Mobile Internet for the Mexico-Bound RVer

Mobile Internet for the Mexico-Bound RVer 1

For the past three years, we have ventured South of the border to Baja, Mexico in our RV in search of sun, sand, sea, and fun. The idea of RVing in a foreign country can seem a little scary and complicated at first. And because friends and family might also think you’re crazy and have concerns for your safety, we have found that staying connected through the Internet is helpful.

When you’re working on the road, it’s vital.

Here’s how we’ve done it:

US Cellular Roaming

Many U.S. carriers have roaming agreements with Mexican telecom companies.

In the U.S., we have unlimited data plans through Verizon and AT&T’s Mobley device. Unfortunately, the Mobley doesn’t work outside of the U.S. Luckily, Verizon’s service does and makes it easy with a Welcome to Mexico text message informing you that high speed data is limited to 500mb per day and throttled to an almost unusable 2G speed after that.

Occasionally we have found Verizon will roam on multiple Mexican networks and we have to select Telcel in order to get the best speed. Verizon includes unlimited voice calls and text messages in Mexico. This is a huge change from our first trip to Mexico in the 90’s when long distance calls to the U.S. were very expensive. Contact your provider before going to Mexico as plans and options are subject to change and may have additional limitations.

There also may be plans to increase your available data. Our fellow Xscapers over at the RV Mobile Internet site do a good job of sifting through the plan details and offer Escapees RV Club members a discount on membership.

Mexican Cellular

We have an unlocked Android phone and use a pay-as-you go provider in the U.S., so it was relatively easy to get a Telcel SIM in Mexico.

From our campground outside of San Diego this past winter, we made a day trip to Tecate to get Telcel service. OXXO, one of Mexico’s convenience store chains, sold the SIM cards for about $7.50 (149 Pesos).

Before going down, we had researched a plan called “Amigo Sin Limite” which included 28 days of service with unlimited voice calls, text, and social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp), and 2GB of high-speed data for less than $8 U.S. The card was easy to buy, but our limited Spanish failed to get the plan activated at the OXXO.

Instead, we walked to the Telcel store at a mall and were greeted by a customer service agent who spoke English and helped us get the plan paid for and activated. We celebrated with tacos and a free beer at the nearby Tecate Brewery! The plan is easy to top off every month through the Telcel app or website.

Surprisingly, when we crossed back into the U.S., Telcel voice and text continued to work on the T-Mobile network. More details can be found on the Telcel website.  

Mobile Internet for the Mexico-Bound RVer 2

WiFi

For larger data needs, we primarily relied on WIFI networks available throughout Mexico which were often free.

Almost every campground we stayed at had WIFI. Campground WIFI in Mexico can be as unreliable as the in U.S. but we consider it nice to have when it works.

Many restaurants and bars also have WIFI. We spent some time at the beautiful Bahia Concepcion, a paradise for RVers with white sand beaches where you can dry camp right next to the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez for $10 a day, but with zero cell service.

Our favorite bar and restaurant had satellite Internet that was fairly fast and allowed us to check the usual email, Facebook, etc. while eating shrimp tacos and sipping strong margaritas.

We use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service when connecting to sensitive sites like banking. It also comes in handy if you need to switch your location back to the U.S.

Campground Wifi in Mexico

Mind The Gap

Regardless of who you have as a provider in Baja, once you get out of the cities cell service can be very limited to non-existent.

We enjoy exploring some of the remote areas in Baja in our Jeep and decided it was worth it to buy a Garmin InReach satellite communicator that uses the Iridium network for email and texting anywhere in the world and SOS button with 24/7 monitoring and emergency response.

We saw a couple of cases this past winter where concerned relatives had posted missing persons alerts to Mexico Facebook groups only to discover their loved ones weren’t missing but only enjoying some off-grid beach time. Having a Garmin InReach and checking in could have eliminated the unneeded panic. It also lets friends and relatives contact you if there is an emergency back home.

Final Thoughts

Mexico is increasingly modern, but it’s important to remember that you will be dealing with cultural and language barriers that can be frustrating at times.

A down or slow WIFI network might not get fixed immediately. You might not know the right words to ask that the modem be reset or understand when the Internet Hombre is coming.

You might need to pay an online bill but find yourself in a campground full of data hungry RVers who overwhelm and kill the WIFI network.

It might also be a good time to head down the road to your favorite cantina for some free WIFI, which might or might not be working, but you can be sure they will never run out of margaritas and there is always mañana!

Mobile Internet for the Mexico-Bound RVer 3

Authors

Scott & Jaime Sichler

Scott and Jaime are originally from Oregon, but left to pursue corporate careers in Los Angeles, California.

After 17 years, they ditched the rat race and sold their house to become full-time RVers. Since 2016, they’ve been traveling throughout the US and Baja, Mexico in their 2007 Winnebago Journey with their dog Crosby. They enjoy the outdoors and document their travels at AwayWeWinnebago.com.

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Mobile Internet for the Mexico-Bound RVer 4

One Response to “Mobile Internet for the Mexico-Bound RVer

  • Scott and Jaime Sichler
    suzanne Sichler
    3 months ago

    Great article that could save you a lot of headaches. Like the tips on a place to stay & lots of good eating.

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