It’s a common enough story. You’re out on the road, in the middle of nowhere, and you want to listen to music, but there’s no data service. Then tragedy strikes! You get a flat tire and the situation is made worse by the fact that you can’t make a phone call on a single bar of service.

But there exists a device, a secret device, that can make those near-impossible calls completely possible. Okay, so it isn’t a secret, but cell phone signal boosters aren’t commonly marketed to the average person. With a small antenna and a box in your car, you’ll have full bars and data, no matter where you end up.

How They Work
The great thing about signal boosters is that they only need a really weak signal to work. You could be in the middle of nowhere with one bar, and these signal boosters will grab that weak connection, amplify it, and make it strong enough to make that call—or even watch YouTube as you wait for the tow truck. If you’re adventurous enough to live on the road, this kind of booster could be the very thing to save your life in an emergency.

Generally, these signal boosters come with an antenna that goes on the outside of your vehicle. The antenna is then connected inside your RV or car to a few small devices that act as tiny cell towers. This kind of setup can be expensive, upwards of $500, so it’s not something you’ll want to pick up for a weekend trip to Zion or Bryce Canyon. But if you plan on going on an extended road trip or maybe even plan on a more permanent setup in the middle of nowhere, a signal booster could be an incredibly crucial purchase.

Where to Get One
Signal boosters are easily found online at dozens of retail outlets, including Amazon. Brands you should look for are weBoost, SureCall, Phonelex, and HiBoost.

Things to Remember
There are plenty of guides online to help you find the signal booster that will work for you, but regardless of which you pick, make sure you keep these few things in mind:

  • There has to be at least a weak signal to boost. If you know you are going to be in an area where there is absolutely no signal, this device won’t be a help to you. Check your cell phone carrier’s coverage map to be sure.
  • Any device you buy should work with all carriers—if it doesn’t, it’s not worth it.
  • Cell phone signal boosters are not the same as network extenders. Network extenders are devices that route your cell signal through a high-speed internet connection, so unless you expect to have access to high-speed internet while you’re on the side of a mountain, these won’t work.

Now, maybe you haven’t spent time researching how to live on the road or how to take an extended road trip, but if you do ever think about it, a cell phone signal booster could be your next best purchase.

Now, go forth, travel, and stay connected!

—Stirling Miller