I am not affiliated with Amazon or any retailer or streaming service, but having experimented with a variety of TV, music, film and delivery solutions, I can comfortably recommend Amazon Prime as great all-around value for RV travel. Our number one complaint while out and around in this great country has been the unavailability of decent internet service.
One of the reasons for this is that a lot of parks, remote towns and wilderness areas are in the mountains. Another is that campground wifi, when available, even in luxury campgrounds, is about the quality that hotel wifi used to be 15 years ago, so at the rare place with a decent connection, everyone else is already streaming and torrenting it into uselessness.
We have a T-mobile phone with tethering, an ATT phone with no tethering and a Verizon Mifi hot spot. The hot spot is by far the most reliable, but data is limited (we have a 16GB per month plan) and the rollover is not really what you think (data only carries over for one month and then disappears).
Even with these solutions, we do find ourselves occasionally without any cell or internet service at all, and fairly often with service that is OK for email (for example, 3G or campground wifi) but not sufficient for publishing photos or video or streaming TV or movies.
Amazon Prime video is helpful in this regard because it lets you download videos to your phone to watch later when you have no connection. Netflix also offers this service, but the Netflix app (for the iPhone at least) does not allow us to mirror the video to our TV. Downloaded Amazon Prime video can be shared (in our case to Apple TV) and watched anytime, with or without a connection.
The other main feature of Amazon Prime is, of course, free two-day shipping (now one day in some zip codes, two hours for some items in others). We travel through wilderness, tourist zones and very rural towns, with few shopping options. We are be unable to find some items (iPhone replacement parts, RV parts, etc) when we need them.
Other items, such as RV accessories, are available in campground stores, but at a markup of 200% or more over Amazon prices. Two-day free shipping means that as long as we know we are going to be in a campground for a few nights, we can have almost anything imaginable shipped to the campground office and pick them up. It also means that Sonny can have a new cardboard box.
So, if you are planning a long rural trip and don’t already have Amazon Prime, consider it. We don’t watch much TV at all, so Amazon Prime has more than we could ever watch. Netflix would be the second best no-wifi option, if you don’t mind downloading at a cafe and watching from your phone or tablet later. Hulu and HBO Now just aren’t for the road. So please do not tell me anything about Game of Thrones.
Kathryn Tully and Shane Sesta are a married couple, one American and one Brit, who are spending a year traveling across America and writing about their discoveries. Sonny is their rescue cat and fried chicken aficionado.