Cellular broadband has transformed the way working age RVers like us earn a living, but here in the Great White North, all that changes. If you make the trek, expect to leave all your expectations, your Internet addictions and even your business routines at the border. This is still the Last Frontier in so many ways, including how you make money on the road. Our three biggest challenges of RVing and working on the Alaska Highway have turned our RV life upside down at times.
RVing and Working on the Alaska Highway Changes Everything
Last winter in Quartzsite we attended a workshop about RVing to Alaska, featuring three couples who shared their experiences up here. One working-age couple described how they worked from the road while relying only on infrequent cellular broadband connections. They went from RV park to RV park to get online, which doesn’t sound fun to us.
I figured that if they could do it then certainly our satellite internet system would save us from RV parks and make it easy for us to conduct business as usual. But I didn’t consider that the couple only did internet-based work. Jim and I also work online but we need to ship merchandise and be connected 24/7 for our Tripawds community. Once we crossed the border, those differences created an entirely new experience and different challenges for us.
Challenge #1: The Problem with Our Cell Phone Plan
The moment we entered British Columbia, Verizon throttled our data to dial-up speeds. Verizon never told us that the free international voice and data in our plan didn’t include more than 500 GB per day for each of our phones. If we wanted more, we’d need to pay $5 for every 500 GB.
“You should just get a new Canadian SIM card,” our laughter yoga world traveling friend Dave advised. But we didn’t do it, assuming that we wouldn’t be in Canada very long and spend most of our time in Alaska. “Who needs ‘em?” we thought, as we started using the pricey but necessary data from our RVDataSat 840 to fill in where Verizon left off.
Challenge #2: Life North of Sixty Impacts Satellite Internet
Once we entered the Yukon, we realized just how much our place on the planet could affect the ability of our dish to get online. In the Lower 48, our RVDataSat 840 saves us relying on cellular broadband, but that’s not always the case here. We’ve moved so high up on the globe that the dish now practically points at the ground to find our satellite. That we expected. But what makes it challenging to connect is finding camping spots with enough southern exposure. Those tall mountains and trees are everywhere, which blocks the connection.
Jim plans on geeking out on this topic soon so all you nerds stay tuned for a more detailed explanation of using satellite internet in Alaska and the Yukon.
Challenge #3: Sending International Mail is a Problem
The U.S. mail plays a big role in our life and business. The slow delivery between countries has made sending my jewelry orders and other Tripawds-related materials expensive and difficult. Packages take twice as long to get through customs but thankfully nobody has complained yet. We’ve only had our mail forwarded once in the last two months, to Tok Alaska where we ran up to to retrieve it in the middle of our broken trailer leaf spring drama.
Aside from the unexpected mechanical issues that we’ve experienced since April, these are just three of the biggest challenges of working from the Alaska Highway in our RV that we’re facing every day. There are others for sure. And in-between, there’s a ton of beauty and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The takeaway for anyone reading this is that if you are also still earning a living from your RV, and you’d like to make this epic jaunt, don’t assume that what works for one person’s line of work will work for yours. It didn’t for us. Our internet-based business efforts require 24/7 connectivity. Doing it on this trip is not easy.
Every situation, every business, every story is different. The only way to find out if it will work for yours is to plan the trip as well as you can, then take that leap of faith if you’re still game.
Is it worth it? You tell me.