I have just finished reading an article about a bloke who plans to live off grid.
Mark Boyle has built a log cabin, somewhere in England, and he is going to live without “a laptop, no internet, no phone, no washing machine, no tapped water, no gas, no fridge, no television or electronic music.”
He is going to write about his experience in a column for the Guardian, which I find slightly ironic given that most people will read about his low-tech experience via the internet, on their laptop or phone, but I am sure he can live with the contradiction.
I couldn’t live without being connected.
I am not a complete slave to the modern world. Our van doesn’t have a washing machine, our water tanks have to be filled by hand, our heating, cooking and fridge work thanks only to a basic gas cylinder, and we don’t have a telly. No Strictly for us on a Saturday night.
But I need to be online – all the time.
Researching internet access was my responsiblity when planning our trip, and I though I had cracked it when I discovered Motorhome Wifi.
I bought a wifi booster, so that we could pick up any free wifi in range of the van, and a Mifi router with a data sim card loaded with 12GB, as well as a low-profile antenna to boost that signal.
Adam at Motorhome Wifi was a great help, advising me on the best products for our needs, and I was confident we had a set-up that would keep us connected no matter where we parked.
Well, how wrong could I be?
The 12GB data was eaten up within days. We paid 25 euros for a Greek card with only 6GB. That disappeared in less time than it took me to google the Greek for preloaded sim.
And the wifi booster, which worked like a dream for the first two weeks, stopped dead somewhere in France.
I could have sent it back to Yorkshire for Motorhome Wifi to fix, but that would have meant organising a return address, and our planning is not that advanced.
But all was not lost.
On impulse, a few days before we had set off, I purchased a Three month-to-month contract (£20 a month) for our iPhones, which gives us 12GB roaming a month, as well as 200 minutes.
This may seem an extravagance too far, but it has been a lifeline for us.
We can stay in touch with family. Our four grandchildren love FaceTime almost as much as I do.
Nigel can catch up on the cricket scores (England keep losing apparently), we can do our banking and currency exchange with ease, and rant on Twitter to our heart’s content.
I also have a contract with EE that I entered into during my self-employed previous life. I was rather miffed that it did not end until February 2017; until that is they offered me 15GB of roaming 4G data for an extra fiver a month.
Now, using our spare phone, I can listen to the Today programme while washing the dishes in the Greek sun
And when we really need our laptops connected we are happy to buy a coffee in any café that has a Wifi Here sticker.
But we cannot wait to get to Estonia, where internet access has been declared a human right, and there is free and fast wifi across the country.
We may have had an unlucky experience with our wifi booster, but we can heartily recommend Motorhome Wifi.
Adam and Sophie, who set up the company, are motorhomers and did a year-long trip round Europe in 2011, so they have practical experience of staying connected while on the road. And their customer service and expertise is unrivalled.
Three does the best roaming packages on the high street. The pre-loaded cards are time-limited, so don’t forget to read the small print before buying, but we love our Feel at Home rolling contract.
And from June 2017, roaming charges will end across the EU.