We know that when we visit our local Starbucks we can log onto their free WiFi and check our email while we sip on an expensive Pumpkin Spice Latte, but how many of us understand how these hotspots work?
Here we take a deep dive into the best mobile wifi hotspots for international travel, how they work and how to connect to the internet while traveling.
How do WiFi hotspots work?
If you are someone who travels for work or pleasure, you need to have a grasp of how WiFi hotspots work. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck without any internet, so learn how to take advantage of WiFi hotspots and save yourself a lot of hassles!
Hotspots are portals that connect to the internet using a wireless local area network, or WLAN. WiFi Hotspots work using cell towers to connect to the internet.
Traditionally they were set up in coffee shops, libraries, and other public spaces. Now they have expanded to almost everywhere.
The accessibility of WiFi hotspots comes with some new challenges, specifically security. Mobile hotspots provide internet to people on the go, and these days it is uncommon to find a business that doesn’t offer WiFi to its customers!
Challenges Of Using Public WiFi Hotspots
One of the biggest challenges of mobile hotspots is that they tend to be a little on the slower side. That’s because so many people are using the same channel to access the internet, and it’s getting clogged up with traffic.
We have all been in situations where someone is using the internet to stream video and slowing down the connection for everyone else that’s connected.
The same principle applies to mobile hotspots. If you want to quickly check your email, a busy coffee shop will do the trick. If you want to download some important documents, you might need to find another way to get online.
The other challenge of using a WiFi hotspot is that they tend to be less secure than regular WiFi hookups. Data and personal information can be easily siphoned from public WiFi hotspots.
It’s really important to protect your personal information if you are planning on logging onto a WiFi hotspot in a place like a public airport. Don’t log onto any website that contains personal information and avoid typing in any passwords.
I’ve included some more tips for staying safe on WiFi hotspots in the section below.
Prioritizing Safety On Public WiFi Hotspots
It’s imperative that you prioritize your information safety on public WiFi hotspots.
Check the news headlines, browse email or even update your Facebook status, but make sure that you’re following the tips outlined here. That way, you’ll minimize the risk of someone stealing your information!
Stay Off Sensitive Sites
Never check your bank account or log into applications like PayPal from a public WiFi hotspot. Even though your bank information should be encrypted, pulling it up at a public location is not advisable.
Save any transactions until you get into a more secure place.
Be Wary Of How Much Information You Give Away
All WiFi hotspots are different. Some will require you to read through and agree to their terms and conditions. Others will ask for your email address as a way to log in.
Others might ask for more sensitive information, like your passport number, to access the internet.
Use your judgment. If you put in your email address you might be subject to some spam. Putting in your passport number is a terrible idea. Avoid any WiFi hotspots that ask for this type of information.
It’s far better to use your data or access the internet another way.
Don’t Share Too Many Files
When you use a WiFi hotspot, it’s important to limit the number of files that you’re sharing. Your connection is probably too slow to share files efficiently, and these connections are significantly less secure.
You don’t want to inadvertently send a virus to someone. Save the file sharing for when you are in a secure location. You’ll be able to share them quicker and safer.
How To Turn Your Phone Into A Mobile Hotspot
You might be wondering “how do WiFi hotspots work on mobile phones?” Today’s smartphones have built-in mobile hotspot technology, all you need to do is access your settings and turn on the hotspot functionality.
Most carriers will expect you to pay extra to use the mobile hotspot, so make sure that you’re not racking up huge data bills by using the hotspot.
If you need clarification on what is covered under your plan, simply give your carrier a call to clear it up. Alternately, there are plenty of WiFi hotspot apps that you can download on both iPhones and Androids.
WiFi Hotspot Apps
WiFi hotspot apps allow you to set up a hotspot on your device without going into your settings. They use a process called tethering to connect your phone to the internet.
This technology is fairly new and many people think that it is preferable to the traditional methods of finding public WiFi or using the existing functionality of your phone.
Many hotspot apps are free, but many require you to have a hotspot package set up through your carrier. There are some that cost a minimal fee to install.
Hotspot apps allow you to connect multiple devices to your hotspot, which makes them a godsend for when you’re on a deadline crunch and need to finish up a big project.
If your other option is unpredictable and insecure public WiFi, the best option is to use the app on your phone and hook up your computer to it.
That way, you’re getting fast and secure internet. We live in an increasingly connected world where WiFi hotspots are prevalent. You can access the internet from just about anywhere these days.
Knowing how WiFi hotspots work, where to find them, and how to generate them on your mobile device will ensure that you will never be without internet.
Make sure that you’re accessing the internet safely and avoid giving away too much information, and you’re all set to go!
Best Mobile Hotspot Solutions
The Best Mobile Hotspot can be a fantastic way to connect multiple devices to the internet through the available 4G connection to the cell towers created by the cellular network towers nearby.
However, finding the best way to access a mobile hotspot can be complicated and frustrating.
That’s why I have taken the time to give you my advice on some of the best ways to get your own personal hotspot from wherever you may be.
After years of working remotely for hundreds of different companies, I know the hotspot struggle all too well. In today’s world, being able to connect to the internet is pretty much essential.
In my line of work, it’s unquestionably a requirement. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself in a pinch needing a Wifi connection ASAP.
That’s why I can confidently tell you how to effectively get around the hotspot problem. I’ve been there, done that, and found some of the best solutions available.
Here are a few ways that you can get a mobile hotspot from anywhere. I am going to skip right past the whole “connecting to a nearby open Wifi network” thing.
Not only is this a pain to do, but it can also make you vulnerable to a connection that isn’t secure. It’s way better to find a hotspot that you can connect to and actually trust.
Without further ado, these are a few of the best mobile hotspot solutions that I have seen so far, ranked from worst to best.
Pros of buying a mobile hotspot device:
- Specifically designed to give you a Wifi Hotspot
- Can be added to your cell service plan
Cons of purchasing a hotspot device:
- Only can connect to local towers owned by your cell service provider
- Must buy the device separately
- Monthly or annual contracts are required
- Not much better than creating a hotspot from your phone
Buying a Preloaded Hotspot Devices
These hotspot devices are great if you’re going to be traveling around in a designated area, usually your home state, territory, or province.
You simply get the hotspot device, pay for pre-set services, and you’re good to go. Many of these hotspots will work for a few months at a time and then you have to renew your service.
They’ll usually work wherever people can get a cell signal from the main cell companies in your area. They work with multiple towers and companies so you will get a better connection in general.
The thing is, quality devices can be hard to come by. Plus, they don’t always offer a secure connection. This is a big issue. Also, even the best devices won’t work internationally.
These kinds of mobile hotspots have designated coverage areas. Once you get outside of your pre-designated area, they stop working. If you want to travel abroad, you’re out of luck.
Pros of buying a Preloaded Hotspot Devices:
- Work with multiple service providers
- No contracts or minimal contracts
- Faster connections
Cons Preloaded Hotspot Devices:
- Can be inconsistent
- Don’t work internationally
Portable International 4G & Wifi Hotspot Devices
Now for my favorite solution. International portable mobile hotspot devices. If you really want ultimate connectivity from wherever you are traveling, this is your best bet.
These devices offer some of the lowest service rates, rarely require any kind of contract, and can be used all over the world. You will have access to the internet no matter where you are on the planet, as long as there’s some cell service available.
You don’t have to rely on your cellular provider either. They convert the 4G connections of thousands of cellular providers into Wifi that you take with you everywhere.
They’re like little magical Wifi routers that you charge and take with you when you’re on the go. As a digital nomad myself, these devices are my go-to option when I am traveling abroad.
You can even rent your device for the duration of your trip making them a fantastic option for vacations or work-related travel.
You just have to get your device and set it up at home before you leave.
Pros of Portable International 4G & Wifi Hotspot Devices:
- Work internationally in 100’s of countries
- Can be used anywhere that cell signal is available
- Utilize the connections offered by almost any cell network
- Fast connection and download speeds
- Secure connectivity
- Can be rented or bought
- No contracts required
Cons of Portable International 4G & Wifi Hotspot Devices:
- Must be set up using a Wifi connection from somewhere else
So there you have it.
If you’re traveling in your home country, you can create a hotspot from your smartphone as long as you have a data plan that’s truly unlimited.
If you’re going to be traveling abroad, I recommend getting a portable international Wifi hotspot device.
Thanks for reading, and happy travels!