Starlink satellite internet is a game changer for RV owners, the van life crowd, digital nomads, and others. With virtually global coverage, it’s now possible to access high speed, low latency internet from anywhere. It’s no surprise that the demand and interest of Starlink has skyrocketed among all types of travelers looking to stay connected.
For those of you looking to travel with Starlink, I created this guide to explain how. There are multiple ways to buy Starlink, and it can get confusing. I will detail the two Starlink service plans that allow for portable Starlink operation, and recommend which one you should pick.
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Can I Travel With Starlink?
Yes, you can travel with your Starlink kit if you purchase Starlink RV, or purchase the Portability add-on with the Residential plan. Starlink RV is the dedicated travel plan. You can pick between a Standard hardware kit, or the in-motion enabled Flat High Performance version if you need a connection while driving. People with existing Residential service can also take their dish on-the-go by enabling Portability. Portability offers the same travel capabilities of RV, but for existing Residential plans, so you don’t have to buy another dish just to travel with.
Method 1: Starlink RV
Starlink RV is the dedicated travel product from Starlink. With RV, you don’t have a permanent service address like with the Residential service. RV is designed for travelers who mainly use Starlink in different locations. If you are a full-time RV’er, van lifer, overlander, etc., Starlink RV is the best choice.
Starlink RV costs $150/month, with a $599 equipment fee. Speeds range from 5-50 mbps.
The hardware in the RV kit is identical to the Residential version. The difference is how the account and billing is structured. With Starlink RV, you can pause service when you don’t need it. There is no waitlist or limited availability. RV customers are also expected to experience slower speeds in highly congested areas. Their bandwidth is deprioritized on the Starlink network, which prioritizes Residential customers.
For more detail on the RV service, check out our full Starlink RV article.
Method 2: Residential With Portability Enabled
Starlink RV is great as a dedicated unit for traveling. But what if you have a need for home internet and you want to travel with it? That’s where the Portability feature comes in. With normal Residential, you can only use the dish at the designated service address on your account. If you attempt to use it outside of the service address, it will give you an error and won’t connect to satellites.
Portability is an add-on feature for the Starlink Residential plan that allows you to use your dish outside of the service address. It costs an extra $25/month, and can be turned on/off in monthly increments. To use Portability, you will purchase Starlink Residential (which costs $120/month + $599 for equipment) and then enable Portability from your account dashboard. The big difference: you cannot pause Residential service like you can with RV.
Portability is great for travelers who primarily need home internet service, but have the occasional need to travel with it. It’s not as flexible as RV because service cannot be paused, but it enables existing Residential customers to travel without having to buy a separate RV dish. For more detail, check out our article on Starlink Portability.
Update: Starlink recently eliminated the Portability option for US customers.
Which Method Is Best?
Get Starlink RV if:
- you live in the US (Portability is not available to US customers)
- you primarily need recreational/portable/travel internet service
- you can’t wait on the Residential waitlist
- you want the ability to pause monthly service payments
- you don’t mind performance inconsistency
Get Starlink Residential w/Portability if:
- you primarily need home internet service
- you only occasionally need to travel with Starlink
- you want the highest level of performance at home
- you will use Starlink year-round (either at home or traveling)
How To Check For Starlink Coverage
How do you know where Starlink can be used? Thankfully, Starlink provides an up-to-date map that shows where Starlink has coverage. In the screenshot above, you can see that virtually the entire US is covered. The difference in the shades of blue shows what areas are low capacity vs high capacity. RV or Portability users traveling in low capacity areas will experience slower speeds. Areas not covered are dark gray in color.
Starlink Travel Restrictions
If you are traveling with Starlink, there are some restrictions that you should know about. For a full understanding of the restrictions, make sure to check out the Terms of Service on the Starlink website, but here are the important bits for travelers:
Starlink RV: RV service can only be used within the same continent as the shipping address on the Starlink account. So if you order Starlink RV and have it shipped to the US, you could use it in all of North America, but not in Europe.
Portability: Portability, like RV, can only be used within the same continent as the registered service address on the Starlink account. But unlike RV, if you use Portability at one location for more than 2 billing cycles, the service address on your account may be automatically updated.