making the most of intermittent internet

RV folks without mobile data plans (or outside of cell coverage) have to deal with brief periods of wifi access followed by long stretches of no connection.  The impact of this restriction can be lessened by using some old-school tools.

web browsing

The impact of the outage will fall mainly on web browsing, since that is a real time, interactive activity.  It is also the area where we have the fewest tools to deal with it.

  • save pages for later reading - your browser will allow you to save (non-interactive) pages to your device for later reading.

    • in chrome/chromium right-click the page and choose Save As.

    • in firefox right-click the page and choose Save Page As.

  • send pages to your kindle - there are plugins for your browser that will send a cleanly formatted copy of the webpage to your kindle.  Of course your kindle will have to connected at the same time so it can receive the file.  So bring your reader into that starbucks!  :-)

  • download YouTube videos - Download YouTube videos with a tool called youtube-dl.  You can specify the quality (and therefore filesize).  Be nice to your wifi host and don’t download 1080p versions if you don’t need that resolution.  YouTube also has a service called Red that will allow you to d/l videos if you have a subscription.


Before the advent of “webmail” (email read from a webpage) people used email “clients” (programs) to connect to email servers and pull down their email.  They would write responses or compose new mail offline.  Next time they had a connection the mail would be sent/received. This original form of email access will serve you well in periods of intermittent access.

  1. find the POP (sometimes called POP3) settings for your webmail provider.   Here are the settings for gmail and the settings for yahoo.  Others will be similar.  Google something like “[your provider] pop3 settings”.

  2. plug them into an email client

1. windows - an Outlook variant probably came with windows.  You can also use clients like [thunderbird](, a free/opensource Outlook workalike.

2. linux - [thunderbird](, etc


If you listen to podcasts do your downloading when online and listen at your leisure.  Hours of entertainment for a quick download.

Some RV-related podcasts.


Newsgroups have largely been forgotten as discussion moved to web forums.  But the functionality still exists and is built into Outlook/Thunderbird.  As with email, you pull down the new messages when online and reply/compose when you have a connection again.

The newsgroup most applicable to RVers will be rec.outdoors.rv-travel.  You could read it in google groups but you will want to use a newsreader so you can filter/killfile the spammers and obnoxious politics-obsessed.