Laptop In A Truck -- How To

In these days of wireless Internet access, it's easy to set up a laptop in a truck and never have to take it inside a truck stop to get on the Internet. There are a variety of options.

In the old days (3 years ago!) it was much more difficult to get on the Internet out on the road. I used to spend hours each week combing through truck stops in the hopes of finding an open phone jack I could plug my laptop's modem into. I dialed in to the Internet via a toll-free number.

Those days are thankfully long-gone! Today, I use a couple of different wireless Internet services to get on the Internet.

To access the Internet from almost anywhere, I use a "Merlin" wireless access card that works through the Sprint PCS Vision cellular PCS nationwide network. This is a fairly expensive way to access the Internet. I pay $80 per month for unlimited access. The advantage of it is that I can access the Internet from almost anywhere my truck is parked at. The word "almost" is key here -- out in the Western United States where the population density is low, there's little or no coverage. In states such as Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and Nevada, there's not much coverage once you get away from the larger cities. I spend the majority of my time in the Eastern half of the U.S., and the coverage tends to be great in that part of the country.

To help out my coverage, I also subscribe to Flying J Truck Stops "WiFi" service. This is available in Flying J Truck Stop's nationwide. It works right in their parking lots inside the truck, and it's broadband. When I'm at a Flying J Truck Stop I use their WiFi service. When I'm parked anywhere else, such as at a shipper or receiver's dock, I connect via the Sprint PCS Vision service.

In the old days, when I was at a dock waiting to load or unload, I couldn't help but feel that I was "wasting" my time in a sort of "trucker limbo" not being able to make money because I wasn't driving anywhere. In the age of wireless Internet access from virtually anywhere, I'm able to spend that time as productively as I wish.

I plug my laptop in to AC power with the use of a DC to AC power inverter. These are readily available in most truck stops for a reasonable price. DO NOT be tempted to buy a DC to AC power inverter from stores such as Radio Shack or the big electronics retailers such as Circuit City or Best Buy -- in these stores they tend to charge way too much for a mediocre inverter. Go to a truck stop such as Flying J or Pilot and you can get a great inverter for a great price.