If you’re a digital nomad living the car camping life, you’re properly looking for nice camping spots that have reception. After all, you still need to work to sustain this lifestyle. Fortunately, there are tons of beautiful camping spots out there that still have reception, even if they are seemingly remote or secluded. And there are a few tools you can use to find them.
Tools for getting a cell signal
Possibly the simplest way to know ahead of time if the area you want to travel to has reception is to download the app OpenSignal. This app shows you a map of a selected area with different colors plotted on the map that show you the strength of the signal. Areas with green spots show strong signal, while areas with red or no coloring indicate little to no signal. Unsurprisingly, you’ll notice that areas along highways or within cities have the highest concentration of green spots. But every once in awhile it’ll show you remote or forested areas with reception. You can even configure the app to show you signal for specific cell carriers.
Another method for finding cell signal while camping is to use some of the camp-finding apps out there such as The Dyrt or FreeRoam (both of which I frequently use). The Dyrt’s Pro feature allows you to filter campsites by which cell carrier has signal at the location. FreeRoam’s filtering system has something similar, but it’s free, and even lets you determine how strong of a signal you’re looking for. Both apps seem to rely on user-generated assessments of the cell signal and may not be entirely accurate.
Other tools for finding cell signal
There other ways to find cell signal or acquire an internet connection while roaming the lands if you don’t mind dropping some money. Devices such as cell signal amplifiers or even satellite internet configurations can get you connected on the go.
You can find cell signal amplifiers at just about any major electronics store, such as Best Buy, or outdoor sporting goods stores such as REI. Amazon.com has several options as well, ranging from home & office setups, to car & RV options. And there are some for specific cell carriers like Verizon and AT&T. I personally haven’t used a cell signal amplifier, so make sure to diligently research these before purchasing.
Sometimes even just purchasing a run-of-the-mill cellular hotspot can slightly amplify a cell signal better than your smartphone. However, in my experience, they hardly work any better than my smarthphone.
For an even more expensive but arguably more solid solution, you can purchase satellite internet equipment ready-made for cars, SUVs and RVs. These usually require mounting large satellite dishes to the top of your vehicle or on the ground. They often cost thousands of dollars too. But thankfully, Elon Musk’s Starlink company has new satellite internet equipment specifically made for moving vehicles. While Starlink solutions are much cheaper than traditional satellite internet setups, it’ll still run you a couple thousand dollars.
Or, if you just need some way to communicate or access maps and weather reports when there’s no cell reception, the Garmin inReach is a popular choice. It even has an emergency SOS button and is a must-have for anyone spending lots of time in the remote backcountry. I use one of these myself to communicate my location to my mom when I know I won’t have reception for awhile. If anything, it’s peace of mind.
Working remotely in the wilderness
It is absolutely possible to find secluded camping spots with cell connectivity. Some of the best spots I’ve found had full or near full reception. There’s nothing like working remotely with a beautiful office view of some mountains or a lush forest. While the apps I mentioned above do help, sometimes I’m disappointed at the connectivity, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised. In the end it’ll take a little exploring to find ideal places to work and camp from. Once you’ve narrowed down an area with cell signal, learn how to explore forest roads to find an even more ideal spot for yourself.
Being able to work remotely in the wilderness is great and all, but if possible, I highly recommend finding beautiful places with no cell reception. Soon I’ll be publishing an article that explains all the reasons why camping with no reception is ideal. Stay tuned for that. But in the meantime, let me know if any of the methods written in this article have helped you find camping spots with cell reception, or if you have any other tips to offer!