we were using wireless (or ethernet) internet from a truck camper business or an establishment that offered internet service with a food or drink purchase, which we purchased. Many a day was spent at Panera Bread.
Two, we were using open WIFI internet connections at establishments that, for the most part, offered that open WIFI internet connection to the public during their open hours. Many a night was spent in the parking lot in front of Panera Bread.
The fact that these establishments didn’t turn their WIFI off at night, or that their WIFI reached into the parking lot, isn’t our fault. Besides, who gave them permission to broadcast their free WIFI into my truck camper? I know, that’s a stretch.
And three, we were using these open WIFI internet connections to publish Truck Camper Magazine. That means, if you were reading Truck Camper Magazine, you were practically an accomplice, like a conspiring parrot on our pirate shoulder. Okay, that’s another stretch, but we had to do what we had to do.
So there you go, we were WIFI pirates. We admit it. Arrr!
Reformed WIFI Pirates
Since that trip, we have given up on our WIFI pirate ways having purchased a Verizon mobile hotspot in 2010 and an internet capable iPhone 4S in 2011. The Verizon mobile hotspot was a revelation allowing us more freedom to travel and publish.
In 2011, we traded in the mobile hotspot for the iPhone 4S with the mobile internet service activated. This service allows us to have up to five devices online via the phone and its built in WIFI. While the separate mobile hotspot worked better, the iPhone consolidated our cell phone and internet service costs and still works well.
In the future, we are likely to upgrade to the new iPhone 5S and activate its mobile internet service. With 4G built in, we should be all set for another few years of cross-country truck camping fun and adventure.
Go anywhere. Camp anywhere. Work anywhere. It’s a beautiful thing.
This week’s Question of the Week is, “How do you get internet on the road?” Please include the devices you use, and the service provider (Verizon, AT&T, etc.). If you want to include the cost of your service, that’s great too.