Do you have a touch of wanderlust? There’s never been a better time to hit the road in a van, bus, or RV. Living the van life (#vanlife) has emerged as the new American dream for many millennials, thanks to social media influencers like Foster Huntington and Eamon & Bec.
Maybe it’s because living out of a van isn’t as rustic as it used to be. With solar energy panels, satellite internet, custom-fitted vans, and a little creativity, van lifers can explore the world at a fraction of the price of traditional travel. In fact, many adventurers even work full-time jobs from the road.
Who are van lifers?
Van lifers are in all stages of life, including twenty-somethings, families with small kids, mid-lifers, and retirees. But despite SNL sketches about “living in a van down by the river,” millennials are the definite leaders of the van life movement.
There are nearly five and a half million #vanlife posts on Instagram—and these aren’t photos of grannies puttering down to South Florida for the winter. Nope, most van lifers are young, adventurous thrill seekers.
So how do van lifers support themselves? Over 25% of van lifers are self-employed or work remote jobs as tech professionals, software engineers, videographers, artists, social media influencers, entrepreneurs, and more.
About another 10% work seasonal jobs, making enough during busy seasons to live off for the rest of the year. Only about 4% of van lifers are actually retired.
So if you think you need to be old or rich to enjoy life on the road, think again. What you do need, though, is a good place to start your van life adventure. We can help with that.
Best states for van life
If you want to start living the van life, some parts of the US are easier to live in than others. In general, the western and southern states are more hospitable to van lifers than other parts of the country.
Some places have strict laws that make it difficult to live in a van, some have a high cost of living, and others are simply so crowded that it’s hard to find a (legal) place to park.
Five of the top states for van lifers are in the West: Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho. And four of the top 10 states are in the South: Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida.
West Virginia is the only state from the East that rounds out the top 10, thanks to its scenic beauty and proliferation of parks and recreational lands.
Here are the top 10 states for van life
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
What makes Wyoming a van lifer’s paradise?
Wyoming is home to several national parks and forests (such as Yellowstone and Grand Teton), but that’s not all Wyoming has going for it.
Other factors that helped Wyoming rank as the best state for van lifers are the state’s low cost of living (not including tourist hotspots—Jackson Hole, we’re looking at you) and lots of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, where parking your van is free and easy.
Wyoming also has the second-lowest population density of any state in the US, which means there’s more room to roam and fewer people to complain about.
How we ranked the states
To gauge the best 10 states for van lifers, we weighed many data points, including weather, gas prices, cost of living (not including rent), the percent of federal land (including BLM land and national parks), and how much people in each state spend on outdoor recreation.
Bear in mind that this ranking doesn’t indicate how many van lifers are actually in these states—it just looks at the theoretical cost and ease of van life in each state.
Since satellite internet is equally available across the US, we didn’t take this into consideration as a data point. Most van lifers stay connected with satellite internet from Viasat or HughesNet, free Wi-Fi zones at coffee shops, by using hotspots from their phone, or another form of portable internet.
Before you go
Even though van life can be cheap, most experts recommend building up significant savings to cover repairs and unexpected expenses before you buy your first van.
You’ll also need to pare down your belongings, practice your cooking and outdoor skills, and check out internet options for van lifers, especially if you plan on working remotely. Besides, if you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen?
Edited by Cara Haynes
RVs make for amazing vacations, whether you’re looking to camp out in nature or just avoid paying for hotel rooms. The only thing that can make it more awesome is staying connected while you’re gone.
And if you’re living the RV life and using your camper as a permanent residence, it’s even more important to get an easy and reliable internet connection that’s available across the country. Satellite internet makes that possible.
Satellite internet for RVs: the basics
- Viasat and HughesNet are the two best satellite providers for RV owners.
- Viasat is the fastest satellite internet service and has no data caps.
- HughesNet offers a better budget plan if you want cheap satellite internet.
- Both Viasat and HughesNet are available nationwide.
- Viasat and HughesNet both come with satellite Wi-Fi capability, so you can set up a Wi-Fi network in your RV.
- Speed, data caps, and price should all factor into your decision.
- Satellite internet is usually more expensive than cable or fiber.
Satellite internet brands to consider for RVs
There are two major satellite internet brands in the US: HughesNet and Viasat. The two brands are fairly different in terms of speeds offered and package details, so it’s worth breaking down the pros and cons of each.
- Price: $59.99–$149.99/mo.
- Speed: 25 Mbps
- Data cap: 10 GB–50 GB
- Price: $50.00–$150.00/mo.
- Speed: 12–100 Mbps
- Data cap: Unlimited*
*Data thresholds apply.
Data as of 6/10/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Top RV internet brands
Viasat is generally the better service of the two. It offers speeds up to 100 Mbps, which is pretty impressive for satellite. That speed will give you plenty of bandwidth for streaming HD videos or for gaming in your RV. Viasat also offers a wide variety of plans to suit different needs, from more budget-oriented packages to plans with all the bells and whistles.
See more details about full review of Viasat satellite internet.
HughesNet packages are more streamlined. Each plan offers the same speed: 25 Mbps. The plans differ in their data caps, which range from 10 GB to 50 GB. Once you reach the cap, your speed reduces until the next billing period. Don’t let this discourage you: if you’re only in your RV occasionally, you probably won’t run into this issue.
HughesNet shines in the value-for-your-money department. Although Viasat technically offers a cheaper plan, the speeds are less than half of what you’d get with the base HughesNet package. For that reason, we recommend HughesNet for RV owners on a budget.
Check out our full review of HughesNet satellite internet.
If you’re on a budget, HughesNet will get you more bang for your buck. If you want faster speeds or more data, go with Viasat.
Features to consider for RV internet
Choosing a satellite internet provider for your RV is just like choosing any other type of internet: you need to consider speed, data caps, and prices to find the best fit for you. Since satellite internet is available nationwide, there’s no need to worry whether or not you’ll have coverage where you’re going.
If you’re logging in from an RV park or the road, you probably have better things to do than sit and watch your web pages load. Satellite internet has been known to be slow in the past, but fortunately now both Viasat and HughesNet offer decent speeds of up to 100 Mbps and 25 Mbps respectively.
How much speed do you actually need? That depends on what you want to do with your connection. If you’re just looking for a way to get online and maybe watch the occasional episode of Superstore on Hulu, HughesNet’s 25 Mbps should be plenty.
But if you want to stream in HD or connect multiple devices at once (say, on a camping trip with friends), you may want to spring for one of the higher-bandwidth Viasat plans.
Since streaming video tends to be the biggest drain on a connection, you can use your streaming habits as a benchmark for what speed to spring for.
Unless you’re streaming in 4K or with multiple devices at once, 25 Mbps should be fast enough for most needs.
What good is a blazing fast connection if you can’t use it to its full potential? Viasat gets this. All of its plans come with unlimited data, so you can stream to your heart’s content. The plans do have data thresholds, and speeds may slow if you exceed them. But the thresholds range from 35 GB to 150 GB, which is still higher than HughesNet’s caps.
HughesNet packages have caps starting at 10 GB and increasing by 10 GB with each service tier up to 50 GB. When you hit that cap, there aren’t any extra charges. Instead, your speed is just slowed substantially. Whether this is better or worse than paying an overage fee for more full-speed data depends on your taste—regardless, the slowed speeds are slow.
A higher data cap (or none at all) might seem better, but if you’re not in your RV very much or don’t use the internet a ton when you are, it may be a waste of money. Think through your usage habits before committing to an expensive plan.
Finally, consider your budget when selecting a provider and plan. And don’t just look at the maximum you’re willing to pay—take time to figure out how much speed and data you actually need so you don’t end up paying for service that you won’t use. Keep in mind that satellite internet tends to be more expensive than equivalent cable or fiber services. It is coming from space after all.
Both HughesNet and Viasat offer similar price ranges, starting at about $50 per month. While Viasat offers a lower starting price, HughesNet gives you significantly more speed for your money at the lower end of the pricing spectrum—12 Mbps with Viasat for $50 per month compared to 25 Mbps with HughesNet.
Viasat pulls ahead in the bigger plans by offering speeds up to 100 Mbps, but with HughesNet you only get an increased data allowance—your speed stays the same. This is why we recommend Viasat for RVers who are willing to spend the extra money for better service.
† Data as of 6/10/19. Offers are subject to change.
Connect while you disconnect
Whether you choose Viasat for the speed or HughesNet for the value, you’ll be getting a great internet service that follows you around the country, letting you stay connected even while you disconnect. Now park that RV, fire up Netflix, and enjoy!
Edited by Cara Haynes
Nolan Ritter Is Headed to Joshua Tree
September 9, 2019|
Congratulations to Nolan Ritter of Denver, Colorado, the winner of our 2019 Digital Detox Challenge. We’ll be putting up Nolan and his wife at a vintage 1970s Airbnb near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, reimbursing up to $1,000 in travel expenses, and paying him $1,000 to complete the challenge.
An adventurous spirit
We were impressed by Nolan’s passion for exploring. “I love traveling and capturing my experiences for my followers,” Nolan wrote in his application. “I just bought a brand new professional camera lens, and this would be the perfect place to put it to the test.” But he’ll have to resist the temptation at first because the Digital Detox Challenge entails locking away all technology for the first two days and experiencing life unplugged.
Just imagine that: two whole days without texts, newsfeeds, Snapchat, Instagram updates, emails, meeting reminders, or even (gulp) late-night phone calls for takeout.
Instead, Nolan and his wife can hike, soak in the hot tub, gaze at the stars, and relax in one of the world’s most visually stunning desert landscapes. Then, on the last day, they’ll pull out their tech to take a few photos and document their experience of going off the grid.
And what will Nolan do with the $1,000 cash? We were impressed with his answer to that too. Nolan and his wife plan to take a charitable trip to Colombia during the holiday season to give presents to children in need.
How to do your own digital detox
Judging by the 15,000 entries we received for this digital detox vacation, a lot of folks are longing for an escape just like this one! Thank you to everyone who submitted an application for this challenge—we enjoyed reading your stories. We wish we could send you all on a tech-free vacation.
Luckily, you don’t have to travel to Joshua Tree National Park to take a break from your tech. You can create your own digital detox anytime, anywhere. Find a spot of wilderness (or a local park) and disconnect from your tech, even if it’s just for a few hours. Let yourself feel the quiet. Do some yoga, sit on the beach, or take a walk in the woods. You’ll come back refreshed.
Follow Nolan Ritter for updates.
“The wilderness holds answers to questions we have not yet learned to ask.” — Nancy Wynne Newhall
Prize package details
The lucky winner will snag a free three-night stay for one to two people at an Airbnb in Joshua Tree National Park, $1,000 in cash, and a stipend of up to $1,000 for travel and food expenses. In total, the prize package is valued at up to $2,300.
And don’t worry about the timing—if you’re selected, you can pick the dates that work best for your schedule sometime in the next 12 months.
Terms and Conditions
SatelliteInternet.com digital detox challenge terms and conditions
- The promoter of this competition is SatelliteInternet.com whose principal office is located at 5202 W. Douglas Corrigan Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84116.
- Employees of SatelliteInternet.com or their family members or anyone else connected in any way with the competition or helping to set up the competition shall not be permitted to enter the competition.
- Persons must be at least 18 years old, or otherwise have reached the age of majority under the laws of the state where you reside, in order to participate.
- Only residents of the United States are eligible to participate.
- VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.
- There is NO ENTRY FEE AND NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER THIS COMPETITION. Any purchase or consideration otherwise given by entrants will not improve one’s chances of winning.
- Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are available via SatelliteInternet.com. Individuals may enter to win by clicking on the participation link on SatelliteInternet.com’s website. Upon clicking the participation link, entrants will be asked to provide their name and contact information so that SatelliteInternet.com can notify the winner of the results.
- Closing date for entry will be August 26, 2019. After this date, no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
- Only one winner will be selected from the entire pool of eligible entries.
- The winner will be notified by email and/or letter within 7 days at the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 10 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
- The winner specifically acknowledges that the prize package shall be provided and fulfilled by SatelliteInternet.com, and that the contest is in no way affiliated with Airbnb.
- SatelliteInternet.com will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected.
- The winner will receive the prize either mailed or hand-delivered to the winner.
- No cash alternative to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and SatelliteInternet.com reserves the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
- The winner agrees to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current federal and state data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
- SatelliteInternet.com will provide $1,000 in wages, as well as up to $1,000 for food and transportation. $400 will be paid upfront and the remaining $600 in wages will be paid upon completion.
- The selected winner must stay at the designated Airbnb for two nights without technology and one night with technology in order to be paid $1,000 in income.
- The winner’s name will be available 28 days after closing date by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the following address:
5202 W. Douglas Corrigan Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
- SatelliteInternet.com’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Edited by Cara Haynes
How to Set Up Wi-Fi on Satellite Internet
August 23, 2019|
A satellite internet connection can get you online in places where wired internet services can’t. But for the complete internet experience, you’ll want to set up a Wi-Fi network.
Don’t worry: this is much simpler than it sounds. We’ll walk you through the whole process from start to finish, and we’ll help you pick out the best router for you.
What you’ll need
- Satellite internet service
- Satellite dish
- Wireless router
- Ethernet cable
Don’t worry about getting this stuff individually—your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will provide everything you need to get started. (And you can use your own wireless router if you want.)
Setting up wireless satellite internet
First of all, you’ll need a service package from a satellite internet provider. The big two providers on the market are Viasat and HughesNet. Viasat tends to offer faster service with no data caps, but it can be more expensive. HughesNet offers better service at the lower price tiers but falls behind Viasat on more expensive packages.
Need help picking a satellite internet provider? Check out Viasat vs. HughesNet to see how they compare.
You’ll need an ethernet cable to connect your devices if you don’t want or need to set up a Wi-Fi network. After your satellite provider installs your satellite dish and sets up your modem, plug one end of an Ethernet cable into the modem and the other into your computer to connect to the internet.
Going wireless with your satellite internet setup is simple. If you’ve already picked a service package and installed your equipment, here’s how to add Wi-Fi:
- Choose a wireless router. You can either use the router offered by your provider or purchase your own.
- Plug the router into a wall outlet and let it power on. This might take a few minutes, and the exact procedure will vary with your specific model. Check the instructions that came with your equipment to verify setup steps.
- Connect the router to your modem. If your router is a separate device, you’ll need to use an Ethernet cable to connect it to the modem.
- If you’re using the router provided by your ISP, you can skip steps two and three. Viasat and HughesNet use modem/router combos with both devices in one unit.
- Configure your network. Once your router is connected to the modem, you’ll have a working wireless network. However, it won’t be secure, and the network name will be generic and hard to remember. To fix this, change the network name and add a password using these steps:
- Access the router’s configuration panel. On your router, there should be a sticker with instructions to access its settings. Typically you enter a series of numbers (the router’s IP address) into a web browser. If you don’t see the sticker with this information, consult the router’s manual.
- Enter the username and password. You’ll also find these on the router.
- Create a new network name. Choose something easy for you to recognize. This is especially important if you live in an apartment building or anywhere with a lot of networks nearby.
- Change the network security to WPA. This is the most secure type of network on most consumer routers.
- Choose a strong password. Good passwords are long and include a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use anything guessable, like your birthday or pet’s name.
- Log in to your new wireless network. On your computer or phone, find your network in the Wi-Fi menu, enter your password, and test that things are working by loading a web page.
Pros and cons of satellite Wi-Fi
A satellite Wi-Fi connection has similar pros and cons to those of other types of internet services, but there are a few points unique to satellite internet to keep in mind.
- Move your devices around your home freely
- Connect multiple devices at once without cables
- Enjoy a truly wireless satellite experience
- High latency makes gaming more difficult
- Wi-Fi networks are prone to signal interference
Renting vs. buying equipment
Both Viasat and HughesNet offer wireless routers for customers to rent. These routers are good fits for the service since they’ve been handpicked by the providers. You also get guaranteed tech support from the ISP in case you have any issues. For most users, the provided router should be plenty.
But these routers are pretty light on features compared to high-end consumer routers from companies like NETGEAR and ASUS. If you need a specific feature, like long range or optimization for many devices, purchasing your own router might be better.
Learn more about the best satellite internet routers and modems.
Choosing the best router
If you decide to buy a router, you’ve got some options. The router you choose should meet your needs without adding a lot of unnecessary features that crank up the cost.
It’s not always a good idea to spring for the most powerful router on the market, especially with a slower internet service like satellite. Here are some questions to consider when choosing a router:
- Are you a gamer? If you’ll be doing a lot of gaming on your Wi-Fi network, a gaming router like the NETGEAR XR500 can add features to boost performance, like access to special networks that optimize your signal.
- How many devices are online at once? Routers with the MU-MIMO feature are better at handling a large number of devices.
- Can the router handle your connection speed? Check the router’s specs and make sure its speed is equal to or higher than your connection’s speed. Don’t go too much higher unless you plan to upgrade your service down the road—the router can only be as fast as your connection.
- How large is your home? Larger houses or offices may need a longer range router or mesh network like the Google Wi-Fi You can also check out 2019’s best long-range routers.
Edited by Cara Haynes
Should You Use Your Mobile Phone for Home Internet?
July 25, 2019|
You already know that you can create a mobile hotspot with your phone while you’re on vacation. But have you ever wondered if you could eliminate a bill every month by using your mobile phone for home internet?
It sounds appealing—who doesn’t want a little more cash every month? You’re already paying for internet service (data) with your mobile phone plan, so sharing that at home via a hotspot could potentially save you some money every month.
Let’s take a look at the best mobile phone plans for hotspots, how to set them up, and what full-time hotspot usage really looks like. (Hint: It doesn’t entail streaming Netflix and Hulu all weekend, unless you want to pay through the nose for extra data.) We’ll also cover some additional internet options that might work better for you.
Best plans for hotspots
Here are the mobile phone plans we recommend if you’re interested in using the personal hotspot feature.
- 4G LTE data
- 20 GB/mo. mobile hotspot data
- Slows to 600 Kbps after 20 GB
- 4G LTE data
- 15 GB/mo. mobile hotspot data
- Slows to 128 Kbps after 15 GB
- 4G LTE data
- 20 GB/mo. mobile hotspot data
- Slows to 3G after 20 GB
*Plus taxes & fees. When you enroll in Auto Pay. Data effective 5/3/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
What to look for
Cellphone providers differ in the data and speeds they offer for a mobile hotspot. But remember that not all cellphone plans allow you to create a mobile hotspot, and some providers charge extra for it.
If you want to use your phone as a hotspot, check out these three things on your phone plan.
- Look at the total data limit. Unless you want accidental overage fees, get an unlimited data plan. But remember that the total data limit (even if it is unlimited) is different from the hotspot data limit.
- Check out the hotspot data limit. When you reach this monthly data limit, your hotspot data will be deprioritized to slower data speeds.
- Know what the slowing speed is. Learn how slow the data speed will be after you reach your hotspot data limit.
Advantages and disadvantages of using a mobile hotspot
Using your cellphone as a mobile hotspot is handy while traveling and might be able to save you the cost of home internet service. But before you cancel your home internet plan, consider the lifestyle changes you’ll need to make, starting out by saying goodbye to weekend binge-watching. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of creating a mobile hotspot from your phone.
- Provides a quick Wi-Fi internet connection for any internet-enabled device
- Saves you the cost of a data plan for a secondary device like a tablet or iPad
- Eliminates the need for a home internet plan for some low-data use households
- Sets up easily from most smartphones
- Helps while traveling or working on the road
- Uses a lot of data (5–7 hours of Netflix per month will max out most plans)
- Drains your phone battery
- Incurs overage charges for data use
- Slows to dial-up speeds after reaching the monthly hotspot data limit
- Needs an app on some older phone models
Using a mobile hotspot for home internet can work well for people with very light internet use. If you just use the internet at home to check email, shop online, and browse the internet, it might be a good idea for you.
Maybe you primarily use your phone for internet, and you only crack open the old laptop occasionally. A mobile hotspot could be a good option for you if you fit into this category.
But if you’ve already cut cable, and you rely on the internet for all your movies and TV, you’ll probably be better off sticking with home internet service. People who work from home uploading or emailing large files will also be frustrated by the limitations of a mobile hotspot.
Tethering vs. hotspot: Which should you use?
If you use a cable to share your phone’s internet with another device, this is usually known as tethering. When you use your phone to broadcast a wireless Wi-Fi signal, this is called a mobile hotspot, MiFi, or Wi-Fi sharing.
Tethering requires you to use a USB cable, which can be inconvenient. It also requires your phone and your other device to be close together, connected with the cable. But tethering doesn’t run down your phone battery as quickly as a mobile hotspot. That can be an advantage if you’re off the grid and have limited access to power.
Most phones have built-in mobile hotspot capability. A mobile hotspot can be used with several devices at once, and they usually give you a 30-foot range. Since it’s so convenient, a mobile hotspot is the most common way of sharing phone internet with another device. But if you’re ever running on low power, it’s a good idea to connect with a USB cable.
How to make a home Wi-Fi hotspot
Almost any cellphone can be used to turn a phone into a hotspot without a plan for a MiFi device. Setting up a hotspot on your Android device takes a couple of quick swipes. Just make sure you create a secure password for your new network, particularly if you’re in a public place.
Mobile hotspot on Android
- Go to Settings.
- Click More > Tethering and Wi-Fi Hotspot > Mobile Hotspot.
- Turn on Mobile Hotspot.
- Create a password.
- On your other device, select your phone’s hotspot on the list of Wi-Fi options.
- Enter the password you created for your phone’s network.
- You’re connected!
Setting up a mobile hotspot on an iPhone is simple. Once you’ve done it a few times, you can set it up in seconds.
Mobile hotspot on iOS (iPhone)
- Go to Settings.
- Click Personal Hotspot.
- Turn on Personal Hotspot.
- Create a password.
- On your other device, click on the Network icon and select your phone’s network.
- Enter the password you created for your phone’s network.
- You’re connected!
Verizon Jetpack and other hotspot devices
Although it’s possible to turn a phone into a mobile hotspot without a plan, there are data and privacy issues associated with prolonged mobile hotspot use from your cellphone.
Stand-alone mobile hotspot devices like the Verizon Jetpack go with you anywhere. Just know when you fire up the Jetpack, your flights will be fueled by a limited supply of high-priced data (starting at $20 per month for 2 GB and going up to $710 per month for 100 GB).
The Verizon Jetpack allows multiple devices to access the internet at the same time, and it doesn’t use data from your phone plan. Bear in mind that you’ll need a separate data plan for a mobile hotspot device and you’ll also have a $20 per month line access fee for your Verizon Jetpack.
If you’re just using the mobile hotspot feature a few times per month, it’s usually more cost-effective to use the hotspot feature on your phone. However, if you travel frequently or work on the road, adding a Verizon Jetpack to your Verizon mobile plan can save you the bother of looking for free Wi-Fi zones everywhere you go.
Can you use the Verizon Jetpack for home internet?
There are some low-data households who like portable hotspots so much they’ve started using the Verizon Jetpack for home internet. This can be a good solution for people who work on the road, college students, or RVers. Some plans allow you to pay only for the months you’re using data.
If you’re using a Verizon Jetpack for home internet, remember to keep an eye on data usage. Keep high-data activities like video streaming and gaming to a minimum to save on data fees. Going way over on data every month could cost more than a home internet plan.
How to improve your rural home internet connection
The idea of getting free home internet with your phone’s mobile hotspot feature sounds appealing until you face the data and speed limitations. For most households, using a mobile hotspot isn’t a workable solution. Mobile hotspots don’t give you enough data and speed to run a home business, work remotely, stream entertainment, or make video calls.
However, many locations in the US don’t have access to high-speed cable or fiber internet because they lack the infrastructure. If you’ve recently moved to a small town, you might be wondering, “Is a mobile hotspot my only option in rural areas?”
So, here’s some good news—if you can get cellphone service at your home, that means you have other internet options.
- Satellite internet service from Viasat or HughesNet is available to almost all the US. As long as you have a clear view of the sky from your home, you can get satellite service.
- Dial-up internet from NetZero might be too slow to stream video, but it’s hard to beat the price: the basic plan is free for up to 10 hours a month. NetZero also offers a DSL plan with speeds up to 6 Mbps for $26.95 per month, which meets Netflix’s recommended speed requirements.
Satellite internet service
Satellite internet is available almost everywhere, and some plans even offer unlimited data. Viasat and HughesNet are the main satellite providers that deliver steady service to areas of the country that aren’t covered by other providers. You can get a side-by-side comparison of HughesNet and Viasat on our review page.
Spoiler alert: Viasat internet is our first pick, thanks to its faster speeds and low introductory prices.
Viasat plans and pricing
|Package||Intro. price||Speed||Data limit||Price increase|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||$50/mo.||Up to 12 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 35 or 40 GB depending on plan)||$70/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Silver 12||$100/mo.||Up to 12 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 45 GB)||$150/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Gold 12||$150/mo.||Up to 12 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 65 GB)||$200/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Bronze 25||$50/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 35 GB)||$70/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Silver 25||$70/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 60 GB)||No price increase on this plan|
|Unlimited Gold 30||$100/mo.||Up to 30 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 100 GB)||$150/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Gold 50||$100/mo.||Up to 50 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 100 GB)||$150/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Platinum 100||$150/mo.||Up to 100 Mbps||Unlimited (slows after 150 GB)||$200/mo. after 3 mos.|
Data effective 5/3/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
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HughesNet also offers satellite internet service throughout the US. HughesNet offers the best value for satellite internet at speeds up to 25 Mbps. Another advantage of HughesNet is that it doesn’t bump up the price like Viasat after the introductory period. Prices are set for a 24-month period. You can read more about HughesNet internet on our review page.
HughesNet plans and pricing
|HughesNet Internet Package||Introductory Price||Download Speed||Data|
|HughesNet 10 GB||$59.99/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||10 GB|
|HughesNet 20 GB||$69.99/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||20 GB|
|HughesNet 30 GB||$99.99/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||30 GB|
|HughesNet 50 GB||$149.99/mo.||Up to 25 Mbps||50 GB|
Data valid as of 6/3/2019. Speeds and pricing vary by area and are subject to change. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed.
If satellite internet is too pricey for your budget, check out NetZero, which is extremely affordable. You can get 10 hours of dial-up for free each month with a basic account, although speeds are too slow for video streaming or gaming. So if you’re thinking of switching to NetZero, pick up a few board games and make some new hobbies, because you won’t be Keeping up with the Kardashians anymore.
NetZero is a basic service that allows you to check email and browse the internet. If you are skipping home internet service and using a mobile hotspot plan, signing up for a free NetZero internet account could save you from going over your data limit. Bear in mind that NetZero dial-up service requires that you have an active home phone line (a landline). It will also tie up your phone line anytime you’re online (giving callers a busy signal).
NetZero also offers affordable and somewhat speedier DSL internet packages. For $26.95, you’ll have download speeds of up to 6 Mbps, which isn’t technically fast enough to be considered broadband, but it lets you load a webpage in seconds instead of the several minutes it’ll take on the basic free plan. You can also get some basic video streaming with this plan. Also, the DSL plan doesn’t tie up your phone line like the free plan does.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on internet service, Netzero internet is a viable option for rural internet and low-priced internet.
NetZero plans and pricing
|Plan||Price||Speeds||Time limits||Fees and charges||System requirements|
|NetZero Free||Free||Up to 56 Kbps||Up to 10 hours/mo.||Technical support billed at $25 per incident||Windows only|
|NetZero DSL Broadband||$26.95/mo.||Up to |
|No time limits||Free technical support; additional fees include $29.95 one-time set-up fee and a monthly surcharge of $2.95/mo.||Windows and Mac|
Data effective 5/3/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Find the right internet connection for you.
Now that you’ve got the scoop on how to create a mobile hotspot, you can try it out next time you’re away from Wi-Fi. You also know the pros and cons of using a mobile hotspot for home internet and the best rural internet options so you can stay connected from anywhere.
While we don’t recommend using a mobile hotspot for home internet as a long-term solution for most households, it can work for people who don’t use much data and are serious about saving money.
For the rest of us, we recommend a steady home internet connection to keep your home humming.
Whether you’re after satellite, mobile, or DSL, find the best internet speeds in your area using our search tool.
Mobile hotspot FAQ
What is a mobile hotspot?
A mobile hotspot is a shared internet connection you can temporarily turn on between your mobile phone and another device. In this way, your smartphone can function as a router that broadcasts your phone’s internet to a tablet, laptop, or a friend’s phone. Creating a mobile hotspot (which is known as tethering when you do it with a USB cable) lets you share your phone internet and data plan with other devices.
Is mobile hotspot data unlimited?
If you’re wondering if mobile hotspot data is unlimited, the answer is tricky. Data is the biggest obstacle to using a mobile phone for home internet. A lot of people get confused about unlimited data plans, thinking that this means that mobile hotspot data is also unlimited. But, this isn’t the case. Even on cellphone plans with unlimited data, there will be a cap for how much data you can use as a mobile hotspot.
Once you reach that limit, the data will be deprioritized, which basically means your data speed will slow way down until your limit starts over the following month. So, technically, your data is unlimited—even after you hit your limit, you can use as much slow-speed data as you want. But the slower speeds don’t support video streaming or gaming. These slower speeds will support basic email and browsing functions.
How do I know what my mobile hotspot data limit is?
If you’re wondering what your mobile hotspot data limit is, you’ll want to check your cellphone plan, because every plan is different. Some plans don’t allow mobile hotspot at all, while others have limits. There aren’t any mobile plans that offer unlimited, full-speed data for mobile hotspot. If they did, we’d all cancel home internet.
Many cellphone carriers have monthly caps of 5 to 15 GB of data per month before they start slowing things down (throttling data) or charging you for data overage. Check out the details of your mobile plan and look for info about mobile hotspot or tethering. The mobile hotspot data limit is different from other data limit amounts. You can check with a customer service representative if you’re having trouble finding out the correct information on your plan.
How do I know how much hotspot data I’ll need?
You can get a rough estimate of how much hotspot data you’ll need each month by using T-Mobile’s Smartphone Mobile Hotspot Data Calculator. For an exact calculation of how much data you use each month at home, log in to your Internet Service Provider account and check your monthly data usage.
As a general guideline, streaming Netflix uses 1–3 GB of data per hour, which means that 5–15 GB of monthly mobile hotspot data won’t last long if you’re streaming video. Video streaming, file transfers, and gaming use up a lot of data. Sending emails and browsing the internet use very little data by comparison.
How do I know how much speed I need?
Recommended minimum download speed
|Browsing||Streaming music||Online gaming||Video streaming|
|1–3 People||5 Mbps||5 Mbps||25 Mbps||SD Video: 10 Mbps|
HD Video: 50 Mbps
|4–6 People||10 Mbps||25 Mbps||100 Mbps||SD Video: 50 Mbps|
HD Video: 100+ Mbps
If you want to know how much internet speed you need for your favorite online activities, use the HighSpeedInternet.com recommended internet speed quiz. This will give you an idea of how fast of an internet connection you need for your everyday activities. If you’d rather not take a quiz, the chart below is also good reference for data speed.
Can a mobile hotspot replace home internet service?
A mobile hotspot can replace home internet service if you’re a light data user. Light data users use the internet at home just to check email, shop occasionally, and browse websites, a mobile hotspot can work for you.
If you like playing games online, streaming videos through YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu, or if you work remotely and transfer large files, a mobile hotspot isn’t the answer. All of these activities use up a lot of data. Due to data caps, heavy-internet users and video streamers may max out data plans in the first few days of the month and end up with data overage fees, which will be much more expensive than paying a home internet plan.
Are mobile hotspots protected networks?
A mobile hotspot is a protected network because it’s through your cellphone number. Your phone should prompt you to set up a password, which you will then enter on your other devices to access the internet. This makes a mobile hotspot safer and more secure than using free public Wi-Fi.
Does my cellphone allow me to create a mobile hotspot?
Some cellphone plans don’t allow you to create a mobile hotspot at all. You can find out quickly if your phone plan allows it by going to Settings and trying to turn on the personal hotspot. If you don’t see the option for Personal Hotspot or Wi-Fi Hotspot, or it’s greyed out, your plan does not support this feature. You can learn specifics about your plan by contacting your cellphone provider or reviewing details about your phone plan on their website.
What are the limitations of using a mobile hotspot?
The main limitation of using a mobile hotspot is the data usage. Anytime you’re using a mobile hotspot from your phone, you need to pay attention to how much data you’re using. Streaming videos, gaming, and transferring large files are all activities that use a lot of data. Unless you want to pay for extra data, you’ll have limited access to these online activities while using a mobile hotspot.
Edited by Cara Haynes
Best Satellite TV Receivers 2019
What could be cooler than TV from space?
July 22, 2019|
|Best overall||Best for sports||Best for convenience|
|DISH Hopper 3||DIRECTV Genie||Orby DVR|
|Order the Hopper 3||Order the Genie||Order an Orby|
Data effective 5/17/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
The bottom line
The best satellite TV receiver on the market right now is the DISH Hopper 3. Nothing really comes close to its power and storage capacity. Still, the DIRECTV Genie and Orby DVR remain great choices for some folks. We’ll talk about what you can expect from each and how to know if you’re getting the best satellite receiver for your needs.
Top satellite TV receivers
|Storage capacity||Storage hours||Simultaneous recordings||Equipment price*|
|DISH Hopper 3||2 TB||500 HD hrs.||16||$10/mo.||Order the Hopper 3|
|DIRECTV Genie||1 TB||200 HD hrs.||5||Included with service||Order the Genie|
|Orby DVR||500 GB||100 HD hrs.||2||$200||Order an Orby|
*Prices as of 5/24/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
The best satellite TV receivers
- Best overall—DISH Hopper 3
- Best for sports—DIRECTV Genie
- Best for convenience—Orby DVR
Here’s a rundown of our top satellite receiver picks. We’ll cover the upsides and downsides of each receiver to help you decide which one will work for you.
DISH Hopper 3
|● Storage capacity: 2 TB|
● Storage hours: 500 hrs. HD video
● Simultaneous recordings: 16
● Price: $10/mo.
Order the Hopper 3
- Dual-band option
- Water- and dust-resistant case
- Weak signal without USB dongle
- No Mac compatibility
The Hopper 3 isn’t just the most powerful satellite receiver on the market—it’s the most powerful DVR on the market. Period. With up to 500 hours of HD storage, you can keep your favorite shows and movies longer.
And the 16 simultaneous recordings might seem like overkill, but they effectively take recording conflicts out of the equation, making for a frustration-free TV experience.
The Hopper 3 comes with DISH satellite TV service, which is an affordable option with plenty of channels to choose from. DISH offers a great balance of channel count, cost, and selection, making it easy to recommend. And it’s available almost everywhere.
Honestly, we don’t have much to complain about with the Hopper 3. TV fans will love this one.
Best for sports
|● Storage capacity: 1 TB|
● Storage hours: 200 hrs. HD video
● Simultaneous recordings: 5
● Price: Included with DIRECTV service
Order the Genie
- No additional charge with a DIRECTV subscription
- Reasonable storage capacity
- Limited simultaneous recordings
- Less storage than Hopper
The DIRECTV Genie offers an excellent satellite TV experience, combining solid storage capacity, simultaneous recordings, and outstanding DIRECTV service with the famous NFL SUNDAY TICKET. The best part? The Genie is included in your subscription at no extra charge.
The Genie offers 200 hours of HD storage, which should keep you busy with stuff to watch for a while. Unfortunately, it offers only five simultaneous recordings, which should be enough for the average household but may cause some recording conflicts for champion binge-watchers.
But the Genie makes up for its slightly disappointing specs with killer DIRECTV service. DIRECTV has a great channel selection and the best sports programming of any TV provider, satellite or otherwise.
Best for convenience
|● Storage capacity: 500 GB|
● Storage hours: 100 hrs. HD video
● Simultaneous recordings: 2
● Price: $200
Order an Orby
- No equipment rental fees—pay once and you’re done
- No required service contracts
- Limited storage compared to other options
- Larger up-front cost
What the Orby DVR lacks in power it makes up for in convenience. The Orby service is free from contracts and other hassles that usually come with satellite TV subscriptions. And since you buy the DVR outright rather than renting it from the provider, you can say goodbye to monthly equipment fees or other charges.
The Orby DVR also comes with the innovative Orby satellite service. This is a contract-free satellite TV service with two simple month-to-month packages to choose from.
Orby also throws in an included outdoor antenna, so you get free local channels with every package. If you’re tired of multiyear contracts and complex channel listings, Orby is worth a look.
What to look for in a satellite TV receiver
All satellite receivers perform the same basic task, but not all do it equally. Here’s what to look for when shopping around to make sure you’re getting a dish that’s worth its salt.
Most satellite TV receivers double in function as DVRs, which makes storage capacity an important spec to consider. Most have capacities of over 1 TB these days, with some featuring as much as 2 TB.
However, the raw storage capacity doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s also important to look at how many hours of HD video the DVR can store. Some devices with the same storage capacity may actually store different amounts of video due to storage optimizations.
The gold standard for storage right now is the DISH Hopper 3, with 2 TB and up to 500 hours of HD storage capacity. If you’re a digital packrat like us, there’s just no substitute.
Raw storage size doesn’t tell the whole story. For the best experience, look at the number of HD hours a DVR can record rather than just the size of the hard drive.
A great user interface
You’ll spend a lot of time navigating menus on your receiver, either to change settings, schedule recordings, or just find something good to watch. That’s why a usable and friendly user interface (UI) is important.
How do you know if a UI is any good? Well, if it is, you won’t even notice it’s there. And if it’s bad, you’ll want to throw your remote across the room.
The best UIs have a few common elements to look for:
- A simple menu structure
- An easy-to-use remote control
- Voice commands
Simultaneous viewing and recording
This one’s a biggie. Many homes have multiple TVs, so if you’re sharing your living space and have different tastes from your spouse or roommate, watching two different shows in different rooms of the house is important.
Even more important, though, is recording multiple programs at once. This feature helps ensure you never miss an episode of anything, and the more shows you watch, the more simultaneous recordings you’ll want.
When it comes to multiple recordings, the DISH Hopper 3 is king with up to 16 simultaneous recordings possible. That might seem like more than you’ll need, but you’ll likely say goodbye to scheduling conflicts. Once you get used to 16, it’s hard to go back to something like the Genie with only five.
What about the satellite dish?
Satellite dishes are a crucial part of the satellite TV experience. They capture the signal from the orbiting satellite and route it to the receiver for processing. However, there’s not a huge difference between satellite dishes meant for home use. For the most part, the dish provided with your satellite service subscription will work just fine.
The one major exception is for portable or RV dishes—there are differences between these. We recommend the Winegard Carryout for portable or RV use. This covered dish can be either taken as is for a portable solution, or mounted to the roof of an RV or camper for use on the go, even while driving.
Satellite TV providers
Satellite receivers are usually locked to a specific provider. The Hopper 3 works with DISH, the Genie with DIRECTV, and the Orby DVR with Orby, and they can’t be swapped to other services. That makes the provider an important piece of the puzzle.
As a broad guide, DISH offers an affordable satellite TV experience with a good channel selection. On the other hand, DIRECTV can be a bit more expensive, but it offers a superior sports experience. And although it’s more limited in channel selection, Orby covers all the basics at a very affordable price (and with no contract).
Get more details about the two major satellite TV providers by reading “DISH vs. DIRECTV.” If you feel stuck deciding between the two, it’ll help you out.
Our final take
The Hopper 3 remains not only the king of DVRs but also the king of satellite receivers. Unless you have a specific need, like a certain sports channel that DISH doesn’t offer, we can’t see anyone being unhappy with this beast. Now what are you waiting for? Get hoppin’ and enjoy your satellite TV.
Satellite TV receivers FAQ
Can I get free satellite TV?
It is possible to get some free satellite TV channels. These are known as free-to-air TV. Although it’s similar to how you’d get free broadcast TV channels over-the-air, the equipment is a bit different. You need a receiver and satellite dish to receive free-to-air channels, which can be expensive, unlike OTA broadcast TV where you need only an antenna.
If you already have the equipment, free-to-air satellite channels are great. But for most people, we recommend just springing for an affordable subscription service like Orby or a basic broadcast TV antenna.
What’s the best portable satellite dish for an RV?
We recommend the Winegard Carryout G3 as the best portable satellite TV dish for an RV. If that doesn’t float your boat, check out The Best Satellite Dishes for Your RV and Tailgate for more options.
What’s Winegard Carryout?
Winegard Carryout is a portable satellite TV dish that can also be mounted to the roof of an RV or camper for viewing on the go. It works with both DISH and DIRECTV, so you can switch providers without worrying about buying a new dish. It’s a bit expensive, but it’s excellent if you want satellite TV you can take anywhere.
Edited by Cara Haynes
The two biggest providers of residential satellite internet in the US both offer unlimited data—at least that’s what it says on paper. We’re here to explain what unlimited really means on Viasat and HughesNet internet plans. We’ll also answer some questions about data caps and how to get more data. So, let’s pop the cap off this thing.
Viasat Unlimited Plans vs. HughesNet Unlimited Plans
Both Viasat and HughesNet offer plans they call “unlimited.” The “unlimited” in unlimited plans refers to the amount of monthly data you can use. While these packages from both satellite providers do technically allow you to use as much data as you like, they still come with data thresholds (more on that below).
Viasat Unlimited Internet Plans
|Plan||Speed||Data Deprioritized After||Introductory Price||Price Increase|
|Unlimited Bronze 12||Up to 12 Mbps||40 GB||$50/mo.||$70/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Silver 12||Up to 12 Mbps||60 GB||$65/mo.||$95/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Gold 12||Up to 12 Mbps||100 GB||$95/mo.||$145/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Bronze 25||Up to 25 Mbps||35 GB||$50/mo.||$70/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Silver 25||Up to 25 Mbps||60 GB||$70/mo.||$100/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Gold 30||Up to 30 Mbps||100 GB||$100/mo.||$150/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Gold 50||Up to 50 Mbps||100 GB||$100/mo.||$150/mo. after 3 mos.|
|Unlimited Platinum 100||Up to 100 Mbps||150 GB||$150/mo.||$200/mo. after 3 mos.|
Data valid as of 02/21/2019. Speeds and pricing vary by area and are subject to change.
As you can see in the chart, Viasat prices go up after three months. You can get around the 3-month price increase by taking advantage of Viasat’s 2-Year Price-Lock Guarantee*.
Even on its unlimited packages, Viasat uses data thresholds. Once you meet your data threshold, your connection will be deprioritized. (That means it’ll feel slower.) Viasat offers a variety of data thresholds across several internet speed packages. The internet speeds available will depend on where you live, but you can get up to 100 GB of data no matter what speed you get. So, since these aren’t hard data caps, what happens when you go over your data threshold?
You won’t accrue any overage charges with Viasat. Instead, if you go over your threshold, Viasat deprioritizes your data.
Here’s what that means for you: Whenever you click something online, it sends a request to a server on your provider’s network. After your data is deprioritized, all your requests have to wait in line behind the requests of everyone on the network who hasn’t hit their data thresholds yet. Your speed will stay the same, but if there’s any traffic, you’ll be delayed. This will continue until the next billing cycle.
You may have heard about Viasat offering a Free Zone, but that’s not quite accurate. Only customers who subscribe to some Liberty internet plans (sold when Viasat was still using the name Exede) can use the Free Zone to extend their data. The Free Zone is a period between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. where data usage doesn’t count against your threshold.
Unfortunately, the Free Zone is not available on the current Viasat Unlimited plans.
HughesNet Unlimited Internet Plans
|Plan||Speed||Data Deprioritized After||Introductory Price|
|HughesNet 10 GB||Up to 25 Mbps||10 GB||$49.99/mo.|
|HughesNet 20 GB||Up to 25 Mbps||20 GB||$69.99/mo.|
|HughesNet 30 GB||Up to 25 Mbps||30 GB||$99.99/mo.|
|HughesNet 50 GB||Up to 25 Mbps||50 GB||$129.99/mo.|
Data valid as of 02/21/2019. Speeds and pricing vary by area and are subject to change.
HughesNet also has data thresholds on its unlimited plans, but the speeds are all 25 Mbps. Plus, the highest monthly data threshold you can get from HughesNet is 50 GB—half of what you can get with Viasat.
You won’t be charged an extra fee when you hit your data threshold with HughesNet. But HughesNet will slow your service to just 3 Mbps until the next billing cycle.
To get your speed back to 25 Mbps, you can purchase data tokens.
Much like the discontinued Viasat Free Zone, the HughesNet Bonus Zone is a period during off-peak hours when the data you use doesn’t count against your main monthly allowance. The Bonus Zone runs from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. The HughesNet Bonus Zone data is not unlimited, but it does give you an extra 50 GB for the month. In most cases, that’s more than you can use in such a small window of time, so it should last you through the month.
Get the most out of your data by downloading videos during the Bonus Zone. That way you can save data by watching them offline instead of streaming in real time.
Beyond the Limits
Despite some limitations, satellite internet is a smart alternative to dial-up and a reliable choice for broadband internet in rural areas. As long as you’re aware of how your data usage affects your service, you can plan ahead to avoid going over your monthly allowance.
*The price lock guarantee applies only to the standard monthly internet service fee and the monthly equipment lease fee (in each case, before any promotional discounts) and excludes all taxes and surcharges. The price lock guarantee runs for 24 consecutive months from the date of account activation, requires that the customer’s account remain in good standing, and may terminate with certain account changes.
What are HughesNet data tokens?
Data tokens are chunks of extra data you can buy from HughesNet. You can use data tokens to get your service back to full speed after you use all your regular monthly data. They come in a variety of prices and data amounts.
- 3 GB for $9
- 5 GB for $15
- 10 GB for $30
- 25 GB for $75
Is there any unlimited satellite internet?
Technically both HughesNet and Viasat offer unlimited satellite internet because they never cut your service off. (Although they will restrict it after you hit your monthly data threshold.)
That’s as close to unlimited satellite internet as you can get for residential service.
Is HughesNet unlimited internet?
You’ll never run out of data on a HughesNet plan, but your download speeds will slow from 25 Mbps to 3 Mbps if you hit your monthly data allowance. So, while it has unlimited data, it does not have unlimited data at full speed.
Is Viasat internet unlimited?
Viasat internet won’t shut off your service if you use too much data. But its plans do have monthly data thresholds. After you reach that threshold, Viasat puts you at the back of the line for all internet traffic on their network. It’s technically not slowing you down, but it will feel like that during busy times.
What’s the best satellite internet you can get?
Viasat offers more speed and more data than HughesNet at similar price points. If you have both options, we recommend Viasat.
Edited by Cara Haynes
New Survey Suggests 10% of Americans Believe the Moon Landing Was Fake
July 10, 2019|
Did Neil Armstrong really take his “one small step” on the moon 50 years ago? Or was it on a Hollywood set? We asked 500 Americans their opinions on the Apollo 11 moon landing and found that 10% of them think the whole thing was fake. No, Buzz Aldrin did not punch them all in the face.
The good news is that most people believe we made it to the moon in 1969, so don’t give up on humanity just yet. But 10% is higher than the 6% who said it was fake in the Gallup survey about the moon landing in 1999. This suggests that there are more moon landing deniers now than there were 20 years ago.
Kids these days
Survey results showed that more moon landing conspiracists pop up with every new generation. Millennials and Gen Zers between the ages of 18 and 34 are six times more likely to believe that NASA pulled the biggest con of the twentieth century than people who were actually around for the first moon landing are. Younger participants were also more likely to identify as flat-Earthers, but that’s more of a global problem.
It’s possible that younger people are more likely to not believe in the moon landing because they didn’t watch the actual event. If that’s the case, hopefully NASA’s upcoming moon missions will help convince them. That said, the majority of all age groups still agree that the moon landing was real and the Earth is round. Thank goodness.
Top reasons conspiracy theorists think the moon landing was faked
That’s no moon…it’s a sound stage. Moon landing deniers have been around since there was a moon landing to deny. The most compelling “proof” of the hoax seems to be the American flag, which looks like it’s waving in both still images and video from the Apollo 11 moonwalk—even though there’s no wind on the moon. “Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…?”
All the “evidence” the moon landing was faked has been debunked countless times. Even so, concerns about the flag, strange lighting and shadows, radiation, suspiciously clear footprints, and the lack of visible stars in photographs continue to sow seeds of doubt.
If the US can fake putting a man on the moon, what else can they do?
Moon landing deniers are putting a lot of faith in the US government and its ability to keep a secret for 50 years. Surely someone would have spilled the beans by now. But say the moon landing was staged—what else might our moon landing conspiracy theorists think NASA is hiding?
Surprisingly, more than half of the surveyed moon landing deniers do believe that we landed on the moon, just not when we said we did. About half believe that NASA made up the Mars rover too. Do these people think NASA exists only to create conspiracies?
Less surprising is that almost all the participants who believe the moon landing was fake also believe the government is spying on us through our phones and computers. Considering the whole National Security Agency (NSA) scandal a few years ago, we’ll just leave this one alone.
Signs of intelligent life
A lot of people think we’ve had extraterrestrial visitors. (If we have, hopefully they didn’t watch Starship Troopers or any of those other movies where humans kill a bunch of aliens for no reason because that’s just embarrassing.) Survey results suggest that moon landing deniers are much more likely to believe that aliens have visited Earth than people who (correctly) believe we actually landed on the moon.
Yes, it seems fitting that moon landing deniers believe in weird stuff, but this one seems extra odd. You can believe that aliens trekked across space to Earth, but you can’t believe humanity put a man on the moon?
Over the moon
Fifty years out from the historic event, there are more moon landing deniers than ever. But we agree with the 90% of Americans who recognize the moon landing for what it was: an achievement of human ingenuity. Maybe moon landing deniers will change their minds when the first woman lands on the moon in 2024. Or maybe it’ll just give the conspiracy theorists more “evidence” to work with.
Edited by Cara Haynes
States with the Most UFO Sightings
June 25, 2019|
Got your binoculars handy? July 2 is World UFO Day, and this year UFO supporters are in the spotlight thanks to a flood of UFO news. This includes UFO incident reports from Navy pilots and former Pentagon intelligence officers and the release of classified UFO research from the NSA (National Security Agency). All of this activity means that for the first time in years, UFO reports are being taken seriously by the media.
UFO hotspots in the United States
So how often are UFOs whizzing through your state? Check out this map that uses data from the National UFO Reporting Center to find out if your state is a hub of extraterrestrial activity.
What’s a UFO?
A UFO is anything in the sky that can’t be identified. In the late 1940s, the US Air Force started using the phrase “unidentified flying object” to describe any type of mysterious aircraft. When we hear the word UFO, we might start thinking of flying saucers filled with green aliens. The truth is less exciting. Most UFOs are later identified as drones, satellites, or weather balloons. But even after decades of research, up to 5% of UFO reports remain unexplained. Is this proof of alien visitation? Or just an elaborate 60-year hoax?
Best states to spot a UFO
Spoiler alert: all the UFOs aren’t in Roswell, the Nevada desert, or even along America’s so-called “UFO highway.”
Every single state has reports of eerie lights, erratically moving aircraft, or mysterious metal saucers. But recent data shows the most UFO activity in northern states.
If you’re hoping to make an extraterrestrial friend or two, here are the best places to live for UFO sightings.
Where you can hide from UFOs
Not everyone wants to see a UFO. If you’re scrambling to avoid an alien abduction, the safest place for you to live is Texas. Texans reported the fewest number of UFO incidents per capita than any other state. Other safe zones include the southern states of Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama.
We’re not sure why UFOs steer clear of southern states, but it appears that aliens just don’t appreciate the perks of southern hospitality.
Do you believe in aliens?
Surveys from Chapman University show that the belief in intelligent alien life is on the rise in recent years. In 2016, only 27% of Americans believed that aliens have visited our planet at some point in the ancient past. In 2018, 41.4% of people said that aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past. That’s a rise of fourteen percentage points in just two years.
UFO sightings by state
From Tic Tac–shaped objects flying over New York to swirling light balls in California, reported UFO sightings happen all over the country. This chart shows how many UFO sightings were reported in each state, how many sightings there were per 100,000 people, and the overall state rankings of where you’re most likely to spot a UFO.
|State||Number of UFO sightings||Sightings per 100,000 people||Rank|
Tips for newbie UFO hunters
If your idea of a UFO sighting comes from The X-Files or Doctor Who, you might expect trails of acidic green blood or alien spaceships cruising above the River Thames. The reality is most UFO sightings are less dramatic, such as a strange aircraft or odd light formations descending slowly into a forest.
What we do know is that UFO sightings are most frequent during the warmer months. Why? We’re not sure. Maybe because people are outside more often in good weather, or maybe aliens go on summer vacations with their kids too.
So what are the tools of the trade? If you’re looking for UFOs and alien technology, you can skip the sonic screwdriver. (Although if you’ve got a TARDIS, count us in!) UFO hunters use binoculars, night vision goggles, and cameras, and they have a lot of patience—you never know when a UFO will appear.
If you’re planning an alien interception, your best bet is to pack a cooler of beer and get ready for a long night of stargazing. And if Washington isn’t your scene, you could also hit up one of the eight best places in the world for UFO sightings to raise your chances.
Edited by Cara Haynes
Here’s What Your State Googles on Father’s Day
June 10, 2019|
Mark your calendars: Father’s Day is almost here. People are starting to scramble for gifts and make plans to celebrate the special fathers in their lives. And what better way to plan than to consult Google, the keeper of all knowledge?
We were curious if search results from the past could give us insight into what people are planning for Father’s Day this year—so we did some digging.
Read more about our methodology.
Let Dad know you love him.
It’s important to let Dad know how much you care, and people seem to know it. But a simple Hallmark card doesn’t always cut it. Some places, including Nevada and the District of Columbia, searched for traditional greeting cards, but others got a bit more creative. Many folks searched for Father’s Day memes, messages, jokes, and even songs to spread the love in a more modern way.
Greeting cards weren’t the only type of card folks searched for. Retailers like Best Buy, The Home Depot, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Tractor Supply Co. were common queries—probably because people were hunting down deals on gift cards. When in doubt, let Dad pick his own gift.
Mark your calendar.
Apparently not everyone knows when Father’s Day is. The top search in Missouri was “When is Father’s Day,” and people were still googling that question on the actual day. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to search for an emergency meme to fire off to Dad!
The way to Dad’s heart is through his stomach.
Several states were looking to get Dad some grub on Father’s Day. A few states hunted down barbecue and other meaty recipes. But if you’d rather take Dad out and let someone else handle the cooking, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Restaurants were also a popular search topic, with Outback Steakhouse, Steak ‘n Shake, and IHOP making the list.
But, surprisingly, the great state of Texas passed on the barbecue and hit up Wingstop instead. Meanwhile, Utah may be planning something a little fancier for dinner—they wanted to know how to tie a bow tie.
The game stops for no one.
Sports fans aren’t letting the special day derail their plans—especially in North Dakota, where NBA Finals searches were popular. In Washington, MLB searches took the lead. Whether people just weren’t worried about Dad or wanted to share the experience with him, we don’t know. We’ll just hope it’s the latter.
Golf was also a popular search. Several states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, and more, searched for info on golf. A relaxing day on the links could be a great chance for some fatherly bonding.
You can’t go wrong with a movie.
Movies were also a hit on Father’s Day. Whether you head down to the theater or settle in for a cozy night at home doesn’t seem to matter—what’s important is spending that time with Dad. Searches for movie times and Redbox locations were frequent in Oklahoma and New Hampshire respectively.
Happy Father’s Day
Remember, Father’s Day is Sunday, June 16 (there, we saved you a google this year). Now is a perfect time to start making plans. Whatever you decide to do, take some time to slow down and enjoy the day with Dad if you can. And if you are a dad, happy Father’s Day!
Here’s the complete list of state searches if you’re looking for some validation (or inspiration).
Father's Day searches by state
|Alabama||Barbecue near me|
|Alaska||Father's Day memes|
|California||Father's Day wishes|
|District of Columbia||Happy Father's Day cards|
|Florida||Father’s Day special|
|Georgia||Cracker Barrel near me|
|Hawaii||Costco Wholesale hours|
|Illinois||Topgolf gift card|
|Indiana||Steak 'n Shake|
|Iowa||Funny Father's Day cards|
|Kansas||How to make baked potatoes|
|Kentucky||Tractor Supply Co.|
|Louisiana||Happy Father's Day images|
|Maine||IHOP near me|
|Maryland||Father's Day emojis|
|Massachusetts||BJ's Wholesale Club|
|Mississippi||Best Buy hours|
|Missouri||When is Father's Day?|
|Montana||Bacon in oven|
|Nevada||Father's Day greetings|
|New Hampshire||Redbox movies|
|New Jersey||Father's Day wishes|
|New Mexico||The Home Depot hours|
|New York||Father's Day cartoon|
|North Carolina||Free Father's Day images|
|North Dakota||NBA Finals|
|Oregon||Father's Day dinner|
|Pennsylvania||Happy Father's Day grandpa|
|Rhode Island||Father's Day message|
|South Carolina||Restaurants near me|
|South Dakota||Happy Father's Day quotes|
|Tennessee||Cracker Barrel near me|
|Utah||How to tie a bow tie|
|Virginia||How to make margaritas|
|West Virginia||PlayStation 4|
|Wisconsin||Father's Day song|
We used Google Trends to find the most popular search terms on Father’s Day over the last five years. Then we ran that list through Google Trends again to see which states were searching for specific terms most frequently on Father’s Day in 2018. This gave us a pretty good idea of what folks should be looking for this year.
Edited by Cara Haynes