Connectivity on the Road

Variable Cell Coverage
This transition year is about test driving our new lifestyle to learn what we need to make this work. While on the road, I am making lists of things we will need for real full-timing that we didn’t bring on this trip to Bar Harbor. I am experiencing the realities of finding campsites, obtaining resources when constantly in new places and pacing to enjoy my travels without overdoing it. One issue I have found is the variability of cell and data connectivity on the road. I know Cherie and Chris of Technomadia have developed a Coverage app for iPhone which conveniently provides coverage info on all the major carriers across the US. I have an android phone so will have to access coverage maps for individual carriers on their websites.

I haven’t had any cell or data signal for over a week now – nothing at my BDW spot or here in the White Mountains. However, the BDW had WIFI and there is WIFI at the visitor centre I am allowed to use for free for as long as I like – they even have a lovely sitting room. I’ve made phone calls with James on FB Messenger, Skype and Hangouts Dialer over this WIFI signal.  Happily Bell Canada agreed to refund the cost of the second month of US long distance and data since their own records showed that I hadn’t used it at all.

On the way to our site in the Adirondacks, cell signal was weak. Our call dropped but I received a text from James telling me he had found a site at Jones Pond. Phew!

Having a Plan
It makes me wonder to what extent we really both need to have cell and data plans? Since we will be parting ways and meeting up, in theory we MUST have plans. But if those plans won’t even be working in many of the places we want to stay, they could actually do more harm than good by providing us with a false sense of connection. Given this, when James will be riding ahead to scope out good dispersed campsites, we will need to have a clear PLAN for exactly where we will meet up in case we cannot reach each other. Simply assuming we will be able to call or text each other could backfire badly and leave us unable to find each other as darkness is falling.

James route planning in the trailer.
James route planning in the trailer.

When dispersed camping is the goal, meeting up at the previously located Ranger Station is probably the safest bet. But if James wants to ride ahead to scope out sites before I get there, he could leave instructions for me with the Ranger on what area to head to.  If James fails to show up due to a crash or breakdown and I have no cell signal, he or the police could still leave me voicemail messages which I could pick up using any landline.  We always carry emergency contact info cards in our wallets. Perhaps the best thing is to just stick together when we know we are heading into an area with limited cell coverage.

Sticking together!


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